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Opinion and Insight
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How The Mill Fills Crowds & Stadiums with CGI Goodness

Mill London, 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The Mill London’s Head of 3D Rob Holmes & Effects Supervisor Tom Raynor open up about their Stadium Toolkit

How The Mill Fills Crowds & Stadiums with CGI Goodness









Q> The Mill has a long-standing history in creating epic crowd and stadium work - can you tell us about this?

Rob: The creation of CG photo-real stadiums, the environments around them and the supporters within them is a world we have been immersed in since we undertook the re-creation of the colosseum for Sir Ridley Scott’s Academy award-winning VFX tour de force, ‘Gladiator’ back in 2000.

That knowledge and experience in understanding, crafting and executing the most complex and realistic crowds and the stadiums for them to occupy was soon applied to the commercials world, bringing to life the truly inventive crowds that no one had yet imagined in the 2003 multi-award winning PlayStation ‘Mountain’ (the first commercial to use Massive crowd software).

This was later followed by our work on the global phenomena of Nike ‘Write the Future’ with its 236 VFX shots and CG stadium and since then we’ve been responsible for hundreds of high end ads for the likes of Adidas, Guinness, and NFL

We have continuously aimed to create groundbreaking stadiums brought to life alongside genuine photo-real universes.

Tom: We have been making incredible looking stadiums and crowds for the last 25 years and with every project, we end up with a result that is even more compelling than the last.

Historically, this kind of work has always been complicated and time consuming with a vast amount of repetitive tasks involved in every project. As our knowledge of this craft grew, we were able to take a good look at our approach and identify the bottlenecks in the process.

We then started breaking down the components that go into creating a completely photo-real stadium environment and came up with a new way to design completely bespoke stadiums from the ground up in the smartest and most efficient way.

The Mill Stadium toolkit is our response to that need.



What is the new Mill Crowd & Stadium Toolkit? How does it work?

Rob: The Mill Crowd and Stadium Toolkit is the first stadium toolkit of its kind, that is a complete framework for creating bespoke photoreal stadiums from scratch in the most efficient way possible.

It works because some very clever artists have analysed hundreds of stadiums, distilled the defining features and then created an environment which can be bespokely refined to create the perfect stadium for any brand or project.

Tom: By eliminating time consuming, repetitive tasks we have enabled our artists to spend more time on the details. The result is a stadium that is more real and compelling than ever before.

Each section of the stadium is built as a module that slots into the framework and is infinitely customizable. We have tools for creating the chairs that populate the stadium, the hotdog stands, the flood lights, the flags that the crowd are waving, even down to the litter on the floor.

Each of these smart tools insert seamlessly into the toolkit framework allowing our artists to modify details such as light banks live, whilst seeing the results automatically populated around a stadium. The modular nature of the framework also means that new tools can be added effortlessly.


Are there large changes in process? Is it quicker? What is the pipeline?

Rob: The toolkit offers the perfect combination of speed and quality improvements.

We have drastically reduced the complex design phase of bespoke stadiums, coupled with time consuming technical aspects of crowd placement allowing us more time to spend on the important details where we complete the illusion to the standards people expect from The Mill.


Q> What are its capabilities? What can it offer clients now that, without the toolkit, may not have been offered before?

Tom: The Mill Toolkit at this point in time is just the beginning. As our kit of parts continues to grow with each successive project we do, the level of accuracy and realism which we will be able to achieve will grow with it enabling us to create work on a scale never before possible and continue to push the boundaries of what is achievable in the area of photoreal crowd and stadium work.

Rob: With the Rio Olympics and Euro 2016 taking place this summer our toolkit means we are poised and ready to create some more sporting greats!


Genre: Visual VFX