Panoply employs a combination of Cinema 4D, Arnold and Houdini to successfully evoke the brand values of Mercedes-Benz.
To showcase the production of the latest Mercedes-Benz cars, RAID Films and Atelier Markgraph approached Panoply – a design and motion studio based in London. The brief was to produce the first
The four-person team at Panoply had three months to generate the film, which employs a mixture of photoreal renders of elements of the car combined with a mixture of abstract imagery to express the themes of the brief. The version seen here is the 'Director's Cut' – a shorter version of the piece that includes abstract imagery that didn't make it into the final edit.
Dealing with massive CAD data sets
"I think the most memorable thing from the production of this project was near the beginning when we received the CAD models for the Mercedes-Benz car," says Mark Lindner, director at Panoply. "We opened the raw triangulated meshes and were amazed at the amount of detail we had to work with but also quite worried when we thought about the amount of cleanup that would be required in order to make use of them. Luckily we didn't have to sort every single mesh we were sent. It was a case of composing our shots how we wanted them after which, once we had the shot signed off, we would go in and
Cinema 4D tools in action
Cinema 4D's Polygon Pen tool was vital during the retopology phase, acknowledges Lindner. "It allowed us to quickly and painlessly reduce the super-high-density CAD models down to a fraction of their polygon count without losing any detail."
To facilitate this workflow, the team also relied on Cinema 4D's XRefs, enabling them to animate using low-res proxy models and then swap in denser versions at render time. "Due to the sheer number of polygons in the high-resolution
Third-Party 3D software workflow
The Mercedes-Benz film opens with a moody industrial setting, which was built and rendered in 3D. "From this
Cinema 4D Dynamics and MoGraph
There then follows a montage of abstract sequences, aimed at encapsulating the brand values outlined above. The metallic atom array mesh was achieved using dynamics to create a crumpled version of the structure. The team then blended between the point positions on this version and the uncrumpled original using the Pose Morph tag and a Plain Effector. A slight mesh wobble was added using Cinema 4D's Jiggle Deformer. "Using the Pose Morph tag in combination with the Pose Deformer and MoGraph effectors allows for an amazing level of customization of effects," adds Lindner.
An array of realistic-looking laser beams
The first such example is the wind tunnel smoke trails that swirl around an invisible sphere. "This was created using a line of smoke emitters with a velocity field pushing the volume in one direction. With all turbulence and displacements turned off for the smoke it was a simple case of just putting our collision sphere in place and then making it invisible to the camera at render time."
After some sumptuous shots of car bodywork being fitted
3D fluid simulation
Final outputFor final output, Panoply averaged around ten render passes for each multi-layered EXR frame, with the standard Diffuse (direct/indirect), Specular (direct/indirect), Refraction and SSS (if necessary), plus occasional object buffers where appropriate. Additional particle effects, lens flares and subtle visual effects were added during compositing, which was achieved using Blackmagic Design Fusion.
All images courtesy of Panoply.