Halloween Film Festival: The Green Ruby Pumpkin
3D World is celebrating Halloween with some of the best spooky shorts we’ve seen. Watch this brilliant new short and meet co-creator Miguel Ortega
When we first saw this short, we were mesmerised by the effects, which is not surprising, given that the creators Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma are two senior VFX artists formerly at Digital Domain – and the storytelling rhyme is superb too.
And now that we know more about the production, we’re even more impressed: The sheer scale of the project is unbelievable – everything you see has been modelled the good old fashioned way! Check it out…
The Green Ruby Pumpkin from miguel ortega on Vimeo.
The making of The Green Ruby Pumpkin: interview with co-creator Miguel Ortega
3D World: What were the film’s influences, both story-wise and stylistically?
Miguel Ortega: We wanted to keep this story very simple and have the feeling of the storybooks we loved as children. I think a huge influence on us was the works of Shel Silverstein, Edward Gorey, Charles Addams and Dr Seuss. Aesthetically, I think the work of Jim Henson, Arthur Rackham, Gustaf Tenggren and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Lion Man is just one of the fantastic CG models produced for The Ruby Green Pumpkin. See more images of CG creatures below
3D World: What did you do on the short and what was the hardest job?
Well, Tran Ma and I did [nearly] everything; the only parts we reached out to our friends for help on was the character animation and rigging. We also had some small help on some fluid effects from two great guys. The rest was pretty much handled by us. Everything that appears on the film is art directed by us and created by either Tran or I or someone in our team. We didn’t want to have anything store-bought except the triplets outfit at the end.
One of the troll sculpts
3D World: How long did the animation take to produce?
I can’t give an exact time frame because we were working full time at Digital Domain during the production of this short, so we were coming home at 9-10pm and working on this till 4am every night, however, there were some crunch months where we simply didn’t work on it for months at a time.
3D World: What 3D software did you use?
Our core package has always been Maya for all 3D, Mudbox for all sculpting. Topogun for retopologizing, texturing duties were split between Mari and Mudbox.
We ended up using Nuke’s 3D system a lot since certain frames were just taking too long to render, we had to use a lot of projections inside of Nuke to speed up the process.
The creators made the short in their very own living room!
3D World: What was the most useful piece of 3D software?
Maya is the most useful since its our foundation, everything begins and ends in Maya, we also used Mudbox to create all our facial libraries, creature models and corrective shapes for animation. In terms of rendering V-Ray made the entire process much easier, once we switched over to V-Ray for Maya it made lighting a breeze.
3D World: What was the most impressive technical aspect of the project and how was it achieved using 3D software?
Technically I would think was the sheer number of one-off shots and assets, we had four CG creatures, an entire 3D city, a huge house and a topiary garden, EVERYTHING was modelled, every blade of grass, every statue, every decorative piece was modelled the good old fashion way.
Being that we were model/texture artist in our day job (I led the asset team at digital domain vancouver, and Tran was a senior model texture artist there as well) we are EXTRA picky about our asset creation and quality control… Our core belief was that if we modeled everything, lighting would be much easier and look much more realistic.
3D World: Did you learn anything from producing Green Ruby Pumpkin?
On this project we had a very small team. We had an excellent cinematographer (Michael Epple), however, most people were only able to offer a few days of help or whenever they had spare time, so we handled the entirety of this production from writing, storyboarding, previs, to the final post production.
It wasn’t just about 3D tasks, we had to execute every detail from casting, building sets, contracts, render farm setup…many things that you would usually have a large crew for. I am not sure I would say there was anything done “wrong,” rather it was more of matter of learning to multitask and juggle the various jobs and working within the limitations of financial budgets and time.
3D World: Did you use or develop any new or notable techniques?
We mixed up as many techniques as possible, live action, miniatures and digital FX. Even though we have a strong background in CG, we did not resort to it to solve every problem.
"We mixed up as many techniques as possible, live action, miniatures and digital FX," says Miguel Ortega.
If we could create effects by filming it and then compositing it, we would because it would be a lot more time efficient and intelligent. The solutions were based on what was needed per a shot, and a decision would be made after we discussed what would look the best and how long it would take. I don’t think we invented anything, but we were always open to and looking for creative solutions.
3D World: Could you please talk us through a key scene and say how you achieved it using 3D software?
We had a few shots where we see some of the garden statues react to the visitors. The statues stay still but their faces look up and smile, this was achieved by getting a miniature cherub statue, placing him in front of a black fabric, then placing plants purchased at home depot as varying depths behind and in front of the statue, we hit a $40 smoke machine.
The garden statues in The Ruby Green Pumpkin are animated to react to the visitors - it's all pretty magical stuff
We waited for the smoke to engulf the plants creating a sense of depth. We shot this on a track with the red one at 4k, we then took this statue, 3D scanned it with the next engine scanner which we used for many parts of this project, we brought the raw scan into Mudbox, cleaned it up, textured it and created all the face shapes on the raw scan itself.
Since the shot was so short, and the motion was limited we didn’t even have to retopologize the scan, Mudbox handled the scan like a champ, and we were able to look develop, texture and render this very quickly. Rendered it in VRay for Maya, and lastly we brought all these elements into Nuke, painted out the old angel head, placed the 3D head, graded it to match, added air particles using nukes 3D system, and then brought the final shot into resolve for final colour correction.
Concept for the Scarecrow creature
Concept art for the Tin man creature
The three trolls (in human costumes) attack. Scary stuff!
More shorts in the 3D World Halloween Film Festival
Love CG creatures?
Check out our Creature Issue
Also check out our online tutorials, such as this one on creature sculpting.
on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 at 3:00 pm under Shorts, Showcase.
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Tags: animated, CG, Cool, Miguel Ortega, short, The Green Ruby Pumpkin