With its puppetry, live action, extensive CG and stereoscopic 3D versions, Wanderlust was never going to be simple. Fortunately, the video’s creators had the full backing of Björk, who was relaxed about time – this was particularly lucky, since the project ended up taking nine months from start to finish.
“In some ways, every single step of the post-production process was fraught with difficulties. All of the steps that were supposed to be easy wound up needing tender loving care,” says Saccio. Encyclopedia Pictura spent three months planning, building the models and shooting live-action.
Then UVPhactory got to work. Saccio says: “Basically when we started post-production, we invited the two directors to move into our office and we spent the next six and a half months working non-stop on the project, with a team that varied between five and 15 people.” T
he herd of yaks that appears in the video’s first scene are actually all a single puppet. “One of the problems was that since the yak was such a difficult thing to fabricate, there was just one full yak. As a consequence, the one yak was shot many times from different angles for each shot,” explains Saccio.
“This was the same strategy that had to be employed for the riverbank. There was just one section that was built with a couple of break-away sections that could be added or subtracted for variety,” he continues.
UVPhactory assembled the riverbank into a virtual live-action composite, “then this had to be tracked in 3D to have the live-action yaks and riverside pieces interact seamlessly with the CG water and other CG elements.”
Tracking the composite riverbank in 3D was a laborious task. “The live-action composite was completely fabricated, with the camera moving at different speeds for each pass and such [so] the 3D track had to be completely done by hand, because there was no one ‘real’ environment for the tracker to track,” explains Saccio.
“Our 3D tracker, Tim Marinov, became a real expert in this as the project went on.”
It was time to add water – and yaks. Making the water flow compellingly, while not being overtly ‘CG’, took some creative thinking. The UVPhactory team opted for Softimage|XSI’s hair module to get the look.
“One of the reasons we chose the hair module was because we wanted a stringy, sort of painted look,” says Saccio. “Initially it was difficult for us to get the motion on the hair, but ultimately RealWave helped to create the water motion,” says Tim Marinov, UVPhactory’s technical director and R&D lead on the project.
“We started with an underlying water simulation using the RealWave module of Next Limit’s RealFlow software,” says Saccio. “We then brought this geometry into Softimage|XSI and created a much higher resolution mesh based on the one from RealFlow.
“We extracted vertical splines and used those to in turn create sets of hair using XSI’s built-in hair module. Then to this hair, many effects were added.”