The team worked with Mathieu Renault and his team at Rodeo FX to create them. Using the stack of reference imagery the team had collected, the matte paintings were created in Photoshop, capturing the warmer, more friendly feel of the final shots of Burma.
With the score and matte work underway and being refined, Shilo undertook a process of chipping away at basic sketches to build the piece up layer by layer, working through to initial previz work from the starting hand-drawn frames.
It took the team around nine weeks to create the spot, including three lead artists, five matte painters, six 3D animators, five 3D artists, seven compositors, and a handful of staff covering typography, miniatures and editing.
Shilo relied on Maya for all 3D modelling and animation, and After Effects was used for compositing and effects work. The studio also deployed Nuke for the first time on some of the compositing elements – giving the studio the best way to create the landscapes of Burma without going on a location shoot.
One part of the viral that pulled together all disciplines was the creation of the aircraft taking off and heading to Burma. Shilo started with hand-drawn sketches, then moved on to creating frames, followed by pulling it together in an edit, which was crucial for locking down the pace of the story.
With the edit in the bag, the sequence was broken into locations, and then individual shots. Elements such as the aircraft – in this case an American B52, Russian Lancer and English Vulcan – were then comped in and worked up in 3D.
The film’s other key shots – the cascades of flowers – presented Shilo with an altogether different challenge. “Creating the flowers in CG gave us creative freedom, but also posed a few challenges,” says Hill.
“Flowers are delicate and complex at the same time, not only in their material structure, but in the way they move. We had to consider how they would fall, how the wind patterns would affect their petals, and how they work en masse. We wanted to give them a feeling of gracefulness and a playful sense of choreography. It was a challenge to get all of these things working properly and come off feeling natural.”
The foreground ‘hero’ flowers were hand animated, working as a focal point during the latter stages of the spot and also as leaders that the other, 3D flowers could follow.
Middle-distance and background flowers were created using Maya particles and Trapcode’s Particular plug-in for After Effects to stimulate their movements.
As particles aren’t noted for predictable results, boundaries were set on different groups of flowers so that they filled the sky. Shilo then worked on the lighting and compositing, starting with a realistic look and feel as a baseline, before migrating towards a more stylized feel.
Lighting was sourced from the environmental matte paintings, with a lighting pipeline made up of fully adjustable anisotropic shaders and HDR lighting, with CG lighting used sparingly.
“Compositing was where we brought all the elements together and achieved a look and feel that served the subject matter best, and we put everything together after the rendering was completed,” says Stinger.
“If the mattes were not camera-projected in 3D, then they were broken up and animated in After Effects. Smoke, fog, and other effects were applied in the compositing phase.
“After everything was composited, we adjusted the composites based on reference and to match each other. Then we colour adjusted the locations and colour-separated from each other.