“Inside the Human Body”, an accessible and engaging 4 part series, which starts transmission on May 5th on BBC One, explores the wonders of the human body. Using spectacular graphics, based on real images, and the latest scientific research, Michael Mosley takes us on a fantastic voyage through the workings of our own, inner universe.
Alice Harper, Series Producer, commissioned Rushes Film&TV for VFX on 3 out of the 4 episodes. The brief outlined the creation of fully CGI sequences that would show the wonder and surprising beauty inside every one of us: from the life cycle of a red blood cell to watching your immune system wage war against a common cold.
Louise Hussey, Rushes VFX Producer, comments ‘the exciting aspect of this project was the overall artistic approach to the VFX. The production team were very clear that they wanted to see the visuals in a more unusual and artistic way than human body graphics normally require. The inspiration for the look came as much from paintings and photographs of landscapes as it did from a medical textbook”
Hayden Jones, VFX Supervisor at Rushes, adds, “It was an amazing opportunity to bring these microscopic worlds to life, but with such a wide variety of characters and environments I knew it would be quite an artistic as well as technical challenge.”
Work on each sequence was started by the creation of the animatic, a moving storyboard that would allow the production team to see more accurately how each CGI section would fit into the show. Rushes Lead Animator, Craig Travis, undertook the creation of the animatics for all of the sequences, bringing together his animation experience coupled with a great understanding of cinematic camera work.
Look development for Inside the Human Body was a complex process with each sequence needing its own identity.
Hayden explains, “During the creation of the embryo sequence I would use Zbrush to sculpt a version of the character and send it over to David Barker, researcher, on the production team who would then send it onto relevant experts in the field to check the science. This would then be fed back and the model altered accordingly until we were sure that the CGI was as accurate as possible”.
With a large variety of characters, looks and environments Rushes utilized it’s Film&TV pipeline to make sure they could keep the highest possible visual quality whilst rendering minutes of HD content.
Autodesk’s Maya was the backbone of the pipeline, with Zbrush integrated for organic modeling and texturing. The sequences were rendered using Pixar’s Academy award winning Renderman, allowing the artists to create feature film quality, multi pass and high dynamic range renders. Mark Pascoe, Rushes Lead Technical Artist used Renderman’s point based subsurface scatter algorithms to create realistically organic materials and looks. He also harnessed the power of Renderman’s delayed archives, a system that allows extreme amounts of geometric detail to be computed.
The renders were composited in Nuke, Hayden Jones continues, “With Nuke’s speed and fully floating point workflow it allowed us great flexibility in the composite to experiment with the look of the rendered CGI. With multiple passes for each layer of rendered footage we could fine tune every element in the composite to get the required look.”
Louise Hussey, VFX Producer at Rushes, goes on to say, “We are incredibly proud of the standard of the VFX that we have produced – some of the images are breathtaking and unlike anything you will have seen before”