Mineral Water training project



Péter Závorszky: modeling, brand design, animation
Gergely Vass: shading, lighting, rendering, dynamics


The goal of this project was to practice and learn new techniques, which can be useful in production environment. We tried to make a "classic" mineral water commercial while Peter could learn to use Maya. (In Hungary people start to care about their health these years and there are a LOT of commercials like this on TV.) The main idea was to show two ordinary water and the one with unique, strange bubbles, which travel down instead of going up.

We started to make storyboards and finally realized the simplest version. The camera starts from the inside of the first bottle and we see the bubbles ascending. The camera moves suddenly backwards and we see the -normal- bottle from the outside. We take a look at the second bottle just tha same way. When we move in the third water we see bubbles going up normally, but when we move out we realize that the camera is upside down and the bubbles are actually descending.

nurbs bottle mineral water


The NURBS bottles were modeled by Peter. In order to handle the different refraction properties of the bottle we made 3 different surfaces: one for the plastic below the water level, one for the plastic above water level and one for the surface of the water inside the bottle. All three models are based on actual pieces, the modeling of two of them was very straightforward but Peter had to tweak for long ours the last one. Some geometrical features were modeled by bump maps. At first Peter made vector based files, but after rasterization the pixels were always visible since the camera have passed through the surface. Since we couldn't use high enough resolution I made all the bump maps with procedural, built in textures.


procedural texture
The original version with image texture and the one with procedural (resolution independent) texture.

After Peter has finished the models I started to develop the shaders in Maya. The sampler info node was used extensively to drive opacity, color and reflectivity. The bump map was a mixture of the procedural texture described above and some noise to achieve some thin plastic feeling. I scanned hi resolution textures for scratches on the bottle and for the back side of the label. The scratch texture was acquired from one real bottle (I was rolling it along the moving sensor in my scanner).


plastic bottle texture
The two hi-res texture, both 3K.

bottle shader test
Early shader test.

After finishing the bottles I started to work on the bubbles. At first I wanted to mimic the look and the motion of real bubbles, however we soon realized than real bubbles do not look cool. They move very fast and all of them look the same. The final bubbles look more like the ones of divers in the see. The motion of the bubbles was controlled by a particle system, they all were instanced objects. Some of them were egg shaped NURBS spheres and some of them were constantly changing soft bodies. A simple creation expression made the distribution and the shape of the particles random.


We used only Maya for rendering with the downloadable caustics plug-in. Unfortunately this plug-in has turned out to be pretty unstable using high number of surfaces and photons (rays, whatever you call them). To overcome the pain of rendering caustics and raytraced soft shadows I made one hires texture for the ground and used it for the whole animation. (It was very favorable that the bottles did not move at all.)

caustic texture for the ground
4K resolution texture for the background.

caustic texture test
The scene with and without bottles. Most of the rendering time was the calculation of refraction and reflection.

To set up the moving cameras and to manage the rendering was Peter's task. We rendered short sequences and composited afterwards. The biggest challenge was the entering and the leaving of the bottle. We wanted to make a transition which looks like we were at the edge of water and air. The mask I used to blend and distort the sequences was an animated Maya ramp.

entering water texture
Transition into the water using an animated Maya ramp texture.

We have made several version of the composited commercial, however we don't have a perfect, final version. You can download two tests, the first one has some titles as well which says: Aqua Front mineral water with special bubbles. (However, it shows that I am definitely not a fine graphic artist nor a good director.) At least Peter got deeper into Maya and I had some experiences as well. It was funny that after finishing the animation an other mineral water commercial was aired in the television with almost exactly the same bubbles and bottle.


final render of mineral water bottles




1.5 mb, DivX 5.0 codec or newer required, you can download it here.


2 mb, DivX 5.0 codec or newer required, you can download it here.