View Full Version : Senior Project at SIGGRAPH 2009

08 August 2009, 07:14 PM
Hey guys!
My graduating project just got shown at SIGGRAPH 2009, and I thought I'd show it here to get a few opinions. Its called Tezcatlipoca. Thanks for watching.
You can view it at:
or on youtube at:

08 August 2009, 12:53 PM
WOW :cool:It is very beautiful...
How long did you make this film?

08 August 2009, 03:24 PM
Truely awesome! Congratulations.

08 August 2009, 04:06 PM
I hope you got an "A" for know you got an "A". That was awsome.

08 August 2009, 06:15 PM
Absolutely astonishing!



08 August 2009, 08:31 PM
holleeee smokes that was sweet!!!

08 August 2009, 09:09 PM
Hey guys!
My graduating project just got shown at SIGGRAPH 2009, and I thought I'd show it here to get a few opinions. Its called Tezcatlipoca. Thanks for watching.
You can view it at:
or on youtube at:

I could see why this was shown at Siggraph. Conceptually....wonderful. Please explain the leopard (cat) workflow with us. Animation was too good, even the whiskers looked great. Did you merge live animation clips with hand keyed animation. Very seemless couldn't tell. If the run cycle where the cat was running from the sun was hand keyed.........then damn, your sick.

08 August 2009, 09:15 PM
That was great! The music fit the film perfectly. Great job on everything. I would also like to know a little more about how you did it.

08 August 2009, 10:13 PM
That was sooo soo brilliant ... Great work man keep it up

08 August 2009, 11:31 PM
excellent. everything was done well. I enjoyed the animation of the leopard!!

08 August 2009, 11:50 PM
wow, really beautiful!
: )

08 August 2009, 12:18 AM
WOW. That was incredible. VERY well done. Yes, please explain how you went about the motion for the cat. Was it hand keyed? Nice work! Stunning project. Kudos to you sir.

08 August 2009, 01:14 AM
Breathtaking film! I loved every bit of it.

08 August 2009, 01:27 AM
Great animation! Awesome compositing! Good luck and congrats, man!

08 August 2009, 08:50 AM
That was..really great! loved that

08 August 2009, 12:06 PM
very nice, congratulation, it´s a great job.

08 August 2009, 03:50 PM
just awesome. I enjoyed every part, its very epic and the leopard was on point.

08 August 2009, 04:28 PM
Amazing work...Congrats!

08 August 2009, 05:21 PM
Hey, thanks for all the comments, shucks, you guys are too kind.
To answer some of the questions, it took me about a year and a half from beginning to end. But I was in school for most of that, and I also edited two short films during that time. But it definitely took a lot of man hours, I'm not sure how many, I never tried to count, but way too many.
Also some people are asking if live action was mixed in, but I'm here to tell you that its all keyframed. Lets just say i spent many hours pouring over cat footage. I did have a special, uh workflow I guess, for much of the animation. For example, someone said that the animation of the cat when it is running away from the sun is very realistic. I agree it is the most realistic motion, but it was some of the easiest to animate. I spent a long time perfecting the gallop cycle, and that included making several different versions, some 24 frames to cycle, some 18, etc. I was experimenting with how fast I could make the cycle while still maintaining the basic mechanics of the gallop. Once I got that down I put the cat cycling on a path that related to the terrain I had painted and exported as a mesh in Z-Brush. I worked to get the feet to stick to the ground as well as possible. I would take a frame out or add a frame to add some variation to the gallop where needed. Once the feet matched fairly well, I used a special script that my teacher wrote for me. Basically, it copies the animation from the path animated rig, and pastes it on a rig that isn't on a path. So now the cat is moving the same, but it is his main, free IK controls (which is the head, torso, pelvis, and 4 feet) that are translating. Now I can clean up the animation and vary the cycle more based on the terrain. I locked down the feet, and would adjust the head, torso, and pelvis so that it was physically more correct. A lot of that had to do with playing with the up and down motion of the cat to get the feeling of weight even though he was moving very quickly. This approach to animation calls for less planning on paper, and more of a realistic approach. The terrain was deciding exactly how the cat was running, just like in real life. Of course I had specifically placed landmarks to make the run more interesting.
So there it is, that basically how runs and walks were done. It required a lot of explanation, but saved me a lot of work. The really hard animation was definitely the shot where he is pouncing around the lave, that took for ever and caused quite a few head-aches.

