Crazy Alien

the mischievous alien that raised over $77 million on box office opening weekend

  • Maya 2018 compatibility
  • zMeshCheck command for mesh quality assurance
  • Up to 2x faster cloth scene speed and performance
  • Overall speed and performance improvements
The Creators

Founded in 2014 by John Hughes, Walt Jones, and Mandeep Singh, Tau Films is an international VFX house that produces creative content for high-end feature films, theme parks, commercials, television series, special venues, and museums in the global marketplace. With a talent base spanning over 6 continents, Tau's virtual team delivers stunning, complex, and time-sensitive work with less resources than traditional studios; making stories of all sizes, from all countries, come to life.

The Start

According to Tau Films President and Executive Producer John Hughes, 'We knew we needed a better muscle and skin system for Crazy Alien. Previously, we’d been using an internal system built around Maya Muscle and nCloth. But that solution required too much time and effort to get the results we wanted for each shot. It wasn't going to cut it anymore. We knew we needed Ziva."

In addition to Crazy Alien, Tau's upcoming projects required nearly three dozen hero characters that ranged dramatically in art form, style, and complexity. The team had short schedules and creative requirements that exceeded anything they had done before.  
The Ask

As soon as Crazy Alien appeared to be moving forward, Hughes met with the Ziva team to learn more about pipeline integration.

"We had only a few months and a few artists to get everything through production. So the ask was pretty big: We needed a commercial solution that offered muscle and skin dynamics that could rival those of the big teams that have decades of proprietary software behind them."
The Results

With Ziva, the alien asset came to life in a matter of weeks.
Although the shot count fluctuated throughout the production phase, the Tau Films team ended up completing 184 critical shots for Crazy Alien.

According to Justin Jones, VFX Supervisor for Crazy Alien, the most challenging issue was the ever-changing animation needs. "The director continued to make changes to the alien's mannerisms until the last month of post-production. So our animators needed to iterate quickly and rapidly adjust to snap decisions. Sometimes, we'd need to change the entire mood and tone of the performance multiple times throughout a single sequence. Ziva played a huge role in helping us adapt to all the changes. "
"Once we got the character dialed in through the development phase, Ziva immediately generated amazing results. This was critical for us on Crazy Alien, as we knew we’d need to be making animation adjustments right till the very end. We would have no time to rerun character simulation unless it was guaranteed to nail the look within a single attempt. Ziva pulled it off without breaking a sweat."

"Ziva played a huge role in helping us adapt to all the changes [...] Ziva pulled it off without breaking a sweat."
– Justin Jones, VFX Supervisor, Tau Films

"Implementing Ziva was our most exciting technology advancement for this project. It was fast to use and I think the results are great. I’m looking forward to seeing what we’ll be able to do with Ziva in the near future.”

– Justin Jones, VFX Supervisor, Tau Films

“Our other creature projects, one of which ran in parallel to Crazy Alien, saw similar outcomes. Ziva allowed us to adjust animation up until, quite literally, the day before shot delivery. I didn’t believe we’d be able to pull it off with such short schedules.”

– Walt Jones, Creative Director & VFX Supervisor, Tau Films

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