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VFX breakdowns of the month: February 2015

Saturday, February 28th, 2015 | Posted by Jim Thacker


Honorable mention: BUF did the final VFX for the shots, but Realise’s R&D reel for the exploding head sequences in Kingsman: The Secret Service shows how creative FX look development work can get.

If you follow the CG Channel Facebook feed, you’ll know that we post a daily selection of the best new animated shorts, cinematics, demo reels and R&D tests. But we know that some people only visit the site itself – which is why, this month, we thought we’d bring you a round-up of the best VFX breakdowns released online in February.

We’ve taken into account the quality of the work itself, how much making-of material is included, and how well the reel is presented – but this is a purely personal selection. Nominate your own favourites in the comments.

Demoreel 2015
Artist: Arda Koyuncu

Blur Studio produces some of the world’s finest game cinematics, and lead character artist Arda Koyuncu’s reel rounds up many of its recent highlights, including Batman: Arkham Knight, Dishonored and League of Legends.

The reel itself only shows finished shots, but miniature breakdowns of each can be found on Koyuncu’s site, including stills of the base geometry and a list of software used to create each character.

Tech notes: The tools used vary from project to project, but the majority of the work is done using ZBrush, Mari, 3ds Max and V-Ray. Hair and fur were created using Ornatrix, Ephere’s 3ds Max plugin.

FX Reel
Artist: Jaideep Khadilkar

DreamWorks Animation FX developer Jaideep Khadilkar’s latest reel deconstructs the simulations behind 15 key shots from Penguins of Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon 2, from snow and sand to… um, jelly.

The second half of the reel showcases Khadilkar’s previous work as team lead at top Indian studio redchillies.vfx, and features more photorealistic work from Hindi superhero blockbuster Ra.One.

Tech notes: Khadilkar works primarily with Houdini, having previously designed redchillies.vfx’s Houdini pipeline. You can find a shot list with more technical details for each part of the video on his LinkedIn profile.

Everydays [02.08.15]
Artist: beeple

As well as producing promos for the likes of Flying Lotus and Erykah Badu, for almost a decade, Mike ‘beeple’ Winkelmann has created ‘Everydays’ – daily images designed to help him improve his technical skills.

The video above condenses two hours of work on one of those Everydays – an abstract, but meticulously detailed still render – into a two-minute timelapse, scored to a suitably frenetic Squarepusher track.

Tech notes: The original 2D vector graphic is created in Illustrator, imported into Cinema 4D, and converted to its final 3D form with the help of the Vector Pro plugin. Rendering is done in Octane Render.

Grimm Season 4, Episode 13 ‘Phoenix’
Artist: Anselm von Seherr-Thoss

VFX TD Anselm von Seherr-Thoss has produced some of the most striking FX work to come out of the 3ds Max community in recent years, and this burning man from Season 4 of TV drama Grimm is no exception.

The breakdown kicks off with the finished shot, created for Portland-based VFX studio Refuge, then moves through a series of R&D tests and previews tracing the evolution of the fire and demolition effects.

Tech notes: As you might expect, the VFX were created with a range of 3ds Max volumetric and particle simulation tools: mostly FumeFX, with some thinkingParticles and Particle Flow work.

According to Seherr-Thoss: “The camera was inside of the FumeFX grid in most of the shots, and if you have ever worked on a TV show schedule you know what that means…”

Making of Bingle ‘Chimpfall’
Studio: The Mill

The Mill proved that it could create photorealistic digital chimpanzees with its VES Award-winning work on PETA’s ‘98% Human‘: skills deployed again in its recent ad for Australian car-insurance firm Bingle.

The spot features Joni, a blindfolded chimp dropped from a plane to prove that she can fill out a car insurance quote before she lands. The tone is lighter than PETA, but the virtual ‘actress’ is as realistic as ever.

Tech notes: Hair simulation was handled in Softimage, with the CG chimp rendered in Arnold using The Mill’s proprietary MillHair and MillSkin shaders. Compositing was done in Nuke.

You can find a more detailed making-of on The Mill’s blog.

Know of a gem we missed? Post a link in the comments. For more videos like this, follow us on Facebook.

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