One of my primary contributions to Arboretum was assisting CG artist Laurent Ledru with the flower made of umbrellas. I ended up writing a custom animation constraint in Maya that locked an object to the position and orientation of a particular point on a NURBS surface. I also wrote a MEL script which distributed equidistant but random points on the surface of a hemisphere. We used these two pieces of code to place the umbrellas onto an animating hemisphere which scaled along its Y-axis.
For Arboretum I also collaborated with CG artist Scott Metzger to create a high dynamic range compositing pipeline. While we had previously done some work using high dynamic range environment maps, maintaining HDR throughout the pipeline was a first at Method. We used Nuke, owned by Digital Domain at the time but now maintained by The Foundry. I coded a custom output shader for mental ray to facilitate exporting deep raster data into Nuke, and from there Scott created comps in Nuke which allowed him to light the scenes without re-rendering. We also leaned heavily on Nuke's post-process depth of field capabilities for several shots.
This spot was nominated for a Visual Effects Society award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial and won a 2007 Gold Clio for Visual Effects. It was also featured in the Siggraph Electronic Theater this past year in San Diego.