Comfort - Big Bang Genie
Comfort adverts always feature a colorful world made entirely of fabric.
With this fun piece, where we decided to go back to the roots of the old Comfort ads which were made in stop motion, I had the responsability of leading the look dev and lighting team to create a look that would feel tangible and as close as possible from a real puppet stop motion set.
Because we decided to go the stop motion route, with a tangible world and no motion blur, we decided to treat the whole project as if we were building it for real. Keep the scale of the set, characters and lights to real life scale.
First, we built the set, like a model maker would. We tried to respect the scale of objects, textures and lights, so the whole scene would feel real and tangible.
We decided to render the advert with Arnold.
Because Arnold renderer struggles a bit with interior scenes that need lots of bounces, we had to think of solutions to keep our rendertimes low and have as little noise as possible. Specially with our world made of fabric, where most surfaces are really rough, a solution had to be found.
Once we were happy with the lighting, we created a spherical HDR map of the whole set, that we then reprojected onto the set for secondary bounces. This helped us keep our rendertimes in a reasonable number, and got rid of most of the noise, while keeping the lighting natural and with a lot of light bounces.
The HDR also allowed us to render the characters separately from the set, with
our hero lighting, but keeping all the light bounces the set would have provided.
All the characters were modelled in Maya additionnal wrinkles and stitches were added in Zbrush. For the cloth shaders, we created some fabric patterns based on real life fabric references. Those textures would help us drive the Anisotropy rotation of materials like Silk, and help us achieve different type of fabric with one material, just by choosing a different pattern.
For the lookdev, we used 4 balanced neutral light rig that would help us make sure that our material were correct and working correctly in any type of environment. We respected a PBR workflow for all materials to make sure they felt as tangible and real as possible for people to believe that it was a stop motion set. We used alShaders for every material on the Genie.
The eyes were a crucial point to get right. Our characters were really expressive and having strong eyes full of life was something that was really important. We took all the classic Pixar films as reference as well as Youtube video of modelmakers creating eyes for stop motion and sculpture. We painted the iris of the Genie by hand, like they would have done if it was a real stop motion character.
For more info about the art direction and the creation process, check out this making of video on The Mill's website.
To round it up, here's some final turntables of the characters!