Siggraph 2015 Rewind - Cantina Creative: Cinema 4D VFX for Avengers: Age of Ultron & Need for Speed

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Cinema 4D visual effects in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Need for Speed.

Alan Torres and Stephen Morton demonstrate how Cantina Creative used Cinema 4D in visual effects for Avengers: Age of Ultron and Need for Speed.

00:32C4D in Avengers:Age of Ultron
08:37Ironman Helmet HUD Effect
12:16Ironman POV of Ultron's Church Key
19:34C4D in Need for Speed
22:12Maclaren Crash Car Replacement
27:22Car Replacement for Continuity
32:29Marshall Motors Timelapse Projection

Alan begins by showing some of the simple techniques used in Ironman's HUD, using PolyFX and animated booleans to dissolve the helmet. He also breaks down two shots that visualize Ultron's Church Key.

Stephen shows how C4D and Vray combine to perform photoreal visual effects in Need for Speed. Stephen used C4D to selectively replace kit cars used in practical stunts with CG models that precisely match the car being represented. He also shows how he used ProjectionMan to create a timelapse shot of the Marshall Motors garage to transition between timeframes in the movie.



- [Alan] Hey everybody, how you guys doing? So my name's Alan Torres, I'm a supervisor and designer over at Cantina Creative, and we specialize mostly in UI design for film. Some of the more recent jobs we've been a part of are obviously Avengers: Age of Ultron, Fast 7, or Furious 7, Guardians of the Galaxy, and I think we've got Hunger Games going on right now, too. So a lot of great fun work going on at Cantina. Today I'm going to talk a bit about some of the work we did for Ultron, and kind of go over what I can on how Cinema 4D helped us to achieve some of our creative challenges. So, first I want to start you guys off with our graphics reel for Ultron. And as you're watching you'll probably notice something's missing, that would be Robert's face. And there's still quite a bit of tape around this film, so we can't quite include him in our demos. All right. ♪ [music] ♪ All right. So I hope you guys enjoyed that. So yeah that was sort of my attempt at condensing a large quantity of work that our incredible team did, into something that wasn't half an hour long. And so big shout out to the team at Cantina and all of the freelancers that contributed to that job; amazing work. So a little bit about what I did for Ultron, I was the v-effects supervisor on the show, or for Cantina I should say. And as a team we were responsible for the design and execution of four major HUDs. And those HUDs included Iron Man's mark 43, which we see at the beginning of the film, the 44 which we see during the Hulk fight, the 45 which shows up during the end battle sequence, and War Machine. And sprinkled in there as well was a handful of monitor graphics too, so quite a bit of UI storytelling. This talk's actually really cool for me, I'm really new to Cinema 4D, so Ultron was kind of my introduction to the software. I was trained in a different program, so getting a chance to really dive in and learn how Cinema 4D is so intuitive and can create assets so quickly is really awesome. Now that I focus more on design, it's a really useful tool for me. So for this show we mostly used C4D for asset creation to implement into our HUDs, to help push the design and the dimensionality of it and really take it to the next level. So the first thing I want to dive into here is kind of the concept behind the Hulk-Buster HUD. Let me pull that up. So just to give you guys a little bit of a behind the scenes of how this HUD kind of evolved, the design took a while to nail down. And a big concern of the client was, when we presented this double HUD notion, was you know it sounds really busy, really cluttered, how are we going to tell a story when there's two HUDs stacked back to back? So that was a fun challenge to kind of take on, and a lot of credit to Christopher Townsend, who was the v-effects sup on the show, for giving us that freedom to kind of explore, you know these new avenues. And you know he's such an artist at heart, so every conversation with him, you know we left knowing we were going to have some fun opportunities to try to advance the HUD. So I'm going to fire up the C4D file for this specific shot and kind of run through the helmet asset we have and sort of a basic workflow within Cinema. Let me fire this up. So one of the cool things about working on these jobs is we get to receive all of, you know ILM's working models. And they're beautifully dense models, but often times for what we do, just way too heavy. So we have to, you know, go in there and clean them out, basically blow away any miscellaneous geo that we'll either never see or just isn't important to the story. But fun nonetheless to check them out. So here we have a kind of a stripped down version of our HUD rig within Cinema. And what we see here, and I kind of geeked out on adding all these annotations to these cards, just to kind of give you guys an idea of the 3D space between all the widgets. And so basically the workflow is our HUD rig is built in After Effects. After Effects is our primary software on this show, it does a lot of the heavy lifting as far as animation and compositing. So being able to go to and from After Effects to Cinema is really efficient for us and makes the workflow just a lot faster. So what we do is we export out our rig, bring it into Cinema, and this is sort of the look we get. So all these cards