The Pixeldust team was responsible for crafting a broadcast TV animation for Hazmat Productions’ Jaws vs Meg, which aired during Discovery Shark Week in 2023. This particular animation featured a dynamic one-minute battle sequence pitting the ancient and ferocious Megalodon against a formidable Great White Shark. The execution of this sequence demanded intricate character animation for the shark creatures, with a distinct focus on incorporating visceral elements like gore and blood, as per specific requests. Check out the final video highlights at the bottom of the page to see the sequence in action.
Creative Direction: Hazmat Productions /Ricardo Andrade
CG Supervisor: Samar Shool
Senior Animator: Andy Hencken
Senior Producer: Emily Vitek
Animator: Olivia Mercurio
CREATURE MODELING, RIGGING, TEXTURING
Pixeldust undertook the intricate task of modeling and texturing highly lifelike megalodon and shark characters. Drawing upon decades of expertise in creature creation and animation, our adept modelers and texture artists efficiently brought these creatures to life with remarkable realism. The creation of intricate animation rigs was seamlessly transitioned to the animators, who skillfully crafted fluid fish-like movements. Throughout the project’s timeline, the team successfully maintained the agility to modify and communicate changes to the rigs, ensuring a collaborative and dynamic development process.
Particular emphasis was dedicated to refining additional intricate details, encompassing blood spatters, gore, and scratch marks that depicted weathering, battle scars, aged wrinkles on the megalodon’s body, and various other elements. To achieve this level of detail, Pixeldust harnessed the capabilities of Autodesk Maya and Zbrush, utilizing these tools for the meticulous modeling and texturing of these central shark characters.
ANIMATION BLOCKING TO FINAL
Implementing blocking prior to any actual animation and rendering is a highly sought-after industry-standard pipeline. This approach ensures the project progresses smoothly and efficiently towards its final milestone. Pixeldust has dedicated significant effort to this process by offering numerous rough cuts and Maya playblasts. These iterations are essential to obtain client approvals before advancing to subsequent stages of development. The client initially supplied basic storyboards, serving as a solid foundation. The team at Pixeldust then proceeded to animate dynamic camera movements, skillfully capturing the action sequences from various angles.
Simultaneously, our CG supervisor engaged in a parallel pipeline, refining the look development, lighting, and scenery within Unreal Engine. This process coincided with animators diligently breathing life into the creatures using Maya. Gradually, the animation data seamlessly transitioned within Unreal Engine, culminating in a harmonious fusion with other elements such as dynamics, weather animations, photorealistic shading, and underwater lighting effects.
REALTIME RENDERING AND COMPOSITING
Over the past 5+ years, Pixeldust has continuously evolved to accommodate the dynamic shifts within the real-time rendering landscape. This project was no exception to our adaptive approach. Given the client’s demanding deadlines, the decision to embrace the real-time pipeline using Unreal Engine 5.2 proved to be not only pragmatic but also capable of maintaining a focus on high-quality CGI. With twin parallel pipelines firmly established for both the animators and the look development teams, this project seamlessly progressed from initial playblasts to achieving a final rendering quality at a remarkably accelerated pace. Consequently, we successfully fine-tuned and iterated upon intricate fluid water dynamics, ocean surface CGI, particles, and various other underwater systems on the fly!
Pixeldust’s CG supervisor skillfully crafted the ultimate lighting setup, encompassing the desired look and atmosphere via Unreal Engine. Additionally, a touch of refinement was applied through light-level compositing and color correction using After Effects for the concluding sequence. A significant hurdle entailed producing two distinct lighting scenarios within a tight delivery timeframe for this extensive 4K sequence. This challenge involved creating a clear, daylight version for the exterior scenes and an underwater variation. Remarkably, PX managed to accomplish this feat, all while effortlessly rendering high-resolution 4K, 1-minute sequences, courtesy of the blazingly fast RTX rendering capabilities.