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Mammuthus the Wandering Nomad

Mammuthus the Wandering Nomad

by RexLee on 29 May 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

Bringing life to our fellow extinct Woolly Mammoth, in a photorealistic approach on screens. Final Year VFX project in The One Academy.

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Mammuthus, the wandering nomad was inspired by my interest in intimidation of gigantic creatures, yet being gentle. The phrase "Gentle Giants" attracted me to choose the Woolly Mammoth as my creature of choice for my final year CFX project. It was a challenge recreating an extinct species as the amount of references are very limited and inaccurate. But that also means a certain freedom in its design and creation. Feel free to enjoy my experience in bringing life to this woolly giant.

Some composited stills


Quadruped walkcycle animated by Victoria Ng


Mammuthus, the wandering nomad is one of my few projects that took place over the past year. The whole creation was grouped into 3 big parts.

 The 1st semester covered skeleton and skin modelling with some additional lookdev.

The following  2nd semester was muscle modelling, rigging and grooming on T-pose model. In the meantime I got a fellow friend, Victoria Ng to help me out greatly on the walk cycle animation. 

For the 3rd and final semester, it was really tedious and challenging as all the simulations took place. After receiving the animation from Victoria, I started the muscle simulation in Ziva and face a lot of issues . It took 4 weeks and over 60 trial and errors to get a decent simulation, due to my Ziva muscles behaving weirdly. The following fat, fascia and skin simulations went pretty well as I already had experience and solutions in troubleshooting during muscle sim. However, my worst fear came true when the groom simulation in Yeti went crazy and couldn't be solved till this day. I resolve to using nhair system to simulate curves as guides for later, but even that had issues on so many parts... Time was tight and i couldn't learn Houdini fur system from scratch. So, I kept troubleshooting and finally the troublemaker was discovered... It so happened that the skin cache for my hair system had their normals locked and reversed, causing the simulation to misbehave. Finally the issue was solved and curves were simulated to guide Yeti hair. Soon, lighting and cameras were set up for rendering and the project ended with the compilation of documents. 

Phew... it was really a roller coaster of fun and frustration, but this part of my life really taught me a whole lot in artistic and technical ways as well as the attitude of  "Never Giving Up". There's still so much to learn and improve and I hope to tryout more challenging projects in the future. If you made it here, thanks for taking time reading my experience. Hope my work entertained you.

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