MAXON, June 30, 2008 – MAXON Computer, a leading developer of professional 3D modeling, painting, animation and rendering solutions, today announced that Rhythm & Hues (R&H), one of Hollywood’s premier visual effects and animation powerhouses, turned to MAXON’s BodyPaint 3D, to address a myriad of complex texture painting challenges associated with the creation of central scenes and characters in the recently released Universal Pictures feature film, The Incredible Hulk (Hulk) – most notably, The Hulk’s distinctive muscle-popping green skin.
Based on the Marvel Comics superhero created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the movie tells the story of scientist Bruce Banner, who is desperate to find a cure for the radiation that poisoned him and lets loose the rage within him that transforms him into The Hulk. Animators at R&H took advantage of MAXON BodyPaint 3D’s speed, agility and intuitive processes to quickly create the complex and dynamic effects necessary to bring the story to life. In all, Rhythm & Hues worked on 234 shots. A team of eight texture artists used MAXON BodyPaint 3D primarily to paint and texture The Hulk and his nemesis, The Abomination, in addition to painting props and portions of buildings and environments.
“We’re committed to using the best software that will allow us to quickly and efficiently produce the highest quality texture maps, and BodyPaint 3D is number one,” said David Perkins, technical support supervisor at Rhythm & Hues.
R&H features a state-of-the-art production pipeline made up of a balanced mix of proprietary and off-the-shelf software. According to Sarah Kym, a lead texture painter at Rhythm & Hues, a 3D paint and texture package needs to be smart and adaptable, and BodyPaint 3D more than fit the bill. “BodyPaint 3D’s tools make us more efficient. Examples include the Clone tool, the ability to hide surfaces to get around tight spots, multiple cameras, and layer effects. It makes me very happy when I see a tool that can cut my paint time in half.” Kym, who has also seen an increasing demand for realism and complexity in 3D paint and textures in the past several years, along with an explosion of technology to meet the new challenges, noted, “We’re constantly pushing for bigger and better effects and packages like BodyPaint 3D have helped us get to that next level.” Additional BodyPaint 3D tools and capabilities deemed particularly useful to the R&H team while working on “The Incredible Hulk” included its extra-large texture map capacity, customizable user interface, Raybrush technology and projection painting.
MAXON BodyPaint 3D’s interactive, real-time capabilities proved particularly invaluable to the R&H team when they were faced with creating a wide array of highly complex action shots, including the story’s signature metamorphosis of Bruce Banner into The Hulk. For this critical transformation sequence MIG (Muscle Influence Group) maps were created in BodyPaint 3D, enabling lighting specialists and animators to control how the muscles rippled under The Hulk’s skin. Kym added, “Every material group had multiple maps with each group to influence small sections of muscle, and they had to match within the material and across other materials. It was a crazy puzzle that had to fit as perfectly as possible so that we didn’t end up with weird ridges or bunched-up muscles. I’d load 10 or 15 layers of maps per material group into BodyPaint 3D so that I could visualize how they were lining up, and then seam them or add or subtract them as needed. I was so happy that I could keep loading them in. I kept waiting for BodyPaint 3D to crash, but it didn’t!”
Additional key scenes developed with the help of BodyPaint 3D included The Hulk coming under heavy weapons fire and both The Hulk and The Abomination demolishing vehicles. The weapons fire scene required painting different types of “damage” onto The Hulk’s body – including wounds, dirt and scrapes. Aaron Skillman, a lead texture painter at Rhythm & Hues, explained, “Using BodyPaint 3D I could project all the reference maps for where the damage needed to be on the model and then paint/project the damage onto the areas of the body where it would normally be difficult to paint, such as the elbow, heel, and side of the torso.” Crafting the destruction of a Hummvee and motorcycle was equally challenging, “These 3D props were complex and highly detailed,” Skillman noted. “BodyPaint 3D handled the textures and all the maps necessary to paint them in the detail and in the 4K resolution we needed for these scenes.”
“The artists at Rhythm & Hues did an outstanding job of using BodyPaint 3D to create the wide array of complex textures and painted surfaces that comprise much of The Incredible Hulk’s core graphic elements,” said Paul Babb, president and CEO, MAXON USA. “Rhythm & Hues’ positive experience using the software on Hulk underscores MAXON’s commitment to developing critical and intuitive 3D content creation tools that enhance digital production workflow and allows artists to quickly create highly detailed and accurate texture maps.”
MAXON BodyPaint 3D has been an integral part of the R&H production pipeline for the past 18 months, and Hulk served as an important steppingstone in the artist team familiarization and adoption of the product. The studio is currently using BodyPaint 3D on several upcoming films, including Mummy 3, They Came from Upstairs, The Fast and the Furious 4 and Land of the Lost. R&H is currently evaluating MAXON’s leading 3D animation software, CINEMA 4D, and Projection Man – a tool that makes it fast and easy to create digital environments.