The making of “Dream”

Zombie Studio created the powerful and emotional “Dream” animation for the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival (WCFF) in partnership with DDB NY. We spoke with them about what went into creating this animation.

Dream – WCFF from Zombie Studio on Vimeo.
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About “Dream”

Zombie Studio is proud of the animation “Dream”, created for the WCFF in partnership with DDB NY. The Wildlife Conservation Film Festival is an academic organization with a mission to inform, engage and inspire audiences about the importance of protecting global biodiversity.

This film shows four animal species in their habitats and how human interference alters their path in life and their dreams. The animation is extremely emotional and aims to make everyone rethink our actions on the planet that we share with other life. The project took about five months to complete, and it was worth each day that we dedicated to such a worthwhile cause.


Getting involved in the project:

We have some friends at DDB NY who told us about this project. As soon as we heard about it, we fell in love with it. We knew this had the potential to be a wonderful film, so we just had to make it.

Zombie Studio, Dream, hunter

Since we really wanted to produce this, we started working on concept arts and story boards/animatics before we even got the job. We were sending reference materials to the agency with fresh-out-of-the-oven concepts and media we were making. We think this really helped us to get this job, since they could see our involvement with and commitment to the story.

Zombie Studio, Dream, seal 3d model
The 3d model of the seal pup

Since we started working on it with a lot of passion from the very beginning, early in the animatic stages we already had crew members crying or feeling really emotional with the story. We knew that meant we had made the right choice and just had to keep going and pushing ourselves forward, to keep up with the expectations we were creating in the agency and amongst ourselves.


About Corona Renderer

We first heard about Corona through Facebook – a lot of users here in Brazil were talking about it and how fast, practical and good it was. So we gave it a try!

We decided to use Corona in this project because it’s fast and simple. We had done some earlier tests in other in-house productions, so we felt comfortable using it for “Dream”.

Corona gave us amazing results without any headaches. In fact, we think Corona is the way a render engine should be – click and render! That’s very important in production these days, because it means we can put our time into actually producing rather than wasting time optimizing or solving render issues (which were almost non-existant using Corona during this production).

Also, Corona Interactive mode is awesome – what you set in the interactive mode is exactly what you get in the production render.

“DREAM” making of from Zombie Studio on Vimeo.

Corona was used in almost 100% of the film, except for scenes 01 and 02 (the ocean and the whales, up to 24 seconds in the video). For the other later scenes that included water simulation, we used a mix of render engines, with the water simulation being made in Phoenix FD. All the other parts were made in Corona.

We can see that mix of render engines in the following scenes: the ships in the storm at sea; all the pelican scenes; and the whale being killed.

Zombie Studio, Dream, jeep LightMix
The LightSelect render passes for the jeep.

The new LightMix feature was released in 1.5 when we already had started production and it was amazing. It gave us a super amount of flexibility – to be able to do huge or minor tweaks in lighting after rendering was absolutely fantastic! A very powerful tool for post-production.

Zombie Studio, Dream, jeep final
The final composite of all the LightSelect passes.


Technical Challenges:

The biggest challenge was finding a solution to render water and deal with simulations. The technique we used for this was camera projection. Taking scene 8 as example, with the ships in the stormy ocean, we needed the water simulation.

Zombie Studio, Dream, Scene 8
Scene 8 from the animation

Since Corona can’t render simulations from Phoenix FD at present, here’s what we did. The first step was to create the scene as usual, with textures, shaders and lighting. This was rendered in Corona with no water simulation included at all.

The second phase was to create another scene, where we created the simulation. Then we imported the elements and camera from the first scene, and projected the first render onto this scene’s objects. Then we replicated the light and aspects of Corona for the ocean (which was from Phoenix FD) for rendering in another engine. This way we could have the Corona render “interacting” with ocean, giving us the exact reflections, correct light bounces, and Zdepth.

Zombie Studio, Dream, seal pups

Fur was also challenging, so we made several studies to find a good solution.  We tested different techniques to find the look we feel comfortable to go with, we had around 10 versions of the seal before it was finally approved. Our final solution was to use 3ds Max’s native hair/fur with Corona.

About Zombie Studio

Zombie Studio logo
Zombie is a creative studio that integrates several areas and artistic techniques in the production of images and animations for various clients around the world. Throughout our short existence, we’ve won awards at many festivals worldwide, a direct result of our focus on excellence in our works and commitment to quality in what we deliver.

Zombie Studio was created based on co-founder Paulo Garcia’s frustration as an art director, having spent hours trapped in an endless process of approvals rather than focused on a campaign’s details. This led him to open his own studio where he could gather an amazing team and dedicate their time to layouts and seeking the forms, compositions, and visual solutions for each piece on which they work.

His partner — for business and life — Natalia Gouvea, brought to the studio a creative expertise in management and production. Together they are the driving force that allows the studio to grow continually!

Throughout these years, Zombie Studio has had an incredible number of interesting jobs, most of them focused on creating and designing characters, although recently we’ve been doing an amazing amount of work for the automotive industry.

Zombie Studio, Dream, rhinos

We’re also proud to have 50 images in this year’s “200 Best Digital Artists Worldwide” selected by Lürzer’s Archive expert jury around the world. We are the first studio in this global ranking (2017/2018) for the second edition – in the last one (2015/2016) we had 20 works selected by them – that shows us that we are on the right track in how we look for the details, and for the unusual.

We pursue perfection, trying to do everything better than the briefing we receive. Our beliefs and values have helped Zombie Studio achieve the recognition that is ours today. We never deviate from our beliefs and values, and our customers know that!


2 thoughts on “The making of “Dream”

  1. It’s unbelievable!!! Really! The most beautiful short made with Corona. Phoenix will be, soon or later, compatible with Corona.

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