Having worked on several of the previous films in the Harry Potter franchise, boutique VFX house, Baseblack, were approached to tackle stand alone shots on The Deathly Hallows while larger vendors concentrated on major set pieces. Attracted by the scope and variety of the shots, the team got stuck in and went on to contribute more shots than any other vendor to Deathly Hallows Part 1.
While working on the project the texture painting team, led by CG Supervisor Fredrik Sundqvist, received a visit from Jack Greasley – The Foundry’s newly recruited MARI product manager – and got a taste of the company’s brand new 3D paint application, MARI.
“We were immediately very impressed by the demo and how well MARI handles multiples of very big textures” said Fred. “We also really liked all the paint tools such as the easy to use warper and the different clone tools. We thought ‘at last here's a 3D paint package that might do away with the need for Photoshop.’ The linear pipeline support is great too.
“It looked like a piece of software that had actually been designed in close cooperation with artists. The price was not too high, especially for such a new piece of kit, so we bought a copy and decided to give it a go!”
Baseblack made use of MARI on numerous shots, particularly Dumbledore’s Tomb. The design of the tomb was very minimalist and the tomb itself needed to be quite new. Therefore the challenge was to make it look real without using standard cues such as scratches, denting, grime and dirt.
“We have always done large textures in Photoshop before, but MARI’s ability to work with big resolution textures enabled us to do that work in 3D with multiple meshes at once and with some basic layered shaders to emulate how we might set up shaders in Maya. In addition, face textures would have otherwise had to be projected and baked out in Maya before being taken into Photoshop to merge and refine. Using the FBX camera projectors in MARI meant that we could keep the whole thing 'live' and straight away see how it looked on the 3d mesh from different angles.
Fred concludes: “MARI was straightforward to learn with a bit of help from the friendly www.paintmore.co.uk forum. We know our way around pretty well now and look forward to suggesting things we’d love to see happen in the future.”
Sylvan Dieckmann, Sequence Supervisor at Baseblack adds: "MARI is impressive, the deep feature set combined with it being quick to pick up has improved my workflow significantly in a short time on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Solid brush controls and projection tools are essential to the rapid production of quality texturing and MARI supports these areas very well indeed. Well done to The Foundry!"
Baseblack use MARI in conjunction with Maya and mental ray and have just completed work on the title shot of Paul – an all CG build of an underground bunker.