Search form

Rushes Wins VFX Award for 'Inside the Human Body'

Rushes announced that it has received Televisual’s Bulldog Award for Best Digital & Physical FX for its contributions to the BBC’s “Inside the Human Body.”

Announcement from Rushes:

London – Rushes announced that it has received Televisual’s Bulldog Award for Best Digital & Physical FX for its contributions to the BBC’s Inside the Human Body. The Televisual Bulldog Awards honor Britain’s best TV programs, indies and channels of the past year.

Rushes Film&TV and Jellyfish created the striking graphics used to illustrate and explain the science showcased throughout BBC1’s ambitious journey inside the human body. The visual effects were nominated for the RTS award for Best Digital Effects and won the Visual Effects Society’s outstanding VFX award.

Rushes Director of CG Jonathan Privett says, “We are really delighted with our Bulldog award for Inside the Human Body, especially as it is voted for by the broad community of industry professionals. The project brought together the whole Rushes Film&TV department to create some stunning shots and visuals for three of the four episodes of this landmark BBC series. It shows that great VFX can really make a difference to a mainstream science program. Our thanks must go to BBC’s Head of Science Andrew Cohen, series producer Alice Harper and BBC VFX consultant Nicola Kingham for bringing the show to Rushes and supporting the fight to make the VFX so incredible.”

Louise Hussey, Rushes VFX Producer, comments, “The exciting aspect of this project was the overall artistic approach to the VFX. The production team was very clear that they wanted to see the visuals in a more unusual and artistic way than human body graphics normally require. The inspiration for the look came as much from paintings and photographs of landscapes as it did from a medical textbook.”

Hayden Jones, VFX Supervisor at Rushes, adds, “It was an amazing opportunity to bring these microscopic worlds to life, but with such a wide variety of characters and environments I knew it would be quite an artistic as well as technical challenge.” 

Work on each sequence was started by the creation of the animatic, a moving storyboard that would allow the production team to see more accurately how each CGI section would fit into the show. Rushes Lead Animator, Craig Travis, undertook the creation of the animatics for all of the sequences, bringing together his animation experience coupled with a great understanding of cinematic camera work.

Look development for Inside the Human Body was a complex process with each sequence needing its own identity. “During the creation of the embryo sequence I would use Zbrush to sculpt a version of the character and send it over to David Barker, researcher, on the production team who would then send it onto relevant experts in the field to check the science, Jones explains. “This would then be fed back and the model altered accordingly until we were sure that the CGI was as accurate as possible.”

With a large variety of characters, looks and environments Rushes utilized its Film&TV pipeline to make sure they could keep the highest possible visual quality while rendering HD content.

Autodesk’s Maya was the backbone of the pipeline, with Zbrush integrated for organic modeling and texturing. The sequences were rendered using Pixar’s Academy award winning Renderman, allowing the artists to create feature film quality, multi pass and high dynamic range renders. Mark Pascoe, Rushes’ Lead Technical Artist, used Renderman’s point-based subsurface scatter algorithms to create realistically organic materials and looks. He also harnessed the power of Renderman’s delayed archives, a system that allows extreme amounts of geometric detail to be computed.

The renders were composited in The Foundry’s Nuke. “With Nuke’s speed and fully floating point workflow it allowed us great flexibility in the composite to experiment with the look of the rendered CGI,” Jones comments. “With multiple passes for each layer of rendered footage we could fine tune every element in the composite to get the required look.”

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.