News

Dracula, Framestore unleashes the monster in their crowd pipeline

Framestore helped Gary Shore to tell an unusual Dracula story. With 80+ shots, crowds were an important part of the story and Framestore made an extensive use of Golaem Crowd to turn 120 extras in armour into 10 000.

A successful collaboration

Ben Lambert, CG Supervisor at Framestore, tells the genesis of this collaboration: “We hadn’t done crowds for a while, so there was a nice blank canvas element to it. We knew the final output would have to feed into fMob, our proprietary crowd tool, and be rendered in Arnold, but the front end of actually making the crowds was open. It was fun to be able to evaluate different crowd software and start staging shots. Having worked with it already on commercials we decided to use Golaem."

He continues: "We had a really close relationship with them throughout the show. With that software support and the ease of use that comes from the software being embedded inside Maya, artists could be trained up very quickly. Our R&D team integrated it into the interface of fMob and artists from different disciplines such as layouts, environments and animation could learn it and be running shots within a week or two."

Building the Turkish army

In some scenes, Framestore had to turn 120 costumed extras into 10,000. They created 5 types of soldiers with various props using cyber scans and use d their own motion capture studio to get various marching, fighting and retreating motions. These data were then imputed into Golaem Crowd to layout and simulate the army.

Christian Manz, Overall VFX Supervisor, explains "Due to the limitations placed on us during the shoot – the number of stunt performers and extras varied from day to day – we ended up with digital soldiers much closer to camera than planned. In a couple of shots the bat flock rides through the entire army tossing soldiers and props into the air. Though we filmed blue screen elements for these, the shots ended up entirely digital which speaks volumes of amazing team we had!"

The hand of bats

In one signature shot, Framestore simulated a huge flock of bats flying through 10 000 Golaem CG soldiers on which Golaem Crowd performs physics simulation, thanks to the Bullet engine integration. As the other shots, this one started off on set with only 120 men in armour.

“We shot four cranes at the corners of the quarry and a Spyder cam that could zip across and follow the army,” explains Christian, “but later, as we became more confident in our CG soldiers and the shots became more complicated we replaced more and more, to the point where 90% of it was replaced with CG.” The live-action soldiers generally fill the foreground in close-up shots, while the CG crowds fill out the rest of the Turkish horde. 

“The larger scale shots with crowd behaviour changes that Montreal did really pushed Golaem’s functionality at the time, so it’s great to have helped improve it and it’s a good base for us to build upon in the future. It was a fun process and once we saw the first crowd renders of them all marching, with the flags and their armour glistening in the sun, it was really encouraging to see the route we took worked,” says Ben.

All the Golaem team also loved to work with you guys, and we are really proud of the results. We actually enjoyed it so much that we hired one of the 5 crowd artists, Sallu Kazi, as our support specialist!

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Landauer crowd breakdown by Lavalabs

Lavalabs, a creative and innovative VFX studio based in Germany created all crowds for "Landauer - Der Präsident", a movie about a popular president of the FC Bayern Munich. They provided us with a great crowd breakdown!

Kurt Landauer laid the foundation for the most successful football club in the post-war German history. A former player of the FC Bayern Munich, Kurt Landauer was first appointed as its president in 1913, but had to leave because of the WWI. He was elected again when he returned after the war, but had to leave germany due to the rise of the nazis in 1933. After being arrested and sent to Dachau, freed 33 days later, he had to emigrate to Switzerland. He returned again to Munich after the war and assumed a third tenure as president. 

Lavalabs created loads of Visual Effects to recreate WWII germany as well as the historic FC Bayern Munich stadium which they populated with thousands of supporters. Golaem Crowd and its character pack enabled them quickly create diversity in the stadium as well as on the roofs of the surrounding buildings.

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Syndrome Studio creates crowds for Fall Out Boy "Centuries"

We are really proud to announce that Syndrome Studio used Golaem Crowd to achieve numerous crowd shots, for the latest Fall Out Boy music video "Centuries".

The video takes place in an ancient Roman-era city and tells a kind of "David & Goliath" story. Syndrome had to populate both the city and the coliseum, as always in a short period of time. They met the challenge with great sucess!

Syndrome is an award-winning design and live-action directing studio. Syndrome was launched as an art and installation-driven collective in 2002, in the heart of Los Angeles, by artists Micah Hancock, James Larese, and Mars Sandoval. Along with executive producer Monica Blackburn they evolved into an innovative and bold collaboration of creative synergy. There diverse experience working in multiple forms of media allows them to serve creative agencies, production companies, major networks and studios. 

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Learn Golaem Crowd with fxphd GOL101 course!

We are very happy to announce that the new fxphd term includes a course about Golaem Crowd! Listen to Gareth Stevenson, 3D Generalist at Union VFX, and learn everything you need to create great crowd effects!

Gareth will detail every parts of the Golaem Crowd workflow: how to easily populate your scenes, create behaviors to animate any type of characters, use your own assets, render... Gareth has used Golaem Crowd for many projects, in different situations (city, audience...), and we are very happy that he now has the opportunity to share his experience with all of you.

As you probably know, fxphd is an online vfx, production, post-production training program led by professionals. It offers both application and craft-based courses, online forums for feedback, and vpn software.

Icing on the cake, fxphd offer an enrollment certificate code for people completing a course. Do not hesitate to share your Golaem Crowd projects and your certification number so that we can promote your profile in the new jobs section we are working on!

Learn more in the term overview video (Golaem Crowd part from 7:40), or on the fxphd courses page


Milk VFX have published a breakdown of their work on Hercules

Milk VFX have released a breakdown of their signature shots in Hercules. It features the beautiful coliseum shot populated with Golaem crowds, including around 15000 people and rendered with Solid Angle's Arnold.

Milk VFX is an independent, boutique visual effects company based in London. They create innovative and complex sequences for high-end television and feature films. Founded by award-winning VFX Supervisors and Producers, the team has created visual effects for Doctor Who, 24: Live Another Day, Sherlock, Merlin... on television, and for feature films including Brett Ratner’s Hercules, Snow White and the Huntsman, 47 Ronin... They won a BAFTA Television Craft Award 2014 for their work on the BBC’s Doctor Who 50th anniversary special: Day of the Doctor.

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