Monday 25 May 2020
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StudioTribe Makes a Splash with CGI Liquids

StudioTribe Makes a Splash with CGI Liquids

StudioTribe, a go-to production studio for CGI and special effects in motion and still content, recently teamed up with the creatives at O&H Brand Design to produce a B2B concept worth diving into.  The agency’s client, Siplast, a commercial roofing materials company, produces a liquid-applied roofing product with many significant benefits.  O&H created an ad series that features various objects emerging through the product shown in its liquid state to exemplify the benefits.  For instance, a rose signifies that the product is odorless, a pair of scissors symbolizes how using the product can help cut installation time & the stopwatch nods to how quickly the product cures. 

Siplast Comps Layout

Initially, O&H did some proof of concept experimentation and quickly realized that maintaining visual control over a liquid was next to impossible. The photo below illustrates this difficulty when pouring paint over a plastic army tank. In some areas all detail is lost, in others it’s too prominent, no control – enter StudioTribe to discuss alternative production methods.

Plastic Tank with Paint

William Wardy, Sr. Digital Artist at StudioTribe, was confident that using a CGI process to simulate liquid would provide the best way for the O&H creative team and their client to achieve the closest visual match to the actual product while also producing an impactful, well-lit image with the control and “art-direct-ability” that an award winning advertising campaign necessitates. 

Above all, O&H Brand Design & Siplast’s goal was to convey the product benefits in a distinct way therefore the objects needed to be easily recognizable and shown completely coated in material.  After considering a wide array of objects such as a pineapple, a Formula 1 race car and the plastic army tank; the rose, the scissors and the stopwatch were selected because they each help tell the story of the product benefit message.  Once the concept & budget were client-approved, William was able to begin preparing in Autodesk’s 3ds Max, a 3D modeling and rendering software used widely in the VFX industry and chosen by StudioTribe due to its standardized pipeline and vast toolset for creating stunning visuals with infinite edit-ability.


Keeping consistency in mind, StudioTribe and O&H started with the scissor concept first to work through the overall look and feel before moving on to the other pieces.  Once the style of scissors was chosen and 3d model prepared, William created a virtual tank of digital particles to simulate the liquid using Houdini, which is his 3d tool of choice* for visual effects and real-world simulations. 

By animating the 3d model of the scissors moving up through the particles, William was able to control the look of the liquid pouring over the object, it’s thickness, and also the angle, position and lighting on the scissors.

Particle Scissors

During an interactive session at the studio, William and Stephen Hurley, Senior Designer at O&H, reviewed animations of the simulated liquid and were able to quickly make adjustments and select the exact moment in time that would be captured and rendered as the hero high-resolution still.  Digital viscosity tests in Houdini* were up next.  By definition, the viscosity of a fluid is a measurement of its resistance to deformation at a given rate.  William provided viscosity options to determine what would look best.

Ultimately, O&H, being most familiar with the client’s product, chose frames within the object’s particle and viscosity animation exercises that most represented the product for each of the objects featured in the print ad campaign. 

CGI liquids and simulation effects are a specialty and often difficult to execute well.  By using state of the art VFX applications like Houdini, William is able to create effects and control all aspects of how they appear resulting in realistic visuals that are not possible to capture physically in traditional photography.

Viscosity Test

Hats off to O&H Brand Design for effectively communicating the product benefits and messaging through this visual concept.  In the end, the images convey exactly what Siplast needed to speak to their clients & prospects about, the product and what it can do for their customer’s business.  Click here to see the final ad images, learn more about this project, and to see more work from StudioTribe and their experience in 3D modeling and rendering.

*For inquiring minds, Houdini, often used in the film and entertainment industry, was one of the 3D animation products used in Pixar’s movie, Coco.  StudioTribe relies on it for visual fx, animation and for its extensive simulation tools.  

Studio Tribe

At StudioTribe, we’re passionate about visual content creation. Whatever the message you want to convey, it’s the image that connects the consumer to your brand. We get that. Our award winning image design studio creates high-impact still & motion imagery through a combination of conceptual image creation, photography, image retouching, photo realistic illustration, CGI & visual fx.