See you at (Virtual) Siggraph!

by BlueSkyStudios

Artist Efficiency: Improvements to Workflow

Monday, 24 August 2020, 9:30 - 10am

“Fifty Shades of Yay: A Multi-shot Workflow from Design to Final”


Dave Quirus, Blue Sky Studios

Matt Roach, Blue Sky Studios

Matt Wilson, Blue Sky Studios

Description: Leveraging a multi-shot perspective, a unique collaboration between lighting and effects facilitated the billions of hypercolor voxels in the "Fifty Shades of Yay" effects for "Spies in Disguise." This process challenged them, creatively and technically, to rethink the studio's traditional pipeline which ultimately paved the way forward for future workflows.

“Designing Effects Workflows - The Thinking Behind Tool Development”


Alen Lai, Blue Sky Studios

Jon Barry, Blue Sky Studios

Nathan Sims, Blue Sky Studios

Description: Using production examples from "Spies in Disguise," we demonstrate how to break down effects within the production, taking into consideration a variety of aspects from optimization to collaboration. We walk through our thought process about designing workflows best suited for the job and plan ahead to maximize efficiency and flexibility.


Tuesday, 25 August 2020, 10 - 10:30am

“Blending in - The Crowds of “Spies in Disguise”


Mason Evans, Blue Sky Studios

Cole Clark, Blue Sky Studios

Erin Elliott, Blue Sky Studios

Will Moten, Blue Sky Studios

Description: The "Spies in Disguise" crowds team was challenged with populating the greatest number of shots, background characters, and cycles in a Blue Sky film. We present our new workflows that gave us unprecedented art directability over the identities and animations of our crowd agents. 

“Secrets from a Lighting Artist”

Tuesday, 25 August 2020, 10 - 11am 


Michael Tanzillo

Description: Go behind the scenes and see what motivates a lighting artist working on animated films.

Cool FX Stuff

Tuesday, 25 August 2020, 11:30-12pm

“Segmented Control of a Closeup Chemical Reaction Effect”


Alex Frenklakh, Blue Sky Studios

Julia Correnti, Blue Sky Studios

Chris Rydalch, Blue Sky Studios

Description: In order to achieve a closeup chemical reaction effect on "Spies in Disguise," Blue Sky Studios' effects department developed new ways to segment procedural and simulated elements into smaller problem domains and combined various techniques for maximum flexibility in art direction.

“Performance-Based Melting in ‘Spies in Disguise’”


Ravindra Dwivedi, Blue Sky Studios

Heather Brown, Blue Sky Studios

Joe Antonuccio, Blue Sky Studios

Julia Correnti, Blue Sky Studios

Ai King, Blue Sky Studios

Description: Current methods of simulating melting in computer graphics are physically based, which model temperature and viscosity. In "Spies in Disguise," we had to defy these laws to achieve a comedic on-camera melting performance. Our technique for art-directed melting provides artists the controls needed for timing and performance.

“Spies in Disguise”: Creating a Gooey Kimura”


Cristian Hinz Welkens, Blue Sky Studios

Description: We discuss the challenges of creating a character who is dynamic and animated at the same time, the tools and techniques we employed to achieve this, how we collaborated with animation to achieve a great performance, and how we put it all back together at the end.

Technical Papers on Demand

Wednesday, 26 August 2020, 10:30 - 11am

“Accurate Face Rig Approximation with Deep Differential Subspace Reconstruction”


Steven Song, Blue Sky Studios

Michael Reed, Blue Sky Studios

Weiqi Shi, Yale University

Description: We propose a deep learning-based rig approximation technique that accurately predicts facial deformation, given the challenge of nonlinearity and the additional precision requirements of film-quality animation.

Production Panel

Thursday, August 27 2020 3:30 - 4:40pm

“Spies in Disguise: The Art of Stealth and Sterling, Lance Sterling”


Michael Knapp, Production Designer, Blue Sky Studios

Matt Simmons, VFX Supervisor, Blue Sky Studios

Sabine Heller, Head of Characters, Blue Sky Studios

James Williams, Head of Layout, Blue Sky Studios

Elvira Pinkhas, FX Supervisor, Blue Sky Studios

Jeeyun Sung, Lighting Supervisor, Blue Sky Studios

Description: Every great spy movie shares the same DNA: Intrigue. Secret Identities. Nefarious villains bent on revenge. Exotic international locales. Incredible cars and gadgets. High octane action sequences. And… pigeons??? In making SPIES IN DISGUISE, Blue Sky Studios set out to create not only a faithful homage to the legacy of traditional spy films but also to introduce the genre to a whole new generation.

The iconic design of our hero Lance Sterling was the lynchpin in defining not only the aesthetic of the film’s world but also the animation style, cinematography, lighting, stylized effects, and motion graphics which brought that world to life in a tangible and textural way. When Lance is accidentally turned into a pigeon by one of Walter Beckett’s unfinished experiments, Lance is forced to try to save the world as a bird. Scenes such as a pigeon-led high-speed car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., a nail-biting aerial dogfight through the iconic canals of Venice, or the climactic battle between thousands of killer drones and our heroes using their wits and Walter’s do-no-harm gadgets - the high stakes and inventive action in SPIES IN DISGUISE provided many unique challenges to the artists and technicians at Blue Sky. Join the creative team as they discuss the enormous challenges and massive collaboration in making this exciting, stylish globetrotting film about spies and the pigeons who loved them.

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