The challenge Bardel faced on the Angry Birds Blues TV series was re-creating its feature-film look on a television schedule and budget. That’s no easy feat! We worked closely with Rovio to match the cinematic quality of the series while also maintaining the lightning speed TV schedule. To do this, Bardel developed innovative solutions that optimized the CG workflow. Check it out!
We all know how difficult it is (in life) to distinguish twins from each other buuut just imagine how our storyboarders felt sketching the three main birds who look exactly the same!! Talk about continuity problems, am I right? Being the geniuses they are, our storyboard team used different eye colors for each bird, which helped create a little order in the chaos. Phew!
ASSETS - GROOMING
So, this show has a looot of detail…which adds to render time…and that can mess up deadlines, which is baaad. BUT there’s no way around it. These birds need to have the highest quality of feather-fur ever seen in the history of animated TV!!! So, we used X-Gen, a software that let us be very specific of the placement of hair follicles in each tuft of fur…OCD much? We also added density to follicles while reducing the opacity to thin out the fur, which is why these little birds seem so darn cute & fluffy.
ASSETS - RIGGING
I’ll just say it: the Hatchlings have weird round bodies with ridiculously large eyes, twig arms and a mouth a third of the size of their body mass. A rigger’s dream date, right? NOT! To deal with massive proportional changes that these birds had to go through, the riggers made effective use of lattices within the rigs that allowed the characters to be pushed to the extremes.
The cool yet challenging thing about the show was in maintaining the photo-real look. Our props had to look and feel real, while also having imperfections as if they had been designed by a child! Whooaaaa! We added details such as crayon scribbles, box wrinkles and more to literally hundreds of props. We put out heads together to figure out how to make these props versatile.
Being the wizards we are, Bardel developed a proprietary software called “Scene Gen” which magically reads off the assets listed in Shotgun pulling it all together in one fell swoop. This way an artist can simply open the file and their shot is assembled for them! Voila! This let’s them focus on the artistic parts of framing and blocking rather than the lame issues of finding the file assets.
Animation was a challenge to say the least! First, these funny birds DO NOT speak. Second, they have twig arms and rotund bodies…AND because the entire show is based on non-dialogue comedy every SINGLE movement and emotion had to be ‘extreme’ to make the comedy work! It’s like asking a whale to touch its toes. Not easy.
I must say this show is ‘cinematically’ gorg…as in gorgeous. We did our darnest to match the superior lighting of the feature film with the series. As a result, the shots required long-ass render times and because “this is TV people” we were working on a tight schedule. To save render time, we devised a process for compositing our work at lightning speed by exporting shots in strips. Slam dunk!
Angry Birds Blues had a lot of FX. Naturally. Angry characters enjoy explosions…and because we were working with custom-built explosions in every episode, we created a system to integrate Houdini with Maya and Vray pipeline, which sped up FX renders like nobody’s business! Also, also, not to brag but the FX team often lit, rendered and comped their own FX. So, there’s that.