Cebas interviews Marc Auvigne and his wunderkind Videomapping VFX for outdoor shows in Europe and around the world.
Hello Marc, how are you today? We are very happy to have you give our community some awesome insights to the amazing world of 3D/ videomapping.
Marc: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed by cebas among so many well known and talented artists.
Cebas: shall we start with something about yourself ?
Marc: Sure. I’m Marc Auvigne, a french freelance / home-based artist, mostly working on 3D video mapping projects (video projection on architectural(s) building(s)) but also on VFX for shorts, or additional contents for Flyers or website.
I’m a self-taught artist. I started 3D and fx as a hobbyist, but soon opportunities came knocking on my door so I decided to go into it « professionally » and have been working on amazing projects from clients since 2012. Currently, I’m part of a small team that works mostly on video mapping projection events. thinkingParticles 6 is the core of all my scenes for my projects, and finalRender is my main Renderer.
Cebas: The vfx community and followers would love to know more about your freelance / Studio work - some interesting history? Do you use mostly Autodesk 3ds Max and
Marc: Our Video mapping team comes from all over France and the team is composed of two recurrent 2D artists, Paul « Boulmarvol » Marcel and Fabien « Illu Strarium » Laouer, who comes from the comic strip industry and 3 other 3D artists from the video game industry and/or movies, Didier « l’Imagicien » Florentz, Max « StreedLab » Vallon and Florian « Wolfy D’Arkan » Camussi. They are all freelancers and work mostly from home. We work with a very well known and talented director/Compositor, Damien Fontaine, and it is he who will supervise the projects.
Major video mapping projects our team has created in the past includes, but are not limited to, the Bolshoi theater in Moscow (Russia), the opening sequence for the 2015 Judo Mondial Master in Rabat (Morocco), European Parliament in Bucharest (Romania) during the first iMapp 555 contest, Souk Al bahar in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), « Cathedral Notre dame de Strasbourg» in Strasbourg (France), Monte-Carlo casino in Monaco (Principality of Monaco) for Robert Hossein , The Monumental Projection in Domrémy-la-Pucelle (France) on the « Basilique du bois Chenu », « Fete des Lumieres » of Lyon (France) multiple time, Gallier hall in New-Orleans (USA) , Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, and a many more….
Above is an image of one of my favourite 3d building model for 2014; real world scale. The biggest 3d model I have dealt with so far is the Buccarest Parliament. 3d model rendered with finalRender!
Our videomapping projects have won several accolades over the years: we won the « fête des lumieres » of Lyon, in 2012 with the « partners Trophy » and 2013, the prestigious « Fete des lumieres » Trophy, and in 2014 winning the First « Public Choice Award » for the iMapp 555 contest for videomapping on the European Parliament in Bucharest (the second biggest Building of the world), making this event at the same time the biggest video mapping surface ever done to date ( until someone will make one on the Pentagon).
Myself, Marc Auvigne, is mostly in charge of making FX scenes or manipulating the 3D model, as well as at times, the rendering of large scenes from others co-worker. We work within short deadlines (anything from 7 days to 2 weeks), converting existing effect asset on tool and finding new effects that can be done and readable on the surface building projection that will be visible to the audience. Modeling of 3D base model, used by other 3 artists and 2D artist, are also major part of our work.
Each team member uses the software that he is comfortable with, so there is some Maya, 3ds max, blender and sometime C4D. Personally I use mostly, and more and more exclusively, 3ds max with thinkingParticles and finalRender/finalToon .
Cebas: Yes, we have seen some of the amazing large scale open concept videomapping shows that your team has done with Damien Fontaine and other equally amazing directors - do you have a favourite show that you particularly like?
Marc: Well, I do not have any real preference for the projects I work on. I find every project has its own merits and is always quite intensive to model a 3D and to render any historical building in a way that the videomapping succeeds in telling the story of the monument or the city and its vibrant culture …
If I have one project that I need to say that I love more than others, may be it will be the one on « the basilique du bois chenu » at Domremy-La-Pucelle (France), which is the birth place of Jehane D’Arc (Joan of Arc). It is a 2-hour show with video mapping contents, live actors (and more than 150 extras) at the same time, spiced with pyrotechnic fireworks.
The Domremy-La-Pucelle event takes place every year, since 2012 and it was also the first Project in 2012 that I had worked on for video mapping, and I have fond memories of it.
Domremy-La-Pucelle pyrotechnics fireworks!
