Axis Animation has previously worked on AAA SEGA titles such as “Aliens: Colonial Marines” and “Alien: Isolation.” For “Dawn of War III” however, the team adopted a brand new approach to its VFX pipeline, allowing the studio to streamline its 3D characters and environments into a 2.5D compositing setup in Fusion Studio.
“It was the work of Polish surrealist painter Zdzis?aw Beksi?ski that was the essential ingredient in our pitch to Relic. We worked with the team at Relic to strike a careful balance between our intended aesthetic with Beksi?ski's ethereal imagery and the established WH40K world created by IP holders Games Workshop(R),” explains Lead LRC artist on the project, John Barclay.
Axis produced the award-winning trailer for “Dawn of War III” which received great responses from fans and critics alike. With the success of the trailer, developers Relic Entertainment wanted to take the same art direction into the cutscenes.
To do this, the Axis team assembled their scenes within the standard studio pipeline but automated the process of converting the 3D scene into the multitude of image planes required for their 2.5D comps. “This helped us enormously, especially for the cutscenes, which featured limited camera movement,” Barclay reveals. “It was incredible that we had the flexibility to use effects like volumetric fog and insert them into the same scene as characters and environments built from 2.5D cards. It also meant our lighting artists could work on the scene as though it were any other 3D set.”
Brought into Fusion using a custom Python and Lua script to ensure all the data was positioned correctly, the cards meant that every artist at Axis could automatically render their character from Houdini and import it as a projection into Fusion. An alembic export was then used to bring in the camera positioning from Maya.
“Using image planes in Fusion allowed us some significantly reduced render times and also greater flexibility with more creative iteration over the whole show. The workflow allowed artists familiar with our standard pipeline to create something a little more unusual,” Barclay concludes. “Fusion is key to helping us solve both creative and logistical challenges. It was an essential part of our toolbox on Dawn of War III.”
Founded in 2000, the Axis Studios are made up of three collaborating companies with distinct goals, strategies and talent bases. Axis, Flaunt and axisVFX are located across the UK with studios in Glasgow, Bristol and London.
The original Axis studio creates animated and CG content for entertainment industry including video games, online entertainment, television and theme parks. As ever, we tell stories in style.
Sister studio Flaunt is an opportunity to express our softer side - working on long and short format content in entertainment, broadcast and commercials that cast a spotlight on characters and humor. Partner studio axisVFX is situated across multiple sites in Bristol and Glasgow, and delivers cutting edge visual effects for broadcast television, independent feature film and commercials.
The output and artistry differs across each of our studios, but the aims are unshakably the same. Be distinctive. Be insightful. Be challenging.
About Blackmagic Design
Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to www.blackmagicdesign.com.
About Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is Relic’s critically-acclaimed real-time strategy game that brings to life the iconic Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 universe. Set in the forty-first millennium, players choose a race and take them into battle on the brutal front-lines of war and fight for supremacy of the galactic empire. Since its inception, the Dawn of War series has sold more than 8 million copies. Dawn of War III will be the eighth installment of the franchise.
About Relic Entertainment
Relic Entertainment is the award-winning development studio behind critically-acclaimed franchises including Warhammer 40:000: Dawn of War, Company of Heroes, and more. Since its inception in 1997, Relic has produced a rich catalogue of genre-defining real-time strategy titles and continues to innovate today as a SEGA-owned studio. Relic is located in Vancouver, Canada. Learn more at www.relic.com.