Rushes CG team were once again approached by Radiant Studios to develop the Champions League title sequence for the 2009-10 campaign, in an epic evolution of their previous ‘Ultimate Stage’ concept.
The major development of the rebrand was the addition of huge banners hanging all around the stadium. The banners were a crucial new addition as they are used to drive the narrative of the sequence as the stadium comes to life, and as a vehicle for displaying live action footage of the Champions League players rather than cutting in live actions sections as in the previous campaign.
Rushes spent initial R&D time running simulations using Maya nCloth to achieve the right feel for the banners. There was quite a big technical challenge in just having the cloth unfurl without the mesh intersecting or falling through itself, whilst at the same time not having it appear too stiff or clunky. The cloth also needed to appear weighty (as the banners were around 200 metres tall) yet at the same time needed to ripple and billow giving the impression of a light weight, parachute-like material.
The design, layout and scale of the new stadium was completely overhauled and a series of concept sketches and style guides provided a very early feel of how the new stadium would look. These sketches were then translated into a simple model to allow Radiant creative director, Michael Berthon, to place cameras at various locations around it and map out a very rough story board. This process allowed him to establish which angles worked without compromising the look and scale of the stadium.
The high resolution model was built over a three week period. We used the low resolution model as a guide to produce a more detailed structure of the stands, walkways, tunnels and walls, while we produced a huge library of bespoke models used to dress the stadium. One of the major differences with the new stadium was its more interesting irregular shape and the addition of a hospitality section halfway up the stadium, constructed of large glass and chrome facades.
The next task was populating the vast stadium with hundreds of thousands of football fans. With Radiant wanting to push the envelope even further than three years previous, it was estimated that around 400,000 supporters would need to be generated to fill the colossal stadium; twice the amount of its predecessor. Rushes again opted to use MassiveJet for this task however this time coupled with Pixar’s RenderMan thereby enabling a more streamlined pipeline and higher quality of rendering. Due to the unique shape and design of the new stadium placing the crowd into the stands in a quick and simple fashion was no mean feat, so a series of custom MEL scripts were wrote in order to better automate the process.
Owing to the vast complexity of the final renders and number of beauty and helper passes involved in establishing the look of the final stadium, we opted to pre-composite many of the layers in Shake before handing over to Flame. This helped to create a more consolidated an efficient pipeline and allowed us to establish the required look and feel before getting too deeply embroiled in final composites.