Crafting wings for Good Omens

We are huge fans of both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett here at Peregrine HQ, so were thrilled when Amazon / BBC announced that a new Good Omens mini series was coming to their respective platforms.

The fine artists at Milk Visual Effects were involved in bringing the the authors prose to life on screen – including the wings for the leading characters.

The teams CG Supervisor, Adrian Williams and Senior Groom Artist, Matt Bell kindly shared details on how Yeti was used in the design and creation of these digital supernatural plumages.

“Demon Crowley (David Tennant) and angel Aziraphale (Micheal Sheen) both have large and impressive black and white wings (respectively) when seen in their real forms in the Amazon /BBC’s new comedy-drama Good Omens adapted for the screen and helmed by Neil Gaiman. Initially, our concept artist Grant Bonser designed bat-style wings for Crowley but Neil Gaiman preferred to have feathers for both the demons and angels.”

“We built each feather based on swan wings – which was most appropriate to the concept. We started building the feathers in geometry so that we had a map for our groom team to develop each feather. The wings were laid out in an anatomically correct way, with primary feathers (the long finger like feathers that feature at ends of wings); secondaries (above those on the ends of the wings) and coverts (top wings / fluffier wings). The wings were then re-groomed into feathers using Yeti. We modelled in a swan’s wing bone structure and this was then all passed to the rigging team to ensure the feathers folded correctly and worked well together. Working together, the groom, modelling and rigging and animation teams refined the wings, referencing heavily the way a swan’s wing physically folds and behaves to ensure that when doing our wing simulations, everything behaved realistically.”

“To help with rigging we extracted curves down the centre of each of the geometry feathers and converted these to fibres. The feathers were instanced to these fibres and scale determined by the curves length. A duplicate of the wing curves was then incorporated into the rig and our groom curves blended to these so as to match our animation. We created over 20 separate feather variations so as to give realism to the groom and feather orientation controlled by using the geometry’s surface normal as our up vector in conjunction with curves Yeti twist attribute.”

“We decided to create the wing texturing in the look development phase. It was all shader based so that we could have complete control over colour variants and no one feather was the same hue, to break up the overall look making it more realistic.”

“Getting the right balance of iridescence on the black feathers and then ensuring the white feathers had enough detail and variation to stand out was challenging. We spent time in the look development stages tweaking the shaders and then when we got to actual shot production we were working very closely with Neil and our groom and creature effects team so that we were able to get a look that he and Douglas were really happy with.”

“Some of the shots needed to have a bespoke groom set up as we soon realised that when the animators were posing the wings at some angles they would not capture the correct shape or volume that was required for that specific shot, but this gave us the freedom to sculpt the groom and make sure that none of the detail was lost and so the wings looked and felt a part of the actors as they progressed thought the scene.”

Yeti was also used for the digital neck and head extension of Adam’s lovable pet, the Hell Hound.  A big thank you to the Milk team and you can watch Good Omens on Amazon’s Prime Video now.

GDC, TED and FMX – our spring conference season!

We are entering spring conference season again, in fact – we’ve already enjoyed a visit to San Fransisco for the Game Developers Conference. With the release of Nvidia’s RTX cards and support from the major graphics API’s there was a lot of realtime raytracing coverage – including Epic’s release of Unreal Engine 4.22.

More recently I was lucky enough to attend the TED conference in Vancouver this last week – a very humbling experience to step outside of our usual thinking and enjoy exploring the world through the TED ecosystem. There was much to reflect on, which I will leave for another post, but a highlight was Doug Roble’s presentation of Digital Doug to the wonderment of the audience.

Doug Roble speaks at TED2019: Bigger Than Us. April 15 – 19, 2019, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Back at the studio I’ve had just over a week to breath before heading to the beautiful city of Stuttgart for FMX. The program this year looks solid and we’re very happy to highlight a few of the presentations our talented customers are involved with:

Mackevision – Best Friend, Tuesday April 30th @ 3:15pm
Check out the studios page to watch the spot and hear more about how it was made.

Method – Welcome To Marwen, Wednesday May 1st @ 4:30pm
In the Virtual Production track, don’t miss Kevin Baillie’s talk on some of the techniques used to deliver these stunning digital performances.

Goodbye Kansas – Overkill’s The Walking Dead, Thursday May 2nd @ 9:30am
GBK produced these stunning trailers for Overkill’s The Walking Dead, listen to a few of the team members discuss the challenges involved in bringing them to life. Watch Maya, Grant and Aidan on their website.

Ilion – Wonder Park, Thursday May 2nd @ 2:00pm
Head behind the scenes with the crew from Ilion to discuss production details of the animated feature Wonder Park.

