“As a partner supporting the entire journey from pre-production through post-production, we’re focused on improving workflow efficiency.”
- Jung Ko-eun, Marketing Director, Westworld
Founded in 2018 by a group of industry veterans at the forefront of the Korean VFX scene for over 20 years, Westworld is a specialized visual effects company with an impressive portfolio of globally recognized films and TV series, including Sweet Home, Mystic Pop-up Bar, The King: Eternal Monarch, Signal, and Itaewon Class.
Westworld provides visual effects services for the entire production process, ranging from pre-production, including pre-visualization, through post-production with services like digital intermediate (DI) and digital mastering. By investing in the latest tools and techniques, Westworld has quickly become a leader in Korea’s VFX industry.
Image courtesy of Westworld.
A new paradigm in VFX production
Most video production companies work with various subcontractors. When this is the case, close collaboration between VFX and DI teams is required to achieve the desired color in a final project. Westworld runs a dedicated in-house DI team and, as a result, is able to work internally on high-quality VFX.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic making it difficult to shoot on location, there has been rising interest in the area of virtual production. Virtual production is a filmmaking method in which real-time virtual rendered scenes surround physical actors and props on set using an LED screen during shooting. By quickly and actively adopting the latest techniques, Westworld is now leading the way for virtual production in Korea.
Westworld used virtual production for Sweet Home, a Netflix original series released in 2020, that was shot while monitoring pre-produced digital characters at the studio. The Sea of Tranquility, another Netflix original series coming out soon, also used virtual production methods, this time shooting a film against a background displayed on an LED screen.
Creating out-of-this-world scenes with Maya and Bifrost
Most recently, Westworld worked on VFX for Seo Bok. Directed by Lee Yong-ju, well-known for his film Architecture 101, Seo Bok is a sci-fi action film about a former intelligence agent Gi-heon (Gong Yoo), who protects a human clone, Seo Bok (Park Bo-gum). The film’s star-filled cast, including Gong Yoo and Park Bo-gum, made headlines even before the film was released.
Westworld made use of Autodesk Maya and Bifrost to bring challenging scenes to life in Seo Bok involving special forces, armored vehicles, choppers, glamorous cities, and visuals of collapsing grounds and buildings.
Bifrost for Maya makes it quick and easy to create complex visual effects such as flames, explosions, clouds, and smoke, using visual programming. Seo Bok is the first Korean film where Bifrost for Maya was applied in production. “Three days ahead of the deadline, we had to create a scene in which Seo Bok takes vengeance on Dr. Kim Cheon-oh,” said Jeon Byeong-geun, one of the VFX leads for the film. “It was the scene where Dr. Kim is in a wheelchair and is crumpled like a ball. As we had to create such complex visual effects with a lot of details in such a limited period of time, we decided to put Bifrost for Maya to the test for the first time. The outcome of this was beyond our expectations. We were able to create this imaginary scene and make it more realistic than reality itself.”
Image courtesy of Westworld.
Jeon was able to complete the scene using the MPM Solver in Bifrost to accelerate the simulations without lowering graphic quality and then improve the graphics by further enhancing the details. Collision, contained in the MPM Solver, enabled the team to create high quality simulations that were both stable and visually stunning.
The relentless challenge - moving beyond VFX and into video production
Jeon has long been a user of Maya, specializing in the creation of characters and simulations in scenes that require delicate movements of hair, cloth, and muscle. While looking for a solution to create high-quality visual effects, he came across Bifrost.
During his work on Seo Bok, Jeon experienced firsthand how powerful Maya and Bifrost can be for this type of work. As Maya supported all the functions needed for VFX work, he was able to work efficiently without having to use many other solutions. His years of experience as a Maya artist combined with the powerful simulation features offered by Bifrost, made the work much easier.
Having discovered the possibilities Bifrost has to offer as a VFX tool, he now plans to extend the use of the solution to more areas, including deformation and character rigging. Currently transforming from a VFX studio into an integrated digital solution provider for video production, Westworld aims to expand its business further by entering the content production market.
“We will expand our business areas with Autodesk solutions in place as our trusted supporter,” said Jung Ko-eun, the Marketing Director at Westworld. “We expect we will continue to thrive along with Autodesk with more solutions and functions that will help to extend the possibilities of our video content production, such as real-time game engines.”
“Autodesk Maya is the most fundamental and important tool we use to perform VFX and CFX work. With Bifrost for Maya’s excellent performance and compatibility, we will be able to create more elaborate, delicate, and realistic visual effects than ever before.”
- Jeon Byeong-geun, Lead Character TD, Westworld
Want to know more about Westworld? Check them out here.