MONTREAL — VFX house Mokko Studio, here, created more than 25 minutes of content for Universal’s Riddick, the other-worldly feature film starring Vin Diesel. The studio worked closely with director David Twohy for more than a year to create 321 shots for the film.
Led by studio co-founder Alain Lachance, a crew of more than 100 artists handled extensive creature work on the film’s mud demons and jackals, including pups. Mokko also built five different sets, including full CG environments and matte paintings.
Working from original drawings and basic creature designs by Patrick Tatopoulos, Mokko art director Arnaud Brisebois and a team of modelers and texture artists further pushed the designs, creating ZBrush sculpts for the director, who used them to judge proportions and size before the final modeling stage.
“It was important for us and production to base our art on nature, on something plausible, even if we were on a different planet,” notes According to Lachance. “Nothing was left to improvisation, from the bone structure necessary to have the jackal’s ears open in a very specific way that the director had imagined, to the mud demons breathing holes in their tails.”
Mokko’s pre-production work also included extensive R&D testing to develop tools and techniques for water and mud simulations. After extensive testing and tweaking of their Renderman pipeline, the studio chose Autodesk’s Naiad for the water simulation and Yeti Fur for the jackals’ hair.
One of the most difficult aspects of the film was getting a believable performance from Riddick’s pet jackal. Making sure the jackal, especially as a puppy, conveyed believable emotion required creation of an extensive rigging system that gave the animators maximum flexibility when it came to facial controls.