03 March 2015, Amsterdam.

PIGS CAN’T FLY… or can they?

This project had 2 cuts, 20” and 10”. Turn around was around 3 weeks for about 6 shots. The big fat question mark around the planning was the need/not of a pig actor on set. Turned out production found a nice actor, and having less shots to render/animated would cut some days out of the schedule. The other plus side is that the actor kept feeding me bacon for months to come after the project was done. Yip, got payed in pig meat …not -lol.

The team was made of 4 people, Juan A. Ruiz as La Huella VFX Supervisor, Sara Alavés  La Huella producer, Gerardo Helping out with textures maps and Ivan on Flame smoking the layers together and grading the final polished frames.
Agency :   Director :   Production:


One of the most exciting things to me lately is being able reuse assets built from other projects and iterating on them.
So as soon as the gig got confirmed, I restored the Acquarius project, got them wings out and started wiping around the model proportions.

The main concept was to get 2 different models, a pig and stork wings to work together nicely.

I will spare the details on the model iterations and fast forward to the rigging part, as all we had to do is tweaking the size&number of feathers of the wings, as well as length of them, and shoulder position.


Rigging the body wasnt the main challenge for me here, so I skipped that and once I got an ok on the whole model, I started working on a reusable flapping cycle, which was also a bit of the animation I had working for the stork. Angles and weight impression had to be tweaked of course.

Bellow is an example of the flapping cycle I started with, before moving onto the body.

Once I had the body rigged, I finished the animation cycle. At this stage, we were waiting for the plates to come from the shooting. After a couple of first passes on editing for both 10 and 20” versions.


I had only one environment to solve on this project. So setting up the light workflow was straight forward.
We kept the solid approach towards matching lights. So the old styrofoam ball for white reference. And since we had the pig on set as well, some shots where used to match the skin tone, and variations thru out the edit.


On this project, only a couple of shots had to be matchedmoved. And, as history repeats itself, they were simple enough to do it by hand.
The easiest shot was the one where you see the character from a bird view.  As if the camera was in the ceiling. The camera was dollying gently forward.

On the wip to the right, you see a wireframe of the character, where the wing has the main feathers visible only. The issue to solve there was rocking the character to/fro and checking that with the edit to see if the cut would work.

The following shot had the camera fixed, so the wings had to be tracked onto the real pig back, and a digital zoom was added on the final stage. The animation needed to be fast, and convey something funny/clumsy.

Wireframe Feathers

The following wireframes show the polygon density on the wings. The viewport weight wasnt too bad with both wings on full display, although the animation work had to be done with all secondary feathers hidden.

Those wips where taken before conforming the smaller feathers to the main wing curvature.