How to create a "Fluffy cloud"

How to create a "Fluffly Cloud"

It is true that in London we are not short of clouds, quite the opposite, but sometimes this is not enough! Last year we had to create a fluffy cloud for a project, keep reading to know more.

The cloud had to be integrated into real footage and needed to be visibly dense. Also, our fluffy cloud had to move, sort of chasing some characters. For this project, we tested our skills in the streets of London.

In terms of software, we created the cloud with Turbulence FD, in Cinema 4D. Afterward, we 3D tracked some footage, also in Cinema 4D, we then created a null and attached the cloud to it. The “final look” was composited in After Effects.

Firstly, I would like to recommend the following tutorial on how to make a cloud with Cinema 4D and Turbulence FD. However, it depends on your personal project you would want to change the settings. In the end, I will share the specific settings for our final result.

To “stop” the movement of the smoke and create a contained flow of the particles, you have to animate the timing. It was tricky to find the right balance, so the animation wouldn’t stop drastically, as you can see in the following tests:

Another complication found was related to the movement once we’ve tracked the cloud to the environment, because you need to find the right balance between: The speed of the animation inside the container + the animation of the movement in any environment.

In the video on the right, you can see that the particles were moving faster, creating a non-realistic feeling of the cloud.

There are plenty of tutorials on how to motion track in Cinema 4D (follow this link), so we will skip that part. In this case, I’ll highlight the importance of positioning the lights accordingly to your footage (sun direction, if you have characters, cars or any other objects creating shadows, etc).

Check the following screenshots of the original file, to check the settings that we used for the tracking and for the container:

In the video on top, you can see the “final result” of the test we created.

What do you think? Did you find it useful? Do you know any other tricks? Feel free to comment below!

Inspiring animation workshop by Katie Menzies

Inspiring animation workshop by Katie Menzies

There is something special when you walk into a room full of creatives. Even more so, if these are all talented women. And last night was exactly like that, a perfect occasion to celebrate and support women in the industry.

I’ve been following Cabeza Patata (whose literal translation would be Potato-Head) for over a year. Katie and Abel are the “real heads” behind it. I love their quirky animations with a unique style, and my highlight is the great job they do with their character’s clothes: they are smoothly linked to the body movements, yet the texture and patterns are carefully worked in detail.

Last night Katie Menzies gave a talk, organized by “She Drew That”, about her work and what are her “ingredients in life” to be part of it: politics, fashion, and characters. She also shared what she considers are the most important considerations when you work as an illustrator, animator or designer.

Firstly, be selective. Not only who you’re working with, but how you work during a project will influence your mood and your take in it. You can “say no” if you feel a project is not suitable for your principles and/or the way you work.

Personally, It took me a whole year while I was studying my Masters to learn to say “no”, so I fully sympathize: you always think you will be missing the opportunity of your life. However, It is true that we are not always in the position of rejecting a job (after all, we’ve got bills to pay). Anyway, the goal should be that: being selective.

Claim space. Don’t be afraid of trying different mediums to express your creativity. For example, paintings on the walls or creating a huge head that many people tried. They also created a campaign for Google, without any humans in it, “put the characters in different situations”, she added.

                         

This is something I relate a lot to. I absolutely love trying different techniques, from Plasticine to ink inside a water tank. For example, recently we were pitching for a job that allowed me to explore a new technique I had never tried before: graphite. When time allows it, I always try a more analogical approach instead of jumping straight to the computer. Sometimes, It will add realism to your pieces.

The third consideration she said was “always being conscious” of what you are working on. This is something that might seem obvious but is not that easy. A very interesting example Katie talked about was related to one of their projects, for Spotify, where they had to create different characters portraying some emotions that you have while listening to music. These should be gender-neutral, without any ethnic group. However, they realized that the “angry” character seemed male for everyone, no matter the colour of the clothes, background, etc. So, they had to compromise and make it look frustrated instead.

Katie Menzies, from Cabeza Patata, during her talk

Finally, sharing and championing others. In this case, I totally agree with Katie and I think my experiences are full of support from people and to every colleague I have ever been able to bring to the table. I also agree with the feeling she described of intruding in a “private club” when you work in some studios where they feel you don’t belong there.

And this is how I am going to finish this article: first, championing and thanking everyone who organized this wonderful event and contributes to the promotion and motivation of all women in the industry. Second, sharing my genuine admiration for Katie Menzies and her talent and hard work.

 

(*) The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Fugitive. Any content provided by our authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

Discover some VFX secrets behind Toy Story 4

Discover some VFX secrets behind Toy Story 4

Vertex 2020, the ultimate event for 2D and 3D artists, started last evening with (what we could describe as) a remarkable talk. Obviously, in Fugitive we couldn’t miss it!

Dylan Sisson, a technical artist in Pixar’s RenderMan and the creator of the RenderMan Walking Teapot, focused on some fun facts for 3D artists, related to their work in Toy Story 4 – although even this technology has evolved since then! (They used RenderMan 21 and Version 23 is out now). Do you want to know more?

Related to the lighting of the scenes in the Pixar’s title, they used globally calibrated exposure, so depending on night-time or daytime, the lights would change accordingly. They also designed +17000 lights for the carnival scenes.

Gabby’s hair was originally blond, and It was changed to red to save rendering time, which ultimately would save cost. “In order to render blond hair, we’re not just rendering the yellow colour. We’re also reflecting the light, maybe 80 times”, Dylan Sisson pointed out. However, if they chose an opaquer colour, this bounce could reduce up to “eight times”.

A completely similar case happened with Duck and Bunny, but in this case, they didn’t change their look, because It was relevant to the story. These characters became then the most expensive, not only for their amount of fur (17 million of curve segments), but also for their neon colours.

Their most expensive frame took 325 hours to render on 4 cores, due to a chandelier bouncing light rays around a giant warehouse with 10,000 props.

In Fugitive we are personally captivated by the amazing results that RenderMan provides, not only in Toy Story 4.

We could see some examples of their work, such as the Oscar’s winner Parasite, where they used it in over 500 VFX shots:

  • The house extension
  • Replacement of the Lawn in the final scene
  • VFX Trees and Walls
  • A Digital Character

Afterwards, there was a panel which discussed photorealism vs. stylised rendering: pros and cons of different looks and the changes of the industry over the past years.

I personally missed “any” female representation in the panel.

The first evening finished with some drinks and art battles it a rooftop bar close to the event.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to attend the second day, but we totally recommend it.