Ingenuity Studios recently were given the opportunity to continue their work with Taylor Swift on the VFX heavy 'Bad Blood' Video (see above).
We got the opportunity to talk to Grant Miller from Ingenuity Studios to catchup on how they were able to create this great piece of work, which can be seen in the breakdown after the Interview!
Hi Grant, thanks for taking the time to talk to us as well as introducing us to the world of Taylor Swift. The standout thing about the video is the quality of Ingenuity Studios integration of the 3D into the kinetic movement and look of the video, what was the biggest challenge of this integration?
Good integration requires a two-fold approach. At the onset of a shot we needed really great 2D and 3D tracks, which in the case of the bike shots required some particularly difficult camera- and object-tracking. Then on the compositing side it takes a lot of masks and hand-work to get everything to sit together. One of the things people always underestimate is the amount of comp time spent on some of these large shots.
You have mentioned that for the 150 shots you had 3 weeks, did that leave you any time for concept development?
One of the only things we really had lead time on were the motorcycles. They were described to us early on and we knew they'd need to be entirely CG. I was actually working on concepts while I was in Vegas for NAB! Everything else was figured out as we went along, rolling the look development straight into the final shots.
Is 3 weeks a typical schedule for this kind of work, how many artists were involved?
Three weeks is a luxury for a music video, it's typically two! Music video turnarounds are always intense; it's tough to tell which track will be a hit and then the need the music video out ASAP; it's really a tough hand to be dealt.
On the plus side because the tight turnaround we get far more freedom than we would on a commercial or film which is really refreshing and allows us to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time.
Crew-wise there were 12 artists on the job covering comp, cg, and graphics.
What was your application pipeline, did you use any 3rd party tools or Render engines to help out?
All the CG was done in MODO and MARI with the exception of smoke and particles from Houdini. The graphics were created in After Effects and composited in NUKE's 3D system. The initial ingest and conform were done in Hiero.
How did MARI help with the development, as the clean hard bodied style of Bad Blood, is not something that many would associate with a heavy texture pipeline?
Pretty much anything that needs texturing ends up in MARI. Even small props like the knives, compact, and masks. You can do a quick auto-unwrap, throw some textures on in MARI and still have an asset that looks very solid.
To turn around a job like that so quickly do you have your own internal render farm or do you use outsourcing?
We have 40 nodes with dual Xeons in-house; definitely quality over quantity on that front. We're in the process of setting up our farm to utilize Google Compute but didn't have that up and running for Taylor or we definitely would have used it.
Was MODO 901 available to you during the production, if it wasn’t are there any features of MODO 901 which you wished you had had?
We were fortunate to have early access to 901 and utilized a ton of features for the video. Everything was shaded with the new physical materials which reduced the amount of time needed for look dev and ensured a more consistent response to lighting changes. One of my favorite new features on the rendering front is the fast preview mode as it enables near realtime feedback on material changes.
The Mesh Fusion toolset was used for hard surface detailing on the futuristic MRI machine, the Trinity masks, and the bikes. We'd model out a base mesh and then add a ton of detail very quickly in Mesh Fusion that would have taken far too long to model traditionally.
The animation for the barriers in the bike scene was achieved via replica rigging which doesn't get as much coverage as it should. The schematic tools can accomplish a lot of really interesting animation for both VFX and graphics work.
The clear Lamborghini was a favourite at RGBHQ, can you share with us how that was created?
The holographic car shots required a fair bit of prep work. We needed to remove the base of the chairs Taylor and Kendrick were sitting in and create a clean plate for the floor. They then needed to be roto'd individually and projected onto 3D geometry in order to "sit" in the car properly. The shots were all match-moved to a common set which was built out and textured using location photography from the shoot to ensure proper reflections and refractions.
The final look for the car was a combination of 4 different passes but the most important was a glass render with dispersion which resulted in some lengthy render times to say the least.
Finally can you ensure us that the burnt Teddy shown in the breakdown survived?
We did a small element shoot for various burning props in the explosion sequence. We had difficulty getting several of the items to light up: fake leather as it turns out isn't very flammable. By the time we got to the teddy bear everything was getting a heavy dose of lighter fluid. The poor bear burned up in a matter of seconds!