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The Bear
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The Bear

Álvaro Martínez Martí
by AlvaroMartinez on 29 Mar 2024 for Rookie Awards 2024

Lookdev for an animation sequence that pays tribute to the acclaimed original series ‘The Bear’ (2023) and the iconic movie ‘Batman Forever’ (1995). The aim of the Lookdev is capture and merge the aesthetic essence of “the bear” with the distinctive narrative of ‘Batman Forever’.

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During the last fourteen weeks at Animum School, I started a project with the aim of understanding the steps and processes involved in the production of a film. The project focused on the visual development (lookdev) for an animation sequence. As a starting point, the school provided us with a selection of characters, with animations that were created by former students. Our task would be to select one of these options and develop a proposal for the lookdev.

The lookdev process

The animation I chose was created by the former student Eduardo Azcue and was based on the movie ‘Batman Forever’ (1995), specifically the scene where The Riddler visits Two-Face.

"I simply love what you've done with this place. Heavy Metal meets House and Garden, ha ha ha... Beautiful" (1:46)

In my case, I chose to combine the initial content that was provided to me with the theme of a series I had just watched, ‘The Bear’. The main reason I chose this combination was that the series was fresh in my memory. Plus, I knew which elements from the series I could incorporate into my work to make it familiar to the viewer.

1. PreProduction

Once I received the project and gathered all the material provided by the school, that’s when I began to structure and define it. After deciding on the theme, I made a small compilation and study of references focused on the prop, environment, assets, clothing, hair, tattoos and lighting.

Subsequently, I thought about how to approach the project and how to resolve it within the established deadlines.

2. Production

Blocking

After validating the theme and direction that the project was going to take, we would enter the production stage starting with the creation of a blocking that would serve as a guide for the upcoming tasks: Enviroment, prop, assets, clothing, simulation , grooming, UV, texturing, shading, assembly of the scene, complementary animations, lighting, and render layers.

3D Modeling

Once the 3D sketch (blocking) is validated, we would proceed to detail the environment and generate a library for some external asset, like the meat (from Quixel Megascans), that would be incorporated into the scene.

At the same time, the main prop would be modeled, and as I was validating geometries towards the UV to avoid accumulating work that could later be more cumbersome.

The next thing that was done was the character’s clothing in MarvelousDesigner. Once I achieved the result I was looking for, I exported the geometry and proceeded to optimize it through a retopology in Maya. From this mesh, two variants were extracted, one for texturing and another for fabric simulation.

3D Texturing and shading

At this stage, I had already completed the modeling of all the elements of the sequence and their UVs. Next, I prepared the models so that they could be imported and textured in the Substance Painter software. After finishing the textures, I set up the shadings in Maya, where the renders would be done with Arnold render engine.

Simulation

With all the elements already built and textured in their respective files, I would start to simulate the fabrics using the NCloth dynamics in Maya. During this stage, I encountered some complications due to the abrupt changes in rhythm present in the animation, which caused breaks in the simulation meshes. To solve this, as the animation was progressing, I made deformations in the character’s mesh while carefully adjusting the parameters of the dynamics. Once the simulation was achieved, I exported the caches with the aim of optimizing the resources of our computer in the final assembly files.


Later on, I decided to add a small simulation to the meat to give it a more realistic touch when the character interacts with it.

Grooming

The grooming process was quite laborious, mainly at the beginning when placing guides. Once you have them in place, using masks, density maps, and expressions, you finish adjusting the shape of the hair. This last part, along with the hair shading that was done entirely in Maya, is quite enjoyable.

Adding simulation to the hair would have added more visual richness to the sequence. Simulation exercises were carried out, but I had to optimize times and decided to propose a much more rigid or slicked hair.

Assembly, lighting, and render

In separate files, I already had all the pieces of the puzzle. To finalize the assembly, I created a new Maya scene where I referenced everything that was built. Then, I imported the animation caches and coupled them to the base geometry of the character, clothing, and meat using a wrap deformer. For the prop, I used a locator. I made sure everything worked correctly and then proceeded to the lighting, taking a scene from the original series as a reference.

To give the kitchen a touch more life, I implemented animations in the lighting to simulate smoke and the kitchen stoves in a simple and economical way.

Through the render of the sequence, we would already finish the production stage. This was done with its aov separately and in different render layers that would have to be reassembled in post-production to finish making small corrections and give it a better final finish.

3. PostProduction

All render layers were collected and composed in NukeX. Then, small corrections were made in the render and the final appearance was adjusted for the color range. In addition, subtle elements were added, such as dust floating in the environment, haze generated by the heat of the pan, camera oscillations at specific moments, and lens distortions, such as chromatic aberration, depth and motion blurs, or a lens distortion.

To finish, I exported everything in a sequence of exr files that I would end up importing into Davinci Resolve. Here I would make some final color adjustments and export the final sequence in video formats (from here also new compositions would come out like the breakdown).

Thanks for watching


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