Alita Battle Angel – Berserker Xformation FX


Role : Sr. FX-TD

Studio : Weta Digital

Task : Berserker Transformation FX R&D

This was surely a tricky one, but at the same time was probably my favorite FX work.
My task was to create an FX for the Alita’s Berserker armour transformation, from a neutral body shape, to a curvy , super strong and athletic female shape. Mr Rodriguez wanted this FX to give the idea that during the transformation something was happening at the chemical level, but at the same time wanted to add some nano-technology element.
During the developement of this FX I had the chance to develop an OpenCL , GPU-Based implementation of the Reaction Diffusion algorithm , modified to work on an arbitrary geometry (non-quad geometry, points and on volumes as well). The nano-tech side of the FX was driven by the underlying reaction-diffusion pattern.

The whole system was created in Houdini.

Shots – As soon as the Blueray DVD is out ! 🙂

Gatorade – Sports Fuel – A health oil helped me

Client : Gatorade
Studio : Framestore LA

My role: FX Lead
Setup for the generation of the “Gatorade Fuel” FX in Houdini and shot work.

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Gatorade! It was awesome working on this project. I learned a lot. Thankfully I did ok though, I know saying I learned a lot is code for I made plenty of mistakes. Not quite so in this case. I had a bit of a health issue that set me back though.

What was this health issue? Well I got hit with a bit of insomnia, and didn’t take long before it started affecting my creativity, my ability to concentrate, and my overall performance and output. Not a good situation to be in while on a deadline with a big company. A friend of mine turned me to this cbd oil from Switzerland.

I wasn’t really feeling ready to try anything, but my friend was speaking pretty highly of this oil. Apparently he had sought sleep help just like I was doing not too long ago, and he was recommended this oil.

So eventually I caved and decided to give the oil a try. I figured I would only try it for a couple of nights and move on to something else if it didn’t work or anything went wrong. Well, the oil worked perfectly and I was back in a good pace in no time.

I still owe my friend for that one.

Details of the Project

Tornado – FX

Task: sim and render of the elements tornado, debris and rain.
Software : Houdini 14
Technique : I’ve used a point distribution animated procedurally to generate velocity and density source fields to drive a low res smoke simulation. In order to maintain the simulation art-directable , at every time step I’ve replaced 95% of the simulated velocity with the source velocity. The resulting low res sim is fast (~1 fps). All the details of the Tornado have been added at render time using a volume procedural shader, which allowed me to advect the original low-res density along vector noise fields mixed with the velocity field itself.
Debris , Debris Skirt and Rain are particle simulations.

7up – Commercial

Client : 7up
Studio : Framestore LA


Work : CG Crowd.
In this project I had to create and place a crowd (3.000 to 2.000.000 depending on the shot camera position). Each agent was wearing a wristband that would emit light of different colors according to animated patterns. The pattern had to be clearly visible from a distance, but at the same time, the crowd had to be believable from a relatively short distance (~40 m). The Director wanted to see light interaction on the crowd for the light generated by the wrist bands.

In order to be able to work quickly and allow the compers to test different wrist band patterns in Nuke without re-rendering from Houdini, I choose the route of re-lighting the crowd in Nuke, rendering every necessary AOV from Houdini.

I was provided with a library of dancing CG characters and a set of textures for the clothing.
The system was subdivided in 3 steps:

  • Crowd generation : generation of about 50 characters, procedurally dressed using the textures provided (Houdini OTL). Additionally for each character I was generating data that would later help me to render AOV passes related to the wrist band position and light interaction range.
  • Crowd render per Shot : in each shot I was positioning the crowd painting points over a surface. Later I was using copy SOP (with Packed primitives packing option enabled) to instance the characters on the crowd. For each shot the crowd was rendered with several AOVs.
  • Nuke Relighting Setup per Shot : I set up a key Nuke setup in which the crowd could be relighted using P and N AOVs. Using additional AOVs containing the wrist band data, compers were able to replace the wrist band pattern procedurally in Nuke.

It Follows – VFX Work

Here’s my last work on “It Follows”, a Horror Movie presented at Cannes 2014 in the Critics Week section.


Project : It Follows (2014)
Role : FX, Modeling, Rendering, Lighting, Tracking, Compositing, Compositor

Production companies: Northern Lights Films, Animal Kingdom, Two Flints
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe
Director-screenwriter: David Robert Mitchell
Producers: Rebecca Green, Laura D. Smith, David Robert Mitchell, David Kaplan, Erik Rommesmo
Executive producers: Frederick W. Green, Joshua Astrachan, P. Jennifer Dana, Jeff Schlossman, Bill Wallwork, Alan Pao, Corey Large, Mia Chang
Director of photography: Michael Gioulakis
Production designer: Michael T. Perry
Costume designer: Kimberly Leitz-McCauley
Editor: Julio C. Perez IV
Music: Disasterpeace
Sales: Cinetic/Visit Films

Related articles:
Yahoo Movies
The Hollywood Reporter

Loan Payments

It may sound impossible to make loan payments while you’re still a college student and not earning a significant income, this is why it is recommended to use a student loan calculator before deciding on taking out a student loan, you need to make sure you’ll be able to make your payments in the future. 

We have seen an alarming increase in student loan defaults. According to the New York Federal Reserves National Student Loan Data System, the number of college students who defaulted on their loans has risen by more than one-third from 1999 to 2008. These statistics highlight the lack of oversight on the part of the Department of Education and its sub-agencies. They also demonstrate the lack of consequences for lenders.

We have learned that the U.S. Department of Education doesnt monitor lenders as it should, for example, monitor how loans are allocated across borrower classes or how loans are processed by the Internal Revenue Service. Indeed, this oversight is largely ignored by lenders as they allocate student loans to borrowers.

The Federal Reserve says the current student loan default rate is 10 percent, but the data doesnt cover a full eight-year period and includes loans issued before the current cycle of changes to student loan policies. It is worth noting that this rate is less than the average for the last fifteen years and there has been no other period of a student loan default rate above 10 percent since the 1980s.

The current crisis in the student loan market can be traced to three factors:

1. The deregulated system of the banking industry led to a boom in private student loan servicing.

2. Subprime lending became more aggressive in the mid 2000s. 3. The government began subsidizing student loans in a misguided attempt to stimulate the economy. The second factor, subprime lending, is the most obvious. More than 13 percent of undergraduate loans are now originated by subprime lenders. It is difficult to know what portion of these loans would be purchased by students with a credit score of 640, the median student credit score in 2011-2012. Some borrowers with poor credit may qualify for subsidized loans from the government. The third factor is the new law that allows the government to guarantee student loans at 3 percent interest. The first step in this process was to expand the existing Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) to include private loans. This was a well-intentioned move, but it created problems. First, private loans are not subject to the same underwriting criteria. Second, the program does not provide for the same types of federal protections as the FFELP. 3. The first effect of the government guaranteeing student loans is that it will increase demand and make loans even more costly. Students that are already behind on their payments and those that need the most financial help will have to take on greater and greater debt to finance their education. This means that they will have more than a chance of paying back their loans, they will not be able to pay back their loans in a timely fashion, and they will end up paying higher interest rates.

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