Render Crowds: A Customized CG Simulation Workflow
September 21, 2017

Render Crowds: A Customized CG Simulation Workflow

LONDON — Using a suite of industry tools and custom in-house workflows, Render Crowds has launched from the SBLabs R&D team at creative studio Saddington Baynes ( Render Crowds is a complete solution for creatives and brands wishing to push the boundaries of working with digital talent. Using Render Crowds, a scene could be populated with thousands of ant-sized digital characters for an aerial campaign. With complete control over their styling, choreography and behaviour, they can be easily directed to form any art-directable graphic shape.
The service has already been adopted by brands such as Abbvie, AT&T, Aflac and Cheerios. Render Crowds characters can also be made to sing and dance for online videos, cooly pose in lifestyle print ads, or be cast in stone and exploded for a special FX commercial. 

The service enables full creative freedom to develop a scene exactly as it is first imagined. Digital characters have infinite possibilities for repositioning and re-styling, allowing creatives to effectively create new versions of their campaign imagery, after the original ‘virtual shoot'.

Render Crowds is trademarked by creative studio Saddington Baynes — a rich team of CGI and FX artists, from conceptual modelling and virtual environment specialists, to photographic lighting experts, animators and character designers. Their mission is to create sensational ad campaigns and commercials that move audiences the world over.

“Render Crowds is the aggregation of many years of working with digital talent for a plethora of creative briefs,” explains James Digby Jones, executive creative director at Saddington Baynes. “When thousands of distant characters are running, jumping or even shifting weight while standing still (idling), it’s all about natural movement. We can call on a database of actual motion-captures of live performances to drive our characters. Taken to the other extreme with close ups, and it’s about capturing the most minuscule of details: down to skin pores, fine hairs and skin translucency.”

An Abbvie pharmaceutical spot was animated using custom simulations. The agency required both HD video of the faces being built in animation, as well as super high-resolution print ads for convention panels (set at 16,000 px). The level of detail required, combined with the sheer number of characters and their individual paths, made for a complex scene with heavy calculations for artists to pull off. 

Having previously handled several still image projects for AT&T to great success, a recently project allowed the chance for Saddington Baynes demonstrate skill across multiple platforms via this dynamic digital banner campaign. The challenge was to create a seamless flow of character movement from one graphic logo to the next, maintaining continuity and realism in a looped video.

Likewise, Render Crowds shows promise for conceptual VFX action shots, as demonstrated by the success of Project Statue. When the camera is slow panning past the ear of a close up portrait, it’s about perfecting all the seemingly infinitesimal details of a shot. 

“Our brain knows nature’s complex algorithm to recognise what is truly real – our job is to pass the threshold of complexity, by which the eye believes it could be real. Advances in 3D scanning enable us to capture a split second of a talent model in high res detail from all angles, from which a virtual cast member is born,” explains James Digby Jones.