08 August 2009, 05:52 PM
Sick....even more impressive. Hope this makes front page. :bowdown:

08 August 2009, 09:32 AM
Its really complete work i love it to much. keep..up

Gabriel Askew
08 August 2009, 12:22 AM
Amazing work from start to finish. The lighting and surfacing is particularly beautiful to me. What renderer did you use?

08 August 2009, 03:00 AM
Yea every bit of that thing was amazing man. Animation was very impressive! I thought you did a flawless job overall. Great work! :bowdown:

08 August 2009, 04:26 AM
Excellent! Congratulations!:applause:

08 August 2009, 04:57 AM
Hey, I rendered out of maya software and mental ray, whichever one would work for me at the time. I didn't know much about the technical points of texturing, lighting, and rendering. So I just did whatever worked. The rock texture is actually inconsistent in many shots, but that's only noticable if you're really looking for it.
The rock texture is all procedural, using layered textures in maya with displacement and other good stuff like that. I did ambient occlusion passes on the cat gargoyle at the end because its much harder to make something look good in full daylight than dark, stylized lighting.
Anything with vegetation was done with Vue 6, which can look amazing right off the bat... until you try to move the camera and get it to work with Maya. They have features to have Vue work with Maya, but I guess I never got them to work correctly with each other. Maybe in Vue 7 it'll be simpler, but I hope I never find out. lol

Gabriel Askew
08 August 2009, 06:00 AM
I didn't know much about the technical points of texturing, lighting, and rendering. So I just did whatever worked.

Just goes to show, good artistry always trumps the tech. Someone once said that eventually all the tools in your chest become a hammer.

08 August 2009, 09:48 AM
Really nice, you really managed to get those "cat" movments right, especially the scene after the "landing" or touchdown :) when the cat is walking towards the camera..

And the star scene, when the stars transformed into a running leopard, that was stunning. Good work! I´ll give you a 5 on utube :thumbsup:

08 August 2009, 12:15 PM
Really an excellent piece of work. The story progresses seamlessly without pause, and reveals itself in perfect pacing. I really enjoyed how you captured the personality of the cat so well, both in realistic movement and its curiosity in its surroundings. Particularly nice was how the changes in the leopard's incandescent color lent a hand in conveying emotion of the scenes. All in all, spectacular job; I am especially in awe that this was an undergrad piece, my beginning work was nowhere NEAR this calibre.

08 August 2009, 03:43 PM
realy nice work!..the cat animation is perfect.
& you cant go wrong with that music either :)

08 August 2009, 12:34 AM
Ok, wait, What school has those kinds of resources to render that kind of project. And what was your class structure that allowed for you to spend that much time on any 1 project? That was not something that could be completed in a single class.
I mean that was brilliant. Very beautiful, but seriously student work? Do you guys have access to a professional studio? It's not just talent, Its resources. I'm amazed that a college has that kind of hardware/ software to create that. What kind of rendering lab did you have?

08 August 2009, 12:46 AM
Ok so i went back and read some previous posts. This took you a year and a half and your teacher allowed you to graduate with it even though it doesn't seem like this was a class project? I guess I'm just jealous. Did other students from your class get to use non-class related work for their credits? Maybe your classwork was great also, I don't know. It just bother's me that this work is so beyond my student work, and almost all student work I have ever seen. Did you have previous CG experience before you went to school? I'm sorry if I seem put-offish, but I'm curious as to what your college experience was like.

08 August 2009, 12:52 AM
Ok I watched it again, I couldn't have even rendered that with all the computer labs in my college. The particle effects of the lava would have crashed every machine.

08 August 2009, 07:10 AM
Man you did an amazing job.Animation looks astonishing and very realistic.I can't wait to see your next movie.:bowdown:

08 August 2009, 07:59 PM
Ok, wait, What school has those kinds of resources to render that kind of project. And what was your class structure that allowed for you to spend that much time on any 1 project? That was not something that could be completed in a single class.
I mean that was brilliant. Very beautiful, but seriously student work? Do you guys have access to a professional studio? It's not just talent, Its resources. I'm amazed that a college has that kind of hardware/ software to create that. What kind of rendering lab did you have?
Hold your horses mate, no need for triple posting on account of jealousy. I kindly advise you to take a look at spacecat ( profile. You can find out he has a site and right there a nice resume that will answer all your questions. :D It would've be nice tho if there was such school in which you could learn all that in just one year... :\

08 August 2009, 04:49 PM
Ok, so to answer some of kandyRabitz22’s questions….. this could end up being long.

Firstly, the answer is yes, I did have some CG experience before I went to university. I started messing around with 3D animation on my own using trueSpace and then moved on to Hash’s Animation Master while I was in high school. I placed in some of Hash’s online contests back in 2003ish, I dunno if my work is still online or not.

