Deep Compositing for Animators
Cloudy 2 had a lot, and I mean a lot,of background characters.
This meant that shots couldn’t just be animated by a single artist and often had to be split up between multiple animators just to get it done in a realistic amount of time.
We have some great crowd tools that let us instance animation around the scene, but for many of these shots we needed unique, hero animation for (in some cases) a 100+ characters in a shot.
To help with this, I came up with a tool that takes our Playblasts (OpenGL captures from the animators scenes) along side a depth output, and then use this inside Nuke to combine them using depth.
This is a bit of a remedial use of deep compositing, but it’s quick, effective and animators can see the combined results of their scenes in under five minutes.
Since playblasts are a natural byproduct of animators working, there was no overhead other than enabling depth write outs for all their playblasts if certain criteria were met.
This can go even further though. Using the same depth compositing, we can bring the data right back into Maya again as an image plane.
Maya’s viewport supports a single depth composited image plane. This means an animator can bring in either a single playblast or a combined output, and put it on an image plane.
From the shot camera, this 2d image is now properly composited into depth and you can move around the objects in the image as if they’re in the scene. It’s really quite cool to see.
Again, this process requires very little extra data, and no new workflows for the animators. It just provides a very natural way to get quick, iterative feedback on their scenes.