Meet Loki, the Fablefx Horse

Loki, the majestic horse simulation, was built by the esteemed animal VFX boutique, FABLEfx. This new horse sim was brought to life as an internal R&D stint and shows just how easy it is for small studios to make stunning creatures with Ziva VFX.
  • Maya 2018 compatibility
  • zMeshCheck command for mesh quality assurance
  • Up to 2x faster cloth scene speed and performance
  • Overall speed and performance improvements

About Fablefx

Founded in early 2015, FABLEfx specializes in animal/creature work for TV, film, and advertising. In a recent R&D sprint and creature pitch opportunity, the Fable team took a deep dive into Ziva VFX and made their first ever horse asset, Loki.

We sat down with the Fable team to get their take on Ziva technology, learn about their creative process, and find out what advice they have for other small studios considering Ziva VFX.
"We want our artists to spend as much time creating great looking assets as possible – Ziva makes that happen. To be honest, without Ziva VFX, we'd never get the results we do now."
– Janak Thakker, FABLEfx
Co-Founder &  Sr. Animation Supervisor

The shift:

Fable's talented artists have always produced compelling CG characters for film, TV, and advertisement. However, to get their trademark great results, their workflow often required intensive manual labour and artistic intervention. According to Thakker, the alternative options for character rigging were failing to produce the realism and speed the studio strived for and this motivated the team to find better, faster options, like Ziva VFX.

Fable's previous methods included a common combination of pose shot deformations, shot sculpting, and other standard muscle solutions.

"We've tried other muscle simulation solutions in the past, but they were never satisfactory. They required a lot of manual labour and it often felt like a trade-off between benefits – you could achieve good results or fast timelines, but not both. We were so happy when we finally discovered Ziva."
– Janak Thakker, FABLEfx
Co-Founder &  Sr. Animation Supervisor

Set up & Workflow

Prior to using Ziva, the FABLEfx rigging team always relied on Alembic Caches to send through to grooming and lighting. This workflow remained constant as they brought Ziva into the mix.

"It's easy to start using Ziva. We didn't have to change a thing to get it working with our current pipeline. We've always used Alembics to publish our work and Ziva accommodates that completely."
– Mikael Johansson, Pipeline TD at FABLEfx.

Modelling with Ziva

FABLEfx created many Ziva creatures in the past, including a dog, cat, raccoon, elephant, and frog. As such, they were able to warp existing quadruped anatomy to rapidly model Loki geometry.

The final model reached a level of realism and fidelity rarely achieved by studios, especially boutique teams.

"Ziva makes you make better models. It's important to watch out for intersecting geo, for example. We found Ziva's out-of-the-box 'Run Mesh Analysis', 'Find Intersections', and 'Find Self Intersections' tools were extremely useful for helping validate the mesh for Ziva simulation."
– Vikas Jaiswal, Creature Rigging Supervisor at FABLEfx.

Anatomy Simulation

For FABLEfx, the time spent simming Loki's anatomy was highly comparable and similar to the time spent on their non-Ziva rigs. The inner fat layer took the most refining, with 2-3 iterations over the span of 2 days. According to Thakker, the final results are where the true value of Ziva come to fruition.
"Now that we use Ziva, we get to spend our time creating great looking assets instead of wrangling deformations into submission for hours. We get to spend time doing what we love. For a larger studio, I imagine it would free up a lot of time as well."
– Janak Thakker, FABLEfx
Co-Founder &  Sr. Animation Supervisor
It took 13 days to set up Loki's anatomy with Ziva VFX v1.3

Muscles

8.5 Days

Fascia

2 Days

FAT & Skin

2 Days

Muscles

5.2 seconds per substep
6 substeps per frame
= 31.2 seconds per frame

Fascia

18.4 seconds per substep
4 substeps per frame
= 73 seconds per frame

FAT & Skin

4.4 seconds per substep
4 steps per frame
= 17.6 seconds per frame

Muscles

Tissues: 70
Bones: 110
Fiber Fields: 66
Attachments:  167
Proxy Points: 54829
Tri Vertices: 112982
Tet Vertices: 12200
Tets: 30795

Fascia

Cloth Nodes:  1
Bones: 180
Attachments: 1
Proxy Points: 11334
Tri Vertices: 97366
Tets:  194728

FAT & Skin

Tissues: 1
Bones: 1
Attachments:  2
Proxy Points: 43783
Tri Vertices: 43357
Tet Vertices: 20571
Tets: 68869

Modelling Ziko

FABLEfx created many Ziva creatures in the past, including a dog, cat, raccoon, elephant, and frog. As such, they were able to warp existing quadruped anatomy to rapidly model Ziko geometry.

The final model reached a level of realism and fidelity rarely achieved by studios, especially boutique teams.
"Ziva makes you make better models. It's important to watch out for intersecting geo, for example. We found Ziva's out-of-the-box 'Run Mesh Analysis', 'Find Intersections', and 'Find Self Intersections' tools were extremely useful for helping validate the mesh for Ziva simulation."
– Vikas Jaiswal, Creature Rigging Supervisor at FABLEfx.

Animation 
& Integration

As for the animation process, Ziva encourages teams to produce more plausible, organic motion. The need for anatomical animation ensures that your character will look and move with greater realism, based on the rules of biology and biomechanics.
"Since we now need to stay within the realms of reality, we need to make sure we don’t break the anatomy of our creatures with unrealistic animations. When posing, we need to respect the underlying skeletal structures and limitations... or else Vikas comes chasing us!"
– Janak Thakker, FABLEfx
Co-Founder &  Sr. Animation Supervisor

PROCESSOR:


INTEL I7-47490K
CPU @ 4.00GHZ (8 CPUS)
RAM: 32GB DDR3

Muscles:


307,000 Total Vertices
~11,000 collision proxy pairs
132 Tissue bodies
209 Bone bodies
30,036 Tetrahedra
9.4s per step @ 4 steps

Fascia (Cloth):


61,623 Total Vertices 
~880,000 collision proxy pairs
317 collision meshes
291,519 vertices on bone meshes
48s per step @ 8 steps

FAT (Tissue + Cloth):


87752 Tetrahedra
123,246 vertices on fat mesh
108s per step @ 2 steps

top dynamic results
Achieved only with ziva vfx

Conclusion

The specialized team at FABLEfx has been able to achieve even more lifelike, quality results with Ziva VFX. The team plans to continue simulating an array of virtual creatures and expanding their anatomical rig library so they can hit their best-in-class character standard even faster.

"We've always wanted a solution like Ziva. We even tried to make a physics solver ourselves in the past but never had the man power. You can only imagine our excitement when we discovered Ziva!

The Ziva Team has great in-house support. There are online tutorials, example files, free practice assets, and a forum which helped us understand the do and dont's of building with Ziva.

We think Ziva is suitable for everyone. Anybody can adapt Ziva and implement into their pipeline without making too many changes. "

– Janak Thakker, Co-Founder &  Sr. Animation Supervisor, FABLEfx

results

• More lifelike deformations
• advanced detailed dynamics
• Improved muscle firing results

Productivity

• increased focus on final assetS
• higher quality inputs
• improved collaboration

Speed

• quick & easy to learn
• no additional rigging time
• ACCELERATED modelling workflow