Trixter – Captain Marvel, Friday May 3rd @ 3:15pm
Hear about Trixter’s involvement in Captain Marvel from Dominik Zimmerie including the stunning alien cat “Goose” (we’re biased) along with the wonderful Janelle Croshaw Ralla – this one can’t be missed!

Additionally there will be a Matrix Retrospective, Digital Doug talk with Doug Roble from Digital Domain, a look at the visual effects of Avengers: Endgame and many more exciting talks – check out the full schedule here.

If you’re going to be there reach out and say hi, and enjoy the week!

Elephant Tangles with Giraffe

Cirkus uses Yeti to help WWF remind us the fragility of fresh water

It’s always exciting to hear when Yeti is used for causes close to our heart, and Elephant vs. Giraffe created by the team at Cirkus for WWF doesn’t fall short.

In a poignant statement about the future of fresh water vs. global population growth Romain Borrel, the film’s director, came up with a concept where an elephant and giraffe end up in an altercation over a bottle of fresh water with many twists and turns (literally) along the way.

Giraffe inspects water

Romain told us Yeti was chosen by the team as it allowed them to achieve the level of realism and feature film quality required to create these two photorealistic animals.

A big but critical decision made part way through the project was to switch from their previous rendering engine to Redshift – with the tight integration offered between Yeti and Redshift the team felt both products worked incredibly well together resulting in five times the speed in per frame render times while still maintaining the same, high quality, result.

Elephant and Giraffe pretzels

Although many of the core crew were familiar with Yeti and happy using it due to its power and ease of use, the fact it is taught widely among New Zealand students provided an additional win for Cirkus who was able to scale their team with artists comfortable using it from day one.

Thank you to the team at Cirkus for reminding us our planet is fragile and supporting WWF and similar foundations who endeavor to improve life on Earth for all species is imperative to a long and sustainable future.

Below is the full video for you to enjoy.

Yeti 3.0 is here!

We are extremely happy to announce that Yeti 3.0 is available!

It’s been a long time coming and a big thank you to all of the amazing Yeti artists and craftspeople who’ve provided feedback.

As a paid upgrade, any previous Studio license can be upgraded for USD$299 and Studio Render license may be upgrade for USD$169. For a limited time, any 2.x licenses purchased after May 1st 2018 are eligible for free upgrades, please contact our licensing team for more information.

New for Yeti 3.0 is the introduction of the Indie license, this is a more accessible node locked license with basic support but with access to the same full feature set as the Studio version.  Please see the Yeti webpage for the new pricing details.

Studio License – original 1x Interactive and 5x Render floating licenses.

Indie LicenseNEW 1x Interactive and 1x Render node locked license.

This release also sees the introduction of our new Braid geometry, which we think looks pretty cool.

Besides that we’ve introduced

  • Groom Deformation Layers
  • Ability to Scatter on Fibres
  • Refactored Feather Geometry
  • Rebuilt Grooming UI
  • updated Graph editor

and many other great new features – to see them all check out the release notes (and the new documentation too!).

Thank you for all of the continued support!

Dinosaurs in the Wild

Milk created a ground-breaking range of CG Dinosaurs and their environment for ‘Dinosaurs In The Wild’ – an immersive, UK theatrical special venue experience which transports audiences 67 million years back in time to the Cretaceous period, to experience dinosaurs in their own environment!

The focus for the team was a digital ‘dinosaur safari’ – creating all of the external views of the dinosaurs seen through four ‘observatory windows’; and one windscreen-view for a ‘simulated drive’ sequence, all in Stereoscopic 3D.

“We created eight different species of Dinosaur for the show, which appear in every frame.” Explains Matt Bell, the lead grooming TD on the project – “Almost all of the Dinosaurs used Yeti to one extent or another and it was my responsibility to groom each one and help integrate the creature FX into our pipeline. Each dinosaur species had differing groom characteristics and each of these had multiple variations.”

©Dinosaurs in the Wild UK Ltd 2017 – Images supplied by Milk Visual Effects

This challenging workload was broken down into 4 X 12,000 frame continuous eight-minute shots and one x 6,000 frame, 4-minute drive sequence with Yeti being chosen for its ease of use and integration into the studios Maya/Renderman pipeline which was used for Dinosaurs in the Wild.

Matt continues “It was an incredibly challenging project given the large number of dinosaur variations and the length of the animation sequences. We rendered almost 80 million frames in the cloud using Google Cloud platform to accommodate the scale of the project. We are very happy with results we achieved.”

“Yeti achieves great results quickly and the flexibility allowed us to come up with workarounds to achieve specific looks, for example on the feathered Dakotaraptor we used a combination of heavily clumped fur blended with Yeti feathers which was layered into geometry feathers.”

“Yeti was perfect for such a complex and large-scale job such as Dinosaurs In The Wild.”

 

©Dinosaurs in the Wild UK Ltd 2017 – Images supplied by Milk Visual Effects