Posted In:Houdini | Greyscalegorilla
Four years in the making, Beeple never thought he’d finally release ‘Manifest Destiny.’ Now you can watch it and download all the scene files he made for free.
Mike Winkelmann, a.k.a. Beeple, wrote the treatment for his latest film, Manifest Destiny, a little over four years ago, never dreaming that it would actually take so long to get the film finished.
Derailed by procrastination, he finally got back on track after making a deal with an artist he met at SIGGRAPH, him agreeing that he would finish his film in 100 days, and she would create an Everyday for 100 days. “I don’t know why I agreed to that, but it forced me to f—ing do it,” he says, admitting that “I still didn’t do anything until the last two weeks, and I seriously finished it on the 100th day.”
Reached in Denver last week where he was one of the featured speakers on Maxon’s 26-city 3D Design + Motion Tour, Winkelmann talked with me about the making of Manifest Destiny, using Cinema 4D, Octane and Houdini; losing interest in making longer films; and how his Everydays have turned darker and more political in the last year, but he remains optimistic about the future.
Mike Winkelmann: Yeah, this one is not vague at all. The things I’m pointing out are literally happening now. But there is a bit of sensationalizing, like I did with the other films. There is so much inequality in the world, and it is improving in some areas, like statistics show that the number of people living in extreme poverty is slowly declining.
But things are getting worse in a lot of ways too. I tried to choose statistics that people may not have been aware of, like how Jeff Bezos made over $100 million dollars every single day in 2018, and the average Chinese worker assembling iPhones makes $1.85 per hour. I wanted to hit on a lot of different points about money.
MM: You’ve been saying this film would be done for a long time. What happened?
MW: I don’t know. I think, to be honest, I’m not actually that interested in making things that are this long anymore. I’m more interested in doing short 10- to 30-second videos. I think that you can be more experimental when you have less time, like, ‘I’ve got two days invested in this, who cares? I can do whatever.’ But when you spend four years, you’re like, ‘OMG, should I do this, or that, or this?’ It becomes paralyzing. I don’t even watch short films much anymore. If I do another video, I’m giving myself a deadline, like a month or something.
MM: Were you redoing it over and over? What was left to finish?
MW: No, the only thing left to do was edit it to the Run the Jewels track. I had everything done and rendered. But then I just didn’t touch it for a year and, honestly, it wasn’t even bugging me that I wasn’t getting it done. I was always planning on using that Run the Jewels song, “Legend Has It.” I liked the overall vibe of the song, but I hadn’t talked to them about it yet. And then one of the guys got in touch with me to say they’d seen some of my Everydays and wanted to talk about making a video. So it all worked out.
MM: Talk a little bit about your process for making this.
MW: The workflow was pretty simple, really. I mainly used Cinema 4D and Octane. Octane gave it a great look that really felt super realistic. I could just set up a couple of lights and throw some volumetrics on it to get a lot of depth and atmosphere.
The buildings were modeled in C4D, and all of the fire and destructions was simulated in Turbulence FD and rendered in Octane. There was no compositing: I just went straight out of C4D and Octane and did one color correction and that was it.
MM: What about the fat gold characters, and how they sort of melted together?
MW: Oh, yeah, I used Houdini for the melting gold people. I have no idea how I did that. When I started this four years ago, it was the first time I’d ever done characters. I used Mixamo for the big gold character, and Houdini for the melting effect. It’s a good thing I saved that as an Alembic file, or I would have had to start over since I don’t remember how I did that.
All of the fighting was done with Mixamo models that we already in poses, like they were hitting, ducking or punching. I just had to choreograph the characters, so it looked like they were fighting. I’m happy with how it turned out. The melting thing was kind of symbolism for this weird orgy of people at the top, like our politicians and upper-class elite, all bumping heads and wrestling around in a big pile. They’re not really doing anything meaningful, just shifting their weight around while very little changes for the rest of us.
MM: Why did you go with text and music rather than narration this time?
MW: I was going to do a voiceover with music, like I usually do, and I had like 140 people submit auditions, but none of them were right. So I decided, pretty much at the last second, to put use text, even though it would be covering up all that sh-t I worked on for so long. That was probably a better choice anyway because a lot of people watch videos on mute, so they wouldn’t have heard the narration. I wanted to get a lot of stuff across, like how much debt we’re in, how rich Americans are, and how so many people are insanely poor and a few are insanely rich.
MM: Do you worry, or think about, the state of the world a lot these days?
MW: No, I wouldn’t say that. But I do work a lot more with two TVs on, one turned to FOX News and the other to CNN. I mute the sound, but it’s very interesting to see how differently they cover things. FOX is just all of this propaganda and, pretty much the opposite of what CNN says. You can see why the country is so divided.
