Goodbye Kansas Studios was formed in 2017, when four studios joined forces under one banner. The name is an homage to the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy is swept away from a black and white Kansas to the colorful world of Oz. At Goodbye Kansas we want to bring our audiences from their dull everyday life and show them a world where everything is possible – thanks to CGI VFX and Animation.
Goodbye Kansas is Sweden’s largest VFX and Animation Studio and was recently listed by LBB & Immortal Awards as the #1 ranked studio in Sweden, the #6 ranked studio in Europe and #12 in the world. We produce VFX for Films, TV-series and commercials, and we work a lot with games – both providing Motion Capture for games and by producing cinematic game trailers.
The Goodbye Kansas HQ is situated in Stockholm, and the brand new building also houses one of the world’s most advanced Performance Capture studios and a state of the art 3D face and body scanner. We also have studios and offices in London, Hamburg and Los Angeles.
On the Film & TV side, we’re especially proud of our extensive work for The Walking Dead and a number of other TV series. On the game side we’ve produced many award-winning game trailers and last year we were happy to produce the E3 trailer for CD PROJEKT RED’s upcoming game “Cyberpunk 2077”, directed by Fred Löfberg.
The production of the “Cyberpunk 2077” trailer started in early 2019 and it premiered at E3 in June 2019. We had a large team - helmed by our VFX producer Rebeca Cervantes – and the team included many of our best artists and supervisors, a group of people that has worked together on many of our earlier cinematic projects and knows each other very well. This obviously helped to make this project a successful one and the list of names include Goodbye Kansas staalwarts like Henrik Eklundh (VFX Supervisor), Jonas Ekman (Animation Director), Mikael Widengren (Art Director) and Gustaf Holmsten (Creative Director). I was Lead Character Artist and worked with a bunch of talented colleagues to create the characters of the trailer.
- Hey Jonas, can introduce yourself (once again!)!
My name is Jonas Skoog and I have worked in this business for many years now and has always been fascinated by the craft of creating great CG characters. In the late 00s I joined Visual Art in Stockholm and started working together with a team that later went on to become Bläck Studios. That company later merged into Goodbye Kansas, so I have been working with some of my colleagues for over a decade by now.
Through the years I’ve worked on trailers for many AAA studios, and I’m especially proud of my work with the Overkill’s The Walking Dead trailers for Starbreeze and the Conan the Barbarian trailers for Funcom. I’m more or less involved in all major CG Character projects that Goodbye Kansas produces and it's both a rewarding and challenging job.
- What was the typical workflow for the main characters of the trailer?
For this trailer we started using the multi-channel displacement packs. We picked out multichannelfaces_01, multichannelfaces_42 and multichannelfaces_66 that we found matching our characters gender and ethnicity the closest. With the displacements bought I started following the “killer workflow” tutorial found on the website :
With this technique you create a plane matching the ratio/scale of the displacement you want to use and keeping the uvs unified. Next step is wrapping this plane onto your face geometry. This can be done either with wrap/zwrap or just manually projecting with zbrush native tools.
Don't forget to apply your albedo/displacement to the plane geo to match it with the underlying head geometry.
When you are happy with the wrap just export the shaped plane geometry as well as your head model into a software that lets you project textures from one model to another. For this project I followed the tutorial and used xnormal to transfer all the channels to our head model uvs, but this can of course be done with mudbox and mari as well.
For all the parts that did not project that well such as ears, neck and back of head I used the same “killer workflow” with UHD displacements previously purchased from the store.
Our amazing art director also did numerous paintovers of the models in different states to find the desired look for each scene across different timelines.
For the sculpting there is always a translation step to bring the game productions models into the cinematic universe. In games you always have to consider optimization budgets with poly count and texel density when creating the models. Nit-picking every tiny wrinkle is most likely a waste of time when using 2k maps. When creating cinematics it is quite often the opposite. Many extreme close-ups means we have to push our characters to the max with ultra detailed displacements, peach fuzz and micro geometry.Since we utilized multi-channel displacements that were stacked on top of our floating point displacement we had the ability to dial secondary, tertiary and micro details on the fly at render time. Not only did this approach give us better options to get more accurate results in the correct context and lighting but it also improved the micro geometry beakup since this was now handled in the displacement rather than as bump. In the end we found this approach meant less dialing roughness values at different distances and more predictable results.
What is the place of TexturingXYZ maps in your usual workflows? Which software do you use? Any tips for aspiring or professional artists?
In our workflow we use mostly zbrush, photoshop and substance painter to get the most out of the multi-channel maps. Not having to stitch together different sections of the displacement in Mari saved lots of time in this project. Where needed I replaced different sections with other UHD displacements to improve quality and to fill in missing areas.
For places such as the ears, mouth, eyes and head I created one maps that was shared between all characters to save time.
We did of course have a few characters that showed some skin more than the face such as Johnny Silverhand in the end shot. For these parts our artists relied on traditional displacement painting in Mari using the UHD body displacement packs to get believable details on arms and chest.
How long did it take to make a character from start to end in this particular production?
We received the models from CD PROJEKT RED and used them as a base for creating the detailed character assets for the trailer. That process took around two months, but as always I was of course involved from the very start of the production until final delivery,. There are always details you want to improve and the job isn’t done until the client is happy.
Does a character Artist at Goodbye Kansas have a guideline to follow to make a character? A specific pipeline or internal/proprietary tools you are proud of to use?
As mentioned earlier, the character team at Goodbye Kansas has a long history working together. We are fortunate enough to have everything we need under one roof, including devoted teams specialized in everything from 3D scanning and Performance Capture to Facial- & Body animation, modelling, lookdev, FX, lighting and comp. Goodbye Kansas has for many years pushed the boundaries of creating digital humans and it’s all our character artists are well integrated in that r’n’d.
Being a close knit team with a long shared history we never have any problems to hit the visual target and we have a very inclusive company culture, so all teams are very open to suggestions to push the quality of every character we create.
Would you like to add anything to this interview?
Let's give a big shout out to the awesome teams at Goodbye Kansas and CD PROJEKT RED who poured a huge amount of blood, sweet and tears into this cinematic and of course the game!
|We would like to thank Jonas, Goodbye Kansas & CD Projekt Red for their helpful contribution.
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