Saturday, 8 September 2012

Rihanna - Cockiness Behind-the-scenes

Last week, Rihanna was performing at the MTV Video Music Award. The week before that, we were approached by Francis Laporte (Art Director) and Geodezik to create a 2min45sec video for Rihanna's first song "Cockiness". This was the opening performance, and it took place on the 8 screens of the stage. 

One week to create and deliver, and too many other projects in the way.  Yep, that was fun, but a little bit crazy :)

Here's what we delivered for the main screen of the show:

And to give you a feeling of how it felt on the stage:

And some behind the scenes info:

We sat down and put together a pipeline that would let us bring the maximum quality, the most bang for the buck, and still deliver on time.

We then proceeded to talk with Francis about his vision, and created a bunch of storyboard panel to visualize the more important "action shots".  Since the goal was to create a very dynamic "VJ" style edit, we knew we could get away with alot of render reuse in the edit, but we still wanted to create the most unique shots we could.  Here's what our concept artist came up with. A basic timeline of the song with panels for each important moment.

First goal was to make the models which included an Egyptian statue, a golden cobra and a nude female body in different poses. All of them in bold a Gold, Black and XRAY "state". The model of the girl was a scan bought on TripleGangers ( The model was then posed and reshaped to fit our needs:

Once those were done, our animators created the key moments.  Our Character TD also created a system to rapidly animate the snakes. You can visit his blog here for more info

or view his video here:

From there, the pipeline splitted in two direction. One took place in Softimage/Arnold for everything that was moving. The other went to AfterEffect and Element3d to create visual for all the shots without any object animation. Using this method we could create, almost in realtime, "filling" for the edit using Element 3d. Here's some Element 3d render:

Some work in progress render of our Softimage/Arnold/Nuke pipeline:

And Final renders of the show:


  1. Rendering using Arnold in Softimage and Element3d in After Effect (for the shots were the snake is not animated)


  2. This was awesome!!! What do you guys use for smoke rendering btw?

  3. We didn't use any smoke renderer in this project, all the smoky effect are made in compositing with mask, or maybe for a couple shots just some footage

  4. Guys, your skills are amazing, but what really makes me jump is your ability to make renders look like camera footage.

    I know it must be your professional secret but I wonder how you make this:

    look like this:

    Or even more amazing examples:

    I know one's supposed to use a combination of chromatic aberration, DoF, glow and grain, but would you be so kind to share at least a small part of your "Derenderizing"/"Making-it-look-real" pipeline?


    1. Hey Arsen,

      thanks for the kind words! Most of what you call 'derenderizing' is in the study of the live footage. When we work on integrating an object like the dell laptop into the plate, we study the live footage and copy all the color value and 'artifacts' (like chromatic aberration, dof etc..) onto our 3d model. The most important being the values of the shadow and highlight areas.

      Thanks again!