is a one-hour animated television special currently in development.
Below you will find some preliminary information about the technical
aspects of the production.
For additional, more detailed information, see the
The show takes place in
the north-eastern United States during the mid 1930's. Buildings
and vehicles are based on actual designs from the period, but stylized
to give them a unique look.
The characters are intended to be
reminiscent of small porcelain figurines such as those by M.I. Hummel.
3D artist Taron not only designed the characters but also created a
unique implementation of sub-surface scattering for their skin so the
renders would have the type of translucency required.
All animation is being
created entirely within
As mentioned above, the skin of the characters is being rendered with
sub-surface scattering (SSS), which gives a certain translucency just
like real skin. A good example of SSS is the wax on a lit candle: the light
from the flame
penetrates the candle, giving it a glow.
In addition to SSS, we are using
pixel displacement to give the show a unique look. Things
like hair, fabric, footsteps in the snow, etc. lend themselves
perfectly to the use of pixel displacement. This allows us to
use simplified models for animating, yet achieve a high level of
detail in the final renders. Pixel displacement is superior to
ordinary bump mapping in that it actually creates and displaces the
geometry of the surface, creating real bumps rather than simulating
bumps with shadows. And since messiah:studio
renders displacement with no increase in render time compared to
traditional bump maps, the quality of the final product increases
without affecting the production schedule.
right is a test render for the porcelain Santa in Mikey's snow globe.
The color map and pixel displacement map was created in ZBrush (from
Pixologic) and applied to a simplified object in
messiah:studio. (Note: This render does not utilize
sub-surface scattering, because this is supposed to look painted.)
The black & white image below is
what the actual model looks like. Notice that there is no detail
at all in the actual model.
Pixel Displacement is also being used for creating the sets. For
example, this method makes it very easy to add snow to buildings,
trees, etc. That saves an enormous amount of time in modeling,
and it's much easier to do. Plus it ends up looking better and
is easier to modify if necessary.
For animation, a base
rig is being created which will then applied to each character and
customized for the needs of that character. This approach has
two main advantages: First, for the technical directors (the
folks creating the animation rigs) it lets them get the rigs into the
hands of the animators much faster. Second, it means that once
the animators learn how to use one character's rig they can apply that
knowledge to all other rigs, rather than having to learn a completely
new rig for each character.
course of the production, many new tools will be created and
existing tools will be refined. This ultimately benefits
all animators using messiah:studio,
because all of this will be available in future versions of the
Music is being composed by
William Stromberg. His work, with his writing partner John
Morgan, can be heard in the teaser video beginning with the bedroom
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