Elisa – Astro
- Client: ELISA
- Agency: BOB THE ROBOT
- Director: JALMARI HELANDER
- DOP: MIKA ORASMAA
- Production Company: MJÖLK
- Post Production: TROLL VFX
- Color Grading: JAMES POST
Elisa wanted to launch a big campaign to advertise their 4G-connection and the agency Bob the Robot came up with a mock-science project where they supposedly sent a squirrel to space to measure the availability of the network. Since you’d never be able to get a real squirrel to do the things they wanted, creating the animal on the computer was the only option and that’s where we came in.
My contribution to the project boiled down to two specific things. Firstly I was responsible for everything related to the fur on the squirrel, including a lengthy R&D process. Having never done anything like it, the project was a big challenge but one I was really happy to be part of. Creating the fur was a lot of fun.
Secondly, I did all of the work on the 3D-side of things with the orbital shot of Earth. Recreating the planet in as much detail as possible has been a pet project of mine for a good while and it was fun to be able to put all that hard work into use.
The fur for the squirrel was created entirely with Peregrine Labs’ Yeti, an excellent hair/fur solution for Maya. The graph-based workflow took some time to get a good grasp of, but it turned out to be an excellent way of controlling the fur.
The fur was also simulated for all the shots, which might seem like a bit of an overkill but it really shines when you need that extra detail in your animation. Besides, a properly flowing fur looks pretty damn cool.
The model for the squirrel was done by both Jussi Lehtiniemi and Mikko Monto, and the latter also did all of the rigging and animation. Texturing, shading, fur, lighting and rendering were my turf while compositing was done by Ari Huuskonen.
In addition to couple of main films we also created a version of the squirrel bloated by eating far too many nuts. Fixing the groom was a bit challenging with the changed geometry but luckily I didn’t have to make anything from scratch.
As the campaign was fairly big, we were also tasked to create a bunch of prints featuring the squirrel. Here’s one of them, with the squirrel fur and Earth by me, helmet model by Erkko Huhtamäki and final retouching by Jussi Lehtiniemi.
And here’s a shot of the final squirrel model with fur. I think the iteration count was way above 30 in the end.
Early on in the project I needed to test how Yeti reacts to heavily deforming geometry. The results were pretty hilarious, so I’m including the results here. Behold, Jabba the Nut!
The Earth I created is one huge project that I’m iterating on a constant basis. The model uses some truly big texture maps ranging from 42k to preposterous 86k, so memory consumption is a pretty big concern.
The render was divided to several passes to make compositing easier. Here’s the surface of the planet, with a really complex surface shader that controls the color of the incoming light depending on the angle of the sun.
An ocean mask for easier control of the look in comp. The texture is derived from a global height map which is also used for displacement of the surface.
First of the two cloud passes. This one uses a fairly standard shader which is faster to render.
The second cloud pass with a fairly complex SSS shader. We combined the two cloud layers in comp to give a feeling of volume.
The final pass was the atmosphere, which is a true refracting volume controlled by ramps. See those shadows cast by the clouds? Sooo pretty, but also pretty heavy to render.
All of the passes I provided were finally comped together by Vesa Jokinen.
And final grade by James Post.
Overall the project was both hugely challenging and rewarding. The team at Troll really made great strides in developing our skillset and I’m proud to have been part of it.