Another day Another dollar

  Another day another dollar.  That's what my first boss in the production industry used to say every time you asked him how he was doing.  Although I didn't have much in common with him I gotta agree matter how much you loved animation, compositing or editing when you got into this industry, at some point you hit a 'another day another dollar' mentality.  It's not a permanent mentality, it's more of a cycle.   There's no question that this industry is a grind...and at some point work is just work, no matter what your passions are.  Like I said though, it's a cycle - and nothing helps break up the cycle like jumping into some new software or being inspired by some great work (I find myself spending more and more time over at Artstation (  Man there's some cool stuff there.  Anyway, onto the latest projects completed here at Sabertooth.

  I'm not a huge fan of 3D camera tracking.  It's still a little too much 'black magic' for me (meaning...I don't really understand what the hell is going on behind the UI).  Every couple of years I get a shot that I need to track.  This arial of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium was shot with a drone carrying a 4K camera.  Apparently the drone was attacked by seagulls shortly after getting this shot - I guess they don't like drones either.  A big thanks to Carmine Agnone for doing the tracking.  The animation shows how fresh seawater is brought into the tanks at the Aquarium.  Animation and compositing done in MODO and AfterFX.

  These 6 scientific animations will be playing in 'Portrait' mode on two large screens on either side of the giant 'Outer Bay' tank.  A live speaker will be able to drop some science knowledge on the crowd of visitors that are always present in front of the huge glass window with the aid of these animations.  Each animation is broken down into several loop-able segments and the presenter can control which sections to show with a custom programmed iPad.  So you can (for instance) bring in the Hammerhead shark.....have it hover and loop while you introduce the a button to proceed on to the particular characteristic of the animal you're focusing on (the ability to sense electrical fields)....loop that while you answer questions...then finally press another button to signal the animal to swim off-screen before bringing on another one.  This ability enables the presenter to add variety to the show, you can showcase the animals in whatever order you can pause to answer questions, or you can repeat the science portion of the animation for further explanation.  It was challenging to make sure each section (intro, hover, science section, back to hover, hover, outro) was loop-able but the flexibility this gave the presenter was well worth it.  MODO and AfterFX.

  This series of 3 animations was created to introduce Veritas's InfoScale product.  It's always a bit challenging to try and find a way visualize a software process...especially something as technical as Enterprise storage and availability.  Once we established a visual metaphor for a datacenter (the block of red 'bouncy' bars) we made sure to keep that language consistent throughout each video.   The 3 animations totaled close to 8 minutes in length - and at 1920x1080 that's a huge number of frames to render in a short period of time.  Big thanks to Rebus Render Farm for making the rending painless and relatively inexpensive.  Rebus has a plugin that lets you launch the render directly from MODO - all three of these animations were rendered by Rebus.  I also used The Foundry's AfterFX I/O kit to bring MODO's camera and null animations to AfterFX so I could add all the text.  This was an absolutely essential part of the workflow since doing all the text in 3D would have been a huge pain - and very expensive to re-render all the changes and mis-spellings (I'm the worst...).

  So, Enterprise storage and availability technology doesn't get you excited?  How about Facilities and Assets Lifecycle Management software?  Settle down....contain yourself....I know it's hard.  Seriously though, a large part of running a production company in Silicon Valley is creating videos and animations to describe large, complex and valuable technologies.  While the information may be pedestrian you still have to find a way to make it interesting while delivering a coherent message.  This animation is a combination of AfterFX, Premier and MODO+Octane Render for the 3D portions.  Fortunately I only had to deal with a locked off camera, so the 3D aspect was more fun than pain.  One of the challenges of animating complex products or processes is that you really have to become a 'mini expert' in the area in a very short time to be able to make a sensical animation.  If you don't understand what it is that you're trying to animate then you're not going to be very successful at explaining it in an animated video.

  We went through a couple different background concepts before settling on one - here's a few of the variations.  I really enjoyed rendering these in Octane render.  One of the things Octane does very well is the 'frosted' glass material of the monitor.

  Do you like sticking long, sharp metal objects up your nose?  Why not?  How else are you going to clear the gunk out of your frontal sinus?  Honestly, I've had clogged and infected sinuses before and I would have stuck this thing up my nose in a second if I knew it would help.  One thing I don't recommend...trying to model the interior of the human sinus cavity in 3D.'s like a maze of crevices, ridges and openings all made from wet, gelatinous tissue. hurt my brain to get the models accurate enough for this.  I used Octane for the product pull-out at the end.

  Speaking of Octane Render - it's really become my 'go to' renderer for products.  While MODO's native renderer also excels at this I really like how fast Octane can render 'specular' materials.  It can really blaze through a transparent material with rough refractions much faster than MODO...I think it gives a cleaner DOF as well if you let it render long enough.  MODO still has quite a few advantages in terms of flexibility and features - but it's been a lot of fun to render in Octane.  Anyway, here's a few shots.  That last one is a shot of chromatophore cells from a Dolphinfish (they can change color from blue to green to's pretty amazing).

  This turntable of Avid's latest storage system was also rendered in Octane.  Most of the model comes from CAD file but I had to hand model most of the rear in MODO.

  Last but certainly not least - here's an image of a cute little sea otter about to contract a horrible, life threatening virus.  Circle of life....