View Full Version : Davy Jones - 3D Technical Challenge

11 November 2006, 09:17 PM
Davy Jones a real technological challenge
Making off
Workflow, Setup, Skinning, Scripting, Dynamics, Compositing, Postproduction and animation.

Before going into it, let’s say we are doing this just for fun and learning.

This project was born with a big will for learn, big as the project itself, so I couldn’t put the medal just for myself, because this is also the job of Yeray, Aearon and many others I’m mentioning below. Without them this would have not happened.

It all started when I went to see “Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest”, as a professional rigger, it appear to me as an amazing job from ILM, especially Davy Jones work.
I was curious about the Setup of Davy Jones so I thought I’d try to do something similar for learning.

Yeray started modeling Davy Jones and I saw what he was doing in the Spanish forum 3dpoder, and it looked very much like the original itself, and was even before the movie outcome, with just a few references.
Yeray is a good friend of mine so I asked him for the mesh to do the rig.
You can see the Yeray Thread Here. (
here you have a image from his wip work

First idea was to make something original, the big problem is when you make a character that is already done, always people compare to the original, so never will be better, original it's the original and what you do only copy, but...Yeray did the model so i just had to figure out the setup and the general porpoise was to learn.

Once I had the "mesh" I start to search a lot of information about the process they took and also about "cephalopods" behavior, their anatomy, mechanic and all the stuff....

Thanks to CGsociety and several interviews from ILM boys I grab an idea of how was made, some of my partners from Ilion Animation Studios had been on the sigraph 06, and they also gave me some orientation from what they get on that ILM conference...

So I had general breakdown of the technological problems i had to solve to do the rig.

Text from CGSociety – A treasure of Techniques.

“James Tooley led teams of riggers and simulation artists that developed character rigs for 14 major characters, 27 background characters, three digital doubles and a monkey. They enhanced ILM’s rigid body dynamics system to animate Davy Jones’ tentacles procedurally, and created control systems for Kraken’s tentacles. In addition, the team simulated CG water, handled cloth sims for characters, digital doubles, and sails, simulated ropes and whips, wiggled lobster legs on Maccus’ back, and created debris during the Kraken attacks. Mathematical expressions and/or keyframe motion fed to motors in the joints between the cylinders making up Davy Jones’ 46 tentacles caused them to bend, curl, writhe, and perform in life-like ways. “Stiction” kept the tentacles from sliding. By using a top-level non-ballistic control system added to Kraken’s IK system, animators could grab a tentacle anywhere, pose it, and the body would conform.”
In Thread The 'Davy Jones' appreciation thread (Now with Photos!) ( some people of ILM give us answer about how the things were made in pirates movie. I want to thank specially to Hal Hickel,John Knoll, and Jungseung Hong who respond to all our questions helping us a lot.
I don't want to extend this a lot so I will put more information later..

It's was nice to know how they made Davy Jones, but it doesn't mean that we have to do at the same way, in fact we have to make with our own tools, and find the better way to solve the problems. We work with Max and Zbrush, and they worked with Maya, Zeno and Zbrush.
Once we had everything on the desk, we were move for the will of having the complete model and try doing one of the movie scenes. we were confident on our self and it was a challenge that had the reward of learning for sure.

we were suppose to join a team and have a pipeline work like a studio has...figure out...doing the job of many people just by two of us ( we are crazy, we know :argh: ).

so that’s the story folks, we have get on board over one of the more complex technology challenges known till our days in our field .the making of Davy Jones.

I'm Gonna show you a Screenshot at least about a script for create the tentacles (by the way it's not finish)...

It's not finish yet, but anyway I have to thanks a lot of people who help in the project, specially Yeray and Aearon.
Yeray for share the model.
Aearon who teach me a lot of nice stuff, He is doing some stuff of the Leviathan System so this project is from him too.
Halfvector who give the first concepts about sinusoidal behavior.
Alberto Arenas for the advices of apply math and the Polar curves.
Iker for all the curu curus that makes the afternoons nicer (Sometimes).
All people from Ilion who give always advices and ideas. Miguel Jiménez, Gonzalo Rueda, Santiago Redondo, Alan, Luigi, Javier, Raquel, Toni, etc…
Slime and his wise advices.
Thanks to all ILM guys for share knowledge.
And all people from 3Dpoder forum.

