How does Magic Room create a VFX Cinematic?
The world of VFX is, plainly, nothing but complicated business. Cinematics, game VFX, compositing, set extensions, full CG replacements, each a complex or time-consuming task. And each is the culmination of several, highly technical positions, topped off with creative guidance and input.
So, when it comes to cinematics and other trailers, how is it created? For example, with something like Phantom Galaxies, how did we create the final product?
A Clear Idea
This project took us about three months from initial approach to final product. Ultimately, our client had a clear idea of what they wanted. This meant that the majority of time was spent on the overall creation of 3D assets, animation, and delivering potential iterations to them.
The work starts with a creative brief. There, the client provided a base storyboard. Thanks to their clear intention in direction, we had a linear path to develop on.
The trickiest element of the whole project really was some assets. In any given project, assets delivered to us are a gathered collection contributed by other studios the client has worked with. It can be a learning process, working with assets that our own team didn’t create. And with a complicated transforming piece front and centre, that was the only real difficulty to overcome.
Assets, Animation, Action
In some projects, references would be provided by clients to the team. An idea of what the general environment should look like, key characters, the setting, and any key elements they want specified. In this, we were provided a range of low poly assets as reference. While this might sound like an issue, as we had to update them to a 4k level quality, the original models are the perfect reference.
From there, we were able to skip steps of figuring out shape and proportion, even the base colouring. All of it was already locked in thanks to the provided models and assets. The next step is called ‘upres’ or upgrading resolution. It’s very standard in any project with older or out of date assets and models.
Our VFX and technical artists upgraded the resolution on the provided models and added additional elements. Extra details which add life and a sense of realism to the model. They need to feel like they actually exist, that the parts of their model serve a purpose. This plays a huge part in the believability once on screen.
Due to the low poly models received, we created quite a few assets and resources from scratch. These included the texture maps, the intricate high-quality details on the upres models, shaders for the models, and smaller FX such as gunfire and explosions.
The cinematic itself is less than a minute, so it does give some insight into how much work goes into creating something of that scale. And for us, it was quite a small project. Typically, for a large project, our 3D modelers would be creating anywhere between ten and fifteen high quality models.
For this project, it was three main models and some others that didn’t require the same level of fidelity. The main spaceship, the space station, and the central mech all required high levels of detail. There were some other ships which we created or improved the quality of, but the three main models were the only ones with serious close-ups.
These kinds of projects are excellent to really get our teeth into creatively and show off the quality of work we can produce. And throughout our work on the Phantom Galaxies project, we delivered our iterations and options to their team.
They were delighted with our work throughout. Michael Bolden, Head of Publishing in Blowfish Studios, said that Magic Room is “an awesome VFX studio and a great partner to work with. If you are looking for a talented and dedicated team, look no further.”
You can check out more of what we do on our website. There you can find our range of services, like animation and FX, a public and private portfolio, and some other VFX blog pieces. For anything else, we’d love to hear from you!