Stuttgart, Germany
April 24 - 27

Elemental Trailer - David Bellenbaum: CG Artist

David Bellenbaum is a cg and effects student at Animationsinstitut of the Filmakademie Baden-W├╝rttemberg. His passion is exploring new technologies and to combine them in his work. David gave us a short oveview how he got in touch with motion capture and Houdini for Elemental.

FMX: What were your main tasks as the CG artist for the trailer Elemental?

D: As the CG artist, I had the complete responsibility for the earth sequence. Furthermore I did the lightning/shading/rendering for the air and the water parts.
Furthermore, one of my other main tasks was the character animation of the water dancer. I was also involved in the development of the look of the four different elements.

FMX: You were also in charge of the motion capture for Elemental. How did you prepare yourself for the shoot regarding that? How did you proceed during the actual shoot?

D: That was a really interesting part. Before we started, I did a lot of online research on how to get mocap data into Houdini. I spend a lot of time with research and development but finally I found a solution, which fit our needs. In the end we used a combination of Optitrack, Motion Builder and Maya to edit and animate the Mocap data. After that we did an exact animatic in Houdini and eventually, we decided what would finally happen in the trailer. Moreover, we had a previs shoot, so that we could test the pipeline from start to finish. During the mocap shooting, I already created a list based on the quality of the dance performance and the quality of the recorded data.  That way, we saved a lot of time, because we could use the preselection of the takes for the further preparation of the sequences.

FMX: What did you enjoy the most about your work on Elemental?

D: There were a lot of things I enjoyed during my work on Elemental. First of all I want to mentioned our team, everyone was highly motivated and wanted to create something special. We spent a lot of time at the Filmakademie together, but it was worth it. I also liked the idea to create something unique driven by simulation. Moreover, learning how to use Houdini was one of my personal highlights. Previously I had no experience with it but during the project, I learned a lot about the program and how to handle a big amount of simulation data effectively.

FMX: What are you currently working on?

D: In addition to the work on the campaign of Elemental for FMX, I was involved in different projects at Animationinstitut. The last months I was working on Creature Pin Up, a diploma project from Christian Leitner. Creature Pin Up is actually a calendar but the team decided to produce an additional trailer. I was in charge of the fx simulation in Houdini and the composting which I did in Nuke. Another diploma project I worked on during the last months, was On your way from the director Thomas Sali. Here I did the character effects simulation, also in Houdini. Now, after all the projects are completed, I am going to focus on my own diploma.

FMX is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the City of Stuttgart and the MFG Film Funding, taking place in cooperation with VES Visual Effects Society, ACM SIGGRAPH and the World Building Institute, supported by Animation Media Cluster Region Stuttgart (AMCRS), AMD, AutodeskBackstage, Epic Games and Mackevision. FMX is an event by the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, organized by the Animationsinstitut, hosting the Animation Production Day (APD), a joint venture with the Festival of Animated Film Stuttgart (ITFS).