The world of hair in DreamWorks’ film Trolls World Tour got much bigger than in the first film Trolls [Missey et al. 2017]. The distinct musical genre that each Troll tribe was devoted to influenced their hair design and movement. The wide variety of hair effects, both passive and active, exhibited by the Trolls in various environments and situations, provided interesting challenges. This talk presents the techniques used to bring that expansive world of hair to life.
In the summer of 2018, our effects department took advantage of some downtime. We decided to use this opportunity to create a short film with no characters, animators, or our full pipeline. The team wanted to test how far we could push our effects pipeline to create an end-to-end short film using Houdini as much as possible. We leveraged several new technologies and concepts in order to collaborate among 20 artists and include lighting and rendering when normally they would use other tools. The result was Automaton.
Storage and retrieval of production assets is vital for every modern VFX and animation facility. From the volume of assets being stored to the constantly changing variety and richness of the asset data, efficiently storing, indexing, finding and retrieving the assets you want is a growing challenge. This paper discusses some of the requirements of modern asset storage systems for VFX and animation, introducing two systems that were built to address these challenges as part of the collaborative EU funded “SAUCE” project; DNEG’s search and retrieval framework, and Foundry’s back-end asset storage. It also presents example use cases of the asset library from Filmakademie’s experiments in virtual production, demonstrating more artist focused and task centered systems that enable greater asset re-use.
The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF) was founded in 2018 to help foster and shepherd the development of open source software projects in the visual effects industry [ASWF 2018]. OpenColorIO was the second project accepted into the foundation [Olin 2019]. This paper provides a detailed description of a major update to the project: OpenColorIO v2. This update, representing more than ten developer-years of engineering effort, was carried out as the project transitioned from its original home at Sony Pictures Imageworks to the ASWF. In addition to providing technical details about OpenColorIO v2, the paper also serves as a case-study about the process of joining the Academy Software Foundation, and how that impacted the development process.
For Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker we changed the way we create crowd assets across the different departments. The main goal of the project was to reduce the overhead of creating a crowd asset and to integrate it as closely as possible with the hero asset workflow.
We did so by simplifying the asset structure for highly varying characters, automating where possible and making everything fully customizable for the crowd supervisors. To help the supervisors with the huge amount of assets and variations we provided them with an asset qc system they can fine tune to their needs.
We were able to create and maintain more easily the different crowd asset variations used in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and enabled the show to use the crowd department to do more work, like set dressing or shots that otherwise would need to go through the hero workflow.
In visual effects it is usually required to process multiple film plates in order to reproduce the performance of real actors using a digital 3D character. One of the most challenging aspects of this process is the complexity of facial animation.
Motivated by the work required to capture and digitally augment the performances for the 2019 film Cats [Cats 2019], we created FaceLab, a system that drives the animation of a 3D facial rig by optimizing its blendshape targets’ weights and the head transformation matrix to match the reference plate. The system is designed to scale across different scenarios with varying complexity and produced tangible savings on the show.