Friday, January 14, 2022 - 15:51

We know Yannick Cibin for a long time, and he has kind of accompanied, and sometimes driven the evolution of Golaem, using it on more and more advanced shots, the peak so far being the incredible bees shot he did for Holmes & Watson, marking the start of 3D terrains usage in Golaem. Today, he shares his story with us. 

How did you become a Crowd Artist?
I started as a runner and then 3d generalist in a small company, which was a great way to start in the industry. I loved the variety it offered and the opportunity it gave me to dive into different aspects of 3d.

I really enjoyed programming in python, texturing, modelling; everything to be honest. But one thing that really got me was when we worked on War and Peace and I had create our first crowd shots. We had a visit from the golaem team to show us the software. At first I wasn't too taken by it, but as soon as I started using it I fell in love with the whole thing. Since then, anytime I got a Golaem project I got the biggest smile on my face.

Could you share a few projects you have worked on?
I have worked on War and peace, The Last Kingdom,  Holmes and Watson, Batman amongst others. My two favorite shows to date were War And Peace and Holmes and Watson as we had to develop lots of new skills and do a lot of R&D. I love it when we have to do something that isn't integrated or possible yet and we have to find a way to get there. 

Given your experience in crowds, which trends have you seen emerge over time, and how do you see the future for crowds?
I feel like crowds is still a very niche part of the industry. It's hard to find artists, and there is quite a bit of demand. I feel like, as I'm sure everyone is saying, AI will surely take over and help improve crowds. In my experience, what still requires a lot of effort in any crowd software I've used is to create realistic and smooth avoidance in tight quarters. I selfishly hope AI could help with this the future.

How did the COVID crisis affect film production and the way you are going to work with crowds?
Currently there is a lot of crowd work, due to the devastating consequences of Covid. Unfortunately large groups of people can't be filmed together, so using cg crowds can be a safe way of achieving this. I assume this will bring more awareness to the possibility of using cg crowds as an alternative.

Would you recommend CG artists to get in crowds? How? Which skills should they develop?
I would absolutely recommend it. To be honest, I would recommend playing with a crowd software of their choice and seeing if they like it. The chances are the first few weeks/months will be painful, so don't be scared to reach out to the community. Golaem Crowd support has been incredibly approachable and friendly with me and the many questions I have had for them.

In terms of skills, I personally love scripting for anything VFX. But just go for it and see how it feels and what you enjoy. When I decided to join the industry I was pretty scared that I would need to be both an artist/programming genius. Don't be intimidated by what you think you'll need to know coming in. This is generally a welcoming industry and as long as you come in with a good attitude and motivation to learn, people are likely to want to teach and support you. 

Would you have some advice for people wanting to create a demo reel in order to be hired as Crowd TD?
I'm going to be honest here. There isn't too much competition right now, as it's still quite niche. I think just set yourself a goal and try and achieve it. When I needed to learn flocking for Holmes and Watson, I created a pretty tight obstacle course and I kept learning and tweaking until I managed to make the bees follow it perfectly. You could try that. Otherwise if you can show that you can make agents go from standing to walking and back to standing without sliding feet, that would be a good start.

Anything else you would like to share?
Try things out. Don't be intimidated by the amount of options and steps available and ask for help when you need it. It's not always easy to get into the industry, but once your in things get easier. Crowds is currently a good way in as there is a lot of demand.

Thursday, October 28, 2021 - 14:15

Golaem releases Golaem 8, making its crowd simulation engine available in Unreal Engine, and enhancing its already advanced Previs/Layout capabilities.

Recently awarded with an Engineering Emmy Award® acknowledging its contribution to the Television industry (among other productions Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Lovecraft Country, Love Death & Robots...), Golaem stays at the bleeding edge of innovation and makes its crowd simulation features available within Unreal Engine in real-time, facilitating interactive usage and Unreal Engine based creation workflows.

Golaem 8 also increases the crowd previsualization quality inside the Maya viewport while keeping Golaem great performances. Nicolas Chaverou, Product Manager explains: “Golaem is used by more and more animation studios for all kinds of TV Shows and Feature Films, for example The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, Invincibles, Jurassic Park Camp Cretaceous, or  My Little Pony: A New Generation…. They need to match a precise ambiance for their shots, and have more advanced needs in terms of character previsualization. I think they will be delighted with the previsualization novelties in Golaem 8. Coupled with the new Layout layers, this will really make it even easier for them to validate their crowds before rendering, and iterate faster.”

Real-Time Simulation in Unreal Engine

Real-Time Simulation Engine

Golaem simulations can now be executed in real-time within Unreal Engine, reacting to player actions, or taking into account changes in the environment.

This new workflow speeds up scene creations in Unreal Engine and makes it possible to use Golaem character simulation capabilities for interactive use.

