BASH is a film produced internally at Mainframe to celebrate the release of the MASH Dynamics node in Maya 2018.
We set out to create a selection of experimental, dynamic scenes using simple primitive shapes as the base objects. That original concept stood fast but the process itself also resulted in serving a far higher purpose than pretty pictures alone.
We first heard the term ‘eat your own dog food’ when we joined forces with Autodesk in 2015. The project didn’t start out as R&D. It was simply meant as a promotional piece to celebrate the fact that MASH now has a Dynamics node. Something we’ve craved since MASH’s inception many years ago. What became quickly apparent was how effective this process was at exposing any bugs during our development cycles. It’s amazing how often a 3d artist, on trying out a new feature, will gravitate towards the one thing that’s not working properly or try to do something we hadn’t thought of in development. So we ate a lot of dog food and the more we ate the better it tasted. The process really informed our approach to MASH Dynamics in development and contributed to another powerful addition to MASH’s arsenal. Oh, and we made a lovely promotional piece along the way.
All these scenes were put together during the development of Maya 2018 so it’s entirely possible there are better ways of doing some of these things now we have a full release version. That said, all scenes have been tested in the Maya 2018 release (on OSX at least) so we hope the notes below help you understand and familiarise yourself with some of the processes and techniques we used in creating BASH.
Note - all scenes require Maya 2018. Let us know via https://twitter.com/mashinmotion if you have any problems (or love!). Please bear in mind we’ve provided these files as a gift for you to play with. We may not be able to answer every question.
Director/Producer - Chris Hardcastle.
3D Artists - Ben Black, Jack Brown, Matt Oxley, Alex Dorman.
Developers - Ian Waters, Martin Vejdarski.
Bleeps and Beats - Matt Oxley
CLIENT: KISS TV
ART DIRECTOR: Daniel Wood @ KISS TV
Mainframe were recently invited by Box Plus Network to create a series of idents for their music channel Kiss TV. With Kiss being at the forefront of Music TV in the U.K. the brief for the idents was to created something innovative, visually stunning and different to anything else on UK TV screens.
We pushed the boundaries in terms of look and feel with these idents. Spending large amounts of time doing research and development, particularly in new forms of procedural animation, gave us tools we needed to create something truly original. The Box Plus team were particularly supportive of this experimental way of working and hopefully the results are worth the effort everyone put into the project.
There are four main strands that pay homage to the synergy between fashion and music, each intertwined with a distinctive party mood: bling, club, pop and urban that also reflect the range of the channel’s music policy. The brand is taken into an abstract, intergalactic world, on a journey of high energy, form and colour.
‘Bling’ brings the luxe of hip hop and glam pop with reflective, glittering, metallic textures and fluid, melding animations. ‘Club’ embodies the energy of house and techno, glowing lights and lasers, and repetitive beating movements.
‘Pop’ provides imagery derived from pop funk and pop rap, colourful, vibrant hues, and frenetic, bold animations. Finally, ‘urban’ ident draws inspiration from garage and grime, with dark, moody tones lit up with molten lava and animated at an explosive pace.
Within the animations, two objects touch - representing a ‘kiss’ - to create a chain reaction culminating in a distinctive logo resolve. The faceted and folding mechanic is used as a constant to create a familiar thread across the four distinct looks - showcasing four facets of the one channel.
Specially composed tracks by Nottingham Bass DJ/producer Shookz - one of the Midlands’ most diverse and exciting musical talents - adds multi-dimensional layers to the four idents. Inspiration for these tracks has come from youth production workshops in Mansfield, Shookz’s remix work, and his immersion in a range of sub-genres of electronic dance music
It's always nice to get the chance to do something a bit different so in a refreshing departure from our usual day to day work we were thrilled to be invited by Autodesk to put together the visuals for their 'Motion Graphics and More' landing page - motiongraphics.autodesk.com/
The brief was simply to create some interesting animated visuals for the site. Rather than a 'background video' we proposed the idea of using the scroll bar as a play button so that as a user scrolls down the page the background animates accordingly. The fun aesthetic was intended to both create a look not typically/traditionally associated with Maya and to keep file sizes friendly.
