Mesmerizing crowd timelapse for Nissan by Luis Montemayor

Luis Montemayor created time-lapsed passersby in a commercial for Nissan Altima by using Golaem and Clarisse. He kindly detailed his workflow and provided us with breakdowns and test scenes!

Luis Montemayor is a long time CG and VFX generalist artist from Mexico. After working for the most important studios in Mexico, he became a freelancer in 2009. For this spot, he freelanced for MPC Mexico, creating a spot where the main character and the Nissan Altima were in real time while all the other elements were moving faster, like in a timelapse. 
He explains “Our first thought was to shot people against green screen in timelapse and then comp them into the shots, but the production house didn't have enough time for shooting it that way and also the director wanted to move the camera and there was no way the 2D solution was going to work.”.
Montemayor continues “I've been working with Clarisse for a very long time and I knew that their motion blur solution was very good, the software was able to give us some very cool motion trails like if it was shoot in long exposure. Then I started doing some tests with Golaem and I know I was in the right track. Actually there was no other way to finish this project in time without the help of Golaem. This was my first time doing crowds but thanks to all tutorials and sample files, I was able to see results in a very short period of time.”

The first validation test, which triggered the decision to use Luis' workflow for the commercial
The commercial includes 47 shots in its longest version, one third of them including Golaem characters walking from one place to another moving in a chaotic way.
Roto, 3D tracking and Mattepainting were done in MPC Bangalore. Montemayor was working in Mexico within a team of 3. He was in charge of the 3D cars and crowds and worked on this project over two months, from pre-production to delivery.
Montemayor details his process: “What I did first was to test the Maya/Golaem to Clarisse workflow, exporting the Golaem simulation as an alembic file and importing it to Clarisse. I used the Crowd Man and Woman which come in the Golaem Character Pack, , complete with all sorts of clothes and accessories like hats, glasses etc. Then in Clarisse I created the shaders for each geometry and using the Object ID attribute I was able to randomize the cloth.”

After validating this step, he created simulations in Maya with Golaem: “With the right camera track, I populate the sidewalk following the tutorial Populate City Streets. At first the people were just walking from one side to another, but the clients wanted more chaos, people doing more stuff, so I downloaded more animation clips from Mixamo and used them in Golaem, thanks to the automatic retargeting.”
Because there is no Golaem procedural rendering plugin yet for Clarisse, he relied on Alembic exports and used Clarisse as a kind of Golaem Layout Tool to assemble/duplicate them as well as time-offsetting their animation. Thanks to the timelapse effect, the characters possibly colliding because of manual edition were not a problem.
Long Golaem simulations of about 3,000 frames with 3 or 4 variations were then sped up by changing the base framerate of the Clarisse project and setting the shutter at 100%, resulting in a nice motion blur effect.

Speed Test: images are rendered at a very low framerate and then assembled at 24fps creating the timelapse effect

Breakdown: character timelapse composited on a gray background


Montemayor concludes “I had this idea that doing crowd was something very complicated and/or that you needed to be more technical, but the Golaem guys have made a very simple software with everything covered in tutorials. Now I have this new tool to sell myself as a generalist artist.” 


He even has futura plans for crowd work: “ I might work in a project where they need to fill a stadium with people, and I am also working in some personal projects that I think I will include some crowds, but this time I want to add some custom characters!”