Ice Age 3!!! i can't believe this is the third Ice Age movie i worked on. thinking back when i worked on the first one nine years earlier, it's a funny feeling.
one of the early developing task i worked on is snow accumulation on fur. we wanted it since first Ice Age film, but the technology wasn't ready. in Ice Age 2 the technology was closer, so we really wanted to have it for this film. here are some of the explorations on different techniques and looks.
this is a wedge test to find out the best amount of snow
it ended up much more subtle in the the final shot. i also created the snow prints for Sid here.
a similar but more involved setup, in this shot Sid wipes off the snow on his body. i pruned out the accumulated snow on his fur on specific timing, and added additional particle systems to create the illusion the powder is being wiped off.
dust is another common effects in this film. here are some of my early test frames (some are not with final material and lighting)
and some heavier impact dust from the climax battle sequences
since this is "Ice Age", you can't avoid snow powder and snow chunks all over the place.
snow prints is one of the most fun effects to work on. R&D developed a tool to simulate the footprint based on the animation, it will dynamically tessellate the topology to add more detail as needed. we can tweak the setting the get the amount of berm around it. we can then go in and sculpt or smooth some of the details after the sim to address problematic area.
goo is another fun effects. i developed a workflow that start with a paint over image from Art department such as below:
i then use 3D paint to paint the regions to match the design
and populate particles to stick to the surface
these particles get mesh to a poly mesh
and here is the final image in the film
some saliva shots i did with similar technique
the challenge of this whole bubbles sequence for me, as a sequence lead, is to make sure the continuity from shot to shot matches, as well as sync with audio cues. since there are many people work on different shots at the same time, we spent a lot of time reviewing and tweaking individual shots so they cut together in a nice flow and rhythm.
one of my shot is also a good example that some times we need to make changes when rendering with the final lighting and suddenly realized the contrast might be too much and draws audience's attention from where we want them to focus.
this tar pit is one of the most complex effect i've ever worked on... multiple departments, multiple people, and up-stream changes all the time. there are hand-animated bubbles from another TD, i was responsible for the fluid sim, particle tar dips off the hero bubble, procedurally generating animated signal for Material department to drive the area of crest vs. liquid tar, and integrating everything together. another TD generated the smoke, and Animation department animated the hero bubble.
this is another early developing to procedurally generate snow chunks and trailing snow powder based on the penetration (feet) of an animated character.
in the early design, the mist monster was one point be more like a Chinese dragon, so i made this test as a proof of concept. the design was completely changed later. so this didn't go any further.