'DR0NE' On

Category: In Focus
Origami Digital delivers feature film-level visual effects for Web series with Virtual Studio Tools in LightWave 11 3D modeling and animation software.

War drone technology has advanced and a new weapon has been unleashed — a humanoid drone that is stronger and faster than any soldier. But in the aftermath of a mysterious incident, a damaged battle drone is forced to go on the run with its programmer to try and take down their corrupt commander.

Origami Digital utilized the features in NewTek’s LightWave 11, including Virtual Studio Tools, to streamline virtual production for the sci-fi action series “DR0NE,” which premiered this past fall on the YouTube YouOffendMeYouOffendMyFamily (YOMYOMF) Network.
 
Working closely with “DR0NE” Director Robert Glickert, Origami Digital’s VFX Supervisor Oliver Hotz and a team of artists used LightWave to create the CG elements for 200 shots in the series; 98 shots were created for the premiere episode—from plates to delivery—in 2.5 weeks. “I've been using LightWave for 20 years and can't think of another package that can match its ease of setup and ability to quickly create photorealistic renders,” said Hotz. “It works perfectly with the internal tools and multi-app pipeline in our facility.”
 
Virtual Production Realized

Virtual Studio Tools in LightWave 11 allow artists to easily manage and control animated objects and characters while recording the performance motion from simultaneous devices into animation takes for playback and viewing. The new Control Booth and Device Managers in Virtual Studio Tools can be used to manage every aspect of how a controller is configured and used in LightWave, allowing anything that can be animated in LightWave to be controlled with numerous devices.
 
Origami Digital’s biggest challenge in the “DR0NE” production was creating animated, photoreal CG eyes that could be integrated with the live-action robot. “Going into the project we knew that having control of the robot's eyes and the ability to animate them for specific performance moments was the director’s main VFX objective,” explained Hotz. “Using LightWave's Virtual Studio Tools allowed me to interactively work with the director to nail down the eye movement—it was also great for the director to be able to experiment with the robot’s eye movement using a joystick controller.”
 
LightWave was the software of choice for creating various other CG objects in the series. “Along with CG eyes, there were a variety of other drone models, vehicles and drop pods that needed to be done quickly to meet the delivery deadline for the project,” said Hotz. “We used LightWave throughout the entire 3D pipeline for modeling, texturing, lighting, animating and rendering; compositing with Eyeon Fusion.”
 



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