Exclusive breakdown video below:
Platige Image is known throughout the production community for developing the most astonishing short films, music clips, TVCs and cinematics. All the way back to Mantis and The Cathedral, many productions and those on staff in the history of the studio have won many awards. Tomas Baginski, Grzegorz Jonkajtys, Marcin Kobylecki, Damien Nenow are names peppered with productions and awards. CGSociety is proud to make available an exclusive breakdown video of the creation of The Witcher 2 cinematic, produced by Platige Image in Poland.
“Around forty artists worked on The Witcher 2 cinematic during the whole run of the production but the core team was much smaller still,” says Maciej Jackiewicz, the CG Supervisor for the project. “Usually we had around ten people working on the job at the same time. This is a relatively small team and it meant that each involved artist had quite a significant input into the final result.” Producing The Witcher 2 cinematic was one of the bigger projects completed by Platige Image for CD Projekt Red. Following is the final video cinematic.
There were a lot of characters on the boat environment and the simulations of destruction were the most difficult parts of the project. The whole set becomes part of the story. “We wanted the ship and its demolition to become a kind of character in itself,” explains Jackiewicz.
Their client CD Projekt Red wanted to use the film to launch their campaign for the Xbox 360 edition of The Witcher 2 game which is being released this Spring, mid April. The Platige Image crew took as many hours in each day as they could to complete the production. “We had put great care into the animatics of each of the characters, perhaps more than usual,” Jackiewicz says. “All the crucial elements: camera positions and movement, timing and creating the low-poly version of the destruction of the ship was carefully planned and fixed at a early stage." This was particularly important because the destruction plays such an big role in the cinematic. The timing of the simulations had to match the music and the visual edit so a precise animatic set up was a big help for the FX team.
“We used our always-evolving pipeline based on 3ds Max, Motionbuilder, Maya and V-Ray,” adds Jackiewicz. All that was supported by some of the software that has been developed internally at Platige Image. “Shotbuilder is a set of tools that helps with assets management, compilation of the shots, automated caching etc.,” he describes. “With so many characters and heavy scenes it saved our lives. “We also use our in-house caching system called Meshbaker, which serves as a port between 3ds Max and Maya (or Softimage, Houdini and Nuke when required). It gives us some level of freedom in choosing the tools that best suit different projects.”
Each character had their own clothing setup, and some up to five layers of clothing. Most troubling was probably Letho, the assassin. His armour-like outfit wasn't very simulation friendly. It had no loose garmentry or anything that could act nicely in the cloth simulation. Yet all of Letho’s clothes had to be simulated otherwise he would look either too stiff or the deformations behaved badly.
All the slow motion sequences were also tricky from the cloth simulations point of view. All the rapid changes in animation speed required re-timing of the cloth solver. There was other trickery of the TD's cloth simulation done in Maya with some custom scripts that helped to handle the large number of characters and shots in the cinematic.