Formula E : No Turning Back – season 8 campaign movie

I was hired by Rascal Post to help out with race and crash CG scenes for FormulaE: No Turning Back  8th season promo movie. Early on it was decided that this will be a perfect job for doing in Unreal Engine.
My primary tasks were creating procedural tools for track layout (including making some of the 3d assets and shaders), rigging cars for animating inside Unreal Engine and creating VFX (including for the crash sequence). All credits for actually creating all the final shots using these tools goes to Russell Tickner!

By utilizing Unreals powerful Control Rig system, I built a car rig that allowed Russell to animate all cars inside Unreal Editor, by combining procedural animation and hand placed keyframes. Combined with Niagara particle systems and blueprint logic, we had almost game like automatic car behavior with brake lights turning on and smoke FX coming from wheels when cars slowed down etc. This allowed for extremely fast iterations as you didn’t have to re-import any animations from external DCC apps. Also it was possible to render and re-render many camera angles for each shot to allow more exploratory editing process.

Behind The Scenes

Track layout tools

Fence Tool: Avanced spline instancer implemented in Blueprints. You can add multiple Static Meshes or Blueprints as instance sources. Instancer will automatically distribute them on the spline based on their size. It can do a random distribution or pattern based distribution – giving a lot of control to the user. Pieces can be aligned to different axis or aim to next piece. You can have transformation offsets as well as random transform variations. Handiest feature was picking spline of another instancer and using that to quickly place props along the same master spline.

Banner Tool: This was based on fence instancer Blueprint adding some special user parameters to instances for allowing texture mapping across several banner meshes. (Large banners were spanning several fence segments). By using external spline from existing fence instancer, you can very easily add banners to all the fences you need. Pattern based distribution was key for banner tool – allowing a preceise control of banner order and span.

Tire Skid Mark generator: This was created as Houdini Digital Asset as it actually generates a lot of unique geometry – skidmark decal meshes that snap to existing road geometry and follow an input curve. There are a ton of control parameters – including variable road witdh, alpha fade curve for start and end etc.

“Marbles” gnerator: “Marbles” are small rubber bits that are scattered on the tarmac as the tires get shredded during the race. This was done as Houdini Digital Asset generating Unreal Static Mesh Instances, based on existing road geometry and input curve. There are controls for variable road width and distribution curve towards edges.

Car control rig nodegraph

Production Company: Pulse Films
Director: Sam Walker
Producer: David French
DOP: Stuart Bentley
Production Manager: Kishan Patel

Agency: Uncommon
Producer: Jack Robinson

Editors: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest

Rascal Post
VFX Supervisor: Russell Tickner & Andrew “Barnsley” Wood
Flame Lead: Andrew “Barnsley” Wood
2D: Paul Wilmot, James Corden, Richard De Carteret & Ben Stonehouse
Layout, Animation, Lighting and Rendering: Russell Tickner
Car Rigging, shading, Tool Dev and Modelling : Gatis Kurzemnieks
Crowds and additional Props : Roberto Costas Fernández
3D: Phil Maddock, Ton Bartroli
Online: Holly McLean
Colourist: James Bamford
Executive Producer: James Beck

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