LOS ANGELES — Bemo (https://bemo.tv) has been busy lately, having recently lent its distinctive motion graphics stamp to the popular Dream Corp LLC TV series, JLR/Bond Museum Install and
This is America music video by Hiro Murai.
Under the supervision of design and technical director, Brandon Parvini and executive producer Brandon Hirzel, the Bemo creative team spent a three months delivering 12-minutes of grand-scale projection mapping content for the annual Lighting of the Sails at the Vivid Festival in Sydney, Australia, which took place May 24th through June 15th.
In collaboration with director and artist, Andrew Thomas Huang, known for his music video work with FKA twigs, Björk, Sigur Rós and Thom Yorke, the motion designs were projected each evening on continuous loop throughout the celebration of light, music and creativity to illuminate the exterior of the iconic Sydney Opera House Sails. Bemo is also working in collaboration with Australian-based creative collective, Collider, the Vivid Festival Group, Sydney Opera House, and City of Sydney.
Parvini explains the animation team was asked to study human bodies in motion and integrate them with a floral theme for a piece Huang named “Austral Flora Ballet -- with Soundscape by Kelsey Lu”, “…a lush and visceral projected artwork of dancing digital sculptures inspired by Australia’s native flora.”
Bemo began to establish the foundation of the character design using Cinema 4D as the exclusive software throughout production to handle all of the animation and simulation. “It was important to be able to recognize the dancer for an identifiable frame of reference otherwise it would very easily look too abstract and viewers wouldn't understand the intentionality of the movement,” Parvini adds.
“The rich feature set in Cinema 4D Release 20 allowed us to freely experiment and achieve a nontraditional procedural approach to building characters that were extremely durable, stable and relatively light. Although a 12-minute piece of content requires heavy lifting, we stayed very nimble in the process pivoting and iterating quickly to strike the right balance for each character in the piece”
At Rogue studio in Los Angeles, Bemo supervised a full motion capture session in front of projected images of the Sydney Opera House while capturing the movements of dancer Genna Moroni and choreography by Toogie Barcelo. Once the actual FBX files were obtained from the mocap session, Bemo had an animated female form that matched the rough proportions of the dancer and set off to develop the set of characters.
With a robust pipeline, Bemo generated nearly 30,000 frames of 4K footage over several active systems using Cinema 4D on both Redshift and Octane renders running for weeks to create aesthetically pleasing and fluid animated composites. During the Lighting of the Sails, the video content was displayed from a central Disguise d3 server and projected on six laser projectors from different locations to ensure proper illumination and coverage on the Sydney Opera House sails.
Tapping into the hair dynamics, constraints and rigging tools in the MoGraph toolset in Cinema 4D, the Bemo team sampled the elements from the source flowers such as stems, twigs and petals, and ‘broke apart” all of the motion capture to create roughly five three-and-a-half-to-four-minute dance sequences. Each was designed to accentuate the character and different personalities represented by the Australian flora.
“Some animation scene elements were attached to the physical skin of the character or were attached to the bones system,” says Parvini. “For example, we would use X-Particles to help create a root serving as a leg or flowers as torsos with different arms coming off of that, grab the underlaying splines and mesh and bake it. Or using the deformers in Cinema 4D we could project our generated forms to the rigged mesh or attach it via a tracer system referencing the original bone structure.”
Bemo also took advantage of the new Alembic system workflow in Cinema 4D, debuted in Release 20. This allowed for baking sequences into the rigging system to ensure the stability of each character and avoid having to re-simulate elements. “The Alembic files are an extraordinarily important to our workflow as they can handle splines, hair, particles, color, vertex maps, and more,” Parvini added.
Working from a 3D model of the actual Sydney Opera House, Bemo used the layover and foreground modes in Cinema 4D to mask and coordinate elements that represented the sails in order to calibrate a camera lens that could be used to match the shape of the sails from the perspective of the projectors. “Our experience at the start of the creation process knowing images would be projected outdoors with limited low level ambient light available helped inform our creative decisions to introduce bright and colorful elements and avoid mid-to-grey tones,” explains Parvini.
“Cinema 4D is brilliant because you can find a myriad of ways to do the same thing and often times I felt that I had to go through multiple iterations to find the right solution, says Parvini. “Vivid was one of the most challenging of my career demanding that I build on previous creative experiences to firmly grasp fundamentals and build on them like stories on a house. This is definitely one I have stacked up a few new floors.”