“Black Sails is a very asset heavy production with lots of pirate ships and cannon fires and water simulation, open ocean. As an example, a standard shot could have up to 1TB of Alembic data.” says Martin Ogren Lead Lighting Artist at ILP. The high quality standards of the show, Black Sails, involves many interdepartmental dependencies. To create lifelike visual effects, the studio needs to produce realistic simulations, dynamics and volumetric effects interacting with each other and ultimately leading to greatly increase the cost and the complexity of each artistic iteration. “(...) One change tends to ripple through to a lot of departments so it is technically a great challenge!” says Yafei Wu, co-founder of ILP and VFX Supervisor of Black Sails. Until early in 2016, ILP mainly relied on Maya coupled with major rendering softwares, proprietary tools and custom scripts in order to assemble and manage scenes, look dev assets, light and render visual effects. “We’ve always been a very Maya based studio, so we started it out with Maya and RenderMan to begin with and then we switched over to VRay and after that, we switched to Arnold as a renderer instead. Now, on the final season of Black Sails, we switched to Clarisse and today, we are using it in full production on multiple shows. For us, it was a very smooth transition. Clarisse is such easy intuitive artistic software and today it takes around 2 to 3 days for a general lighting artist to pick Clarisse up and start doing shots” adds Yafei Wu.
The adoption of Clarisse at ILP greatly simplified ILP’s pipeline and improved the workflow of their artists thanks to Clarisse’s modern solutions designed to answer the needs of VFX production environments working in teams. “We need to do lots of like residual smoke layouts, canon fires, fire and stuff like that and be able to actually see that cuts down the production time a lot, it’s like a different world.” adds Martin Ogren. “Clarisse enabled us to scene assembly very complex scenes but still maintaining flexibility on a shot per shot level so things were not locked down into bounding boxes or things like that but we could still see things, access things” complements Niklas Strom, Lead Artist at ILP.
“The reasons we chose Clarisse are multiple. One of them is the amount of assets that we have to handle and to be able to view them in the viewport to properly do layouts in an artistic and creative way and, at the same time, being able to render everything together so you get the proper shadowing and occlusion etc… from all the assets. The other reason is to really be able to do asset development for an entire show but, at the same time, to be able to easily do overrides on a per shot basis. That’s something that we had to develop a lot of tools for when we’ve been using other software and in Clarisse it’s more or less been out of the box and that’s been amazing.” adds Yafei Wu.