10 January 2017, Hamburg.

Life is good..

There’s nothing better than living on a world where chocolates bloom on trees. Let me know if I’m alone on this. This project is a campaign of 2 cuts, 20&15”. The schedule kicked off early November till late December. About 6 weeks rig & animate 4 flowers, or about 100 petals to perfection.
The team had the following wonderful people, Hans-Christoph Schultheiss as the Creative Director, Tanya Curnow as VFX Producer, Timo von Wittken as 3d Lead Supervisor, Max Zachner, Alex Siquans & Rafael Vicente as Modellers, Martin Chatterjee as Sehsucht’s Lead TD, Florian Zachau as VFX Supervisor assembling all the layers together and wonderfully finishing the final polished frames.

Meet the heroes.

Character Rigging

The ideas was to pose the flowers as many times as needed to get the best possible angles for each stage of the animation, lock them, and take it further from there. I’ve approached it with a traditional rig. Mainly trying to get all the beasts in one scene so as to tweak the interactions between flowers easily and as interactively as possible throughout the editing&cut process.
The idea of rigging a flower should be simple, right? Do one petal and duplicate rest. Well, the models where already posed asymmetrically. and it would take far too long to workaround this.

So here’s the backbone of the rig referencing the following images:
1 – Hero Model Geometry
2 – Curves, of which control points were driven by animation controllers, aka Bones.
3 – Lofted Surface from Curves, which would host the deformation nulls
4 – Deformation nulls, constrained to the surface, thus providing an interesting skin slide effect.
5 – Finally, Animation controllers, aka Bones.

The petal rig was hosted under a model for mainly one reason: Speed. Propagating the animation to the other petals proved to be surprisingly hazy .
The weight of the scene was relevant at this stage. Copy/Pasting was ‘slit my wrists’ slow. Linking the others with expressions was surprisingly not going to be helpful, as the frame rate dropped from a cliff.

The solution here was referencing a clip (store/action) worked like a charm, as having fcurves() in the channels seams to have no rival within Softimage. Hence the petal Model, and it would also help with naming conv. down the line, just brilliant!

To the Nerds reading this: I do not recommend this approach if you’re using Softimage based on other architectures then Xeon. Turns out that scene crashes with i7. The issue seems to be between Surface_Constraints and Loft Operator. As I’ve been moving away from Softimage lately, Ill try to get this pinned sometime. As it drove me nuts for the best part of the delivery from my machine (i7).