In The Mill’s third collaboration with Barton F. Graf and Supercell, Hay Day’s beloved cast of characters make their first-ever appearance in a fully CG 360 environment. Once again directed by Robert Sethi of Mill+ in Los Angeles, the VR world – appropriately titled ‘360 Hug’ – welcomes viewers through a warm embrace. We sat down with Sethi, 2D Lead Artist Martin Karlsson and 3D Lead Artist Robert Chapman for a behind-the-scenes look at how they made it all happen, cow kisses and all.
In order to cultivate Supercell’s existing style while also updating the assets, our VFX team conducted extensive animation reviews intended to develop and explore the performance of each character while looking at the animation as a whole. Sethi comments, “Robert [Chapman] did an amazing job setting the look and the lighting. When the viewer is able to explore every angle in a 360 piece, the lighting is trickier than usual because it has to look great from every direction.”
To illustrate the piece’s 360 capabilities, the artists utilized the actions of the animals--a dog licking the screen, bees buzzing in the air--to guide the viewer’s eye to all sides. They also snuck in multiple “Easter eggs” such as the chicken laying an egg on the cow’s nose that the pig grabs after it falls down. These types of surprises were spread throughout the spot, giving it certain textures that allow the experience to be watched again and again.
Example of clay model and wire frame render
The challenging objectives artists faced whilst creating ‘360 Hug’ provided ample opportunities for the VFX team to come up with new ways to craft the intricate effects. “To create the piece we had to shift our mindset and reinvent how we thought and how we used our tools,” Karlsson says.
One archetype of such was the creation of the cow’s kiss mark; 2D artists researched the perfect lips and solved how long they needed to stick to the camera before dissolving away.
Chapman comments, “We love working on a good character piece, and we got our fair share to work on with a final total of twenty-five animals. The main thing we focused on for the characters was redoing the hair grooms with a tool we created in-house that we call ‘Furtalizer’. This enabled fast fur groom changes right inside of Maya.”
“We love the characters Supercell created,” Sethi says. “They are always so much fun to animate. We thoroughly enjoyed working and collaborating with Barton and Supercell again.”
Check out The Mill’s previous work with Hay Day here.
[Images provided by 3D Artist Sharlene Lin]