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Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canada

​Offering 3D services for film, advertising, web, corporate and birthday parties

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Popcorn Garlands and Movie Magic

Patrick Letourneau

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This ad was created in about 5 weeks for Cineplex Entertainment. It played on 1400 screens in Canada before every movie shown for a full month, and was sent out by the entire Cineplex organization (right up to the CEO) as an e-card, for which i made an alternate ending title. 4 versions in all. I didn't get much sleep, and there were at least 2 meltdowns over technical hiccups, but i'm extremely happy with the result, and the client was over the moon. I try to practice constant communication with a remote client during big projects, so i used Skype screen sharing heavily as well as a shared dropbox to keep in sync with the client's feedback. The client had creative prepared, so  my end was squeezing those creative brains until some concrete imagery dripped out. Avoiding constant changes to assets in the scene is a must, and the term "Ok, this is locked" gets thrown around a lot to keep me sane. Managing 13 shots without using Xrefs means i had to lock the kitchen build before moving to any rendering 

Lighting and rendering were a huge part of the work on this project, as there are hundreds of individual lights, most with Area Shadows, reflections, 4k textures ETC. Avoiding flicker, artifacts, aliasing, moire and noise are where my years of playing around with every button in Cinema 4D came in handy. Animating Global Illumination is, as any 3d artist will tell you, a stupid and impossible thing to do on a tight deadline. Animated GI (bounce lighting) is subject to A: massive pre-render caching and B: Soul crushing artifacts when it goes wrong

It went wrong

I ended up rendering out tests about halfway through the project with the Full Animation mode in Cinema 4d, and let me tell you about terrible glitchy flickering artifacts. They were *everywhere*. After a stressful few tests and more that one email to my producer proclaiming possible doom, i ended up using the standard static image lighting model for the GI, and lo and behold, it eliminated all flicker. This was the complete opposite of what C4D AR is designed to do, but holy crap did it save the day. GI pre-cache times were cut by 75%, and i didn't have to deliver a plasticy render with no bounce lighting. 

Character help came from Pixel Reborn for design and reference animations. I did the hair based off of his sketches in Cinema 4D, and it came out at roughly 10-20 seconds per frame to render the hair, which is a really really fantastic result considering how great it looks. I had to exclude most lights from affecting it, so shadows dont fall quite right on his forehead, but the deadline shows no mercy. 3ds max FBX export issues plagued the project for days and really threw a wrench in the production schedule, so hopefully Alembic will be able to solve that on the next character heavy project.

All images are lightboxed. Click to expand 

The scene contained 100s of individual lights. Optimization was a huge priority to keep render times sane

Diffusion, depth of field and a bit of color go a long way

Blocking out camera moves over Skype screen sharing with my producer really made the project manageable. It's difficult to use the standard email loop for feedback on something with as many variables as a camera move

An example of the sub-optimal hair render. With a few more weeks i would have preferred more occlusion around his forehead -- But damn, does that oven look fantastic

Compositing a 5000px sky with animated star twinkles and Aurora Borealis i 16bit colour quickly maxed out my RAM