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Christmas in Alsace - Making Of - Part 3

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Date Added: 20th February 2016
Software used:

Read how Nicolas Brunet made the beautiful Christmas in Alsace short film
using 3ds Max


Christmas in Alsace 2015 is the fourth film of a series of promotional short films inviting viewers to spend end year's holidays in Alsace. It's a collaboration between Gaylor Morestin (artistic support), Thery Ehrlich (music) and me. The project consists of a poster and 2 films: a 2min50 length version and a 32 seconds long trailer displayed in Paris theatres between October 15th and 25th 2015. This year's theme was 'Christmas tree and its ornaments'. In the last part of this making of I'll come back on the poster creation, rendering and I'll share what I learned during the production of that film.



Step 1: Poster

We sent two proposals to the client, one focused on the great Christmas tree and another more focused on the film itself.

For the selected proposal, Gaylor and I have been working simultaneously on a simple idea, then we pooled our designs together and they look very similar. If the action of the film has been entirely at night time, I would have chosen Gaylor's concept and I'd have added characters like on the final concept of the poster.

After putting main assets and base light set up, Alex Alvarez gave me good feedback and comments I followed to adjust the global colour and mood of the image. In the end, the poster is way more coloured than I initially imagined.

Final poster
Poster work in progress

Step 2: Rendering environments

The film was entirely rendered in Mental Ray and 3ds Max Scanline render engine. During some preview render, iRay help me to see how the light would react in the scene. It may sounds weird but using iRay engine helped me to better understand final gather and light bounces in Mental Ray.

Taking most of the time to be computed, environments were the first elements to be rendered. When the camera motions weren't too complex, some backgrounds were camera mapped to avoid long render time, sometimes up to 1 week per passes. Example: the 1st shot, all the Christmas market was rendered as a still image and then projected over low poly geometry, this background was then rendered in a few minutes.

All passes from the last shot

Step 3: IBL & final gather

Most of the shots used IBL, photometric lights and final gather with multiple light bounces (up to seven for indoors). Characters also used final gather passes with the FG map write and blend option turned on to give a smooth looking indirect light on the meshes.

I passed time on some lights setup, like the kitchen scene in the middle of the film. Originally there were much more lights in the scene, I finally decided to remove the unnecessary ones to keep a more intimate mood and also lower render time.

The kitchen scene marks a temporal change in the film. As we left Julia in a sunset environment, when we left the 'Bredeles apartment', night is already installed. The film could take place entirely in the night but I did not want to miss the many colours and mood a dawn can offer.

Kitchen shot lighting breakdown


continued on next page >

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Nikola on Sun, 14 August 2016 12:24am
OK i re-do my comment in English this time, sorry.. This is what is called a hell lot of work to do. Congrat' for all that energy you put on the project, i really like it (i am from strasbourg ;), and for all the knowledge for one single person, it's amazing! Just curious to know on what kind of machine you work on, i guess it's something serious, and how much total render time you estimate for this short film. I wish i have the quarter of your skills^^
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