Creating ocean scenes for Germany’s AIDA cruises

The 10K panorama content runs on an ambient 20m wide LED installation.

Hamburg VFX house, Freiraum FX, was commissioned by Sterntaucher to create a series of ocean panoramas aboard AIDAnova, working with DaVinci Resolve and Fusion Studio to complete the 11 month project.

“AIDA’s cruise liners take guests to stunning ocean settings all over the world,” said creative director, Oliver Neis of Hamburg-based agency Sterntaucher. “The team wanted to bring this sense of global travel to the interior design of its latest ships.”

“AIDA wanted four different panoramic vistas in its Yachthafen restaurant to reflect the variety of cruises: the Caribbean, Indian Summer, Scandinavia Northland and the Mediterranean,” said Freiraum’s Julius Worm. “The restaurant is designed to feel like a Yacht Club with a view of the harbour and open sea, so guests are inspired for their next trip.”

The 10K panorama content runs on an ambient 20m wide LED installation, with each of the four scenes changing throughout the day to reflect daytime and sunset looks. Additional dynamic elements included animated beach waves, boats on the horizon and even a waterfall. In total, 50 animations were created in 10K and 6K.

Composition and editing throughout the project required a huge amount of resource from the team’s computers. “However, we chose to composite through Fusion Studio,” said Julius. “And the ability to use unlimited network render nodes alleviated this well, meaning we didn’t have to worry about huge render times.”

Julius explains that the majority of the content was composed of CGI elements, rather than shooting a variety of real locations. Each panorama started with a black and white sketch of the basic scenery, which allowed the team to block out the main elements. Then a series of 30 second animation tests refined things such as the speed of waves and clouds. The elements were then extended and mastered with DaVinci Resolve.

“Throughout the whole process, we were jumping in and out of Fusion. For example adding 3D fog and animating and automating the boats. We also used the displacement feature to create a travelling V wave and track foam footage behind each boat,” continues Julius. “The tools within Fusion saved us time creating these elements, but then the ability to move between editing in Resolve and Fusion helped us massively.”