Brent Oil Rig

Client: Bigger Bang

In 2017 I worked as a 3D generalist for film and television production company Bigger Bang on a small project for their client, Shell.

The project was to create a short animation that would be used internally at Shell to show the process of decommissioning oil rigs in the Brent Oil Field, owned by Shell. Initially, the goal was to also include the Pioneering Spirit, a boat specifically built to carry oil rig platforms, but eventually, this was reduced to just showing the oil rig, a comparison of the oil rig's size compared to landmarks and the basics of how the top of the oil rig platform detaches from the base.

My role was to work directly with director, David Hatter, to take existing assets, model new ones and animate and render them to create a blueprint-style animation. The animation was completed in Blender 3D.

I was initially provided with an existing oil rig asset, but I knew such a high resolution model would be both difficult to manage and would probably not work well with the methods I was intending to use to get the blueprint look. Below is a test render that I sent to the director to explain this. Upon seeing this he gave me the go-ahead to spend time heavily reducing the complexity of the model, which resulted in practically all pieces of the oil rig being remodelled with simpler geometry.

The oil rig prior to simplification.

Below is the finalised look for the blueprint, using the remodelled oil rig. Created in Blender 3D, this combined the Blender Internal render engine's wireframe shader for the main geometry detail, Freestyle for the thicker outlines and Cycles for the diffuse shading.

Despite having the intention to wholly use the Cycles rendering engine for this, combined with Freestyle for the line rendering, even with simplified geometry the render time was too costly to use Freestyle for everything. Instead, Blender's 'Blender Render' engine (Blender Internal) was used for the bulk of the line work and Freestyle was reduced to only doing the outlines of geometry, something that Blender Internal couldn't do and Freestyle could do without extending render times too much. Several render passes from the two render engines and Freestyle were then combined in Blender's compositor to create the finished effect.

The first stage of the animation shows a transition between some existing footage of an oil rig and the digital oil rig. The digital oil rig only had to be representative of the real oil rig, so the transition isn't exact.

The second stage of the animation was to show the oil rig to scale next to some famous landmarks. I reused the Empire State Building from another project I had done for Bigger Bang and modeled The Eiffel Tower.

The final stage of the animation shows the lifting off of the oil rig top from the base, which would then be carried away by ship.