here floating in space are the true positions of all the widgets that we see here. So when we're building these CG assets, we have a really good idea of where it's going to sit so we can just set up all our render passes, apply all our materials and render them out. So really quickly, just to kind of give you--and this is a really simple technique, just to kind of give you an idea of how we achieved this look of the helmet with a simple plane effector and a bool. So what I'll do here is grab these guys, fire up a new scene, and paste them in. So here we have our helmet, and I'm going to go ahead and throw on the wire frame. So the first thing we did is create our plane effector here and then a poly-effect. And we drop our plane effector in here, and nothing's happening quite yet, what we've got to do is switch the falloff. And for this specific shot we used a spheres falloff and we scaled it way up. So I'll put 1,000. And the next thing we've got to do is we don't want to effect the position of the polys, just the scale, so we're going to disable that, enable scale, and set that to negative one. So nothing's happening quite yet, we've got to group all this. Group objects. So now we can see, you know, how quickly that setup was. And you know you can get some pretty cool results. And it's important for us, you know we're a small shop and so finding the most efficient means to, you know, create something cool is really important for us, especially with the amount of HUD shots we receive on a show like this. We need setups that are fast and that we can kind of hand off to any artist and they can pick it up and run with it to completion. So that's kind of the idea behind our helmet reveal. The other technique we used, as you can see right in here, is a simple bool that kind of scans on at the end right there. So just really quickly, again another simple setup. Duplicate that, close this stuff out. So we've got our geo. What we'll do is just create our bool. We're going to group these guys here and drop them under the bool. The next thing we've got to do is we've got to create an object effector. So we'll just take this square here, this cube and kind of line it up a bit. Not like that. There, like that. So this is going to be the object actually affecting our geo. And then it just becomes a matter of sliding it up and down. So really simple stuff you know, but we kind of pride ourself on taking these simple techniques and seeing how far we can push them with a little After Effects love. So it's kind of the idea behind our boot-up here. All right? All right, the next shot I want to jump onto has to do with our mark 45, and again that's the suit that we see at the end of the film. And it's Iron Man's POV of Ultron's church key device. So let me show you the final shot first. So what we've got here is, you know Iron Man doing his cool little schematic scan here. And we see the plate kind of transition into this wireframe world. So the client, they supplied us with this plate, and the plate had a slight pan down. But what they wanted was the Iron Man POV to pan down until we can actually see the end of this spire, to really get a sense of how far down it goes. So Cinema helped us out with that. The first thing we do with a shot like this is 3D track the plate. So let me go ahead and open up the Cinema file real quick. I may turn off a couple things. So you can see here, we've got our point cloud data that we got outta PF track, and we just import that into Cinema. We've got all our camera information ready to go. So from there it just becomes a matter of importing ILM's model of that church key and getting it lined up fairly close to our point cloud data. So kind of like what we've got going on here. And again these dense models we have to go in and clean up quite a bit. So that kind of gives you an idea of just how quickly the setups can be. Go back into camera view. Another thing we like to do is bring the plate in to actually make sure things are lining up with the plate as well and not just our little track. So what we'll do, we'll load that in. Let's go dig for it. Let's see here. There we go. Nah. All right. So it's not going to be moving quite yet. We've got to calculate the plate. So we'll go to animation here, go to range, and I think it's 9-7-7-10-86. And hit calculate. So that easy. And that's looking pretty good. So from here it's just a matter of applying, you know all our materials and setting up our passes and hitting the render button. To give you an idea of what we get outta this, I'll show you our C4D render of just the, kind of the wire frame. So simple techniques and, you know taking them as far as we can. And another thing we do with any CG setup is set up a lot of nulls that we can bring into After Effects to add any supplementary story point graphics we need to. So it kind of gives you an idea. And this is the same graphics just on the plate. So some pretty cool looks. All right. And the last shot I kind of want to run through here, is another 45, and this is a similar shot to the one I just showed you only looking up from the bottom to the top of that same spire. So this is our final shot here. Unfortunately for this shot, the graphics didn't make it into the film. That's common, it happens all the time, but I liked how it came out so much I wanted to share that with you guys. So let me go ahead and fire up that Cinema file. All right. So luckily for us, this CG file was supplied and it had all the animation ready to go and camera information all baked