In the end, the overall process wasn't that dissimilar to creating a linear video but the project did throw up some interesting challenges around matching up the distance the 3d Maya camera travels with the scroll bar and easing in and out of each 'scene' as a user hits the different section of the website. Of course, our trusted friend MASH featured heavily in this - vimeo.com/album/4046248.
Working closely with the guys at torpedogroup.com who implemented the site we got to a very happy place. This is a 'making of' covering some of our input.
Check out this 'Quick Tut' too - vimeo.com/185462190 We'll try and add to this!
Hi [insert client name here],
We think we're nearly there on this. It’d be great to get your thoughts/comments and of course, let us know if you spot anything obviously wrong.
This was an experimental film put together simply as an opportunity to have a play in-between projects. After much deliberation we set ourselves a brief to create a collection of scenarios subverting the physical properties of...anything. It made for some interesting comments along the way. “That egg’s not bouncy enough, the cloth coming out of the tap needs to feel more like water, the bowling ball needs to feel heavier as it floats off…”. We suddenly realised we were playing our own client (hence the in-joke above) This is FauxPhysics_09_FINAL_V16_ForApproval FINAL_withAudio_FINAL_1.mov ;·)
We've started lots of these projects over the years. This rare creature is one that's finally found its way out of the studio. And no, it wasn’t at all annoying to see this peach vimeo.com/191444383 appear on Vimeo half way through the process. ◔_◔
Since its launch there have been over 40 million views online and counting...
There has also been some very nice things said about it too. Here's one of our favourites: http://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/mainframe-animation-240117
All produced in Maya 2017, rendered in Vray and composited in After Effects.
Eggs - nCloth
Bowling Ball - Rigid Body Dynamics
Light Bulbs - nCloth
Taps - nCloth
Pencils - nHair/CurveWarp/MASH
Balloons - nCloth
Milk - Bifrost
3d Artists: Ben Black, Jack Brown
Audio: Max Greening
CLIENT: Nike Global Brand Design
ART DIRECTION: David Brady / Golden
3D SCAN: Mainframe
2016 has seen Mainframe working closely with Nike Global Brand design studio on a number of projects for new product launches.
We’ve been busy creating promo animations, high res stills and product photography for the new 'Lunar Epic', 'Nike Air Zoom All Out Flyknit' and 'Kid’s Nike Air Zoom Pegasus All Out Flyknit’.
High-end CGI coupled with incredibly detailed 3d scans were used to create the 10 second films and stills which have formed the cornerstone of Nike’s marketing campaigns and were rolled out at Nike.com, in-store and on social media.
CLIENT: CHANNEL 5
CREATIVE DIRECTION: JODY MALAM / ALUN CONSTABLE
As part of their network wide rebrand the good folk at Channel 5 asked us to create a series of continuity bumpers for their schedule.
A fun part of the rebrand process to be involved with, the brief was to create abstract graphic moments using the new segmented logo that would start and end from the logo’s hero location. After creating a number of exploratory animations the creative directors curated these final versions to develop and deliver.
Each bumper was created in all of the channel colour ways equaling 56 possible options… each of these options are paired with multiple continuity messages as white type overlaid resulting in countless possible variations!
SOUND: Max Greening
This is a cutdown featuring just the CG elements of a larger promotional film to launch the Atom suitcase from Antler. We produced and directed a small studio shoot, created CG animations of the case being ‘rammed’ to illustrate the durability required for a few rounds with airport baggage handlers and designed the abstract graphics sequences to represent the intricate detail and formidable strength of this new product.
A Very British Bear Tale.
HEAD OF CREATIVE MARKETING: Deborah Bee
ART DIRECTOR: Barney Pickard
CHARACTER DESIGN: Antonin Herveet
MUSIC/SFX: Seán O’Reilly
Mainframe was delighted (if slightly surprised as it was only February) to be invited by Harrods to work with them on their iconic Christmas 2016 campaign, A Very British Bear Tale.
Mainframe worked closely with Head of Creative Marketing, Deborah Bee and Art Director Barney Pickard to lovingly bring to life Bee’s original story of Hugh the Harrods Bear saving Christmas.
