To model our characters, we used Zbrush and 3ds max. For the textures we used pictures that we then stylised in Substance Painter.
We used an autorig for the basic character rigs. We then set up all the props and clothes by hand and by writing some basic maxscripts.
The clothes in the final renders are mostly skinned to the characters but for some action scenes we needed to simulate them in Marvelous Designer to make them flow more realistically. This implied two clothing setups for each character.
We had to sculpt a few hundred blendshapes in Zbrush, one per facial mouvement, each driven by one specific controller to allow our characters to have complex expressions by mixing several blendshapes.
Working on a colorful movie with contemplative shots was the starting point of our project.
We picked Road to El Dorado, Atlantis : The Lost Empire and The Mysterious Cities of Gold as our main inspirations to meet our expectations and also bring the Maya culture back to life through its architecture and warm atmosphere. Then we decided to mix it all up with a little Venice touch to make our final environment look even more outstanding after the dam accident.
We mostly used 3DS Max to build up all our environments, ZBrush for the cave, mountains and pillars under the city, Forest Pack to create the surrounding forest and Photoshop to have a paint and stylized effect for our textures
We animated from a motion capture that we didn't hesitate to modify or erase in order to convey the emotions and relationships between the characters.
Our main challenge was to deal with all the contacts made between the characters and the environment because the motion capture wasn't precise enough. Also the eye movements were capital to make our characters feel more alive and express their emotions better.
After the motion capture was recorded some shots of the layout were changed and completely readjusted with ease as we discovered Motion Builder’s editing system. Nonetheless, we had to fully rely on keyframe animation for some of those shots afterward.
We used Houdini to make all the FX. The water simulations and the destruction of the ground under the city were the biggest challenges in the movie by far.
For the magic aura we wanted something not too aggressive visually that would also remain organic looking.