Do It on a Dell
Geomedia 3D artists create four 25 second animations for Dell’s CES 2008
presentation booth video. Thats 100 seconds of animation at full HD resolution, produced in only 3 weeks! (very loooong weeks)
Brand new Computers and monitors were sent from Dell HQ
and delivered to Geomedia cloaked in secrecy. These machines were to debut at CES and were not yet on the market. Using a variety of tools including a set of electronic digital calipers
, the geomedia team set about measuring and mapping the dimensions the machines in order to accurately re-create them in 3D space. Overall there were 10 computers and 3 accessories that had to be modeled. We budgeted essentially 1 day per machine, so we were modeling, texturing, lighting, and rendering 1 computer per day (very looong days). All modeling was accomplished in Softimage/XSI by Jeremy Kenisky with a cameo appearance by yours truly on some minor modeling chores. Here’s some of Jeremy’s copious measurment notes and a laptop model from the early stages of the process.
After 2 weeks of intense modeling, the entire lineup was finally complete and animation was ready to begin. At the same time as the computers were being created, Troy was developing lighting setups and fine tuning material settings. Troy also created HDRI environment maps to “light” the models by setting up an actual turntable set in our studio just as one would do for a high end product shoot. Bracketed exposures were captured on a Canon 20D digital SLR camera, of a chrome sphere from which the HDRI image was derived. This image was used to create the environment in 3D to accurately reflect lighting and bounce cards from the studio setup. Since final animation would be rendered in 1080p HD
, it was important that render parameters be highly optimized in order to have all rendering complete and ready in time for CES (January 7th-10th). Separate Render passes were set up for ambient occlusion, mattes and reflections… We opted to create motion blur as a post process in the composite, which worked great.
By the the 3rd week, during Christmas weekend, we started doing animation tests. At this point we had essentially 5 days (including the weekend and christmas) to deliver animation sequences to the client, with an extra 4 days on the backend to do final renders, compositing and finishing. We completed 4 animations in 4 days (very looong days), making it one of the fastest projects we’ve done in a while.
The animation goal was simple – show off a set of computers for a specified time as creatively as possible. The spots were divided into 4 categories – GAMING, HOME, MUSIC, and PHOTO.
The gaming spot consisted of 3 computers – The all new Dell XPS 630i, the Dell M1730, and the Alienware ALX-51. For this spot we decided to go with a “transformer”
effect to get from the XPS 630 to the M1730. We would then use the screen of the M1730 (a 17″ 1080p laptop) to transition to the Alienware. One of the biggest challenges to this transformer like effect was designing the movements and deciding what pieces went where. The computer models had been modeled as solid objects and had to be redesigned and broken apart to achieve the movements we envisioned.
The home spot featured the XPS 420, XPS ONE, and all new Crystal 22″ Monitor. We designed his one to be pretty straightforward – just a big turntable camera move revealing all 3 images.
The music spot featured the XPS 420, XPS M1330, Inspiron 1525, and Inspiron 531s. The spot begins with the XPS 420, which suddenly gets a “sound wave” sent through it as it breaks apart and then back together again. It then transforms into the XPS M1330 laptop. As the laptop revolves around, we see it open and the screen is showing colorful audio EQ-level meters in sync with the current music track. As we get closer, we realize that the levels bars are actually Inspiron 1525 laptops. We go into the screen and show the laptops moving with the music. We orbit them and as we pass the 270 degree mark we transition into a white set with the Inspiron 531s.
The photo spot features the XPS M1330, Inspiron 1525, and Inspiron 531s. For the beginning of this spot, we wanted to use the photo theme as a gag in featuring the 3 colors of the M1330 laptop. As the camera comes down we see a laptop turn and open as a photoflash freezes the action. The image then unfreezes while the camera move continues and the next computer opens up with another flash. This happens one final time with the last laptop and then we fly into the screen of the last laptop to reveal the Inspiron 1525 laptop. In what looks like a flower from a top view, we see all the colors comprising the Inspiron 1525 line as they open up in sequence. Finally, we zoom into the Dell logo on one of the laptops and quickly pull out to transition to the final Inspiron 531s.
Additional 2D animation was created to simulate Windows Vista screen interaction and Dell branding. These were then mapped onto the 3D computer monitors. Much of the compositing was done via the XSI compositor with final tweaks such optical effects and color correction performed in After Effects. We utilized motion vector data from XSI to create the motion blur. This greatly sped up the rendering process helping make the deadline without sacrificing realism. Final animation was rendered at full 1080p Hd resolution.
Finally… The completed animations were delivered in Austin 3 weeks and 3 days after the project started. There they were incorporated into the rest of the presentation video. While we couldn’t attend CES to see the finished work, we heard that all was well received. Requests for follow up projects are already in the works!