Solutions; Rhinoceros stomps with Maya and Softimage

Solutions; Rhinoceros stomps with Maya and Softimage

Lance Neal

Summertime has undoubtedly made its arrival. As the temperature rises, so does the demand for entertainment. And amusement parks have long been a common summertime destination for people of all ages. In today’s fast-paced, tech-savvy market, Six Flags has put its faith in the high-tech vision of the people at New York’s Rhinoceros Visual Effects and Design.

Rhinoceros recently produced a scenic commercial for Six Flags Amusement Parks and Ackerman McQueen, an ad agency based in Oklahoma City, replete with computer-generated images. The commercial, which initially ran in New Jersey on April 15th, highlights new structural and thematic additions to Six Flags’ parks, including the terrain of the Safari, Water World, and Roller Coaster areas. It also features a roller coaster ride from the rider’s point of view.

The 30-second commercial was created using Softimage 3D, as well as the Maya Unix and NT programs, on three NT workstations with 600MHz processors. The team at Rhinoceros selected these programs because of their intuitive workflow and versatility, and both Softimage and Maya are used on a regular basis at Rhinoceros. Soft-image 3D was used to create the roller coaster ride. And one of the biggest challenges that this project presented was accurately portraying the movement of the spot’s featured roller coaster. There was difficulty with the movements in 3D because the roller coaster has a swaying motion that didn’t exist in off-the-shelf software. Also, it was hard to depict the roller-coaster car making its turns because the car has the swaying motion while the wheels have to remain on the track. To this end, software had to be written that made the back-and-forth motions possible while keeping the wheels on track.

Maya was used to create the commercial’s landscapes. The program’s paint tools proved to be particularly helpful on the landscape work, such as coloring trees and flowers.

The playful concept permitted both photorealistic and surrealistic designs. “The agency was open to the idea of us refining the look, which was great because it allowed us to explore a lot of details that made the story more interesting,” comments lead animator Sven Weidner. This project also uniquely combined Unix and NT software. In order to achieve this mix of formats, software to export the camera from one program to the other was written by Weidner.

The commercial is a breakthrough in terms of creative excellence and CGI mastery for the Rhinoceros Visual Effects and Design division, which is in the process of expansion. “We were fortunate and thankful that the agency and client trusted us implicitly, which allowed the team to explore the limits of their imaginations and produce a very clever piece of work,” partner Joseph R. Passarella remarks. “We’re currently gearing up to accommodate more projects in this vein.” The Six Flags project was composited by four people: Weidner, animator Lynn Bachino, animator Ji-Hyun Yoon, and inferno* artist Nathan Walker.

Other projects recently completed by Rhinoceros include a spot for Revlon Colorstay and Savage Garden’s music video “Crash and Burn.”

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