in. I think this was given to us by Method, and so that made our lives a lot easier. Again, dropping in the same techniques as the other shot, same materials, setting up all our nulls, and kicking it out to render. So to give you an idea of how that came out, yeah. So again, taking really simple techniques and trying to get the most out of them. All right. And then lastly here, it's the same animation on the plate. All right? So just to kind of sum up everything I'm talking about; we're a pretty small shop, and with the amount of shots we get in for shows like this it's really important for us to find efficient and quick ways to work and be able to bring in artists and allow them to hit the ground running with the workflow that we've set up. You know, again with these simple materials and techniques, and ability for C4D to kind of hop back and forth between After Effects, that makes our lives a lot easier. So that kind of sums up my portion of the presentation, I'm going to hand it over to my coworker Stephen Morton. He's going to show you guys some awesome stuff Cantina did for Need for Speed. - [Stephen] Thanks Alan. Great job, wherever you are. All right. We're going to switch gears here a little bit. I'm going to show you some stuff we did for Need for Speed. And this was a pretty, well I should start--I should introduce myself. My name's Stephen Morton, and I'm a lead artist and CG Generalist at Cantina Creative. I kind of specialize more in the kind of photo real CG elements, matte paintings, set extensions, that kind of thing. So yeah, so Need for Speed was a pretty unique job for us. We kind of, our niche is really in motion graphics and UI design and that kind of thing, but you know, and the fact that we were so familiar with Cinema 4D on jobs that required that kind of work. We said, you know let's see what it can do, you know with more live action, more you know kind of photo realistic elements. So let's just start with this sequence here which is a pretty pivotal moment in the film, this McLaren crash. I should say from the get-go these are actual drivers in these cars, these are kit cars. Scott Waugh, our director at Bandido Brothers, our partner company, he did a great job choreographing all of this and, you know, you usually only get one take with something like this so the drivers really gave us a lot to work with, here. There's a lot of beautiful kind of dust and that kind of thing that we actually ended up using rather than building a bunch of particles and things from scratch. We used a lot of elements kind of in-camera. But our main chunk here beyond the paint work was obviously kind of patching up these pieces of the car that had kind of blown off. You can see that the cars... They are kit cars, they have a little bit of a different proportion than the actual factory model cars. So you can see the roll cage kind of revealing itself under here. So that framework kind of protects the driver, it's there to protect the drivers, but again it proposed some challenges because it is a different car, so our models weren't going to match up perfectly from the get-go. You know, it's pretty great because all this was done in camera, and it gave us a lot to work with. And it was really in the spirit of the film to do as much as you could practically, you know and that I think helped a lot of the shots. And I don't think anyone really would question, you know that these are full blown CG shots. It's shot in a very kind of natural way and, again we had quite a bit to work with. So I'm going to walk you through this shot. So again going back to the original plate. So again we have this big piece back here that we wanted to patch up. So we got this wonderful model. I'll open up our scene, here. Let's see C4D 16. So really, I think on a lot of other films a scene like this might be done entirely in CG, you know and that becomes really difficult. You know, you see usually what points out bad CG? Is the car feel too light, you know, does it not have a lot of weight to it? Maybe the shading is a little off, some of the animation is off. All right. So as you can see we have this lovely model that we had. First thing we did, as you always do you track the shot. So we had a nice 3D track, nice point cloud here. And we didn't have to recreate a whole lot, you know. These shots are very short, you know, only about 40 frames, 50 frames. So really just kind of a simple road texture, simple kind of terrain with some photography that was shot on set. And our renderer was VRay, so we could set up a basic kind of HDR. We had nice flat lighting, as you can see. It was nice and overcast, which is our best friend when it comes to shadows and CG, so... So yeah just brought in our 3D camera track. And you know with something like this it's kind of like, well where do you even begin? For me, I like to set up kind of my first and my last key frames first. So I kind of find where that car lives in space. We did do an object track that kind of got us in the ballpark, I don't have the object track in here because we did start to have to abandon that and just do our own kind of key framing. But really the key frames, as you can see are pretty simple. And what I like to do is I like to kind of set my in and my out point first. So this key frame and this key frame. So if we just take these guys and kind of blow them away, you know it's going to look maybe a little funny, or it's not going to be perfect, but I like to kind of start there and then interpolate. So yeah, we had some nice reflections