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Quiet Man Pals Around With Pandas For The World Wildlife Fund

Quiet Man has mailed home a new spot for the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund. The 60-second spot opens with a panda walking across the screen and a large contribution envelop falling to the ground. As "Shelter from the Storm" plays in the background, the panda takes cover inside the envelope. "The bear was not intended to be photo-realistic," Quiet Man 3D animator Dave Shirk explained. "It had to be artwork but the character still must generate empathy. No matter what the look, if the performance doesn't ring true, I have failed as an animator. We spent a great deal of time creating a stylized look and tuning the panda's performance." To create a more true movement, Shirk developed the skeleton and skin together. Shirk used Softimage to confront the challenges of working with fur. During tests, Shirk decided to use a single-surface model with NURBS, or polygons. "The advantage of NURBS is that you can get a complex, curved surface with few control points. So when you attach the character to the skeleton, there are less points to manage," he said. Working with polygons allowed Shirk to create a single unbroken surface, to which to apply fur, which began by creating texture maps to control the application of fur parameters to the model's surface. The maps are referred to by the main tool for creating the hair, Phoenix's FurGen plug-in. The mapping itself was painted in Deep Paint 3D by Right Hemisphere. "I exported models to Deep Paint and painted directly to the surface of the model," said Shirk. "It was like painting on the skin of a panda bear and the colors, white or black, were propagated onto the hair. Deep Paint plugs into Photoshop, so I can use Photoshop tools. When I'm happy with everything, I send the maps back into Softimage." Further hair manipulation was done with Phoenix's FurComb plug-in and compositing was done in inferno*. The commercial was produced for Stamford, Connecticut ad agency The Plowshare Group.

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Rick DeMott
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