Secondly, you asked about the school resources. We had about 25 dual processor PCs (don’t ask for the specs, I don’t know them) for the animation and interactive labs, so that gave me about 50 CPUs at night to render on. I used Cube! to do this. My school liked my project, and so purchased Vue 6, Blastcode and Realflow to help on my projects and for projects down the road. As far as the lava simulation goes, I had my friend, Chris Wombold, do that. We had our share of software crashes and the like, it’s not like anything just worked.

And last but not least, I have to point out that this project isn’t uh… I guess it isn’t as big as it looks. The whole idea of the project when it first started was to be a showcase for animation, and all the rendering would be super stylized so that modeling, texturing, and rendering would be easy. My originally concept work showed a jaguar with glowing wireframe—a CG or Tron sort of theme. I would keep the back ground dark so I didn’t have to do anything with it. The point is I stylized out of necessity so that the project would be easier to do. Basically I was thinking “what looks cool but is easy to do in 3D.” But as work developed I ended up doing a painting with glowing spots, and everyone liked that better. So being the fool I was I went ahead with the slightly more realistic look, and paid for it later. However the philosophy of “whatever looks cool and is easy to do in a computer” lived on though it had received a severe wound with that decision.

For example, I did not rig and paint weights for a fully realistic, fully lit creature. The cat in my project has a lot of awful deformations, especially in the chest area. However, because he’s so amorphous(because of the visual stylization of glowing spots) I could get away with a lot of bad deformations just by careful animation and carefully chosen camera angles. For correct deformation he would’ve needed a full muscle system, something that is definitely out of my league rigging wise. However, I HAD to get the cat’s shoulder blade movement right; that is so intrinsic to cat motion. So I parented in some sculpt deformers under his shoulders to give the illusion that something was moving underneath his skin.

Another example of my ghetto work methods was the rendition of the rocks. Right of the bat, it was easier to make it look good because it was so dark and the lighting was so stylized. My method was to sculpt the rocks and crater in Z-brush. I could never get displacement to work as well as I wanted between Maya and Z brush, so I ended up exporting huge meshes to Maya. The biggest Maya could handle was about 500 000 polygons. You couldn’t edit the mesh, that would just crash Maya, but you could have it in the scene as an object and get away with it. Once it was in Maya, I would reduce/decimate the mesh. For smaller, foreground meshes I would put displacement maps on, and here I would cheat again. One of the biggest things that makes a texture look realistic is that it is sharp and clear—not fuzzy or blurry. In order to achieve this with displacement, I would up the subdivision approximation just enough so that the polygon edges were visible (giving the rocks sharp edges and texture), and because the meshes had horrible, random topology (because they were decimated in Maya) that actually added to the random detail and rough surface of the rocks, rather than just look like poor displacement mapping.

Basically I artistically hacked Maya. My methods were not some part of a tried and true production pipeline. I flailed away until I got what I was acceptable, and then stopped and moved on to the next shot, which often required a slightly new method. Sometimes Maya software rendered displacement how I wanted, sometimes mental ray did. I would jump back and forth between them.

As far as my college experience goes, I went to Southern Adventist University, and got a BS in Character Animation. It is a liberal arts college, so I took many other classes that did not pertain to animation. “Tezcatlipoca” was created as my senior project, which is structured into two 3 credit hour classes over two semesters. You’re right that was not enough, I stayed 7 months after I graduated to finish the project, which was when most of the work happened because I didn’t have other classes in the way.

And I should also mention that I will never do a project like this again. It was extremely demanding, made my final year of college super stressful, and kept me trapped in a little computer lab after graduation. I thought I knew what I was getting into, I had already seen the amount of work that goes into a few seconds of animation, but I just totally underestimated the amount of time it would take. I would not advise anyone to do what I did, keep your projects small and containable, and don’t do them by yourself.
Title: Tezcatlipoca
Author: Robin George
Software used: Maya, Z-Brush, After Effects
Title: Tezcatlipoca
Author: Robin George
Software used: Maya, Z-Brush, After Effects
Title: Tezcatlipoca
Author: Robin George
Software used: Maya, Z-Brush, Realflow, After Effects

08 August 2009, 06:55 PM
Great work. It was all around beautiful.

08 August 2009, 10:18 PM
Spacecat, I read everything in this thread up to this point, and I must say that your hard work definitely paid off. Although it made your last semester stressful and it kept you trapped, the piece you created is awesome, and I was honestly shocked when I first saw it was a student piece.

