We've recently had the opportunity to go face to face with Robert Taylor (President & Executive Producer) and Michael McCormick (VP & Director of 3D) from Pendulum Studios. The result is an interview that's a little different from most of what we've done in the past: there's video, too!
Click the banner above to watch the video. And while it's loading, you can read below for even more info.
What is Studio Pendulum?
Pendulum Studios is a San Diego-based 3D animation and effects studio founded in 2002, specializing in high-end character animation and storytelling. We strive to produce the highest quality animation for commercials, game cinematics, film, and animated shorts.
What are some projects your studio has worked on?
Dark Sector – Digital Extremes When did your studio start using ZBrush and why?
Silent Hill 5 - Konami
Stuntman 2: Ignition - THQ
Mark Antony - Pendulum & House of Moves (MotionCapture Cinematic HD test)
WWE vs. Smackdown - THQ
Paraworld - Sunflowers/SEK
Frontlines: Fuel of War - THQ, KAOS Studios
Soul Calibur III TV Spot - Namco, The Ant Farm
Kellogg’s Choco Krispis - Kellogg's J. Walter Thompson
LA Rush - Midway Games
Ego Trip – our second short film
Arrest Assured - our first short film
We started using ZBrush when we started the company. We use it because it’s an extremely powerful tool that adds to the efficiency of our pipeline. ZBrush has been used on all of our high profile projects, including: "Stuntman", "Paraworld", and "Mark Antony". It is primarily used on characters, and was used significantly on the Night Avenger Suit for one of our "Stuntman" trailers.
It allows us to take on high-end projects that require quick turn around. Our projects require a great deal of detail, especially with next gen cinematics and high-end commercials. What would take our character animators hours to do manually, ZBrush can do in minutes.
It increased our artists’ ability to create high quality work and gave the artists more motivation. They don’t view ZBrush work as a chore, but more of an enjoyment.
ZBrush is critical for bringing our imagery to life. We use it not only for sculpting and refining our models, but also for generating many of our textures. It contributes to at least 1/3 of the entire production. As technology becomes more advanced, the limitations of polycount will become a nonissue. ZBrush will open the door to such massive amounts of detailing that films and games will significantly overlap in their attainable quality levels.
Overall what effect do you feel ZBrush has had on your company?
The ability to create high res content quickly and efficiently allows us to concentrate on artistic design and highest quality assets possible. Without ZBrush, Pendulum could not have been as competitive in this industry. The effort to create the same quality of work would have taken longer and cost more money.
What is AlterEgo? What does it do?
AlterEgo is our studio's facial performance division. The AlterEgo team is focused on developing solutions and providing services that facilitate the highest caliber of facial performance animation for the film, broadcast, and interactive entertainment markets. AlterEgo is also the name of the studio's proprietary facial performance software... and part of a leading-edge turn-key solution for character development, motion-capture, and full performance character animation.
How is ZBrush used with AlterEgo? What role does ZBrush play in the pipeline?
Aside from the traditional sculpting, displacements and texturing, Pendulum uses ZBrush to create dynamic face wrinkles that are driven in AlterEgo. As a person winces, snarls or smiles, various wrinkles and folds emerge that were not evident before that emotion. We use ZBrush to create those layered facial details and dynamically add them to our characters through AlterEgo.
What is an average day like and Pendulum? What is it like to work there?
A lot of hard work… but with the most passionate and talented team of artists I’ve ever experienced. There’s a lot of goofing around to balance out the intensity of our production schedules. It’s taken a long time to build a team of such skill and serious artists & engineers, who are also fun to be around and just plain inspiring!
Many thanks to Robert and Michael for taking the time to be interviewed! There were many hints of really cool things coming in the near future from Pendulum, so expect to see some exciting artwork popping up on ZBC from their various artists in the months to come.
As an extra bonus, we've also interviewed Patrick Switzer -- one of the Character Artists at Pendulum. You can find his insightful interview here.
Be sure to also check out our past interviews, which can be found in the ZBrush Artist Interviews forum.