Maya Artists: Troublemakers – Alhambra Campaign

Lightmap recently came across Troublemakers wonderful Alhambra jewellery collection for Van Cleef and Arpels on Behance; a global campaign created alongside directing duo Burcu and Geoffrey for the French agency, Mazarine. We reached out to the Paris-based studio’s executive producer, James Hagger, to find out how they developed the animation, the challenges involved, and how HDR Light Studio’s simplicity heightened their creativity.

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What is the story behind the animation and where can it be seen?
The animation was created for an ongoing 360 global campaign for the Alhambra collection by Van Cleef & Arpels. The film takes us on an exciting adventure through multiple scenes. While following a graceful butterfly, we discover the iconic jewellery collection, Alhambra. Infused with a springtime atmosphere, this film is a fresh approach to Burcu & Geoffrey’s elegant animation style. The campaign has been developed for film, print, digital content, shop windows, events and augmented reality.

How did HDR Light Studio help create the Alhambra project?
HDR Light Studio approach to lighting global scenes is a really intuitive tool that enabled us to create the Alhambra project. The software made it possible to search and validate various lighting setups very quickly, without making it too technical. The simplicity of the software allowed us to focus on the purely artistic aspects of the project, all the while gaining time on precision and consistency.

What other software was used to make the video and why did you use this combination?
On this project, we used Maya to do the majority of the 3D work, Photoshop to create the 2D designs, including the textures and skies, and Premiere Pro for the editing. The jewel modelling was done in Zbrush, whilst V-Ray was used to render all the backgrounds and characters. We also utilised Maxwell in combination with HDR Light Studio to render the jewels, and finally, the compositing was completed in Nuke.

What challenges did you face when working on the Alhambra project and how did you overcome them to successfully create such a stunning campaign?
The main technical challenge was to blend the different styles of rendering (graphic and realistic – backgrounds and jewels) so they create a harmonious visual together.
When we first rendered the jewels together with all the background elements, we ended up with a lot of artefacts in the reflections, so in the end, we only kept elements which were in contact with the jewels while rendering.

Then we created HDRI maps to light the jewels, keeping in mind the background’s lighting while sometimes cheating over it to make the jewels shinier and more appealing. Finally, in the compositing stage of the project, we adjusted the renders to integrate them together. We used the Maxwell multi-light render AOVs to mix the intensity of each light with great control, then colour-grading and strengthening the contact shadows/occlusions with the backgrounds when needed.

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Thank you to James, Alexandre Scalvino and the talented directing duo, Burcu & Geoffrey for creating such an elegant campaign which perfectly demonstrates the versatility of HDR Light Studio. To see more of TroubleMakers work visit their Website or Behance.

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