If you've seen our award-winning PETA “98% Human” spot, you may not have realized the extent of the research, bespoke technology and unique techniques developed specifically to create the fully CGI Chimp from scratch. Every wrinkle, pore and strand of hair was created by a Mill artist with the development of custom simulation tools.
The Mill+ team alongside BBDO NY, developed "98% Human" as part of PETA's The Great Ape Pledge campaign asking the creative community to commit to stop primates being used within the entertainment industries as actors. To bring a truly life-like chimpanzee to life, our team developed custom simulation tools to create the muscle, skin, blood and hair systems.
We breakdown the tools for the recent VES Awards winner – including Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Commercial or Broadcast Program.
We pushed computer graphics imagery to a new level by developing new techniques from simulated bloodstreams, skin tension and even individual pores at the base of every hair on the chimpanzee, all with the aim to create a creature that is practically indistinguishable from his flesh and blood counterpart.
The Muscle, skin and blood systems developed during the production of this project was point based, and every vertex on this stage of the process was simulated. Each attribute was managed through each individual point and then distributed across the entity depending on the simulation.
Our major focus was to build an entire Muscle and Skin simulation system with tools largely built in the Softimage environment and a great deal of research and development in ICE.
Simulated bloodstreams made the CG ape feel more alive. A Chimpanzee heart beat setup to 120 beats per minute was generated, and attributes traveling through the body were used to color the skin to create the illusion of a living and breathing chimp.
Because of the wrinkled nature of the chimp, skin tension and wrinkles were a challenging part of the process. Every deformation needed to look and feel believable, and any movement needed to have wrinkles moving realistically over the muscles and bones.
We created sophisticated sets of vector displacement maps and wrote a proprietary shader, to paint layer upon layer of distress, especially on the hands where every wrinkle and imperfection was prevalent.
But the most complex and challenging task was the development of the hair system from scratch using strands in ICE. Each particle on the one dimension system was connected to each other with some attributes, creating the strand, then translated to hair to be rendered.
The next challenge was to generate particle dust system in the hair, and make sure they stick to it, no matter what the hair simulation would look like. We then created a particle system to generate pores from the hair onto the skin, which ended up being very helpful to push the realism of the chimpanzee.