For a good few months I was working at Lexhag leading the 3d team on ITV’s new TV show Jericho.
It is set in the fictional town of Jericho, a shanty town in the Yorkshire Dales that springs up around the construction of a railway viaduct in the 1870s. The series re-imagines the story of the building of the Ribblehead Viaduct, which is renamed the Culverdale Viaduct in the show.
The visual effects involved went from simple things like clean up to keep with the era, to sometimes full CG taking up 70-80% of the frame.
The CG elements involved in the show were the viaduct, hillside the viaduct joins to, quarry, town extension and joining landscape used as a base for matte painting. Some of the biggest challenges for the 2d department were to integrate all these elements together on the wider frames and for the 3d department I think it was the quick turnaround that was the hardest to deal with, sometimes we would have 5 days to turn around a whole episode.
Our main package for this show was Maya, we used Vray to render and Allegorithmic’s Substance Designer and Substance Painter for 95% of all the texturing, also a little bit of zbursh and mudbox involved too.
This was the first show we used a full Substance workflow for texturing, it was a big change going from the normal way of texturing which is using real images or painting the textured in a package like Mari or Photoshop. Substance is a procedural package, there are some major benefits to working this way, here are a few of the main ones:
- Texture resolution can be adjusted on the fly, create textures quickly at 246/512 resolution and then upres to 4k or more before export if needed.
- Create 1 adjustable substance network (say for wood) and then just import any model that needs a wood texture, automatically rebake the textures that are driving the substance and boom! You have your new wood asset, with edge details and all sorts! That alone saves days of work, especially when most of the things on Jericho were made out of wood anyway.
- Maya integration. One thing thats pretty cool is there is a Maya plugin from Allegorithmic that allows you to directly load Substance archives, it then automatically bakes your maps on the fly within Maya. Allowing you to to reveal custom attribute in your texture’s network to be later tweak in Maya. So imagine you have a show that needs a horde of 100 robots and they need to all look the same but with variation, so colour variation, some more scratched up than others, maybe some are clean and new and others are old a their paint is chipped. Well instead of spending days, weeks, months makings multiple texture variations you can just use one clever substance network and your sorted!
For the matchmove/layout side of things we have a pretty solid pipeline for keeping things in the same worldspace so that 3d and 2d are working in the same worldspace, meaning we can throw assets back and forth in difference shots and they’ll all sit in the correct place. The main reason behind this is we use a lot of lidar on our shows, this helps a ton as we use it for a guide in modelling, for previs, for guiding matchmove and laying out the shots at the same time, even things like seeing how light is going to move across a landscape.
Anyway, here is the breakdown, and before anyone asks, the last shot was adjusted for comedic value, we aren’t that bad! 😉