Mainframe developed the ‘screenplay’ and storyboard of the project, then, over the course of several months we un-seasonally swathed the studio with Christmas spirit. Designing and developing the characters and environments, modelling, previzing, animating, rendering and compositing the 90 second spot. The result is a heartwarming tale that’s been enthusiastically received by both the press and public.
The work will be aired across TV, Cinema, Social, In-store, and on the Harrods App.
ps. Sorry we’ve made Christmas happen from the start of November…
AUDIO: MAX GREENING
As long time users of 3d software Autodesk Maya we were thrilled to be asked us to create a striking intro sequence for their Vision Series videos. A showcase for their thought leadership in all things 3d and beyond.
Our answer, to what was a very open brief, was to abstract the journey of a beam of light as it travels through to an eye. We used many of Maya's features in the execution of this piece but it also served to show off what can be achieved using our plugin MASH which Autodesk acquired from us in 2015. MASH now ships as part of Maya 2016 Extension 2 and has made some big waves in the Motion Graphics world following its announcement at NAB in April '16.
AUDIO: MAX GREENING
Following on from our work on the Vision Series project we were delighted to be invited back by Autodesk to create an intro sequence for their online Maya channel.
Again, creatively it was a very open brief - 'show off the features in Maya'.
The simple form of a cube bursting open to reveal layers of interest and complexity is intended to echo the creative process before finding Maya at the centre of it all; the nucleus enabling all this creativity. We used many Maya features in the execution of this piece including Xgen, nCloth, Bifrost and, of course, MASH.
We were asked to base this piece around a clockwork insect. We then devised and re-imagined a Bee's journey through beautiful gold and diamond encrusted garden scene arriving at a hive inspired by Faberge design combined with the dome atop the Harrods building.
It was great to be able to write, produce, direct and animate a piece of content that has the versatility to play out as a cinema advert as well as in store, online and iPad app content. Stills from the animation are also featuring in press ads running in Vanity Fair, Tatler and Harpers Bazar
DESIGN / ANIMATION / DIRECTION / PRODUCTION
CLIENT: LOUIS VUITTON
AGENCY BETC: PARIS
Mainframe added to our luxury brand portfolio with this animated journey through an abstract jewellery landscape. We worked closely with the amazing Chris Turner, who provided us with beautifully photographed stills. We then recreated each piece of jewellery in 3D, allowing us to travel through the scenes for the animated sequence. The final piece was used across various social media platforms, including the Louis Vuitton website.
DESIGN / ANIMATION / VFX / DIRECTION / PRODUCTION
DESIGN / ANIMATION: MAINFRAME
AUDIO: ZELIG AUDIO
tech21 commissioned Mainframe to produce several films promoting their range of phone cases. This is a directors cut of the Evo Check case.
Find out more here tech21.com/
CLIENT: RUSSIAN STANDARD VODKA
DIRECTOR: CALUM MACDIARMID
PRODUCTION: GREAT GUNS
Mainframe have built on their relationship with award winning director Calum Macdiarmid with this epic series of films for Russian Standard Vodka. The spots follow US 'futurist and film maker' Jason Silva as he explores the origins and science behind Russian Standard Vodka. Mainframe were heavily involved from the start of the project, from supervising the shoot right through to extensive cgi, compositing and grade. Mainframe completed over 150 shots, all in house, on what was one of the most complex projects in it's history.
Deliverables included this 3'35'' film which was premiered at The Science Museum, a 60' version for cinema and two 30's for worldwide TV. The project was conceived by the excellent Myagency and produced by the venerable folks at Great Guns.
ANIMATION / VFX
Mainframe were delighted to be part of BMW’s recent XDrive campaign. Working with Oxfordshire based Juice Productions, Mainframe were tasked with producing a beautiful piece of content that explained to the masses the ins and outs of XDrive. Taking the lead from the live action above the line campaign, Mainframe’s 3d team created a particle system that cleverly mimicked a set of iron filings reacting to a high powered magnet.
