Thursday, 14 November 2019

Blue Zoo's Real Time Animation Pipeline

Blue Zoo's Tom Box at BlueGFX Expo
At the BlueGFX Expo event on Tuesday, Blue Zoo founder Tom Box explained how Blue Zoo are transitioning to a "real-time animation render pipeline" this year, exploring new ways to speed up the animation process.

Tom described Blue Zoo as a studio that, since its inception, has "refused to accept industry standards", and has forged its own path in the industry.

Recently Blue Zoo have been pioneering the use of real-time rendering using Unreal Engine, in much the same way that we have been doing at Escape Studios - finding ways to make the production process faster and more efficient. 

Unreal Engine
Unreal Engine is a game renderer, and has only recently come to be used by producton houses for animation and VFX work.  Traditional ray-tracing renders like Arnold produce beautiful images, but at a cost - the cost being the time taken, many minutes or even hours for a single frame. With Unreal Engine, projects can be rendered in real time, and the time saved in rendering can be spent on higher quality in look development and animation.

Ada
Last year Blue Zoo released "Ada", an experimental short film directed by Dane Winn. Stranded on an arctic island with a dying man in 1921, an Alaskan seamstress must overcome her fears of the wilderness and find the strength to survive. The film was inspired by the true story of Ada Blackjack. The film was rendered in real time using Unreal Engine - and (crucially) it looks nothing like a video game.


Ada trailer from Blue Zoo on Vimeo.

Unreal Engine at Escape Studios
We make extensive use of Unreal Engine at Escape Studios, including rendering successful studio projects such as Planet Mars, The Good Old Days, Adam & Eve Mk II and Minuet, all of which were rendered in Unreal, and have gone on to enjoy festival success around the world.

Blue Zoo Mentoring
Will Cook, Lee Caller, Nicola Ferrari, Jay Cajigao, Chiara Lurgo and Tom Box
Blue Zoo has been a regular mentor to our animators in recent years. Our graduating classes of animators on our animation short course made a number of visits to Blue Zoo, for a one-on-one critique of their work.

Our students have received great feedback on their shots from Blue Zoo co-founder Tom Box, and animation director Will Cook, both of whom have generously given their time to help our animators hone their skills.

Blue Zoo
Industry Mentor
Blue Zoo take the business of outreach very seriously, and they have been regular guests at our VFX Festival for the last three years, as well as regularly mentoring our animators in recent years.

Escapees at Blue Zoo
Blue Zoo have also hired a number of animation Escapees in recent years, such as animator Marc Godfrey and - just recently - Jamie Floodgate.  We also have Blue Zoo animators teaching classes at Escape Studios, including Plamen Ananiev, who teaches our evening class in Toonboom Harmony, one of the world's leading software packages for 2D animation.

More about Blue Zoo
To find out more about Blue Zoo, see this post on how they stay creative as a studio.  You can also read about what the challenges are of running an animation studio, and how they put together QPootle 5, one of their animated TV Series.
Blue Zoo's Bader Badruddin at the 2019 VFX Festival

Finding a job at Blue Zoo
Recently, Blue Zoo offered their Top Ten "Recruitment Stand Tips" for students and graduates hoping to impress at a recruitment stand.

Some of the tips are pretty obvious (number 1 is "turn up"), but overall this is a useful and informative read on how to approach potential recruiters at an industry event.

At the BlueGFX Expo, our students got the opportunity to meet Tom, as well as many other industry leaders. We always encourage our students to attend events like BlueGFX Expo and, of course, next year's VFX Festival. 

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To find out more about our new BA/MArt, now recruiting for September 2020, follow this link.   To apply, visit the official page here.

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