What we do
Imagination and magic
Fido has many years experience from vfx in all forms and shapes. We’ve mainly earned our reputation from creating photorealistic CG animals and characters, but our expertise spans all over the vast vfx field. From animated full CG solutions to animatronics. From seemingly simple packshot visualizations to complex real life simulations of everything from ancient jungles to stormy oceans. In short, we can create almost anything you desire.
In our world, the sky isn’t the limit. It’s just one of those effects that we gladly create for our clients.
When approached with a project we suggest what ways and methods that preferably should be used to make the client’s wishes come true. In some cases it might be to create a unique character and then breathe life into it, either through CG or by building it as an animatronic. In some cases it’s about putting the character into live footage, in others a full CG solution. And in some cases it’s a combination of all the above.
The examples below are from one of those projects where all our skills were put to the test: the German Family Adventure “Yoko”, for which we not only created the main character, but also made over 130 CG vfx shots and 30 minutes of animatronic live action.
Yoko will have its Swedish premiere in fall 2012.
Developing the character
The first step in the process is naturally to create the character. This is done in several steps.
First we find out what kind of character it should be. Our skilled concept artists make 2D drafts of the character in different positions and expressing various emotions. These drafts are done to try to formulate both his visual appearance and his character.
The next step is to take the approved look and transform it into a 3D model. The process includes modelling, rigging, texturizing, shading and when needed creation of digital fur or feather systems. This leads to a rendered turntable of the character in a standing still position where he can be seen from all directions in a generic light.
When the 3D asset of the character is approved we can start to animate and breathe life into him.
Developing the environment
If the film is to be full CG, the CG environment needs to be built. We start with moodboards to communicate the desired light, look and mood of the environment, and then move on to create them in 3D.
If the character will act in a live footage environment, we always have a vfx supervisor present at the shoot, not only to gather all necessary data from the shoot but also to help with support and see to that we get the best possible material for doing our CG work.
When the offline of the film is done, the plates (shots) are delivered to us. We then start tracking them, a process that is a bit like to build a 3D model of the environment in the shots. This will allow us to put in CG elements that move exactly like the real elements in the picture in reference to the camera. After tracking we move on to animating.
This first step of the animation only shows the animated character in a few key frames. In this blocking version we show what general poses the character will have as well as size, framing and general action.
After the blocking phase the animators start to “fill in the gaps” between the approved key frames. Since moving images consists of 25 frames per second, this is a long and pain- staking work. The client gets work-in-progress -versions during the animating process, so that bigger movements can be approved before we move onto the finer animation. This is necessary because changing any bigger movements later in the process would affects the fine animation already done. In other words; the later in the animation process the harder it gets to change the broader strokes.
The grey look of the animation
All through the animation phases the film a great deal of imagination is needed from both us and the client.
We do have the turntable of the character, to see how the character will look in the final film. But one can’t see that final look in the animation submissions. The final look of the character comes only after rendering, and that can’t be done before the animation is all done. So during animation the character will just be grey and schematic. In other words: the look of the film can’t be judged yet, only the action and animation.
When we have a version that we feel is complete we submit it to the client as a “proposed final animation”. And when the final animation is approved we move on to the next steps in the production.
Lightning & rendering
This phase of the production actually starts already before the final animation is approved, since it is a long and complicated process in which we create all light, reflections, textures, shadows etc. All these features are created as passes/layers that can be used in the final compositing phase.
When a film also includes effects like smoke, water or fire we need to do FX simulations. Fido has long experience with creating complex real world elements, and our FX artists create these effects on a shot by shot basis.
The last phase of the production is compositing, in which we take all elements and put them together with the live plates and/or CG backgrounds. It’s now that the character truly becomes a part of the filmed background.