Meet the Artist: Doug Ikeler, Sony Pictures Imageworks

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Old 10 October 2006   #31
Hi! i cant wait to get to the theater to see this piece, it seems amazing


My question would be about a subject that is not very common to read about in the web:

How do you handle the shading/lighting workflow? how about the surfaces/characters shaders with diferents kind of light moods that still have that continuity in the look-and-feel?

i dont know if my question is a little dumb, but i wanted to know because a had a hardtime myself with that subject lattely when trying to get a specific look that feels the way i want with diferents lights moods

Keep on the explendid work!!

And thanks in advance
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Old 10 October 2006   #32
Hello Doug,

I am a beginner CG artist and attempting to make the transfer from military to civilian world. I am currently working towards my Bachelors in CG art and design and will graduate within a year. For someone who would like to start on the right track is there a specific CG software to start out with? I have a choice of 3Ds Max or Maya with my college and I have chosen Maya due to the fact that I would like to get into the film industry. Should I invest in Maxon Cinema 4D or New Tek Lightwave 3D also? I read what you wrote about how it is better to be an "expert" in a field instead of a generalist. Is it the same with software? Thanks for answering our questions here and great job on the movie!!

Dave
 
Old 10 October 2006   #33
Hi Doug, Congratulations on your work! I have a simple couple questions:
What Software did you use and why?
How long did the longest scene and frame took to render?
At what resolution did you render the final images?
After having the rendered images are they printed to film or how is that process?

Thank you for taking your time, i love your work keep it up!
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Old 10 October 2006   #34
yah

it's really really good

good job
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Old 10 October 2006   #35
Thumbs up ooo!

oooo................. i like!
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Old 10 October 2006   #36
love it!

hi Doug Ikeler,
i love it! and thanks to your talk and sharings at Siggraph06. i was there in your talk! amazing! i love the "shapper" that you all used to define the shapes of the characters! amazing! cant wait for the show in theater.
 
Old 10 October 2006   #37
Thumbs up asset management and keeping track in general

hi Doug Ikeler,
First of all I`ve been waiting for this movie since your siggraph trailers caught my eyes.
I wanted to know more about your asset management in general and example of tools.
what did you find working best for this type of a feature what went wrong and how could this part of production be even smoother.

Thanks!!
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Old 10 October 2006   #38
Hi Doug

Great to have you here, you guys did a great job with open season.

I want to ask you about the hair.

-How do you iluminate the hair?...do you use image base lighting with HDR images?...

-If you do use HDR image to iluminate the hair can you explain a bit about that and how the hair was render it?

thanks a lot for your time.

Cheers
 
Old 10 October 2006   #39
Thank you for your time. I'm just wondering where you went for your education and how long it took to get your full education.

Thanks!
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Old 10 October 2006   #40
wow

i like most the water...the fur also very nice.cant wait for the open season opening in cinema
 
Old 10 October 2006   #41
Stylization

first off i want to say that the stylization in the movie rocked. It reminded me alot of the olden day cartoons i loved as a kid, except 3d.

I was wondering about the stylized human characters. Like the stylization of the hair of Beth the Park Ranger. Most films have straight hair... but beth had a very wavy feel to it? was it Maya hair? polygons with a texture? a rig? It just looked so good for wavy hair.

Thanks for your time!
 
Old 10 October 2006   #42
Post

Hi there!

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed every second of the movie, I went with friends and watching the show made me proud knowing that I work in this industry.

I have a couple of questions:

1. How big was your influence as the VFX supervisor, on creative decisions made by the film director?

-In the Siggraph course, you mentioned that the backpack naturally posed a huge technical headache, but you had to make it work anyway - I wonder if in other cases you managed to reduce production time by avoiding curtain issues...
-For me it was appearant in some sequences in the movie:
a.When Eliot and Boog walk around in circles in the grass, and flatten out the area in which they later sleep on = avoid intersections.
b.The Flood sequence had some very strong camera moves, which kept visual water-creature intersections to a minimum.