Interaction with Unreal Engine Blueprints

The new Golaem execution engine integrated into Unreal Engine includes Golaem Blueprint nodes, making it possible to create interactions between Golaem and Unreal Engine.

This Blueprint integration can be used to trigger events in the Golaem Simulation, or to override placement or simulation parameters.

Unreal Engine Character Pack

To facilitate the use of Golaem into Unreal Engine, all characters from the Golaem Character Pack are available as ready-to-use Unreal Engine characters, complete with shaders diversity.

It literally just takes one minute to setup a Golaem scene in Unreal Engine with fully diverse characters.

Viewport Previsualization Improvements

Visual Diversity in the Viewport

Golaem 8 implements shading diversity for all characters, directly in the Maya viewport, while keeping the same performances which made its reputation.

Artists will be able to validate the look of their crowd characters directly at simulation step, and use the Golaem Layout layers to override it if needed.

Shading Diversity Weights Control

To make shading repartition more controllable for artists, shading diversity has been made controllable thanks to weight sliders similar to the ones used asset repartition.

It will help artists come even closer to the final look they desire for their crowd, which can always be 100% artistically controlled thanks to the Golaem Layout shader overrides nodes.

Mesh Drive Display Mode

Golaem features a new Mesh Drive display mode, generating real Maya geometry for all characters, including all deformations.

Artists can check the final look of their scenes before even rendering. Cherry on the cake, thanks to the Mesh Drive display mode, Golaem characters are now renderable with any renderer!

DOF / Fog Support in the viewport

Golaem 8 adds support for Maya viewport depth of field and fog features with Golaem characters display in order to enhance previsualization quality.

Triggers Visual Feedback

Enhancing Golaem visual debug capabilities, Golaem 8 can now display in real-time the behavior triggers status in the Behavior Editor.

Artists can click on any character in the crowd and follow how their behavior is executed, check when events trigger a behavior or not, and debug blocked behaviors.

New Layout Layers

Group Trajectory Edit Layer

The Trajectory Edit layer is back! Golaem characters trajectories can be edited after simulation based on director's feedback, or to adapt to changes in the environment. 

The Trajectory Edit layer features two modes: mesh based and curve based. The mesh based mode enables deforming trajectories with tools like the Lattice Deformer. Curve based mode will be used to draw trajectories with curves, with the added advantage of being able to preserve characters speed while deforming their trajectory.

Group Snap-to Layer

Golaem Snap-To Layer enables to re-populate a scene with the Golaem Layout Tool. With the Group Snap-To layer artists can place a group of people on each user-defined position.

As in the example video, it is particularly useful to populate a battle scene with groups of soldiers!

Mirror Layout Layer

The Mirror Layer will mirror a simulation cache geometry and animation. 

It can be used to adapt an existing cache to a new environment or script, but also on random characters in your scene to generate even more diversity.

New Keyframable Attributes

Golaem 8 Layout Tool can take keyframes into account on two new layers: Kill and SetMeshAssets.

Thanks to the keyframable Kill layer, characters visibility can be animated during the shot in order to make the population evolve.

With the SetMeshAssets Layer, characters' equipment or garments can also evolve during the shot.

Custom LOD Layers

Golaem provides some rules for automatic LOD, but when dealing with LOD, isn’t it more comfortable to set them by directly selecting characters in the viewport?

This is what the new LOD layers are about! Just select some characters, add a Layout node, set the desired LOD level, and you are done.

Physics / Cloth Simulation

Torque on Force Behavior

A Torque attribute was added on the Force Behavior. It brings more realism in the physics simulation and allows artists to control how your characters react to an explosion or other kind of physics events.

GPU Real-Time Simulation for Windows/Linux

Thanks to its NVidia Apex integration Golaem can simulate clothes in real-time with many characters.

Through a partnership with NVidia & Autodesk, Golaem is maintaining the Physx/Apex plugin code and hosts builds for Windows & Linux and for new versions of Maya.

And still...

Morphology Variations

Golaem provides morphology variations thanks to the Skeleton Overrides feature.

Several kinds of morphologies (small, tall, thin, fat...) can be added on a character definition by setting scale ranges for every bone. Users can then control their repartition the same way as other assets, and they can even be mixed to obtain the maximum of variations inside a population.

The generated characters definitely look more diverse and natural.

Fur Workflow

Golaem includes an advanced procedural fur workflow with skinned fur which can be deformed along the character animation and bone chains.

This workflow is compatible with most of the major fur simulation solutions (Xgen, Yeti, Ornatrix,…) and proprietary engines provided they can be imported within Maya as curves (or Alembic curves).

