For National Geographic Wild’s In the Womb: Animal Babies, Framestore teamed up with Pioneer Productions to use cutting-edge imagery, state-of-the-art visual effects and amazing 4D scans to provide an inside look at the pregnancies of four animal mothers – lion Maya, meerkat Swift, herding dog Brumby, and elephant Bisa.
The process started with an extensive science brief provided by the team at Pioneer in conjunction with Prof. Thomas Hildebrandt. This contained detailed visual and technical information about the development of the animals at each specific stage of its gestation.
With this information Framestore’s team of artists would begin the modelling and texturing, painstakingly sculpting every detail of each animal. VFX supervisor Pedro Sabrosa explained: “In some cases, these fetuses’ were no bigger than 2mm in length. Our models were then rigged to allow our team of animators to bring them to life within the tight confines of the mother’s womb. With the camera navigating its way through this space giving us an up-close perspective of the early life of these little beings”.
With scientific accuracy being key, the 4D scans played a part in guiding the team’s design of the various stages of the development of the fetuses. But the leap from the 4D scans to the final rendered images was huge. “The simple 3D geometry provided by the scans was only the foundation of our animal builds. This then required a lot of additional detailing, animation, lighting and creative interpretation to bring the animals to life. This was a huge challenge requiring a team of leading artists and a large amount of processing power to complete the project” Pedro explains.
‘In the Womb: Animal Babies’ proved to be an enormous creative and technical challenge for the team, who produced over 20 minutes of full CG sequences with a total of 25 animal and womb assets built.
Pedro concludes, “This project is a great combination of leading science working alongside the creative and technology might of Framestore, producing a film that we are all really proud of and excited for the people to see”.