MAXON’s CINEMA 4D and BodyPaint 3D Play Starring Role in District 9, Surrogates, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra

Image Engine used MAXON’s BodyPaint 3D software solution to paint complex textures that blended dirt, dust, paint and stickers that cover the aliens’ bodies (there were hundreds in all) giving each a distinctive, insect-inspired look that seamlessly integrated with the characters in the gritty South African ghetto setting. Anna Ivanova, a texture artist at Image Engine, noted the ease with which she could move back and forth between BodyPaint 3D and Adobe Photoshop and rework shots to accommodate the director’s requests.

“Most of the aliens had seams all over their bodies, some in difficult places such as the UV’s in the alien’s necks,” Ivanova said. “BodyPaint 3D allowed us to easily go from one seam to another with a projection brush and blend space between the creatures shells and soft skin shaders, which helped solve a lot of problems. Additionally, we took the 3D model (developed in Autodesk Maya) and painted random brush strokes directly on the bodies and then added at least three different texture variations.”

James Stewart, Image Engine’s creature supervisor, added that BodyPaint 3D was a necessity when it came to creating the aliens. “Besides developing custom shaders to layer the creatures’ bodies with dust and dirt, each alien was adorned with different variations of paint splotches and stickers. Both the paint and the stickers were worn in an attempt to fit in with the humans around them. Eventually, we came up with a library of 20 different variations of paint splotches, splatter and stickers that could be used interchangeably on any alien saving a lot of time in the workflow process.”

Lightdog Films – Surrogates

At Lightdog Films in Los Angeles, veteran VFX artist Marc Leidy operates CINEMA 4D as the ‘hub’ of his visual effects production pipeline. Lightdog Films was tasked to work on a key sequence in the film Surrogates, which required delicate integration of smoke and fire elements to reveal extensive damage done to two of the main robotic characters.

"CINEMA 4D was an integral tool during production and vital to successfully ‘selling’ the shot,” said Leidy. He brought match moving data from Syntheyes and actor geometry from Image Modeler into CINEMA 4D, where he built a particle dynamics rig with the XPresso expressions editor module. Leidy also leveraged Turbulence 4D, from Jawset Visual Computing, a new fluid dynamics simulation plug-in for CINEMA 4D, to create complex photo-realistic wispy smoke that curls upwards from the damage and fills the frame.

“The speed, stability and ease-of-use that CINEMA 4D offers makes it the perfect platform to focus on both the art and science of building photo-real elements for the big screen. Access to new tools by third party developers extend CINEMA 4D's functionality in incredible ways without compromising its core quality and performance,” he added. “The high level of control afforded by our 3D toolset on Surrogates allowed me to render and deliver final match-moved 2K elements to the client within a very compressed time-frame that aptly captured the emotional intent of the scene. CINEMA 4D is an indispensable asset for my visual effects production pipeline.”

About MAXON Computer

MAXON Computer is a developer of professional 3D modeling, painting, animation and rendering solutions. Its award-winning CINEMA 4D and BodyPaint 3D software products have been used extensively to help create everything from stunning visual effects in top feature films, TV shows and commercials, cutting-edge game cinematics for AAA games, as well for medical illustration, architectural and industrial design applications. MAXON has offices in Germany, USA, United Kingdom, France and Japan. MAXON products are available directly from the Website and its worldwide distribution channel. Specially priced learning editions of the company’s software solutions are also made available to educational institutions. For additional information on MAXON visit

Image Links

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs:

  • (The matte painting team at Sony Pictures Imageworks used MAXON’s CINEMA 4D and BodyPaint3D software to create every exterior environment in “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” including 360-degree skies, hillsides and town extensions)
  • (Dave Bleich, matte paint lead at Sony Pictures Imageworks, commented that CINEMA 4D helped the team meet the challenges of the ‘Burger Rain’ sequence in creating 360-degree sky environmental maps in “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”)

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

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