Ok, now for real, we are going to show things bit a bit, in fact Yeray is doing it now in his thread, his explaining all the process of modeling, unwrapping and shading. I will explain all about workflow, Setup, Skinning, Scripting, Dynamics and in the future maybe animation, compositing and Postproduction.

I hope you like it, I had been spend a lot of hours doing this project and it have lot of love on it. :love:

That's all, now to work.

11 November 2006, 09:40 PM
good luck with the project, i have already seen the stuff that u did with the scripting and the tentacles and it looks great! i´ll keep an eye on this!

11 November 2006, 10:28 PM
This is shaping really well.
Good luck with the project and keep working hard :thumbsup:

11 November 2006, 10:32 PM
go isi go, this is going to be incredible when finished.

great work so far!

you know where i sit if you need any more little tips :P

11 November 2006, 10:54 AM
an excelent work,

i want to see an animation test of this great model.

and thanks for sharing the work process

11 November 2006, 04:11 PM
Wow!!!, good luck with the project! amazing work is coming :)

Thanks for sharing :thumbsup:

11 November 2006, 04:42 PM
Good luck with this project . I hope that will become exelent work .

11 November 2006, 09:01 PM
awsome man! cant wait to see more the fact that its in max is even better. i'd love to see some tentical test previews of the setup. are you doing your own plugin or just maxscipt?



11 November 2006, 01:19 AM
for fun and learning?

let us hope to see that it happens with this excellent project


11 November 2006, 08:46 AM
Brilliant! very cool.

11 November 2006, 09:02 AM
thx to all for the comments, I going to explain a little bit about Workflow, I have some problems with camtasia but this afternoon, I will put here a video ok? At least i can give to you a Image about it.

If you speak or understand spanish you can see the video HERE ( , I'm doing in both lenguages.

11 November 2006, 12:43 PM
Subscribing to this thread... good job so far.

12 December 2006, 12:27 PM
Sorry for the updates, but now I'm in Holidays and I can't post in a few days, thanks

12 December 2006, 11:05 PM
I have to say sorry again because I Know that I'm posting before much more material in Spanish forums that in CG-Talk, The reason it's I have to translate the video to English and I don't have all the time I would like to have. by now I'm gonna post the text and the photo content, I'm going to post the video too but there are some in Spanish language, but I promise I will do it in English too.

I'm going to start with the reference...

How I said before, after workflow, and having all the technological problems, You go to Investigate.

Now a days, there are a lot of information on Internet, so it's quite easy take reference.. but It isn't so easy apply all that information.

In the Yeray's case, He try to sculpt and texture..He have to search images, in this case the Davy Jones model directly, but to know it that the face it's Half Human half cephalopod, so He search a cephalopod reference too.

With Shading it's the same but it's a little bit more complex, I told Yeray, hey buy a octopus in the fishmonger and you can take some photos, I think It's the best way to have a reference of the texture of a character.

In my case, Setup it's the art of study and simulate the mechanic, the motion, of a object or in this case an animal, a "octopus beard", It isn't a easy work because Davy Jones Head it's half human half octopus and the behaviour its mixture, For example the Davy Jones's breath, he breath as a octopus but the facial movements are humans.

One of the things to learn was the tentacles behaviour, how they moves, how slides, how sticks, how the suckers works....
For that I couldn't buy a alive octopus, but I found a lot of videos of the motion of it very interesting, I like a lot thi svideo from National Geographic where shows the mechanic and motion of the tentacles in action (http://, great, as you can heard in this video, the octopus hasn't bones so can be as flexible as it want.

Take a look of how many details to simulate, sidings, stickiness, fluid movements, sinusoid movements...

I will put more thing in a few days, the next step it's the procedural animation :D

12 December 2006, 11:35 PM
awsome man! are you doing your own plugin or just maxscipt?

Thanks, Yes It's all done with maxscript only.