and we ended up with this pass here, which again kind of looks funny on its own, looks very CG, looks very cartoonish. But really, again going back to the philosophy of the film is how much can we keep from the original plate? How much can we retain and use in the final shot? So this kind of quick breakdown shows you, you know a little bit of our process. Painting out crash cams, all the paint work. Thank you to everybody at Cantina. There was quite a bit of paint work on this job. It's kind of the thank-less v-effects that you don't think about. It's not the sexiest stuff but it's extremely important. So this is kind of the beginnings of kissing in that CG, which again, you know took a lot of color correction, we had a nice motion vectors pass that we rendered out to get our motion blur. So you can see the beginnings of the color correction here and then finally, really that back wheel became an interesting topic of conversation, because we did initially try to animate the back wheel to rotate. And rather than fighting with it and matching that specific rotation and getting all that kind of natural kind of gunk and dust that's on the wheel, we just kind of rotomated back in that original practical wheel. And I think a lot of the successful you know CG films and visual effects films, it is emerging of the practical and the visual effects and where those lines kind of meet. And ultimately that's the key to, you know kind of convincing your audience. So we used this method quite a bit, again going back to the original sequence. That kind of strategy was applied throughout this shot here, this shot, this one here. A lot of rotomation. And again because the proportions of the car were different, this one had a bigger kind of caboose, a bigger cage on the back end, and that meant we had to kind of stretch and warp and do some things in comp to get it to really sit in there. But yeah, I think it turned out pretty nice. This was a pretty--and it was a big moment in the film, and you know, director was very happy about that. I should call out Tony Lupoi, who's here, our visual effects supervisor who really did a great job helping with shooting these sequences and, you know setting everything up in a way that we had a lot to work with. But this was another crash sequence where we employed the same method, VRay textures, simple sunlight, couple of bounce cards, and some nice animation. So yeah, so that is kind of a little bit of what we call rotomation. The next shot is kind of a cool story. I'll start playing this plate to kind of get us started here. But this film was a Dreamworks and a Bandido Brothers production and Bandido Brothers is our partner company, so we share a campus down here in Culver City, right down the street. And it was pretty cool because we posted the film in-house, we had the editor right downstairs, we had another visual effects vendor Atomic Fiction, did some work with us, but for the most part everything was done under one roof which is extremely rare. Usually work is sent all over the world to vendors everywhere and if you need to talk to the editor it might take some time to get in his ear, but the fact that we had him downstairs. This shot is a perfect example of why that was so great. So we had the director say to Tony, to our sup, said this is the wrong car. And for continuity you know they're cutting in this sequence, this Koenigsegg, this red car in the foreground, is the wrong one. They kind of said we're willing to cut around it, we're willing to maybe like nix this shot, but we love this shot. It's a pretty cool--you know you've got this chaser car splitting, you know threading the needle between this bus and this tow truck, and it leads into a pretty epic car crash. So we liked this shot, and we're like well let's see what we can do, let's figure out a plan to replace this car. Now, really what we ended--this is the full plate. What we really needed was kind of in this vicinity. It's a pretty quick shot and I think I have a breakdown here that will show you. It's super quick, but really this becomes a 2D maneuver, right? This is not a fully 3D thing. We can just kind of mocha track the back of this car and track this car through space, and because the initial challenge is, man you have a car moving in it's own 3D space, you have a chaser car, the camera car moving in it's own 3D space. So to match all of that movement in 3D completely would've... We might still be sitting here working on that shot right now if we had to do it that way. So instead, it kind of became a hybrid 2D, kind of 3D thing. So this little breakdown kind of gives you an idea of what we did. As you can see, camera shake was our best friend, you know, throughout the film. I think camera shake is just a good trick sometimes to not only heighten the intensity of the shot but to... Sometimes the v-effects the CG elements start to sit in there really nice with the camera shake. So this was kind of our end product here and as you can see it's a very quick shot. So the first thing we did was stabilize the shot, so I have a stabilized plate here. So you can see, kind of really through here, again it becomes kind of a 2D thing, and all I really had to do was match the y-rotation, so the car kind of moving in this way, which is really subtle. So very quickly, you know after just stabilizing the plate, we kind of had something we could work with and bring this in to C4D. And then it really just became lighting and shading, and very simple animation, only a couple of keyframes. So