Houdini Workflow

Golaem simulations can be brought into Houdini with a dedicated plugin expanding them to real Houdini geometry. The Golaem for Houdini plugin comes with the Golaem Cache Library and Layout Tool for easy imports and modifications directly in Houdini.

Look! Golaem characters can even be rendered with Mantra!

USD Procedural

Golaem includes a procedural plugin for Pixar’s USD, efficiently loading Golaem characters in the USD pipeline, therefore making them directly usable in many digital content creation tools supporting USD.

The Golaem for USD procedural plugin is available for USD Standalone, Houdini and Katana. The procedural code is open source for studios who need to build it themselves.

Golaem 8 is compatible with all Maya versions from 2018 to 2022 and provides integrations with 3dsMax, Houdini, Katana, Unreal Engine, and all USD-compatible platforms, like Unity or NVidia Omniverse.

The Golaem Crowd Simulation Real-Time simulation engine is available through Golaem for Unreal Engine or as a standalone C++ SDK.

 

Want to try Golaem for free??!
Download Golaem PLE version

Thursday, October 7, 2021 - 14:52

Golaem is honored to announce that it has been awarded an Engineering Emmy® Award by the Television Academy.

From its first usage in Pan Am and Once Upon a Time TV Shows by Zoic Studio to The Walking Dead, Game Of Thrones and more recently Lovecraft Country, Golaem has accompanied the rise of visual effects and especially crowds creation in TV Shows. Golaem products have been recognized as having enabled creators to deliver their vision at best while respecting budgets and deadlines.

Golaem Crowd gives artists the power to generate and animate a large number of characters with various styles and morphologies thanks to advanced behavior building blocks such as procedural animation, path-planning and navigation as well as physics, hair/fur and cloth simulation.

Golaem Layout enables our users to easily retake or layout a scene just by moving characters on the fly with the help of procedural tools adapting their feet to the ground or adding variety in their appearance and animation. With Golaem Layout, artists always get the last word as they can choose any time a custom appearance for a character or manually retake the animation.

Stéphane Donikian, Golaem CEO, reacts: “Receiving this Engineering Emmy Award is a great honor, as it acknowledges once again the contribution Golaem made for the Television industry.  2021 was a very special year for Golaem, and not only because of Covid. We recently celebrated Golaem Crowd’s 10 year anniversary, and we have the Golaem 8 release coming, which is the foundation for a whole new terrain of application for Golaem tools. I am thrilled to see creators delivering even more spectacular and immersive experiences with the help of Golaem tools”.

The Golaem Team will be accepting the Emmy Award during the 73rd Engineering Emmy Awards ceremony on Thursday, October 21st, 2021.

Learn more:

About Golaem
Golaem products help artists to populate TV shows, films and game cinematics in minutes by procedurally animating thousands of characters with advanced behaviors, in real-time and with complete artistic control.
Golaem tools are used on all kinds of projects from the smallest to most ambitious ones and have been widely acclaimed as an enabler to reach director’s creative vision on a really competitive time and production budget.

 

Thursday, September 16, 2021 - 14:26

Here is our yearly selection of the best student projects using Golaem!

By the way, did you know that Golaem is free for universities & students? 
You can grab a free & unlimited Personal Learning Edition (PLE) package here and ask us for a student license here.

Learning crowds is a smart way to give a boost to your career! Because of the new regulations and way of working on-set introduced by the Covid crisis, the demand for Crowd TD is getting higher and higher.

We have lost count of people we heard learning crowds with Golaem and landing a job in a top notch studio within a few months.
The latest is the story of Félicie Havas, who is now working at Method Studios  ===>

Star Kong

by Eloi Vidal from ISART

Ok, we are cheating a bit: Eloi graduated from ISART in 2020, but his demoreel was so great we could not miss sharing it here!

After the yearly Golaem training at ISART (4 days on-site with our Product Manager), he used Golaem to populate the Star Kong graduation movie. It features impressive World War Z like shots relying on Golaem simulation features.

After freelancing on a few crowd projects, Eloi is now a Crowd Artist, working on an animated movie at Mikros Animation.

The Ant

by Marc Mesa from FX Animation

Marc is working on a Ant themed short movie. The snippet video he shared looks very promising and shows hundreds of ants climbing a hole.

Marc successfully handled the multiped character setup, shown briefly at the end of the video, as well as the transition between the hole and the ground, a typical shot use case.

Pedestal

by Meg Coleman and Casey Kwan from Vancouver Film School

During her studies at VFS Meg wanted to explore technical topics, among them crowds, and Casey had a movie plot just suited for this. So, together they created Pedestal, a movie about the tribal nature of business and the quest to climb the corporate ladder.

Meg had only started using Maya for a few months when she contacted us. We were surprised how by how fast she got her first results using Golaem physics to make people brawl and climb the pedestal. She is now working an associate technical artist for Electronic Arts.

