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Giant of the Steppe | Roy Terium
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Giant of the Steppe | Roy Terium

Roy Terium
by royterium on 3 Apr 2024

Hello there and welcome to my portfolio! My name is Roy and I'm a compositing artist from Belgium. I'm currently in my last semester studying at Digital Arts and Entertainment.

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The short film Giant of the Steppe was made over the course a semester by a team of six students. It serves as a glimpse into a larger story, about a young girl travelling through the vast landscapes of the steppe on the back of a Great Yakram, looking for her lost family. She lives a completely nomadic lifestyle, with all supplies she needs located on the back of her animal friend.

Within these 80 seconds of film we follow the girl, Asel, through her morning routine on the back of this huge beast.

Last semester I’ve had the privilege to work on an amazing project called "Giant of the Steppe". The short film serves as a teaser for a larger story. We follow a young Mongolian girl called Asel as she is travelling through the vast landscapes of the Steppe on the back of a Great Yakram. She's looking for her long lost family. Asel lives a self sufficient nomadic lifestyle with all of the necessary supplies located on the back of her animal companion. The story of our short film takes off right when Asel has woken up and is going through her morning routine.

I've had the privilege to be able to work with some of the most beautiful people out there. Those individuals were: Mari Gallet, Finn De Brie, Katharina Alexander, Theoni Fotoglou and Arnout Zeghari. If you'd like to learn more about the creation process we went through you can find the entry of the project here: https://www.therookies.co/entries/26745

Please enjoy Giant of the Steppe below!

I was responsible for compositing, editing, the camera movements, look development, lighting and the rope simulations on the bridge and pulley system. The project was quite challenging but absolutely rewarding! We approached this project with a hybrid method of combining renders of different elements with offline rendering (Maya and Houdini) together with real time rendering (Unreal Engine). We did this to still have to flexibility of all the AOV's that offline rendering provides and also to harness the speed in which Unreal Engine renders.

During the R&D phase of our project we envisioned to include graphical elements such as cross hatching, painterly lighting and half-tone dots. After researching several shaders to be able to achieve this I concluded that this approach would be too time consuming and inflexible for our short turnaround time. I wanted to streamline this process by using compositing techniques. This allowed us to change those elements procedurally. For some elements I made custom tools/gizmos for usage in Nuke in the post production phase.

In the process view below you can see the raw render and after the test look development processes were applied on our protagonist Asel. The model and textures were made by the talented Katharina Alexander.

The cross hatching gizmo was inspired by the World Aligned Texture node that can be found in Unreal Engine. It’s a triplanar projection system in essence. With the help of the data we can extract and manipulate from the AOV’s of our renders we were able to wrap textures on the surfaces of our render and afterwards apply them to the shadow areas.

Being able to generate and customize the hatching patterns on the fly in compositing we gained a lot of flexibility and efficiency compared to baking the hatching in the render of our 3D package.

In the process viewer below you can see the different hatching patterns being applied to different shadow ranges. 

To be able to achieve painterly lighting I implented a Kuwahara filter in Nuke by using blinkscript. By manipulating the lighting and emphasizing the shadows separately from our albedo pass we had the most control over the final look of our lighting and textures.

In the process viewer below you can see the raw render and then with the processing applied.   

You can find a breakdown down below of some of the shots of Giant of the Steppe.

The final shot of our short was one of the most important shots of them all as it revealed the beautiful environment of the Steppe that Katharina Alexander made. It required to combine different renders of the fur (Houdini), the housing system (Maya) and the environment (Unreal Engine 5). 

Thank you for reading! I hope you have gained some insight into the process!


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