12 December 2006, 11:12 AM
Some images reference :) that we used for make Davy, are animated gifs

12 December 2006, 04:44 PM
Too bad one has to register to see them. I guess I'll be one of many not seeing them.

12 December 2006, 06:12 PM
Too bad one has to register to see them. I guess I'll be one of many not seeing them.

Sorry it's fix now ;)

12 December 2006, 08:55 PM
you kiddo's seen this yet?

cool stuff.

12 December 2006, 09:25 PM
you kiddo's seen this yet?

cool stuff.

yes I've seen already but we started with those images a lot of time ago. In fact we started before the movie came out.

I'm impresive of how ILM are sharing all their knowledges for everybody.

12 December 2006, 11:14 PM
I think i'm gonna jump a little bit the reference step becouse nobody is aking anything and seem to be that you want to see some action, like a famose song of elvis say....

Let's start Speak about Procedural Animation.

Thanks to Halfvector and Aearon who give me the firsts trails, I went inside procedural animation that after I developed for created the huge all system for the tentacle movement.

If you take a look to some reference videos like,
A tentacle of a cephalopod travel a simple harmonic movement or sinusoid, with some little changes as curling or shaking, but in essence its a sinusoidal movement.

In other hand, the Davy's tentacles are outside the water , so they don't have the liberty movement that they have inside the water, take a look at the end of this video you can see how the tentacles move outside the water

I'm gonna explain the basic of procedural animation in this case only the simple harmonic movement.

by definition a point folow a armonic vibrate movement when his position in function of the time it's a sinusoid. It's a periodic movement of swinging, the element oscill to one side to another in his position of balance in a particular direction and in the same time intervals.

A particle subject to this type of movement it will have a central point, around of it oscill itself.

I can't put all the Images as a IMG tag becouse CGTalk has a limit so I'm gonna put some in links, sorry for that/B]

I f we put a bottle in a phonograph and put it in movement it will turn, the shadow of the bottle over the wall describe at Simple harmonic movement. This example help u to understand the next.

[B]The general ecuation of any Simple harmonic movement is:

Where: Its the displacement the position on any moment, respect the position of balance of the vibrate particle. It's the amplitude of the movement. ( maximun further away of the balance point). iIt's the angular frecuency, represents the costant angular frecuency which the phonograph spin, it measure radians/seconds. It's the time, in second, who set the movement. the Initial phaseand indicate the state of the vibration in the moment t=0 of the balance particle.

Example of High and low frecuencies :

Example of some frecuencies:

Example of angular velocity:

Example of angular period respect of the time:

Here I have a little video with the application of the formula, it's totally controlable as you can see, sorry the audio it's in spanish but I will put it in english soon to.


Remeber that this is only the sinusoidal movement, and it will have some noise and curling and more.. I'm working on that. If you have any idea please tell me.

12 December 2006, 09:45 AM
this is just amazing

12 December 2006, 04:11 PM
looking cool man,

are you doing rigid dynmics as well? reactor rope?



12 December 2006, 08:04 PM
the system combines both dynamics (we're using cloth) and procedural animation.

you can have a tentacle hanging over the shoulder as well as do it's creeping wave movement.

12 December 2006, 10:51 PM
Hi again, Once I explained teh basic concepts of procedural animation,(by the way that's not the final resoult, have a lot more of things inside), We're gonna explain the thing with the dynamics, simulation, colision and I'm going to put some video examples for you to see how it works basicaly. At first, I would like to extend that much more, but I know that you want to see more action, so let's go.

If you want really to understand how it works you have to read and see the videos setp by step.

This system was created manually by Aeron and me, and this first implemetation was BASIC, it's just a cylinder a couple of bones and not much more, so with this example we want to explain only how it works, not the final result of it.

1º In this first video you can see ( the 1º dynamic simulation, that is followed by a bone chain, as you can see have colision, furthermore of full class of physical properties that respond to it, as gravity, friction, slide.. It was posible thanks to cloth modifier as Aearon says.