Cebas: With the Domremy-La-Pucells, another absolute treat in terms of visual display - could you tell us more about your behind-the-scenes work ?
Marc: The Domremy-La-Pucelle is a project that we have had more time to work on. Generally, lasting between 2.5 to 3.5 weeks, the show is produced and written by Damien Fontaine (project supervisor) and projected onto a 74-meter large by 35-meter height building. The show tells the story of Jehanne, videomapped and projected at 7500*3600 pixels image. It’s a huge 3D project.
You are welcome to see the official event webpage: http://spectaclemonumental-jeannedarc.fr/ the 2015 edition will come really soon on the website.
Professionally, as a FX 3D artist, I use the Domremy platform each year to develop and tests more new and powerful FX tools for video mapping to be used on later projects since it gives me the extra allowance time, and also it’s a project where we need to create new contents every year, forcing us to be as innovative as we can be.
I enjoy the many fx things I can do with thinkingParticles such as destruction, create frost/vein to grow, peel the building, shatter things into very, very small pieces, break the ice or doing a « sand castle collapsing » like effect, water volume falling on all the Basilique, some torch fire, cloth simulation, instancing cornflower on an animated ivy growth, falling paper and stacking them from the ground, deconstruct and reconstruct the wall of the 3D building …etc. The new effects we create for this project and often will be reused on future projects.
Marc: Here is a still image of a more « usual » kind of animation like animating fragmentation of the building, creating visual harmonic, based on music loops tempo, and driving texture map changed.
I created this effector_with_sound system for syncing with the visual effects with thinkingParticles, pretty simple to do.
Cebas: Any aspects of videomapping VFX that you'd say is really awesome and fun to do?
Marc: The most fun part for me as an artist is to transpose fx onto video mapping content and to see it play out successfully, and to adjust camera settings in a way that it is visually appealing to the audience since it is an open outdoor show. I have to develop the « tool » to reproduce different fx scenes again and again, quickly and easily so as always the hard work is making the fx tool and then the fun part to see it bring out the visual and audio harmony that you want, as an artist.
Cebas: What are some of the features in thinkingParticles that you feel are unbeatable, that speed up and enhance a creative output for your commercial and film vfx ?
Marc: By its procedural nature, thinkingParticles 6 is really an amazingly useful tool to work with, and the TD tool permits you to build very quickly powerful tools and reveal simply the necessary controls and you can also automate the « tool » for repetitive work to perform a fx scene. TP speeds up a lot of my production time. Once you have created a good collection of TD tools, it helps in maximizing your production time so what you had to make the first time in few days, you are now able to make it in a few hours and you could then, concentrate your efforts on other scenes … or only spread the time for artistic value of a scene. It’s quite comfortable and a huge time saver...
For RBD simulation, I think the SC (shapeCollision) operator in thinkingParticles is one of the best solver on the market if it’s not THE best, always worked as expected, always accurate, works well with both convex and concave mesh, and having decent sim time over other alternative tool inside 3dsmax or outside, and SC friction can fake joints which is a timesaver on some assets.
Cebas: How did cebas software integrate into your production pipeline? How straightforward was it for the commercial vfx?
Marc: thinkingParticles is the main reason I use 3ds max. In fact, tP now takes an important place in all my production shots, ‘Procedural’ is clearly the way to go, it’s stable, user-friendly and reusable, and easy to modify or extend.
I use tP for its really cool features, like the nested cache, or the possibility to change material after a simulation, again this permits me to make the simulation way before having my diffuse map, which may be coming from another 2D artist, although I don’t know when it will be available on the production time, but I can start the sim. This helps a lot when working as a team.
Like material cache changing, the great thing inside thinkingParticles is it’s well integrated on other FX tool for 3dsmax , especially ThinkBox, so I can cache chosen tP data, inside a PRT cache, like UV one, then map later to the particles when I have materials mapped or directly read the override uv data channel for mapped fluid with frost which interpolate smoothly the UV and gives a perfect, clear, non-blur mapping on tP flow fluid mapped based on base geometry...
Here’s my first try to melt a 3D geometry with tP flow, only 1 hour after the tP 6 release!
And my first try, on architectural model, transferring UV from the model to mesh using tP data channel inside Thinkbox Krakatoa partitions, meshed with Thinkbox Frost – worked like a lunch date!