2. Do you see yourself directing a movie in the future?

-This might be a strange question, but I'm asking this because although I'm practicaly doing VFX Supervision currently, I came to the industry with a belief that my true mission is telling stories interestingly and passionately working as a film director. I also believe that a good VFX sup, is using a mixture of techincal qualities, managment qualities, AND the same kind of creativity that makes a good film-maker. I wonder if you agree.

3. Can you tell a little about the flood sequence - how did you plan it out, carry it through set design, modeling, layout and all the way to final compositing?

-I got a glimps at the technologies you used to make this sequence work, I would be happy to get a deeper insight of the proccess...


4. Are the same water simulation technologies being used on "Surf's up"?

I'm asking this because from the look of the trailer (Which is amazing, BTW), it seems like the movie is going to have a lot more fluids simulation than "Open Seazon", and I wonder if the solution displayed at Siggraph is not too heavy production-wise for such a film.

5. How do you see the future of high-budget feature CG films, now that much-lower-budget films are proving to be successful at the box-office?

- And could you please elaborate more on your belief that CG films are starting to become more mature, Are we going to see R-rated CG features in the future? Isn't that realm allreay dominated by live-action movies, with living, breathing (Half CG allready), actors?

Hehe, Oops, sorry for the amout of questions...

Thanks for having this session - I can't wait to answer some questions myself someday ;-)

Take care and good luck in the future!

Last edited by thoughtcriminal : 10 October 2006 at 09:10 AM.
 
Old 10 October 2006   #43
Strange Question

Hi Doug, great work man!

I have maybe a strange question:

from your experience, is there any "age" limitations for a person who want to work "as a pro" in this industry (cg animation), if he spent lots of years in research then found that this industry is his world!, I mean in other words, do the employers consider the age of the candidate, and how they think about this point?

many respect and thanks
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Old 10 October 2006   #44
Thanks for the insight Doug, appreciated.
 
Old 10 October 2006   #45
Talking Third entry

EzequielM asked:

How do you handle the shading/lighting workflow? how about the surfaces/characters shaders with diferents kind of light moods that still have that continuity in the look-and-feel?



If I understand the question correctly, you are asking how do we change mood/look of the lighting and the characters that it affects and still maintain continuity.

We do what we call “sequence lighting” that means that our Art department paints color keys from a few of the important shots within a sequence. A sequence is defined by a series of shots within a given location, within a particular part of the story line. The lighting “rig” is set up to match those color keys and then that rig is used for the remainder of the sequence. The most important continuity is within a sequence as compared to the whole film. Most of our shader standards (character) are setup up in a very ambient and “average” situation so that they respond well to most of our lighting rigs that we apply. That might be where you want to look first as this is a common problem, that is, setting your characters initial look up with lights that are too extreme to handle different situations.



Diesel1064 asked:

For someone who would like to start on the right track is there a specific CG software to start out with? I have a choice of 3Ds Max or Maya with my college and I have chosen Maya due to the fact that I would like to get into the film industry. Should I invest in Maxon Cinema 4D or New Tek Lightwave 3D also? I read what you wrote about how it is better to be an "expert" in a field instead of a generalist. Is it the same with software?



I personally would just dive deep into maya. You could have done the same with Max, but Maya is a good choice for film like you said. I would augment it with a compositing package (shake or whatever you like) and just stick to that.



Climax asked:

How long did the longest scene and frame took to render?
At what resolution did you render the final images?
After having the rendered images are they printed to film or how is that process?



I think our longest frame was something like a 40 hours to render….didn’t happen too often.

We rendered at HD 1:66 , 1920x1156.

We delivered in 2 formats, digital cinema (which was just the HD files converted to cineon files) and film which used a film recorder that exposed the digital files to film, then print as usual.



yoni-cohen asked:

I wanted to know more about your asset management in general and example of tools.
what did you find working best for this type of a feature what went wrong and how could this part of production be even smoother.



This would really take a huge amount of explaining, so rather I will just tell you where we used asset management.

All geometry, both as a component and a hierarchy, is managed as it is loaded into maya.

That geometry carries shader assignment, maps, etc into the scene render.

All other assets like images, scripts, particle data etc. go through versioning and publishing controls.

All scene information and history is controlled by a production tracking system that is integral to getting things done right and on time.

