Fabrice Vienne worked on a large number of shows such as PACIFIC RIM, WARCRAFT, GAME OF THRONES, DOWNSIZING and FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD.
They did all kinds of effects ranging from simple assets like in the Orrery sequence by extending the background of the city of Chicago and its skytrain, the Ardham Lodge ruins, FX like fire effects in the Ardham Hallway corridor, and the cosmic transitions of Hippolyta around the world.
Another more complex sequence was that of the battle between the Amazonian female army and the former Republic of Dahomey.
The client provided them with all the necessary material, concepts and reference images, plus 3D scans for the characters and film set.
For Chicago, they were lucky to use assets that were already created for other episodes. Their team created 3 unique environments—that of the Champs Elysée theatre, the Dahomey village, and the portal interior, each with its own methodology.
For the theatre, They took a more traditional approach to matte painting while using the maximum potential of the lidar scans provided by the client. Once the lidar was placed in layout, it made it easier to create a more realistic lighting atmosphere.
For the Dahomey environment, they created some CG assets of the main buildings and reused some props from their CG bank. They created a layout still based on the concepts and images provided by the client and for the mountain extension, they went with a mix of 3D terrain generation and a skydome environment, all managed from Clarisse.
The cameras in the shoot were located in a 3D space in a logical way with respect to the continuity of the shots to allow them to have a single working environment for all shots without having to move things around. For the environment inside the portal, it was a totally procedural approach in FX with Houdini. In order to have a camera placement consistent with the environment, they went back and forth between the artist FX and the artist layout to have the best camera placement in relation to the desired effect. With one artist, they made the lookdev and lighting at the same time to be sure the results were what the client wanted.
The transitions between each world and lifetime. Arnaud Brisbois, VFX Supervisor for this episode, imagined the technical concept of the effect based on the client’s concept references. It’s always a challenge to make a complex effect based on a still image so that it turns out like the image the client has in his/ her head!
At the beginning the client wanted a glittery effect to finish with a more cosmic effect—these terms leave a lot of room for interpretation. Their team loves that kind of challenge though and they have some talented FX artists that can evolve an image to a reality. Once the client was satisfied with our approach, they just had to finalize the last little details in the comp for final delivery.
Many of your sequences have a crowd.
For the battle sequence, given the nature of the actors’ actions, they decided to do their own mocap sessions with professional stuntmen. They used our Xsense Link suit mocap equipment and thanks to their Live Action studio, they did it all in one day. They then cleaned up their best selections of usable data for the shots and also used their animators for other mocap collections such as the Champs Elysée theatre sequence where the entire crowd was replaced.
For all their digi-doubles, they start with a client’s 3D scan then create their assets on the basis of one model per type of character containing all the cloth variations and props. This way, they can select variations in the clothes and props that they want later. Their skeletons are designed to do as much animation by keyframes as mocap.
Since mid-March, the entire staff at Rodeo FX has been working through tele-work. This was done quickly after the government’s decision to shut down all non-essential activity and Rodeo was right in the middle of many projects in full production.
So when He worked on episode 7 of LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, they were already prepared and his whole team was working in “COVID mode” from home. So it hasn’t changed the way they work. It just requires a little more communication and a lot more time on video conferencing.
Always for the sequence of the battle of Dahomey, they had to think of a different methodology for the addition of fighters close to Hippolyta. Due to a very short production time, they couldn’t afford to proceed with a traditional pipeline which consists of working shot by shot starting with the animation and then adding the cloth simulation. They had to reduce the amount of people working per shot.
This is why they decided to create an animation and action library called a « vignette » containing the different types of animation (actions), the variations of cloth and the cloth simulation ready to be put in the scene by the artist’s layout via Houdini. This way they could quickly approve a layout with a first pass without the cloth simulation and update the vignette automatically by approving the last cache submission of the ‘vignette’ containing the cloth simulation. All available quickly for lighters.
All the transition shots through the portal.
With the delivery speed of this project, the time factor was a stress, but it went really well because of an extraordinary team.
The Dahomey sequence was his favorite because they had to adapt their pipeline specifically for this sequence and that’s what He like about their job, it always pushes them to go beyond their limits. This sequence really forced them to think differently and that’s the depth and richness of their profession.
125 VFx shots for episode 7. 50 people was the size of their team.
Rodeo FX: Dedicated page about Lovecraft Country on Rodeo FX website.