I’m definitely interested in politics, and I do think we are headed for a time when we’re all going to have to make some changes and adjust to a new reality, including changing our levels of spending. But there are things we can do, like give money. Most of us can afford to give money, but we don’t. Or we don’t give enough. Honestly, as I’ve made more money, I’ve given less money. This film is kind of a wake-up call, for everybody, me included.
MM: It seems like you’re trying to say more with your Everydays now, too.
MW: I’d say it was about July when I started doing things that are overtly political. I like taking a political- or commerce-related scenario and abstracting it out to a ridiculous degree, like the pro-choice one where robot Trump is being forced to have a baby in the future, or where Mark Zuckerberg has no nipples because women can’t show nipples on Facebook.
The response has been super, much bigger than anything else I’ve done. It really just felt like a natural progression from the storytelling I’ve been doing.
MM: What else are you doing these days?
MW: I’m working on a couple of things I can’t talk about yet. I just did some concert visuals for Zedd, and I’m doing a video sculpture for a festival that Amazon’s doing in December. I’m traveling a lot more. A month ago, I was in Brazil with my wife and the kids. And my wife and I are going to Russia soon for a conference I’m doing with Maxon. There’s a lot going on.
Credits and Free Downloads:
Directed by: BEEPLE
Music: RUN THE JEWELS
Donations to Direct Relief.
DOWNLOAD ALL CLIPS:
Does not require Cinema 4D.
DOWNLOAD CINEMA 4D PROJECT FILES:
Meleah Maynard is a writer and editor in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Big news in the material creation world. Megascans is now free for Unreal Engine 4 users, Substance announces updates to Painter and Alchemist, and more.
There have been quite a few large announcements in the 3D world lately. Let’s take a glimpse at what is going on in the industry.
Epic Games and Quixel Join Forces
Quixel, makers of Megascans, have announced that they have joined forces with Epic Games. Not only does this create amazing opportunities for Quixel, it makes immediate changes to Megascans users.
Megascans is now free for use with Unreal Engine
The entire Megascans library is now completely free for use with Unreal Engine. UE4 users have free unlimited access to all Megascans through Bridge and Mixer.
If you are already using Megascans with UE4, Quixel will refund all of your subscriptions for 2019.
Megascans subscription prices lowered
Megascans pricing has been cut in half, regardless of DCC, engine, or renderer you use.
Bridge and Mixer 2020 will be 100% free
The upcoming 2020 versions of Bridge and Mixer will be 100% free for everyone, with no subscription required and both fully featured.
Bridge 2020 introduces an improved browsing experience, nearly a hundred new collections, improve search, and powerful filtering.
Quixel has also implemented an AI search feature that finds all the assets in any image you feed it, essentially making environment planning much easier, whether you have real-world references or concept art.
Mixer 2020 introduces 3D Painting, Real-time 3D Curvature, Smart Materials and more. The update also introduces 3D Blur, Grouping, Map-specific Blending, Advanced AO Mixing, Box Projection, Material ID Masking, 3D Position Gradients and 3D Normals to name a few, as another step on the path to making Mixer the ultimate, and now free, texturing app.
The new free Mixer and Bridge 2020 will be released later this year.
Adobe Max 2019
At the annual Adobe Max conference in LA, Adobe announced many of their big updates for Creative Cloud and Substance.
Substance 2019 Updates
Substance has it’s own time to shine at Adobe Max during the Substance Day presentations. Here’s what we learned about new features and tools coming to Substance.
Project Captis may be the most exciting announcement for material makers. Substance and HP collaborated on a scanner prototype that would allow anyone to create scanned materials.
Connected to Substance software, Captis will generate PBR materials for 3D rendering based on physical sample.
HP and Adobe will deliver Project Captis to partners across various industries, including game development, ecommerce, architecture and fashion, among others. Project Captis kicks off at Adobe MAX and will run through 2020.
“HP is at the forefront of bridging digital and physical worlds by providing a comprehensive ecosystem of tools and solutions to the creative community, and we will continue to progress as the landscape and needs of creators evolve,” said Alex Cho, president, Personal Systems, HP Inc. “Today, with Adobe and Project Captis, we are raising the bar for how creative pros manage their digital workflows and evolve their craft.”
“At Adobe we’re passionate about building tools and services empowering digital artists,” said Sebastien Deguy, VP of 3D & Immersive, Adobe. “Our collaboration with HP through Project Captis takes us one step closer to the fastest and most efficient way for creatives to digitalize materials and use them in their 3D design process.” – HP
New in Substance Painter, users can now import their favorite Photoshop brushes.
