VENICE, CA — Blur Studio (www.blur.com) used Thinkbox Software’s XMesh and Frost for the fluid shots that make up the two-and-a-half minute opening clip featured in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” The all-CG high concept sequence retells of the entire Millennium Trilogy using abstract imagery and visual metaphors with an oozy black liquid that flows throughout every element in the piece.
“With the changing topology of fluids, we used XMesh to make our animation process much less painful,” explains Kirby Miller, effects supervisor, Blur. “XMesh was tapped to cache fluid meshes in 3DS Max. To create those fluids we built particles in RealFlow, brought them into 3ds Max and did the meshing in Frost, which gave us tremendous detail and lent to the photo-real look of the black fluid.”
Thinkbox Software recently released XMesh, the company's geometry caching system for 3DS Max. The product became a commercial application based on the request of Blur’s artists for a geometry caching solution for Frost. The technology had been under development at Thinkbox for several years and Blur put it to use immediately as a pipeline tool for simplifying the process of creating complex effects — like fluids — with constantly changing topology.
XMesh caching also works on a render farm, so instead of saving on one machine, Blur was able to tap 20-100 machines at a time to make geometry caching move very quickly.
“There were a lot of advantages to using XMesh,” continued Miller. “Because XMesh handles any geometry, it actually replaces five other types of caching we were using in the past — making the job of our scene assembler much simpler. Instead of having to learn Point Caches, Transform Caches, RealFlow Caches, Particle Caches from Particle Flow and Thinking Particle Caches — the assemblers only had to learn XMesh—and it’s really easy to work with.”
Blur also used XMesh to exchange files back and forth with Spatial Harmonics Group, a vendor they used on the project, and also to interchange data and project files from Softimage to 3DS Max.
“XMesh is great and has been major for Blur. We’ve wanted to get a changing topology cache for years. It’s a pipeline tool that makes life so much easier for this type of effects work.”
Frost is also a fully integrated tool within Blur’s pipeline. “Aside from meshing fluids, you can mesh particles, put geometry instances on particles, mesh standard particle systems as fluids — and on a lot of projects where we have battles and things and might need a little blood squirt, it’s a lot easier to create in particles doing the mesh in Frost and having the whole project stay within 3DS Max.”
Frost is a plug-in for Autodesk’s 3DS Max that can be used to generate a single mesh from particles, vertex clouds, object positions, point data files or a combination thereof using various iso-surface and geometry cloning techniques.