Being someone that just recently graduated as well, I look at Tezcatlipoca as something to aspire to - something to motivate myself to be able to create something as impressive, if not better. Good work!

08 August 2009, 06:02 AM
I think this an awesome piece to have in your reel. Quite honestly your cougar animation is simply fantastic. I was wondering how you got mocap for that and then I read that you hand keyed it. Regardless of what little cheats you might have used, your end result is completely convining. Besides, thats part of what cg is all about cheating the eyes so the individual accepts what they are seeing. excellent work sir:)

08 August 2009, 09:02 AM
Often animations which showcase talent are well just that- talent showcase...but this one-
It has emotion and it takes you for a ride
my hat off to you my friend!
you really made my day -

08 August 2009, 01:51 AM
That was amazing and VERY creative. Man I wish I had that talent... Very inspiring.

08 August 2009, 03:29 AM
Awesome Flow Of Animation.great Way Of Presentation.........
Simplified Story Telling.:)

08 August 2009, 04:32 AM
It was worth the time. That long year really paid off. Big congrats and good luck to ya.

08 August 2009, 02:17 PM
Wow !!!
The idea, the animations, fluids, camera movements,....

Simply Awesome!!!


08 August 2009, 06:16 PM
outstanding , soo beautifull perfect animation :bowdown:

08 August 2009, 12:35 AM
thanx for the post. I really do like this and think it is very beautiful.

08 August 2009, 08:24 PM
I don't think it's an exaggeration to say, like everyone else, that really was beautiful. Tchaikovsky himself would have been proud with the way you timed the imagery to his music perfectly.
Also nice to see a fellow Hasher continue to develop :wavey:

08 August 2009, 11:52 AM
Amazing work.May be it took long period period of time to finish but Quality of work is

Excellent .

Congrats :buttrock::buttrock::buttrock:

Good luck for next


08 August 2009, 01:18 AM
Incredible work, it's all brilliant, composition and editing...The animation is absolutely impressive with a wonderful sense of timing !

Bravo !

08 August 2009, 08:52 PM
Great work mate, and never say never!,.....good luck.

08 August 2009, 10:00 PM
great great work
5* from me

08 August 2009, 10:04 PM
Inspirational to say the least. the leopard animation was flawless, the weight was perfect, the transferring of energy from muscle to muscle was felt, and seen. loved every second of it. it reminds me of some "Fantasia" works. Simply fantastic :buttrock:

08 August 2009, 06:27 PM
Great job there Robin, in my opinion you nailed the animation part completely. From weighting to timing your pauses, it's all there. You actually managed to make the viewer empathise with him, because he has character and is not just a simple leopard :D

Goes on to show that you don't need complex muscle systems to make realistic motion. Animation is not about 'real life' but the 'illusion of life'. Sometimes a few simple deformators and an artistic approach are enough.

Also his motion, kind of reminded me of Bagheera from Jungle book. Ollie didn't have a muscle system back then, just raw talent, which you my friend have in spades :)

On your comments, I'm really glad you took the extra effort to complete your project because it is something that will stay with you forever and shows what kind of person you are.

All the best for the future. I hope it takes you places you never dreamed of.
This is Front Page Stuff btw peepow.

P.S: Can we have a HD 720p version? That m4v codec pixelates everything, I need to immortalize it in my 'INSPIRATION' folder personaly :D

08 August 2009, 11:11 PM
Wow! Beautiful work... really well done.
Your hard work definitely paid off.
I can't wait to see where you go from here.
You obviously have quite a career ahead of you.

09 September 2009, 10:06 AM
Awesome..... compositing is too good

09 September 2009, 02:48 PM
Awesome animation! And very emotional to watch. How did you do that animation?

Well.. Better read the thread and hope for some answers :)

09 September 2009, 06:02 PM
Awesome work there !
Beautifull ambiance and colors !
The leopard animation is very good. Great poses and timing.
Congratulations !

09 September 2009, 06:24 PM
just amazing, i don't see this kind of animation more often, well done!

09 September 2009, 10:22 PM
Jaw-droppingly impressive animation. The movement and weight were absolutely nailed in every shot. Great work!

09 September 2009, 06:09 AM
Awesome video!! :applause:

09 September 2009, 07:57 AM
cool stuff!

09 September 2009, 04:42 PM
This really is phenomenal. The keyframe animation on the cat is just incredible, but the direction is also just as impressive.


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