Sorry I cant be more specific.



yolao asked:
-How do you iluminate the hair?...do you use image base lighting with HDR images?...



No, we didn’t use HDR. Our hair is rendered through Renderman using RiCurve as the primitive. This allows for mostly normal rendering as if it were just another piece of geometry in the scene. There are two majors differences to that: The shading down the length of the shaft of hair comes from deep shadows and since the hair is not part of the ambient occlusion data that we get, we cheat that by looking up ambient occlusion for each hair from the surface below it.





Octobomb asked:
I was wondering about the stylized human characters. Like the stylization of the hair of Beth the Park Ranger. Most films have straight hair... but beth had a very wavy feel to it? was it Maya hair? polygons with a texture? a rig? It just looked so good for wavy hair.



It is not maya hair, but we use maya hair as an interface for what we are going to render through renderman. IOW, the hair artist combs, adjusts length and density, and builds volume all through Maya GL hair representations. We then have proprietary software that converts it for renderman as well giving it characteristics, like the waviness that you pointed out, for the render. Hair at render time is around 100 to a thousand more hairs than the hair artist is working with.



Ahmattu asked:
from your experience, is there any "age" limitations for a person who want to work "as a pro" in this industry (cg animation), if he spent lots of years in research then found that this industry is his world!, I mean in other words, do the employers consider the age of the candidate, and how they think about this point?



No, not really. Our studio has an age range of about 18 to 60 years old. This industry is just now getting to be more mature, it used to be that everyone was young because the industry was young. Of course there may be an age where you really cant imagine sitting at a computer for 8+ hours straight.





thoughtcriminal asked:

WOW…I’ll do my best to answer all your Q’s, but I may start losing feeling in my fingers……
1. How big was your influence as the VFX supervisor, on creative decisions made by the film director?

-In the Siggraph course, you mentioned that the backpack naturally posed a huge technical headache, but you had to make it work anyway - I wonder if in other cases you managed to reduce production time by avoiding curtain issues...
-For me it was appearant in some sequences in the movie:
a.When Eliot and Boog walk around in circles in the grass, and flatten out the area in which they later sleep on = avoid intersections.
b.The Flood sequence had some very strong camera moves, which kept visual water-creature intersections to a minimum.



My job, almost more than anything else, is to let the directors know what their options are, both technically and creatively given the possibilities and limitations of our software.

My experience allows me to pull from a bag of tricks (as you noted) as well as aesthetics that have worked for me in the past. There are times, like the back pack, where given all the data I can muster the directors still feel it is that important and that savings will have to be found elsewhere to compensate. Every day is a negotiation to some degree. There are times when it was my idea and there are times when what you see is all that the time and budget would allow . Mostly , we are able to deliver what the director s ask for.








2. Do you see yourself directing a movie in the future?

-This might be a strange question, but I'm asking this because although I'm practicaly doing VFX Supervision currently, I came to the industry with a belief that my true mission is telling stories interestingly and passionately working as a film director. I also believe that a good VFX sup, is using a mixture of techincal qualities, managment qualities, AND the same kind of creativity that makes a good film-maker. I wonder if you agree.



This is definitely an avenue to directing if you have that talent. Me personally I am not sure, I haven’t spent much time in story and that is a crucial part of directing. Never say never though, because I said I would never be a VFX.

3. Can you tell a little about the flood sequence - how did you plan it out, carry it through set design, modeling, layout and all the way to final compositing?

-I got a glimps at the technologies you used to make this sequence work, I would be happy to get a deeper insight of the proccess...





Too much to type…. But as someone else pointed out go here:

http://mag.awn.com/OpenSeason/

That should give you most of the answers.



4. Are the same water simulation technologies being used on "Surf's up"?

I'm asking this because from the look of the trailer (Which is amazing, BTW), it seems like the movie is going to have a lot more fluids simulation than "Open Seazon", and I wonder if the solution displayed at Siggraph is not too heavy production-wise for such a film.



We did do a hand-off to Surf’s Up as they would be using Houdini as well. I believe they used a lot of it and then continued to develop a lot more.



 
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