DIGIC Pictures sends Assassin's Creed to Valhalla with Golaem

We were stunned when we saw the quality of the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla CGI Announcement Trailer, and delighted to hear that it was actually created by one of our customers: DIGIC Pictures. Read their take on the process. 

Can you present yourself and the studio?
We’re Máté Szabó and Balázs Nagy, both working at DIGIC Pictures as Crowd TDs. DIGIC Pictures is a high-end animation studio specializing in full 3D animation and visual effects for feature films and commercials within the video game industry.

Lately we had the possibility to work on the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla CGI Announcement Trailer which was a very inspiring project for us.
The Assassin’s Creed Valhalla CGI Announcement Trailer’s background animation was not only an achievement of the crowd unit, but a very serious team effort on the part of the entire animation and cast division, as animators, VFX simulators, setups and the crowd unit produced the final animation content together. The crowd unit was responsible for selecting the content of the MOCAPs used and for producing and making layouts for Golaem simulation caches.

What was the size of your team and how long have you worked on this project?
It was a four-member team consisting of the two Leads of Background Animation Unit, two Crowd TDs of the crowd unit, as well a Rigging Lead as a support member from the character division. The Crowd Team was working on the project for four months.

Can you describe the shots you did for Assassin's Creed Valhalla CGI Announcement Trailer?
In addition to the exciting battle scenes, it was also our job to bring the everyday life of the Viking settlement to life, and this was sometimes even more challenging than an epic battle scene because we tried to depict everyday moments as exciting visuals. The Viking ship scenes presented a technical challenge to the team, as we had not previously worked with ships, or other means of transport, where mass simulation was used to put people on a vehicle.

In this project we only had approximately 700 soldiers in the background, but we usually have thousands in bigger battle scenes. Sometimes only 2-3 Golaem characters are needed in a shot, just to give a sense of activity in the background. They are usually mid to far distance from the camera.

For the sake of a more lifelike effect, we complemented the crowd with smaller clothing simulations, i.e.: flags, cloaks. We aim to use FX for Golaem crowds more often to lighten the burdens on the FX simulation team in the future.

How did Golaem Layout help you make shots faster?
In the case of a large number of shots with almost the same content, we create a basic simulation with a master Layout, and then arrange the particular scene for each shot using Layout. We can’t even imagine how long it would have taken without the new Layout tool. The Node-based GUI was a great help in setting up time warp and offsetting cache. With the new layout tool, we can handle changing customer and director requests and needs throughout the project more easily.

Is there a part of the projects you are most proud of or that prevented you from sleeping?
We are most proud of the scenes in the Viking village and the difficult moments of the Vikings landing on the shore. It was a challenging and exciting scene to work on.
Working with the Viking ships, and representing the sight of blood appearing on clothing also posed new challenges for the team.

Anything else you would like to add?
We would like to thank Golaem’s development team for helping the DIGIC team enthusiastically!

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