Creating the Hit Chinese TV Series 'Legend of Fuyao'
February 8, 2019

Creating the Hit Chinese TV Series 'Legend of Fuyao'

Blackmagic Design’s Fusion Studio was used by CG/VFX designer Alex Koryshev with Shenzhen-based Plan B VFX to produce visual effects shots for the hit Chinese TV series “Legend of Fuyao.”

“Legend of Fuyao” is a 2018 Chinese fantasy television series based on the novel “Empress Fuyao,” starring Yang Mi and Ethan Juan in the lead roles. The story follows Fuyao, who was formed from a lotus borne by the ancient firmament, as she went on a journey across the land to gather the magical artifacts that could lift the curse that blighted her life.

Founded in 2016, Plan B VFX provides visual effects and CG production services, including matchmoving, rotoscoping/cleanups, modeling, texturing, animating, compositing and rendering for film, television and television commercial projects. 

Koryshev is one of their international VFX artists with over 20 years of CG experience and has been using Fusion for six years. For “Legend of Fuyao,” he was tasked with handling 90 VFX shots. One of the most challenging tasks was to create an almost-full CG magic lake scene, made up of a wide landscape, consisting of a matte-painted horizon and hundreds of lotus leaves and flowers on the water surface.

The scene was shot on a greenscreen studio, along with a shallow pool built on set to get the reflections of the talents and the lotus leaves on set. Next, the main goal for the postproduction was to create a believable and dreamy set extension blending in with the live action plate. 

In order to create a realistic reflective water surface, Koryshev made use of Fusion’s true 3D workspace to composite the scene together. “Fusion’s 3D workspace streamlined my workflow by allowing me to handle all 3D compositing work in Fusion itself without the hassle of using an external 3D application,” he said.

For the water surface, Koryshev used a 3D planar surface in Fusion Studio and displaced it to create a subtle ripple effect, before adding in the reflection to match the matte painting. 

“For the ripple effect on the water surface, I used an animated FastNoise with UVMap, and that’s where Fusion’s advanced algorithm shined because I needed to use a small scale for my FastNoise and just copy this map as many times as I needed to cover the whole surface. The 30-50 FastNoise scale and the 100x100 size of UVMap displacing the flat 3D planar surface created a subtle animated water surface,” he explained. 

He continued: “To achieve the reflection effect, I used the environment mapping technique. In order to have accurate reflection, I had the matte-painted image mapped to a sphere using a SphereMap node before applying it onto the displaced 3D plane. After several adjustments of the material and setting up the mapping, I was pretty satisfied with the result. Reflection at the horizon met the background in the right place, while at the foreground I got the nice sky reflection from my matte painted picture, and it all perfectly matched with the camera movement!” 

Compositing the seemingly endless lotus leaves into the scene in 3D would require complex and heavy processing, but Fusion was able to handle the job for Koryshev. “I knew I needed to add in a bunch of lotus leaves into the scene, but I was concerned about how many 3D objects with heavy meshes Fusion could support. During the first test, I had imported in a 3D fbx model of the lotus leave that consists of 5,000 polygons, duplicated 1,000 times using a Duplicate3D node to populate the scene with the lotus leaves. To my surprise, Fusion was still able to work smoothly in the 3D scene without any issue. That gave me the confidence to composite this scene all inside Fusion,” he said. 

Fusion’s color-grading tools were helpful when Koryshev color matched his work with the shots completed in different software applications. “The client’s artist used a LUT file in another program to adjust the final look of the picture with some additional adjustments, which I didn’t have with the same name inside Fusion. However, I figured out that all I needed is to decrease a little bit Pre-gain and then my image well matched the client’s one. Also while doing compositing and color correction work, it was very handy to turn on LUT for the view, and see the final colors even before adding the FileLUT node.” 

Koryshev also tried the network render feature of Fusion for the first time and was surprised by the simplicity of setting it up in Fusion. “This option let me continue compositing while rendering my previous pretty heavy and long range shots. It was a huge time saver with the deadline impending, and the simplest and the most valuable network render tool I’ve ever seen,” he concluded.