The Birth of an Epic Universe

How Resight used Maxon One to ingeniously conquer an array of obstacles to craft a stunning story trailer for ‘Blood of Heroes.’
By Lewis McGregor

With thousands of games released every year, it takes a standout trailer to capture the attention of inundated video game consumers. But the team at Resight, a Tbilisi, Georgia-based VFX studio renowned for producing breathtaking visuals, rose to the challenge last year with a cinematic trailer for Vizor Games’ “Blood of Heroes”.

Next, they were asked to create an engaging CG story trailer, so we caught up with Resight founder Andrey Voytishin to talk about how his team used Cinema 4D, ZBrush, Red Giant tools, Substance Painter and Octane to visualize the birth of the “Blood of Heroes” universe. 

Talk about how the project began.

Voytishin: We received a poetic myth created by Vizor about the emergence of the game’s universe. Based on that, we concentrated on creating a script for the video and because the style of the cinematic trailer was close to the actual game aesthetic, we needed to create a new, original style for the story trailer. 

Our first challenge was finding the right way to assemble the story in an understandable way that would hold the audience’s attention. We collected many references from trailers, movies and series and used them as inspiration to find the right atmosphere and visual style.

What made this project uniquely challenging?

Voytishin: At the time of the story trailer creation, the game itself was still under active development. But the client needed a complete understanding of how the environment, characters, gods and everything else in our take on the myth would look. So, we began the process of concepting every aspect of the trailer.

Initially, we thought of creating our environment with statues and having the camera move from one scene to another, but we felt it was not speaking to the sweeping epic feel and scale of what was happening. It just wasn’t capturing the spirit of majestic gods and the tree of life from Scandinavian mythology. We decided to skip the idea of statues and come up with a world of our own that would allow us to show grandiosity and fascinate the viewer. 

Walk us through your production pipeline.

Voytishin: As always, our primary hub was Cinema 4D with ZBrush for character development. UV mapping and texturing was handled by RizomUV and Substance. We also relied on SpeedTree for trees, and World Creator for mountains and other environment elements.

For the simulations we used X-Particles, Realflow and Turbulence FD. Octane was our render engine. Everything was composited in After Effects with extensive use of Red Giant tools including Universe.

What were some of the main technical challenges faced by your team?

Voytishin: Some scenes were extremely complex with many objects and particles,  as well as smoke and fire simulations all happening in a single camera shot without cuts. To keep them manageable, we needed to optimize each scene, divide it into layers and separate related scenes, and then composite all the separate elements together in After Effects.

For example, a large scene would be split into five separate scenes with the main scene including the gods, mountains and trees. Then we would create additional scenes with layers of clouds and storm details. (Watch the CGI mountain breakdown here.)

All the shots would use the same camera so the layers would match later during composting. That approach was extremely time consuming because there were vast number of layers at once, but the flexibility that allowed made it worthwhile.

Talk about some specific workflows your team utilized.

Voytishin: ZBrush proved to be an indispensable tool for us. The main mountains and all the god statues were either finalized or created completely with ZBrush. DynaMesh saved us a lot of time, and the new Bas Relief and ZRemesher 4.0 came in handy.

We created procedural material assets for earth, rocks, stones, landscapes and characters. Though it was time consuming, taking the time to develop procedural materials greatly simplified all subsequent work and made revisions and changes much more efficient.

How did you create the beautiful nebula sequence?

Voytishin: That was a single-shot sequence with constant forward movement, and it was important to have it work in both close-ups and long shots as the camera flew through the scene.

We started with 3D models of the nebula and gods, and then used the geometry as the source for Turbulence FD and X-Particle emitters to create surfaces, details and constellations. That was another example of needing to break the scene in to separate parts, and in this case, we also added some matte painting to tie it all together.

Do you have any advice for 3D artists wanting to create work like this?   

Voytishin: My recipe for success is to sincerely love what you do, give yourself entirely to your passion, have patience and never give up. Only then will you succeed, sooner or later. I believe those principles can apply to any professional area, whether you are an artist, engineer, economist or anyone else.

Lewis McGregor is a freelance filmmaker and content writer from Wales.