Mi’s Animations Kick & Explode In Sony's Vita
April 9, 2012

Mi’s Animations Kick & Explode In Sony's Vita

Sony’s Vita has just launched, and Mi’s work will be included on every console sold. Tony Hartley-Denton, MD, says “Over the years the Vita’s predecessor, the PSP, sold over 70 million units, so Mi is looking forward to millions of people worldwide seeing our work on the Vita.”
The creative production studio was asked to create intro films for Sony’s suite of Augmented Reality games which are to be bundled with the Vita at launch. The CG intros each had to set the scene for each game, and also allude to the way the games are played, in a fun way.

A tabletop isn’t the usual place for a fireworks display, a game of football, or even high diving – but that’s the location that Mi was briefed to set these events. The intros feature a pair of rival houses, a character diving off a kitchen table, and some football teams which don’t seem to be walking properly. 

Adam Dickinson, Production Director, says: “These animations have been a real labor of love for us, we’ve been able to use our unique combination of games and creative experience to answer the brief and deliver work fit for the Vita console” 

“We took care of everything on these intros, concepts, creative development, production, rendering and output. The only thing which wasn’t in house was the sound, which was executed brilliantly by Zelig.”

“All the Producers we worked with at Sony Xdev were great clients, we wouldn't have been able to execute these videos in the timeframe and to the standard without their rapid feedback.”

James Hawkins, executive producer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, adds: “Mi  clearly understood what we wanted and created exactly the kind of humorous and entertaining animations that we were looking for and that also served to push our development teams even further creatively for the good of all the games.”

Table Football (Gareth Thatcher, Technical Director)
The stadium models were already modeled in 3ds Max, so we started by transferring these over to Maya. Given the tight deadline to produce the three videos, we decided to use off-the-shelf models for the characters. We made subtle changes to the textures and models to make them unique and also added our Maya rig to animate the players. The crowd animations were created from mocap data in 3ds Max format, but we created geometry caches and read them back in Maya. We referenced the rigs and environment into each master file, enabling multiple artists to work on the same scene and ensure consistency in each shot. We tracked real-world video to get the natural hand-held feel to the cameras; these were rendered through V-ray with depth of field. This meant there was minimal comp work before putting the edit together in Premiere. http://wearemi.com/table-football-sony-vita

Fireworks (Max Wood, 3D Artist)
Due to the tight deadline, we needed to start work on the house animations before we had received the finished models. To do this, we created a rig in 3ds Max to drive a number of modifiers, which would then deform any geometry that was inside. We began animating a simple box rather than the houses, which we then swapped out for the house models when they were updated at a later date. The environment and gardens were created at the same time as the animation, which were xreferenced in to the master files. This allowed the modelers and VFX artists to work simultaneously on the same scene. The particles were created using a combination of 3ds Max’s Particle System, Particle Illusion and the smoke trail using FumeFX. All these elements were composited together using after effects then edited with Premiere.  http://wearemi.com/fireworks-intro-sony-vita

Cliff Diving (Gareth Thatcher, Technical Director)
We were provided with the Diver Dan character and platform assets from Spiral House in Liverpool in 3ds Max format; these were exported over to our Maya pipeline, which uses V-ray as the primary renderer. The character was re-rigged to add controls for the face and body while at the same time artists were modeling the environment, creating shaders and a preliminary light rig. We didn’t have a lot of time to create the intros, so we had to work quickly to get animatics and draft renders back to Sony. With this in mind, the character rig, environment and tabletop items were referenced into each master scene, enabling multiple artists to work on the same file and ensuring consistency in each shot.  By the time animation stages were signed off, the environment and lighting were nearing completion, again allowing us to get an update back to Sony very quickly. We used V-ray physical cameras to get the depth of field effect; this was rendered in camera, which meant there was minimal comp work before editing in Premiere.