A Dog's Way Home

Full cast of photo-realistic creatures
Brought to Life with Ziva Anatomy Transfer

WATCH Breakdown 

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Founded in 2001 by CEO and Executive Producer Thilo Kuther, Pixomondo is an internationally renowned VFX studio that solves creative challenges for feature films and global marketing campaigns. The team is dedicated to staying on the cutting-edge, frequently adopting the latest trends in technology and production practices.

A testament to their talent, the Pixomondo team has won an Academy Award®, three Emmy® Awards and a number of VES Awards for their outstanding creature work.


The film

Based on the best selling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog's Way Home tells the heart warming tale of a lost pup and her unexpected forest friendships. In addition to the film's main canine star, the movie features over 10 wild animals in supporting and starring roles.

Faced with the impossible task of combining ferrel creatures with a domesticated dog in complex scenes, the director opted for an entirely CG creature cast, including:

  • Dog- Adult
  • Dog - Pup
  • Cougar - Adult
  • Cougar - Juvenile
  • Cougar – Cub
  • Coyotes – 5 variations
  • Marmot (OOP)
  • Fish
  • Squirrel


According to Pixomondo VFX Supervisor Matthew Welford, "the director really emphasized the “weight” of the animations he envisioned. Nothing could feel "light" or disconnected. We knew we needed amazing anatomical simulations to ground the characters in realism and give depth to their performances. So we built an entirely new CFX pipeline specifically for this show, with Ziva at the core of it all."


Shot
count:

200

Creature
Count:

13

Project
Duration:

12m

Powered by Zeke

Pixomondo paired the Ziva Anatomy Transfer workflow with Ziva's simulation-ready Zeke asset to bring 10 of the 13 film stars to life.

Anatomy Transfer enabled the team to spend only 3 days per character simulation, dedicating 1 day to the character rig, and then 1-2 additional days refining the setup.

According to CG Supervisor Prapanch Swamy, "Transferring Zeke to the adult cougar setup and then to the coyotes was incredible. It saved us months of trial and error in our development period. The creatures required practically all the same components, so tweaking was minimal and we were able to focus on the art rather than time-consuming technical problems.

Because of this, the Assets Modellers and CFX team became every close. The CFX team could do more work early on because we were able to adapt the base model retroactively and quickly generate accurate meshes to work with."
"Transferring Zeke to the adult cougar setup then to the coyotes was incredible. It saved us months of trial and error in our development period."

Prapanch Swamy, CG Supervisor, Pixomondo
"What would have taken weeks to complete was now finished in a matter of minutes. A full character update with anatomy edits could be done in a day!"

Nathan Breton, CFX Lead, Pixomondo

The Feedback

"I believe if we didn't use Ziva, we would not have been able to meet the visual demands of this project.

Building custom pose space deformations would have taken too long, post-simulation would have looked much worse, and iterations between model changes would have been disastrous for our schedule.

Ziva gave us a chance to create complex visual characters that are truly competitive, in a remarkably short time. The procedural nature of the tools made it possible to quantify everything for accurate timelines. This helped define the production schedule and bid per shots as we discovered how much we could accomplish with Ziva in daily shot production."

Discover more about A Dog's Way Home, Ziva Dynamics, and
humane filming practices in edition 164 of Cinefex Magazine:

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