Starting with the next Substance Painter release, you’ll be able to import and use .ABR brushes in your favorite 3D texturing app. We also announced opacity blending and pressure sensitivity improvements, bringing the painting experience closer than ever to Photoshop’s.
Substance Alchemist is officially out of Beta. It features an improved layer stack, the ability to share projects with other users, and an improved delighter.
The team is also working on a new fully automatic tiling filter, born from the collaboration between Adobe Research and the Substance Alchemist team. Ever used the Content-Aware fill in Photoshop? We now use the same technology to remove seams on the edges of your input image automatically, and soon a full material at once! This new algorithm is faster, doesn’t require any tweaking, and often produce better results than the previous methods.
Sketchfab will also be integrated into Substance. More than 220,000 free models from Sketchfab will be available to download in Substance Painter and Adobe Dimension. There will also be 35 new free characters on Mixamo.
After Effects Updates
For After Effects users, Adobe updated the app for better performance speed. 9 to 5 Mac reports,
You can now expect smooth, fluid playback of cached video previews. A new version of Cinema 4D, bundled with After Effects, can be opened as a standalone application. Caps and bevel tools have been added.
Check out this overview from the team at School of Motion.
In other Creative Cloud news, Adobe Photoshop will now be available on iPads, with Illustrator for iPads coming soon behind it in 2020.
After a successful VIP launch, Greyscalegorilla Plus is now available to everyone. The subscription platform gives members instant access to the renowned professional training guides as well as new exclusive training series for Cinema 4D, Houdini, and much more.
Before the end of the year, Arnold training will be available to members, as well as additional Quick Tips, and training on concepts like animation and the ACES color workflow.
Want a preview of Greyscalegorilla Plus? Stream example lessons and explore the membership overview.
Also included with membership is complete access to the entire Greyscalegorilla Material Collection library.
Plus members get instance access to the Everyday Material Collection, Modern Surface Material Collection, and Texture Kit Pro. That’s over 600 drag-and-drop materials for Cinema 4D included with a membership.
Interested in joining? Learn more about Greyscalegorilla Plus.
The making of Ed Sheeran’s magical music video “Cross Me,” featuring Chance the Rapper and PnB Rock.
Ed Sheeran and Chance the Rapper weren’t able to actually be in the music video for their new single “Cross Me,” which also features PnB Rock. But Riff Raff Films director, Ryan Staake, and the Moving Picture Company came up with a mind-blowing way to combine motion capture, photogrammetry, 3D animation, and visual effects to allow all three of them to appear anyway.
The result is a video that offers a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to create a fully CG story. Read More
Here is your Fall 2019 Greyscalegorilla Plus update, featuring all the new training and downloads that members can access now and in the coming months.
When Greyscalegorilla Plus was first conceived, the goal was to bring you all of Greyscalegorilla’s industry-leading professional training series in one place at one low price. Starting with the Guides to Cinema 4D, Redshift, X-Particles, and other pro training series, Greyscalegorilla Plus quickly became a platform where we could give members so much more.
Today, not only can you stream the training guides and exclusive new training series, members also get access to our popular drag-and-drop material collections. All of our material collections will be in Greyscalegorilla Plus before the end of the year, and even more assets and downloads are on the way.
Greyscalegorilla Plus is growing at a rapid pace, and things are not slowing down anytime soon. The team just introduced new Head of Plus, Todd Blankenship, who will oversee the release of new training series, downloads, and more.
He has already put together a new quick overview of Greyscalegorilla Plus so he can introduce himself and show you what’s already inside.
Join before October 31st, and you will get over $1500 in pro training and product downloads for only $348. That’s just $29 a month. The price goes up on November 1st, so don’t miss out. Head over to the Greyscalegorilla Plus page to join, and use discount code NEW2PLUS at checkout to save $120.
You’ve seen countless photos and videos of Iceland, but nothing like this.
See how this filmmaker and VFX team took surreal footage of Iceland, then used Houdini and Nuke to create something you’ve never seen.
It was really refreshing to see a unique piece like this, so I reached out to the creative team behind it. Here’s our conversation.
Michael Maher: We have the whole ANOMALY creative team joining us today. Can we go around and hear a bit about each of you?
Jacco Kliesch: Hi, my name is Jacco and I’m a filmmaker. I grew up in Erlangen, Germany. I studied Media Technology with key focus area Media Design at the Deggendorf Institute of Technology. Now I live in Nuremberg.
I love to make creative films and to edit dynamic videos. I work in advertising and I do corporate videos and commercial films. But I also do personal projects from time to time – like this short film ANOMALY, which I did with Wildboar 3D Design Studio. Read More