With MTV’s latest branding initiative, the pop-culture giant lets their hair down with the help of Realise Studio in England. In this new MTV identification spot, Realise used Houdini to bring Mr. Furry to life as he struts along looking cool. Along the way, his fur changes shape, texture and color to a high-tempo synthed-up soundtrack.
The Mr. Furry character was created and then groomed by VFX artist Amir Bazazi. In this spot Mr. Furry’s eccentric looks vary from spiky to shaggy to colorful to coarse and curly taking on many of the looks reflected through MTV’s history since 1981.
Keeping Up AppearancesThe initial concept of the spot involved seven different hairstyles that were fully dynamic and then blend those various hairstyles seamlessly within one continuous shot.
Realise Studio uses Houdini exclusively for their 3D work and turned to the shelf tools to set up the Fur and Dynamics. These out-of-box tools provided a great starting point while giving the team the flexibility to make key creative decisions.
“This project was all about creating great looking fur therefore we needed to continue making artistic modifications until the hair was perfect” says Amir. ”We began by setting up the lights then used Mantra to quickly render previews of the different hair styles. The hair was set up to match the reference images and then we created custom tools to blend the different styles into each other.”
Mr. Furry’s animation was created using stop-motion that was delivered as two different sets of data – a geometry sequence that was exported from a separate package and the motion capture data itself. When they received the initial motion capture data, Realise found that the pace of the walk was a touch too fast. To correct this they utilized geometry tools in Houdini to slow down the walk and to manipulate the geometry before it went to dynamics.
Mastering the Quick Makeover
Houdini’s built-in Fur tools made it possible for Realise to quickly create the right look for the hair. They then created a few custom assets in SOPs that allowed for non-linear blends to help the transitions between hair styles look more dynamic. Having all sorts of options available was a huge advantage as Realise worked through the spot. They could make hair long and flowing and then change a few parameters and make it short and spiky.
“The wire solver in particular was really quick and allowed us to run all sorts of tests for hair with various properties” says Amir. “To render the hair, Mantra’s deep shadows were also critical to give us nice looking hair without adding much time to the render”.
Having Houdini as their primary 3D tool, Realise typically renders with Mantra as was the case with Mr. Furry. “Our render times ended up being really fast for Mr. Furry even at HD so we were able to quickly turn around lots of different versions to refine the look” says Amir.
Mr. Furry’s Posse
Reaction to Mr. Furry was very positive so a follow-up spot was created in which Mr. Furry is joined by a group of odd looking friends.
“Every character in the Mr. Furry posse was different and made in a completely different way using a wide range of Houdini’s procedural features” explains Amir. “For instance, the blobby character was created using fluid and particle tools and then rendered using sub-surface scattering tools.”
For the character made from wrapping paper, Realise modeled him and then attached him to the motion capture data using Houdini’s rigging tools. They then created a procedural wrapping paper texture for him using VOPs to complete the package.
In these two spots, the artists at Realise were able to work in a quick and efficient manner that allowed them to focus on the creative side of the process. Once the motion capture was in place, the artist could have fun exploring a number of different looks for Mr. Furry. This project shows the power of Houdini’s shelf tools especially when artists are in charge of the process.