Anatomy of a Scene: Victor Garza, Hair & Groom Supervisor on Hulu’s Dragons: The Nine Realms


Victor Garza is a Hair & Groom Supervisor who works at Dreamworks. His most recent project, Dragons: The Nine Realms, is streaming on Hulu. In this interview Victor dives into one of his favorite scenes.  

Victor Garza: My role on Dragons came into play well before any scenes were ready to get started. I am responsible for creating all hair and groom workflows and tools for many of Dreamworks Animation Televisions productions. Dragons: The Nine Realms is one such production. So you could say I worked on all scenes that had a character with hair. 

I did personally groom the hair for the character D’Angelo Baker. 

PH: Describe this scene and the significance it has to the rest of “Dragons: The Nine Realms”.

Victor Garza: Grooming the hair for D’Angelo allowed me to put into practice the workflows that would be used by the Groom artists. As I worked on the groom for this character, it also allowed me to decide which tools we should create that would allow the artists to concentrate their time on the artistic aspects of groom creation by automating as much of the technical side of 3D groom creation.

PH: What tools, plugins, or instruments did you use in your production of this scene?

Victor Garza: We use Maya as our primary 3D production application. Maya is pretty ubiquitous with 3D productions. Maya does have hair solutions that come built-in, but they may not necessarily meet the needs of our productions. For this reason, I looked at other hair plugins and found that Peregrin Lab’s Yeti was a good fit to meet the hair-related needs of Dragons: The Nine Realms.

Since my concentration is on all things hair, I am able to focus on making sure that we can build great-looking hair grooms, whilst other members of our 3D Production Team worked on other aspects of the pipeline.

PH: What technical challenges did you encounter while working on this scene?

Victor Garza: Though Yeti is a fairly robust hair plug-in, there was still a lot of work needed to have it play nice with all stages of a 3D Pipeline. I am not only responsible for how the hair will be built, but also for how it will behave once the characters are animated and subsequently rendered.

This means that I had to work out how to integrate the hair build with the animation Rig that is used to bring these characters to life. My job would be a lot easier if the hair we groom remained static, but that isn’t as fun as adding motion to it. 

The biggest challenges came from finding the best way to build the grooms in such a way that kept the artistic fidelity of the groom in its static state when it was handed to the animation team.

This meant working closely with the Rigging Team to ensure that animators could have the freedom to animate the characters to meet the needs of the story and render correctly when scenes would be handed over to the Lighting Team.

PH: What was the dialogue like between you and the director regarding this scene?

Victor Garza: The dialog with the director starts as soon as they put together the design and writing teams. This is so that I can get a better understanding of what the look of the show will be and what type of story the director is trying to tell. 

The approach we take when grooming hair may vary depending on what they expect the characters to be able to do, and what style of animation they may want for the show.

Will the animation have a lot of squash and stretch? Will the characters be flying through the air? Etc. This last question may seem obvious, but not ALL characters will be lucky enough to get to fly on one of the many amazing dragons that exist in the world of Dragons: The Nine Realms.


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