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How 3D Animation Turned A Moustache Into An Evil Monster

Through CGI the creators of The Power Inside turn ordinary facial hair into terrifying aliens.

by TCP Staff
Sep 24 2013, 9:41pm

What if bad facial hair wasn't just an unfortunate lifestyle decision, but also a sign of true evil? The Power Inside (a new social film series from Intel and Toshiba) proposes that this trend is actually part of a larger sinister force. In the video, made in collaboration with animators Zoic Studios, main protagonist Neil (Craig Roberts) and his sagely barber (Harvey Keitel) must save the world from alien moustaches called Uricks, sent to destroy earth. Through the use of CGI and 3D molding, the creators managed to turn ordinary facial hair into terrifying aliens.

The wizards behind the visual effects for shows such as True Blood and Falling SkiesZoic Studios worked in tandem with directors Josh Gordon & Will Speck (Blades of Glory) to find the perfect brand of funny, terrifying, and believability for their villains. Having worked with vampires and other proto-humans, this project required slightly more finesse:

“We did research into a lot of different types of creatures that make up these things. How are you going to turn a moustache into a creature and have it actually work anatomically?”said Matt Olmon, Zoic’s VFX Producer. “We deal with semi-humanoid alien creatures, things that look kind of like us and can be related to us. [In the ‘The Power Inside’], we’re working with creatures that aren’t at all like us and the closest thing we have towards them is probably an insect. Creatively for us, it’s fun to be dealing with a different type of creature.”

Below, a Urick has claimed a new victim.

After a period of trial and error studying several insects and sea creatures for inspiration, the team decided to model the Uricks on spiders, and set to work on the hard part of making these terrifying house menaces into horrifying space creatures.

Beginning with basic concept art, the designs then became 3D models. From there animators were able to add bone structures and movements to the forms, and in this case, even a moustache structure. 

Once the heavy lifting was finished, the episodes were cut on AVID, using Maya for the 3D aspects, Nuke for composition, and Flame to round out the treatment.

Below, 3D animation turns a spider into a moustache alien.

While the resulting images above look polished and believable, they didn't happen overnight. One of the main challenges was getting the animated moustaches to look natural: 

“We went through several different grooming processes to see what kind of hair would work best, from length to color to texture. We wanted to make sure that it felt moustache-like, so the hair was just right," said Olmon.

The result of all this work is the final episode in which the mother of all 3D animated moustaches (below) makes her grand appearance. Inspired by months of hard work and collaboration between directors and animators, "The Queen" is a composite of the Gordon and Speck's vision and Zoic's technological prowess.

The Queen of the moustaches, below, is the master of all facial hair.

A major departure from the first two collaborations in this trilogy (which included Daytime Emmy and Cannes winner The Beauty Inside), the new series has been a hit with fans, even spawning several fake Facebook pages.

To see the combined effort of these fans, directors, and animators, you can check out the series finale below:

You can also watch the full series on The Power Inside website, where they'll be continuing to stream the shorts in their entirety.

For more on The Power Inside click here.

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