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The making of Bet She'an


By Paul Hellard


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Date Added: 20th February 2014

Feathers

The Supinfocom final year crew started using the Hair Farm plug-in in 3ds Max for the feather and the beard of the sculptor, but they quickly discovered they needed a Hair Farm render node installed on every computer to be able to render the frames. So they quickly had to switch to another way.

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"We figured out the alternative when starting the early tests for the clothing of the main character,” they explain. "In fact, we were growing the feather with Hair Farm and making snapshots of the feather in T-pose to get an editable polygon object. At that point we were able to move the feather with a simulated cloth proxy.

It gave us a light, flexible pipeline for creating dynamic hair. The result was smooth and easy to manipulate, to find the look we wanted.”

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Rendering

Right from the beginning of the project, all of the crew were excited to see the very personal style of the art director, Julien Soler. "The whole rendering part was a very important challenge in the movie,” says Corbeaux Sup. "His texture hatching work was reminiscent of Moebius or Sergio Toppi. Julien was hoping to get lots of 2D abstraction depending on the distance, the light and the angle of the subject.”

They ended up deciding to let Soler hand-draw every bit of the hatching pass in the film. This was very heavy duty, in that he had to hatch all the characters and all the environments. He wanted to have lots of 2D abstraction with the distance with the characters. "We decided to hatch several sets of textures for each character and then select one for each shot, depending on the distance of the character,” explains Soler.

But the guys had lots of difficulty finding a good measure between the hand drawn line size and the final render size. There were lots of tests on ways to approach the best UV print size before they finally found some good parameters. Soler hand-drew over 250 A3 sheets in over 4 months on a light table.

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David Calvet worked on a procedural way to get a watercolor rendering. They researched 2 directions. One way was to find an expressive non-realistic render in 3D, and the other was to get 2D watercolor texture effects and 2D aspect through 2D filters.

"The lighting of the film was very important for us,” says Corbeaux Sup. "The light has a big part in the film. While searching a way to get a painterly rendering system, David Calvet tried to use the same approach as an impressionist painter. He achieved a blurred, colorful and light picture which gives an important atmosphere.”

Calvet finally used the V-Ray Global Illumination in a way not normally used to create a final render. He put V-Ray into a very, very low setting to get a very splotchy render; something normally avoided when rendering photorealistic images. It generated an expressive, artistic view of the light in the shots.

"This pipeline was very interesting and efficient but we weren't able to get dynamic lighting, so we baked it for the moving shots," adds Sup. "We also used it as a texture base for the characters.”

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Nights

Creating correct night shots of the film was tricky because the crew was unable to get dynamic lighting in their diffuse and they required a colorful picture, even in the night with the competition between the blue night and the warm light of the sculptor walking in the streets.

"So we took our one-frame render of the impressionist pass and camera-mapped it back on the modeling,” explains Soler. "Then we used maps to create a colored variation of the same render as a gradient. We put this gradient in shadow/light mode and rendered the picture. It gave a great 2D effect with dynamic light.”

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What now

After the production of Bet She'an the crew kept working together with another former classmate Thomas Bertrand-Batlle around another new short movie project. They all worked together on the pre-production of the short and a trailer this year, and the film is now produced by Autour de Minuit, a French production company. They recently created BANDITS Collective, a new company for outsourced projects.

Full credits


David Calvet: Technical Director, Render, Lighting, Pre-Production.

Jérémy Charbonel: Environment and Character Modeling, Hair and Cloth Simulation, Sound.

Bastien Letoile: Director, Animation, Environment Design.

Guillaume Raynaut: Rigging, Skinning, Character Modeling, Compositing.

Julien Soler: Art Director, Environment Design and Modeling, Character Design

Gongjin Wang: Skies and smokes, Modelsheet and Concept.

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Related links:

Check out the site for Supinfocom Arles
They recently created a new outsourcing company called BANDITS Collective
Download the Hair Farm plug-in


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