Deadly Beauty

by Digital Domain

Animation, Filmmaking

Digital Domain is a creative content studio that entertains and inspires, best known for their groundbreaking visual effects in films such as “Titanic,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Armageddon” and many more. Their company is a pioneer in many fields: visual effects, creating “virtual humans” and 360° virtual realities. The staff artists at Digital Domain have won more than 100 major awards, including Academy Awards, Clios, BAFTA awards and Cannes Lions. Helen Hsu is a Creative Director at Digital Domain in Shanghai, who has previously worked with high profile clients, such as Academy (Oscars), Netflix, and the live-action film “Ghost in the Shell.” For this ConceptD Collaboration, she wanted to capture the surrealness of deep-sea creatures in stunning 3D.

In ‘Deadly Beauty’, we see a simple story of a life and death. The prey, a gentle sea snail, gracefully swims to its inevitable demise. The predator, a twisted underwater sea angel, blissfully waits for its dinner. Flying through the sea, the innocent sea snail gently crosses into the afterlife. In less than a minute, we see the cycle of life—a clear message about the tranquil beauty of existence.


Life runs fast and cruel in the deep sea. Divulge in the dissection of Deadly Beauty, from wireframe, specular, reflection, and refraction passes, to the beautiful final renderings of this incredible 3D piece from Helen Hsu and Digital Domain.

Made On

ConceptD 500

The attractive and stylish ConceptD 500 has the latest Intel® Core™ i9 CPU and an NVIDIA® Quadro RTX™ 4000 to deliver reliable computing for complex creative projects.

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ConceptD CP7

First tailor-made 4K monitor for CG creators with precise color accuracy, wide color gamut, and high refresh rate.

ConceptD 9

Delivering ultimate creative power, the ConceptD 9 is the ideal laptop for demanding 3D work.

The challenges faced by Helen Hsu and the team at Digital Domain in the creation of ‘Deadly Beauty’ included using real sea creatures as references while conjuring their own interpretations, allowing them to make their imagination come to life on the screen.

Working heavily in Maya and the Houdini Engine to make sure it looked fully realistic, this needed strong machine power to handle it.

One of the hardest parts of the endeavor was working on the petals for the sea angel. It was mostly designed using Houdini, based on an algorithm called differential growth. This tool was rebuilt in Houdini and needed to run a simulation for each shot.

Software Used