You can find more information about the project on the Pedestal website

Underwater Coral Reef

by Geraldine Rethathi from FX Animation

Geraldine populated her short project with fishes animated with Golaem, relying on Golaem's flocking features.

She did all the work on the shot: fish rigging and movement animation, crowd simulation, environment set preparation, general illumination and other light effects such as caustics and scattering.

Scarecrow

by Garance Duchêne Ribas and her team from ISART

Garance used Golaem to populate the fields of her graduation movie with cute corn cobs. Jack, a scarecrow become friend with them and will fiercely defend them against the farmer's harvester. 

Golaem may not be the first tool you would think to when needing to populate a field, but as Garance cleverly understood it, it may quickly become handy as it enables you to generate some variations in the field, as well as to tackle advanced simulation with physics.

Garance is now working at Fortiche, which funnily also simulate a field with Golaem for a League of Legends tournament trailer.

Bonus! Scarecrow Breakdown

Take a closer look at the corn simulation shots in Scarecrow thanks to this nice breakdown!

Want you or your students featured here next year?!
Download Golaem and contact us for a license!

Friday, September 10, 2021 - 14:48

As a Crowd Artist, Krisztian Kinder worked on some of the most epic shots created with Golaem, either at Digic Pictures where he first met crowds, or later at Rodeo FX and Scanline VFX. Today, he shares some insights with us. 

How did you become a Crowd Artist?
Originally, I started out as a Motion Capture Specialist in a Hungarian studio called Digic Pictures, which specializes in game cinematics such as for The Witcher or Call of Duty and is most well-known for the Assassin's Creed trailers. During the mocap shoots, I was recording and processing motion for crowd simulations and I liked it so much that I slowly got involved more and more in the crowd process. A few years later I got the opportunity to lead the Crowd team and completely transitioned to being a Crowd TD. Since last year I have been working in the VFX industry in Canada and I’m really enjoying the new challenges.

Could you share a few projects you have worked on?
Mostly game cinematic projects like the League of Legends and Rainbow Six Siege trailers, Assassins Creed Valhalla, Netflix’s Love Death and Robots series and some of the recent VFX projects I can mention at this point are Chaos Walking (horse riders) and TV series, Lovecraft Country (Amazonian villager shots).

Given your experience in crowds, which trends have you seen emerge over time, and how do you see the future for crowds?
Crowds have become more and more important and with the increasing number of projects, tighter timelines and budget constraints, more tools have become available to create and visualize them. As productions speed up tremendously and require faster turnarounds, directors can now see and comment on crowd results at an early stage. Also, there are more options for advanced deformations and real-time engine visualization which will definitely become part of our toolset in the near future.

How did the COVID crisis affect film production and the way you are going to work with crowds?
Before COVID, there was already an increased demand for more crowd work but the pandemic has definitely boosted that demand due to social distancing and travel restrictions. Also, working from home changed the whole experience, as you are communicating with the team and production through virtual meetings.

Would you recommend CG artists to get in crowds? How? Which skills should they develop?
Creating crowds is awesome and versatile as you get to work and interact with most of the departments. You have to know and learn what to ask for so you can work efficiently and what to give further down the pipeline to make your life easier. You will definitely not get bored in the next ten years as there are so many awesome things to learn and not to mention all the cool upcoming projects to be part of!

Nowadays, on top of university courses, training materials and learning licenses (such as what Golaem offers) are easily accessible as well, so that would be a good start. 

Be observant of how things behave. Also have an attitude of trying to understand how things work under the hood: for example, a scripting language like Python is one of your best friends. I learned that the hard way. 

Would you have some advice for people wanting to create a demo reel in order to be hired as Crowd TD?
First of all, quality over quantity, a few scenes with references, with details of what you wanted to achieve, could tell much more.

Create a list of technical things that you have/want to show (asset ingest, brain creation, dynamics, cloth etc.) and if they work separately then create more complex scenes. Do not try to add everything if you cannot do them separately.

Choose your favorite crowd scenes from movies and try to recreate them as part of your reel, this will give you good reference and also some motivation.

Set achievable (!) goals and stick to them, do not fine-tune your reel forever without showing it to anyone, you can always work on it later, but at least you can get feedback and apply that.

Share your reel with professionals and colleagues on available channels and forums to get feedback and put you out there. When I was a university student, I sent around my showreel on LinkedIn and 10 years later when I came to work at Scanline, one of my colleagues welcomed me by writing that he remembered my name and my reel that I sent him back then... so people do remember :)

Anything else you would like to share?
Fun fact: so far, all the crowd artists that I’ve met or spoke with like to avoid crowded places... :D

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