we had some nice cards here, some nice photography and the reflections get so warped, you know rather than putting a full CG bus and a full CG tow truck in there when the reflections are warped and everything, why fight with that and why up your render time when you can just use a couple of cards? So we had a really quick solution for this. The other thing that's interesting is this really is, this car's kind of on a dolly. And it's just sitting there stationary and rotating like this. So you can see if we zoom in here, or maybe actually I can just... So you can see our car doesn’t move, but the environment moves around it. So we would bring in the plate and match those moments. You can see a little bit of the gold kick of the bus off of the Koenigsegg. And we would just kind of time when that was happening and lay those cards in space when that was at the right moment. And again it's just enough to kind of trick the audience, just enough to sell kind of what is going on. So then we rendered this guy out as a sequence and you've got all these nice kind of tree reflections. Again more photography we got on set. And you get this nice kind of play on the roof of the McLaren. Just again, going back to our breakdown, you can see you know this kind of stuff up in here. Oops, put on our loop. You know, that reflection that happens over the McLaren really just brings it--gives it some nice life. All right. I have one more thing I'd like to show you. And I think I'll just open it from here. Well, let me show you the shot first. So we had, again C4D was a great tool for us and again this was kind of like let's see what it can do. You know other platforms are often known for this kind of CG work. And again we, as Alan said, you know we pride ourselves... We do a ton of compositing in-house and we really try to give things a cinematic feel and we, you know. It's amazing what you can achieve with a simple texture and a depth matte to make something feel real. As soon as you add depth and grain and a little bit of a cool color correction to like anything, all of a sudden you're like, “Oh wow, that's better. You know, why did I do all of that work on the CG end with lighting and everything?” But, so this was a great job for us in that regard. We really did stretch out C4D and kind of really figure out what it's limitations were. So this shot was a nice example of projection man. We were given a plate that had a little bit of a handheld move, it was kind of shaky. And it was really kind of an afterthought when it was presented to us. They had this moment in the film where this auto body shop, our hero's auto body shop gets shut down while he's in jail and kind of turns derelict, and gets boarded up and that kind of thing. And they didn't have really a strategy of how to tell that story. So they gave us this plate and said, “Oh well can we do something, maybe just lock it off, maybe just do a simple matte painting or something, a kind of a time lapsed thing." So we said, “Well, using projection man will give us an opportunity to do a nice camera move, you know and kind of rather than just lock it off and have it static, have some nice movement in the shot.” And it turned out pretty nice. But actually here's, I should've shown this first, but this was a nice little breakdown, kind of walks you through. We just built some simple geos, some simple bounce cards, and then just projected that image. We used kind of the camera calibrator function in C4D, and then I'll show you our little texture and shader setup we used in projection man here in a second. Okay. Let's use this in 16 as well. There we go. All right so as you can see we have our kind of textures down here that were painted in Photoshop from the original plate. There we go. So really just a simple build, just a couple pieces of geo that actually, you know we ended up building kind of, a pretty accurate version of this thing and then realizing we didn't even really need all that geo, and just kind of simplified it down to some basic planes. And this gave us some nice latitudes for a camera move. So we kind of took it as far as we could until it started to break down. As you can see, the texture from the original plate, that reflection does start to break down, it looks really static, but the fact that it was a time lapse allowed us to project a separate texture that kind of faded in and was projected from a different angle, so that this kind of stretching and warping that doesn't look so nice was kind of patched up. So the time lapse kind of helped us in that regard. But yeah, again like this was... There wasn't a ton of time, you know we had a--we did over 1,000 visual effects shots on this film between about 15-20 people, at most 20 people. So it was a ton of work, so these types of things it was like, all right we've got a couple days, you know to get something out the door and if not we've got to you know go back to the drawing board and find a simpler solution. So I will say again, like credit to our director and our editor and our visual effects sup Tony for having such a great, kind of plan and managing all of that and I don't know many shops that do 1,000 visual effects shots between the team that we had and it was a pretty small team. Thanks guys, I just want to, oh-- - Thank you. - ...quickly say thank you to Cantina Creative and Sean Cushing and Steven Lawes, our you know courageous leaders. And for Maxon for having us. Thank you. - Thank you. - Oh, check us out.
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