The disappeared giants mystery


When science and technology rejuvenate giant animals

Project/Runtime : Documentary – 3D/VR – 90 min
Directors : Eric Elléna, Paul-Aurélien Combre
Film production : French Connections Films, Berenice Media Corp., CNRS
Pictures Media : FEMIS-CICT
Partners : France Télévisions, CNC

Recreate animals that no longer exist

Toonkit was able to participate in this adventure thanks to Dlp Paris, who contacted us to craft several animals presented in this augmented reality documentary.
The contribution of Paleontologists’ knowledge has given a particular dimension to this project.
In particular, they supervised the modeling to ensure their relevance to the state of knowledge on the subject, and the selection of contemporary animals that could be studied.
The rigging work was particularly interesting and formative on this project.

Each character his typology

We built different characters for the documentary: reptiles, birds, mammals that all have their particularities.
Therefore, different assets types have been set up: plantigrades, digitigrades, unguligrades, to make the baluchitherium (or paraceratherium), the sarcosuchus (a kind of crocodile), the geryonis, the mylodon, the megatherium, the psilopterus, the archelon (a turtle species), without forgetting the titanoboa !
This required a precise anatomy research in order to fine tune the skeletons and the specific rigs of each animal.

A giant snake rig ...

The goals and constraints of rigging a giant snake were a real challenge !
And if we were asked to… well … we would do it again !
In terms of behavior, the goal was to achieve a very organic result with skin and body muscles deformations, which was necessary for close-ups.
Because it was the purpose of the documentary, to talk about the very particular locomotion of these giant snakes, far too heavy to slide !

… with procedural animation

The asset therefore has several fixed points of contact with the ground at all times and raises the intermediate parts to move forward.
The result looks more like a ripple, a bit like a caterpillar.
That type of movement would have been very long to perform in manual animation, we developed a procedural animation system based on main trajectories, with the possibility to add secondary oscillations, and several settings to simulate mass transfers automatically on the snake’s body during its ripple.

We’re not going to lie, it gave us a hard time, but we were delighted to have the opportunity to set up this type of rig for a production.
Enough of that, let’s see the teaser !