Niall Horn VFX's Blog- Making Of My Work & RnD

Friday, 26 June 2015

RealFlow 2015- Alpha Tests

Hi Guys, Not had time to put some info on yet about the Boot FX work, but I will when I get time, in the meanwhile here is some of my latest 

Using a lot of the new Volume/Collison calculation methods in RealFlow, aswell as Caronte + Hybrido (Rigid and soft bodies interaction with Hybrido/FLIP). And some more small production style shots. Also doing RnD to get big spray splashes with the Splash and Mist Solvers.

RealFlow 2015 is coming soon, more info visit

I've just started on new projects so am gonna be super busy over summer doing lots of FX !

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Haix Boots- Fluid FX Work

All Final Images ©Haix
All Working/FX Images ©Niall Horn VFX

Hi Guys,

I got asked to work on these 3 shots for a new Haix Boot Commercial to be shown at am event in just under 4 weeks from the start date. I was responsible for all the FX, Lighting & Rendering and Slap/PreComps.

Haix Boots- Fluids FX RnD Reel

MORE INFO- Coming when I get time to write it up !

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Making Of Space Pyramid Rise

Just a quick post, this is a bit dated, but I recorded a Making Of for one of my Biggest Fluid Sim shots, for Next Limit (The Developers of RealFlow). It shows my workflow for the project from 3DS Max, to RealFlow and Back to Max with V-Ray,Krakatoa and Frost. And Even the Compositing. You can view it on the link below. My voice sounds a bit weird I admit, kinda mix of North Yorkshire and North East England Accent!!

Blog Writeup, From January (2015)

Making Of Space Pyramid Rise FX Shot

THANKS & Enjoy ! - Niall

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

AT-AT Destruction FX Project

All Content © Niall Horn VFX
(Unless Otherwise Stated)

Hi Guys!

I've been working on this on some nights and weekends of the past month or so. It started as a project to create a shot for an Indie StarWars Game to help out on there trailer, but I decided to turn it into a personal FX project. Note all the NHVFX/Niall Horn VFX Watermarks are due to me not wanting to get sued by Lucasfilm/Disney, therefore showing there is no affiliation!

Inspired by Empire I wanted to do an ATAT Destruction shot to look as cinematic as possible. The Miniatures from Empire (StarWars The Empire Strikes Back) served as some reference but this was all about showing the scale of how big an ATAT is and the scale of destruction that would occur. I had quite a few different ideas of how I wanted to blow it up! The Initial idea for the shot was to have progressive explosions gradually destroying it, but in the end I decided to go for an epic short shot with Main burst explosions and then secondary explosions as the fire quickly spreads. There some really nice examples of Alien Ships (Stingers i think?) in Battleship Exploding done by ILM and ScanlineVFX. Theres lots of really nice metal/hull tearing detail that then gets covered by Smoke, Debris and Lens Flares + Glow and Motion Blur, once they get into Comp ! I really like looking for all those details that are in there, thats something I wanted for this shot!

I did a very basic annotation of the explosions, trails and firey debris I was aiming for the shot, can't really say I was ever artistic drawing wise!! The Destruction here was just basic blocking.

Annotation Of What I wanted for the FX Sims

Shot Setup/Blocking-

I really wanted to have the camera look up at the AT-AT to show its scale and then becuase I hate static cameras I had the camera push in a little bit, I am not really a layout artist but this was the idea for my shot, gives nice movement and maintains scale. This way there was always going to be fully visible destruction as that was one of the main aims for this shot.

The AT-AT Asset was from Sci-Fi 3D.Com However I cleaned it up and modelled an interior metal structure inside the hull. Both the Hull (Metal) Tearing and the interior Strucutres bending and snapping required me to clean up the asset. I dont think i've ever worked on a project where the assets are fully clean, and sometimes even proxies need cleaning up! The only animation here is the head falling down, there was/is no rig on this asset and thats not really my cup of tea, I also wanted to diffrenaite from the classic Walker Falls down on its knees you see alot.

Basic Procedural Shaders for the ATAT VRay Mtls (Diff,Ref,Refl,Bump)

FX #1- AT-AT Destruction-

A lot of time was spent on this part of the shot, setting up a Hull/Metal Tearing/Bending Setup and Workflow in ThinkingParticles and some PFlow. All the hull was manually pre fragged, no Voronoi fractures, metal breaks completely irregular and is repentant on what strength it is. Also metal bends before it tears so I setup a TP Rig that joins the fragments together and tests them for velocity to break the joints, thats pretty simple, the complex part is the deformation on them, I could of used SC Deformation which is built into TP, however this would not of been affected by if the joints break or not, as it is a a completely different value and its per group. So Alot of SC Friction was used get a kinda bending look to the fragments, and post sim once the Sim was baked out to geometry I defined a group of hero fragments and ran fractal noise through them to turn on (Modifier Based) once they were hit by the impact and blown apart. Right now I am looking to push my TP Setup so these hero frags can be proxy based and I can use skinned particles to get true deformation, however this gets complex when your dealing with 1000s of fragments. I am working on RnD for this aswell as a similar project where I need to do Metal Tearing so this RnD will be continued for a while. The Internal Structure snapping was done a similar way. These were both sim'd togther and the final sim only took around 30 mins to cache and export. I used TPs own Export Operator.

