Cool District

Cool Stories

Short articles about our work and passion projects

Giant Robots Chapter 2: Previzualization and Compositing

By Kris Treiber (3d artist at Cool District) and Teun Ruijssenaars (Creative Director).

Welcome to Chapter 2! We’ll show you more developments and lessons learned from our large city / robot invasion test project.

Cool District is invaded by a robot. This video shows our progress on this internal project.


Although this internal project was not focused on storytelling, we set up multiple pre-visualization videos to develop the animation. Scenes are rendered in grey to save on production time.

At this time, the robot is not moving naturally. We fixed it, and is currently featured in one of our new stories about camera tracking.


Most of our research went into advanced compositing. We looked into ‘ back-to-beauty-compositing’ , which uses multiple parts of an image (like reflections, lighting, refraction passes) to compose a final beauty image, instead of working with an image where all of these passes are baked in and not flexible. Although we were very familiar with the basic concepts, this way of compositing needed to be explored and without a doubt, it offers most flexibility.

We also researched rendering the city and the robot separately. For this to work, reflections of one object into another (or shadows of one object onto another) can inflate the amount of work. However, several advantages make this approach really interesting: like the option to add motion blur in Post Production instead of through time consuming rendering. Or the option to change the main actor (the robot in this case), without having to recreate the background.

Lessons learned

Now that we built major parts of our city, we learned some of the current limits of large scene setup in 3dstudioMax. Although we were thorough in setup, we realized many improvements need to be made for better scene performance. We will revisit our updates in a next chapter, as we are rebuilding this entire project.

3d assets we are rebuilding

3d assets we are rebuilding

On a side note, we looked into the software used to put together large scenes for blockbuster movies. Have a look at this video for a software package called Clarice, it is great to watch how large scenes are put together   Screenshot taken from  @vfxnews  •  @cgzamir   Thank you for reading our update!    Kris / Teun

Screenshot taken from @vfxnews@cgzamir

Thank you for reading our update!

Kris / Teun