Itsy Bitsy CGI Spider
November 4, 2014

Itsy Bitsy CGI Spider

SYDNEY — Australia’s Skyhouse Studios recently animated a creepy spider for Gerni as part of a commercial that promotes the power and reach of their pressure washer systems.

Skyhouse, which works with artists throughout the world, has been using Ftrack as its project management solution since March. The studio used Maya, Mudbox and V-Ray for the modeling, lighting, texturing and animation of the spot’s spider.

"I chose Ftrack over other project management tools, like Shotgun, because it was simple, easy and powerful to use,” says Robert Grbevski, founder and production manager at Skyhouse. “It allows me to schedule, budget, quote and manage projects all in the one tool — plus I also found freelancers could learn how to use it very quickly because of its intuitive interface."

In the Gerni Titan spot, a man is using the pressure washer to clean his car in his driveway. The spider fears the water blast and moves to avoid it — first from the side mirror, then to the front bumper and finally under the car itself. The spot closes with a shot of the spider on the man’s shoulder, where it should be safe from the water spray. 

The studio created five photoreal shots of the spider in just three weeks. “Ftrack helped us to identify problems in our schedule," Grbevski explains. "Sometimes things take longer than first estimation so you need to be able to assess the problem and resolve it quickly. How well you do that can be the difference between making money or losing money and looking unprofessional.”

Grbevski took the lead in creating the spider, which included lighting, texturing, modeling and rigging. Freelance animator, Bachir Kazzi, handled all of the creature's animation. “We collaborated closely with the director, Tim Glastonbury, and his production company, Citizen, who handled all the editing and final grade,” Grbevski explains.

The original vision for the spider was to give it more of a cartoony look with a face to portray more emotions. "We even had some brilliant concept designs painted up by the very talented Jan Vidra,” notes Grbevski. “It would have been so much fun to animate a more cartoony spider, however the final decision was to go with a more realistic one." The final broadcast version was something of a middle-ground between realism and cartoon.

"The spider's base mesh was modeled in Maya and then sent to Mudbox to sculpt out the finer details and have textures painted," Grbevski explains, "We then exported the new spider as Ptex Textures for rendering in V-Ray for Maya. We also used V-Ray's built-in fur system for all of the spiders fur. During this whole process we uploaded stills of the spider to Ftrack for approval before moving onto final animation and rendering."

So, does anyone at Skyhouse suffer from arachnophobia? "No," Grbevski laughs, "But the shot of the spider crawling up the actor's back got a few people creeped out!"