ThinkingParticle6 Fluid MeltingTest.mp4
Sadly I haven’t had the time yet to do a better sim quality for this one, now that I understand better the new sph solver!
thinkingParticles 6 was a major release with new possibility along side fluids, smoke, and it also simulates cloth and soft body which I have a lot of use for. Such as the Fragmenter node, to do peeling/ash effect, Flying paper/leave, and some other cloth effect. It is quite sensitive to the mesh input topology/resolution and scene scaling, but I found it to perform well and fast.
The same render for the final Show
My other Use of BT soft body .... flying papers!
The new trail born/spline Operator is also extremely useful for trailing, and/or doing veins/frost effects or other spline-based modeling…
I am not using tP only for FX, but also for procedural modeling with spline OP, automating multiple PRS animations, or instancing multiple animated objects with control and/or on animated meshes.
Flowers blooming animated on gwivy meshes… (gw Ivy, tP6, object nodes, Geo instance, render with finalRender 4 Beta) – fascinating work for me!
Now that tP 6, the fresh drop 2 has given us the smoke and particle rendering for all renderers, it has opened new doors to effect creation inside 3dsMax, I’m pretty excited to use it…
Generally on RBD sim the power of thinkingParticles is the procedural approach, for example, I could make a container for siming my RBD and delete the particles, as soon as they are no longer visible from camera, with other RBD tool for 3dsmax, we can’t do that so there is this extra unnecessary sim time for invisible particles to camera rigid body. Container tricks is also used for all my other tP sim, no matter the sim even BT soft body, as it gives a smaller cache file, and speeds up sim time tremendously, as well as render time…
I also use the finalRender as my main render because its Render Elements abilities are really powerful, and its RE passes could speed up rendering time a lot. I found fR coming with a very useful set of library materials which helped to render quicker some of my needed materials over architectural/physical ones. And I do find myself using the fR-electron for making ice with refraction as it is almost two times faster than the fR-architectural material with color refraction and color absorption. (note from cebas: fR-electron is only available on finalRender as a specific material. Similarly, fR-architectural is also a material option only in finalRender)
The above was a fR Electron + Ambient occlusion pass (FR4 Beta), sim with tP6 .1 !
(Ice frag rendered with finalRender 4 beta, sim with tP6.1)
This gave me the possibility to output in one single render, all the passes you need, even the ambient occlusion, no matter the material you are using, is definitely a plus point.
And there is fR-particle lights (and fR-object lights), which are also amazingly helpful in thinkingParticles with the light threshold activation or light condition especially when doing volumeBreaker light activation.
finalRender is helpful to me in my videomapping fx as it also comes with cool tools like pyroCluster, which is superb for making clouds, or fake fumes, or making pyroClastic effects quickly and perfectly, together with tP data channel to drive, every volumetric parameter.
finalToon, on the other hand, helps the 2D artist’s drawing and selection of part of the model, and also for technical show when we present the project concept, and, of course, during project for toon rendering.
Cebas: Wow! Marc, I must say you have given readers and especially new users a very thorough account of the usefulness of our renderers and TP features. Thank you so much!
In your view, what is your wish for cebas software to achieve that is not currently
doing for you?
Marc: On thinkingParticles side, my first wishes are for the cache/export refresh to handle quicker and much more particles, the ability to extend a cache after siming if we need a bit more frame, and also a better retiming. Basically, the actual cache us interpolating in nearest subsample, so if you re-time this, it makes step on animation…so, if you do not interpolate position/attribute between frames, frame will jump to the nearest. If linear interpolation then no more stepping and will be smoother.
Also, how about the possibility to output Gbuffer IDs for groups, and also a « tP data channel pass » for customized tP data channel-based selection IDs passes?
Then a little wish: a built in button for network siming on masterDynamic and on dynamicSet (compatible at least with backburner and deadline), and this will be a great addition for most of the users since thinkingParticles has one network sim licence, … but not everybody knows how to do maxscript.
(On fR side I am on the beta test, so I prefer keep silence :-)
3D replica modelling of Basillique Du Bois Chenu
Cebas: Awesome Marc! Again thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights with our community and most of all, these awesome videomapping VFX reels.
Marc: Thanks! Cebas for the opportunity, and keep making tool better and better ….
Marc Auvigne and Team has given cebas Youtube Channel license to showcase their awesome, superb 3D videomapping shows! Sorry to keep everyone in suspense, .. wait a while as we have quite a number to upload from Marc's team. Check out www.youtube.com/playlist when they play :) (cebas)