Added by on 2017-02-13

Nutcracker Overture VFX Breakdown

Straightface Studios – After a 30-year run, the Pacific Northwest Ballet redesigned their annual performance of The Nutcracker. Starting production in 2015, Straightface Studios’ small, dedicated team of artists designed and animated a video to play during the Overture Miniature.

Lacking the resources and manpower of larger animation studios, we paid special attention to efficiency, optimization, and scene management to complete the 5,400-frame shot, which includes over 1.5 million trees, 8,540 bushes, 287 buildings, and seven mice. The flyover covers seven kilometers of snowy forest, a 19th-century New England town, and the exterior of a Greek Revival home. The final frame is a replica of the stage backdrop, providing a seamless transition as the projection scrim rises to reveal the dancers.

The sheer quantity of digital assets was a challenge for our render farm. We used extensive instancing and LOD objects to manage memory requirements and stay within our 32 GB budget. The final render time for a full beauty pass was approximately 150,000 core hours over a month. Due to the month-long final render time, we rendered everything with deep samples, in order to integrate the atmospheric elements in the comp, iterate on the snow simulation and perform paint fixes on 3D cards rendered in
Nuke’s scanline renderer.

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