ANIMATION / VFX
CLIENT: Red Bull
We were thrilled to work with Red Bull and UMTV on the graphics package for their countdown show 'Worldies'. With 30 episodes showcasing the most incredible moments in action sports, variety was key to keep each one fresh. Using abstracted visual cues echoing the sports featured throughout the show, we created a set of 15 Number Stings as well as the Title Sequence and In-Show Graphics package. This is a highlight reel of some of the number stings.
Watch the shows here - redbull.tv/show/AP-1M7V6T22D2111/worldies
PRODUCTION COMPANY: JOYRIDER
DIRECTOR: FOUND COLLECTIVE
Creating a track containing the most iconic curves of the six most famous F1 tracks was fun, albeit brief, we had just seven days to turn this project around!
A real test for our VFX pipeline we had to be innovative in the way we worked. Simple geometry of the track and buildings were created in Maya and transferred to Nuke where the texturing was achieved with camera projection. It soon became apparent that hand animating the reveal wasn't practical in the time so we devised a tool for procedural animation relative to the camera's distance. Due to the amount of geometry required we also wrote a script that 'turned off' any geometry when it was not visible in camera. This approach gave us the opportunity to light the night section entirely in Nuke.
To maintain the resolution at close quarters some of the texture maps were 12k. We began the job while nuke was still 32bit but our friends at the Foundry hooked us up with an early BETA of nuke 64bit which made the project possible and run extremely quickly.
The client came to us with a fairly open concept for this spot, a nest of ants work together to create the iconic Harrods logo using parts from watch movements.
Mainframe was responsible for creating the flow and narrative of the spot, concentrating on camera moves and set-ups, trying to create shots that would draw the viewer into the story and emphasise the macro scale of the scenes.
An important part of the R&D for our animators was studying the behaviour and movement of ants. We were lucky to find some amazing reference footage from a BBC documentary, (always at the forefront of the game!). This was vital as reference for the last two shots, how they interact in the piles or ‘death spiral’, as it is known in ant circles.
The studio predominantly uses Maya as standard but the ant pile shot required more complicated dynamic simulations, which was taken care of with pFlow in 3ds Max. The rest of the ant flocking animation was made using nParticles, curve flow and instanced geometry with walk cycles in Maya. We rendered using V-Ray in Maya and used the Foundry’s Nuke to composite, then added Video Copilot optical flares for some finishing touches.
The most demanding technical aspect of this project surrounded the scale of the piece. Starting in macro before pulling out and reveal the enormity of the swarm, thousands of ants, all working together. This was achieved using a V-Ray proxy/Maya particle combo.
The proxies in V-Ray allow a huge number of objects to be in a scene, whilst only displaying a fraction of the faces actually present. This makes moving around the viewport and generally working with the scene bearable, without which it would be chug central. Our workflow involved a generic walk-cycle instanced as a V-Ray proxy in the particle system with tweaks to the movement so the pace of the ant matched the cyclet. We used the same technique for the cogs in the logo, which was modelled then converted after animation and reimported into the scene as a proxy.
DESIGN / ANIMATION / DIRECTION / PRODUCTION
CLIENT: Sony Pictures TV
DESIGN / DIRECTION: Mainframe
Mainframe were drafted in by Sony Pictures to work closely with them on the launch of their new channel True Crime. Smashing glass was the brief, but incredibly realistic and detailed smashed glass was requested and that’s what we gave them. Flexible templates were created allowing different footage to be inserted into the faces of the glass.
BUILD/PROJECT MANAGEMENT: JACKDAW STUDIOS
MODEL MAKING: WINDSOR WORKSHOPS
Our friends at Mtv approached us to help out with a new addition to their recently refurbished offices in Camden town. Astronauts have played a role in the branding and iconography of Mtv since its launch in 1981 and they wanted a playful adaptation to fill the space.
After a few crazy and ridiculous ideas were flung around Mtv decided on two astronauts posed in Michelangelo's 'The Creation of Adam' fresco. In a nod to the irreverence of the channel the two astronauts are passing each other a zero gravity beer.
We enlisted the skills of more of our good friends at Jackdaw Studios and the model building talents of Windsor Workshops to take our 3D data and create twice life-size statues, complete with light up visors, to hang 30 ft in the air.
Next time you're in the Hawley Cresent offices, take look up!