IAMSTATIC – peeling paint, sailing ships, and alien worlds!

IAMSTATIC

is  a Toronto-based studio who direct, design and produce award-winning projects for film & television, commercial advertising, and immersive / digital content. They use Corona Renderer on most of their animation projects, including the title sequence for the Netflix show “Frontier” and an ad campaign for Vuse that traveled to some beautiful alien worlds.

We spoke with David Greene, Director / Partner at IAMSTATIC, about some of their recent animation work using Corona.

IAMSTATIC, still from the Frontier series title sequence
A still from the Frontier series title sequence
IAMSTATIC, still from the Vuse campaign animation
A still from one of the Vuse campaign animations

Read more about IAMSTATIC and their animation projects!

Tell us a little about IAMSTATIC and how you got started.

IAMSTATIC started in 1999 as an Art and Design collective. Back then a bunch of pals from art school started playing around with design and animation, using Flash and After effects and posting stuff on the internet. It was the wild west of motion graphics and programmatic art, and people were known by their dot com names and it was great!

IAMSTATIC Dave and Ron
Dave and Ron, looking serious 🙂

Needless to say, things have changed since then but our love for this work has grown even greater.  Today we have our studio located in Toronto, and continue to grow our team.

How did you first discover Corona Renderer?

IAMSTATIC first render with Corona Renderer Alpha version
David’s first render with Corona Renderer, Alpha version

A friend of mine sent me a link to a bunch of renders done with a “new” renderer called Corona. When I checked out the link I knew I had to play around with it. I can’t remember what Alpha version I tested with, but it was clear to me that the Corona Devs were onto something. We do mainly animation for TV and movies, so I think at the time I had a hard time with my workflow, but release-after-release Corona just grew so fast.

Which parts of the Frontier titles are rendered in Corona Renderer, and which in V-Ray? What prompted the choice of engine for each specific component?

This is an interesting question. I have been playing around with Corona since the Alpha days, and following the forums. I had a true respect for the team and love for the render right from the beginning.

Frontier Opening Titles from IAMSTATIC on Vimeo.

For the Frontier titles, we had been using V-Ray in production for a long time and naturally just started rendering with it. But I really wanted to start using Corona in a production environment to see how it would stack up, so when Frontier got picked up for season two, they came back to us to add some new shots and it felt like the perfect time to jump in.

I used the amazing Corona scene converter on one of the older shots, hit render and BOOM! We got a great looking render at a third of the render time (this was with Corona Renderer 1.5). I was pretty amazed with it and from that point we just rolled Corona into all our projects. We have currently finished two more animation projects with Corona and are still in love 🙂

What were the particularly challenging parts of the project?

I would say the most fun challenge was making the jump to a new renderer. I am sure everyone who does any rendering has played with most of them, there is so much choice out there right now. The CPU and GPU battle is on (Although CPU with Corona 1.6 + we find our render times so small now), and there are so many renderers to choose from.

But Corona just felt right in the end for us. So I guess the challenge was just getting out of the mindset and workflow of other renderers, and just sit back and enjoy myself. The Corona slogan of “making rendering fun again” rang true for us.

IAMSTATIC, still from Frontier title sequence

Related to the Frontier project, one shot that sticks out as more challenging for us was the hand painted ship playing over top of a peeling painted surface. We started by creating a CG animation of a Ship traveling through water and rendered it out.

We then painted over top of this render to give us a hand drawn look. For the paint peeling I ended up creating detailed spline shapes with a series of modifiers that let me add detail and animate them to look like stop motion. In the end having the ship animation pass over just the tops of the peeling paint took the most time of all the shots.

IAMSTATIC Frontier title sequence, 3D paint peeling setup
The 3D paint peeling scene setup

The ship animation pass in isolation

Full steam ahead with Corona

Having jumped off the deep end in production, we have been using Corona now on every project. Our recent Vuse project (images and breakdown pics below) really showed the power of Corona for us.

IAMSTATIC, Still from the Vuse, campaign animations
Still from the Vuse, campaign animations

We built colorful “flavor” worlds, and in each one 90% of the objects were either using Translucency or blurry refractions. It almost felt like Corona did not care that there were thousands of objects refracting all over the place! It was a joy to get such juicy renders out, and get them fast.

IAMSTATIC, Corona Renderer passes for Vuse campaign animation
Corona Renderer passes for Vuse campaign animations
IAMSTATIC, Clay render from the Vuse campaign animations
Clay render from the Vuse campaign animations

What does Corona Renderer let you do that other render engines couldn’t?

First and foremost is the UI. I really feel like a lot of care went into not just making it easy to use, but the organization and layout of every control (in my opinion) is easily the best of all the renderers. It is very fast in Corona to find things and get up to speed. I also really like the roll over explanations in the tooltips – somehow the Devs really know how to explain things in a simple manner!

Vuse Vibe Directors Cut from IAMSTATIC on Vimeo.

Second Corona just looks great! I really mean that though. I know this has been said before, but there is something wonderful about a Corona render. It has great lights, GI, materials…. Everything really. I think just being able to render nice images fast and have fun doing it is what attracts us the most.

IAMSTATIC, still from Vuse original world animation
Still from the Vuse, original world animation
IAMSTATIC, Still from the Vuse, mint world animation
Still from the Vuse, mint world animation

What’s next for IAMSTATIC?

We are about to release our latest project, of course rendered with Corona, and we are very excited about the development of the VFX features in the works for versions 1.7 and onward!

IAMSTATIC, still from BMW project
A still from an upcoming animation for BMW

We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of our work and hearing a bit about our studio!

All the best,
David Greene, Director/Partner, IAMSTATIC

Website: http://iamstatic.com/
Vuse campaign: http://iamstatic.com/portfolio/vuse-vibe-campaign/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/IAMSTATIC.STUDIO