2º In this second video you can see ( the sum of the dynamic simulation and procedural animation, as you an see the green chain makes a sinusoidal movement as I explained before in other videos, this green chain follows the movement of the dynamic simulation.

3º In this third video we make ( a final dynamic chain to refine the colisions between the objects, and it respect the procedural animation. Every bone of the procedural animation chain it's keyframe animation posible if you want, in any moment.

and here you can see the final result ( , remember it's just only a test, One of the first test we did, the Leviathan system it's almost finish and the final resolut it's to much better than these first test we did ;).

That's all for now, I'm going to continue scripting.

12 December 2006, 11:03 PM
really cool man, keep them coming!

01 January 2007, 05:41 PM
Good luck with the project. It looks great.
If I may ask what software is this?

01 January 2007, 07:04 PM
thank you Promineo for your rig research and your explanations :)
even if I'm not sure to have well understood how you've done it exactly as I don't really speak spanish ^^
I've tried something yesterday to try to make like you ( 1 'auto curved' chain ( the yellow one ) + 1 dynamic spline ik chain ( the green one) + the 'final' result by mixing the 2 others ( the purple one )

Cinema4D_tentacle-test ( ( 3ivx / 6mo )

I'll try to improve it :) ( as it's my first test .. I may have made lot of mistakes )


01 January 2007, 12:07 AM
kiteman, cool, glad to know that help you, by the way I'm can't see the video even with VLC player :(

raptor the software is MindManager

01 January 2007, 01:45 AM
Promineo: I'm glad that you're taking the time to explain how your building this project. I'd love to see more information on how your tentacles work. I've been keeping track of this thread and the one on 3dpoder as well. I don't speak spanish, so I've been using google to translate for me. :)

Keep up the good work.

01 January 2007, 10:41 AM
Nice, I have been working on the Leviathan System ( The script allow you make tentacles automaticly) for a lot of time, At Ilion we are in production now so I don't have all the time that I want, is almost finish, It will be procedural, so It will capable to make a lot of rigs like, snakes, matrix centinels, tails, and all that kinds of rigs with this type of movement.

I'm working on the "stiction" effect right now, and I have several problems with the tentacles selfcollision that I'm trying to fix. I hope in few days make a video test with Davy Jones Mesh.

I will share all the process with you.


01 January 2007, 05:56 PM
thanks Promineo :) .. can't wait to see your updates ;) !

01 January 2007, 06:42 PM
raptor the software is MindManager

thanks a lot

01 January 2007, 12:38 AM
thx for the coments.

I know that I take a lot of time for update the process, but yeray and me have not too many time and sometimes we're without comunication for several days, and I don't have almost time to give this project, so it's normal.

Her you have some videos of how is the project now, like always I say It's almost finish but always there is somethings for make the final version ;).

In the video (sorry in spanish again, I know you want to kill me ;) ) In this video I explain all about how Leviathan System works, with all details.

This video is the creation of the rig from 0, a little test that I did in real time, to you see there is no trap, The first version was 20 minutes, so I had to cut a lot, so the final version it's 10 minutes.

This video was created with camtasia so the simulation that you will see in the video it's tree times slower than without camtasia.

Push the in teh image to see the video with the explanation. (

Here the video with the preview of the test (

As Always, if you have any doubt, critic, or whatever you want, you already know ;)


01 January 2007, 12:46 AM
thanks a lot Promineo for your vid :) .. that's awesome !

(otherwise , just a little question about your making of plz :
do you animate controlers of spline IK ( with ' B-spline ' interpolation ? ) or do you animate in ' FK ' mode each bones one by one ?
and if you animate the SPlineIK controlers , do you make move by translation or rotation (in this case they would have their axis on the parent controler ..etc )

thanks for any information about that ;)



02 February 2007, 04:12 PM
How are things going with this project? I'd like to see more of this. :D

04 April 2007, 09:35 AM
ohh all these cool stuff is gone... i cant see any pic...

04 April 2007, 11:19 AM
I've tried to go on a bit with my Promineo like tentacle tests :) (5mo)

I still need some little improvement and that's ok for what I want .. and let's go animating that character :) !

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