Boutique creative studio Perception visualizes the future
From designing the advanced Black Panther - Wakandan technology to real-world User Interface for global technology companies, the artists at Perception help visionaries turn ideas into visual realities. Founded in 2001, the Emmy Award-nominated design lab, which specializes in digital design and motion graphics, has contributed work to many Marvel Studios’ superhero-centric projects released in the last decade, including the “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” main-on-end title sequence. Conveying the personal journey of the lead character, the 90-second stylized sequence recreates high impact moments from the film as dynamic fluid simulations, which was securely rendered on Conductor cloud platform.
Drawing inspiration from the prevalence of water throughout the film for the overall aesthetic, Perception was charged with developing a sequence that continued telling a story, instead of simply flashing credits. Working closely with production, the team built out key action points, then fine-tuned lighting, color and animation details using Maxon’s Cinema4D, rendering with Redshift on Conductor.
“While the water simulations in the sequence are gorgeous, they require a ton of compute power to render, and we ended up adding a lot more hero shots than initially planned. Using Conductor ensured we were able to hit our creative mark and timeline, even as the scope grew,” said Perception Head of Production Eric Daly. “Marvel security requirements are understandably stringent, and fortunately we were able to securely integrate with the platform quickly.”
Over the years, Perception has dabbled in cloud-based rendering when their needs grew beyond what they could manage with internal resources. As more projects demand data-heavy 3D renders or deliverables exceeding 4K resolution, Daly anticipates having Conductor at the ready will be essential. He explained, “We’re always looking for solutions that relieve bottlenecks, and Conductor is another arrow in our quiver. It not only helps us through tough times, but also to avoid them altogether.”
Perception Partner and Co-Founder Danny Gonzalez noted, “When a shot takes hours to render on-prem, that’s lost time. With a direct pipe to Conductor, we can crank on it when we need and quickly render super high-fidelity shots that are suitable for closeups.”
Since integrating with Conductor in mid-2021, the Perception team has continued to further advance its implementation, while maintaining tight security protocols required by its clients.
“We love the projects that stretch us creatively, but there are only so many tricks and displacement techniques that you can do to minimize the render burden on your farm. Having access to Conductor provides us with more options to achieve what we want, within tight timelines,” concluded Daly. “We found Conductor because, mathematically speaking, we could not render the Shang-Chi sequence once fully developed using solely our local farm. Now that we’ve unlocked its potential, we see it as a valuable tool for furthering our growth.”
Marvel Studios’ “Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. The film also stars Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy, with Michelle Yeoh as Ying Nan, and Tony Leung as Xu Wenwu, Shang-Chi’s father; as well as Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Yuen Wah, Ronny Chieng, Zach Cherry, and Dallas Liu. “Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and produced by Kevin Feige and Jonathan Schwartz, with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso and Charles Newirth serving as executive producers. Dave Callaham & Destin Daniel Cretton & Andrew Lanham wrote the screenplay for the film and the screen story is by Dave Callaham & Destin Daniel Cretton. The film opened in theaters on September 3, 2021.