3D Concept Art presents project Babamimoun. A project interview with Eidy Knowles about the making of the music video Babamimoun. Eidy Knowles is a CGI artist and is from England.
3D Concept Art presents a special projects interview about Music Video Babamimoun.
| 3D Concept Art: Tell us about your starting idea, how was it born and what was your main goal?
| Eidy Knowles: → Originally, I was inspired by the song! I approached Speakman Sound looking for a song to use for different videos, but after hearing the song they provided it evoked a sort of sci-fi middle eastern desert landscape in my mind, which I immediately began to dream and think about all the time. The way the song slowly builds to a crescendo made me think of rising buildings and an evolving civilization. The environmental theme was woven into the story as it is something I feel very strongly about, the cities rise too quickly and damage the planet they are on in the video and there can be a lot of parallels drawn between that and our situation here on earth. Additionally, I have been inspired by a lot of films that have a similar message and it evokes a lot of meaning for me.
| 3CA: How much of your time went to R&D during this project?
| E.K: → I’d say about 20 percent of the production was R&D, I decided to use Maya as the main DCC as I was more familiar with 3ds Max and wanted to become proficient in it. I also decided to move away from After Effects for compositing/editing and start using Nuke/Da Vinci Resolve, so I had to spend some time becoming familiar with these tools. I also established a sort of small pipeline using a free program/set of scripts called “Prism Pipeline” https://prism-pipeline.com . All this ended up taking a couple of months or so and once setup made the creation process much easier. I had already created a video rendered using Redshift and so was quite proficient with this tool, this saved me a lot of time as everything to do with that was already setup.
| 3CA: As you started modeling, which was your major challenges when modeling this whole fantasy world, the vision you had?
| E.K: → The main challenges were based on the scope of the project and the sheer amount of scenes I had decided to create. Using modularity, some procedural techniques and some kitbash assets helped massively to populate the large scenes. Also fitting everything onto the GPUs was relatively hard, but Redshift being able to handle out-of-core whilst still being very fast helped me immensely!
| 3CA: For the terrain, what has the most difficult to achieve when trying to convey a kind of sandy and rocky terrain? Did you use any software for that?
| E.K: → A lot of the terrain was done in a program called Gaea (https://quadspinner.com/), it is incredibly fast for generating large scenes and has many different modes to allow the creation of dunes. It spits out a high fidelity displacement map, which can be used to create geometry very effectively. I also used a lot of Megascans materials and assets, stylizing the textures in a painterly image conversion software called Topaz Studio.
| 3CA: Did you use any previs to get the animation right to better understand what you were aiming for? Was it any key-frame animation involved?
| E.K: → I previsualized every scene, I do this as a first stage whilst doing layout/blockout. Making sure the cameras are looking good and the flow is right is very important to me. I used a lot of motion capture from Mixamo and also custom motion capture using Kinect cameras and software called iPiSoft. Some things were key-framed, for example, the camel was rigged and animated by me, I couldn’t find a camel to motion capture!
| 3CA: How did you handle the crowd and what software did you use?
| E.K: → The crowds are actually just scattered proxy sequences, this helped keep the poly budget low and also viewport interactivity working. Since they were all walking in the same directions and the camera was so fast I manually placed them in a lot of instances or used MASH in Maya to place them. In terms of software, I used Maya, 3ds Max, Houdini, Redshift, Nuke, Topaz Studio, Photoshop, Gaea, Substance Painter, Marvelous Designer, Prism Pipeline and DaVinci Resolve.
| 3CA: During the composition, describe a little bit of your composite technique, how you were able to find the look and the overall feel?
| E.K: → I used Nuke for compositing, I generally rendered out as many AOVs as I could so that I could have maximum control in the comp. In a lot of cases, I rendered foreground objects and background ones, as a way to reduce overhead on the graphics cards during rendering and also to use post depth of field blur and reduce artifacts! The overall look and feel initially came from a blue and yellow contrast that is seen in a lot of popular media. The yellow representing the planet’s gaea and blue for the humans and the struggle between the two. I wanted to use very saturated colors to enhance the visuals and also to drive the narrative. I used a multitude of Nuke gizmos to emulate lens imperfections in an anamorphic cinematic camera with various glow and chromatic aberrations.
| 3CA: Did you have any pipeline you preferred for the shots and why? any specific workflow?
| E.K: → used Prism Pipeline https://prism-pipeline.com/ for the pipeline, it basically organized everything for me so that I rarely had to rename a file or place it in a specific place. It also handles exports and brings everything in from different DCCs into a centralized file system and GUI. A more detailed video of how it operates is here: https://vimeo.com/263954329 . I used Topaz Studio to procedurally create painterly textures for all the assets, it would have taken way too long to do by hand so I needed some kind of repeatable procedural generator to convert the textures with, it was an invaluable tool.
| 3CA: The project sometimes gets bigger than expected, what were the biggest challenges and what changed your vision during the project, is that something that you would like to change now?
| E.K: → The biggest challenges during this project were definitely the size of a lot of the scenes and the way I wanted to do them. I had to reduce the scope of a few of the scenes in order to finish them in the timeline I had set myself. My vision stayed relatively constant throughout the project, but suggestions from friends and family definitely shaped a lot of the final decisions that I made. There were a few scenes that I had to cut out because the complexity was not something that I could achieve myself, also further down the line I didn’t feel like they had a place in telling the story that I was trying to tell.
| 3CA: What is your advice when it comes to making this type of project?
| E.K: → My advice is to take it in small tasks, start by having an initial idea and break it down into bite-sized chunks. Storyboarding everything and then doing previs is a great way to get your vision down before building up the heavy effects and models. Also keeping everything organized is very important as this type of project balloons into a large number of files very quickly and can become unmanageable. Definitely having some kind of pipeline software helped me massively to achieve this! I also believe in showing friends and colleagues what you are doing as much as possible, in order to get feedback from them. Often when you have been staring at something for too long it can start to look like nothing, it can be hard to be objective at this point and so it’s always great to get a different perspective!
3D Concept Art Community thanks Eidy Knowles for this interview about her project Babamimoun . Where she shares her knowledge and shows what a passionate artist is. A project that was made in collaboration with Speakman Sound.
Stream / download here: sms.ffm.to/pe1jqox
Made in Maya & Redshift. Also using Prism Pipeline for file management: prism-pipeline.com/
This beautiful visual adventure created by Eidy Knowles is a relentless race through evolution, inspired by the traditional Gnawan song – featuring the vocal of Simo Lagnawi and brought to life by the euphoric trippy sonics of Speakman Sound.
The song is about Baba Mimoun, the leader of the spirits of the small forests, the human relationship with these spirits and where that takes us.
What do you think of Project Babamimoun?