Interior Detail WIP^ 
 "Hull Destruction System" In Full Swing! ^
Final TP Sims Running Together (Hull & Interior Structure)

 TP Sims WIPs

The Bomb force was done to be procedual, my inital idea was just to use spherical force and then test for distance to create the falloff (Blast Radius) however this was not very controallble, So I defined the blast area by using an animated spheres (Theres two bombs/Explosions that destroy the hull) and used that to drive the velocity of the blast.

Early Test of my Bomb System- You might need to hire a translator to read the annotations!!

The Debris was done in PFlow, mainly because I would use this to drive the Fume Sims, These were born via the speed of the main TP Sims, and multiple instances of the fragments. These were then Cached out and locked in the Final Destruction Files.

TP Main RBD Sims & PFlow Debris

FX #2- Explosions,Trails and Firey Debris-

I then moved onto the Fume FX part process of the shot, which was great fun. The Main Explosions needed to be big in Scale to sell the scale of the ATAT. All the sims I did were made for this shot and not from my growing FX Asset Library. The two biggest sims are the Side Explosions, I was wanted the fireballs to be very thick fire trails that shoot out and then expand into a fireball. I was watching Guardians of the Galaxy and saw some sims that look like this in the end battle, with the FX done my MPC, so they served as good reference. These were Emitter via PFlow. Only Fuel and Temp, Smoke was created by Temp in the grids.

These were nice, because once the fire expanded and rose due to the Temp, they left nice Smoke Tendrils.

There was then two big blasts on the top, Recently I have been messing with using Velocity Particles to drive The Velocity of sources rather than emitting the voxels via particles. Its becoming quite a used technique now for getting nice turbulence and bursting looks to explosion fluid sims. 

FX Slap Comp With Fume Explosions 

A big part of the Explosions were the smoke trails, these were done via PFlow/Particle Srcs, there were 3 Smoke Trails.

 Smoke Trails Sim WIP

I created a PFlow System that fires bursts of particles out all over the fragments if they pass a certain velocity IE when the frags explode. Then these particles are locked on and again and again test velocity and if they pass, they emit fire. This is how the fire on the remaining hull and fiery debris was done. I'm not posting a screenshot of the system due to it been a mess.

PFlow Fire Spread System,Firey Debris and Sims WIP

Lighting and Rendering was done using V-Ray, all the shaders apart from the Hull, are procedural textures, Lighting was done using a HDRi plus basic 3 point lighting on the AT-AT, I used Empire Strikes Back as my main lighting reference, as they were miniatures the AT-ATs looked quite flat, so thats the look I went for. The Environment was very simple, using a blend shader to get variation of Ice and snow via a fractal.

Compositing was done in After Effects, I used JAE Tools RealGlow on this Project, its a plugin for AE which creates a much more realistic Glow then AE's Standard Glow. The Falloff is much more realistic and was vitial to the look for the fire I was going for. 

JAE Tools RealGlow In Use- Test Render of A Fume Sim

All the Haze was done in comp. Ideally I wanted to keep contrast in there to show I was not hiding behind haze and mist, but for a shot set in snow, its kinda needed! 

Final Comp WIP

I made some breakdown renders to show the actual destruction detail which is hidden in the final shot by all the fire and smoke!

I'm very happy with how this FX project turned out, I really pushed my TP Skills to not only build a Metal Tearing System aswell as cool Fire and Explosion emission setups, but also be able to put these into this shot. The shot was completed over a month-ish on my nights/weekends after work.

AT-AT Destruction FX Project and Breakdown

I have an RnD Collection for an FX Gig i've been working on for the past month or so, but I can't show that till mid June. Also I am contiuning to push my FX TD Skills, I also am going back to bursh up on my Maya skills, I used Maya back in the day (2008-11ish) when I was first learning 3D, my work sucked but I learnt the fundamentals, I now might need Maya knowledge for a future job, so need to brush up. I am very interested in using Maya Fluids with Arnold. Aswell as BiFrost. 

Thanks For Looking and Reading!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Underwater Naval Base Destruction FX Work

All Images © Niall Horn

So this is a look at the FX work/RnD I did for what was supposed to be a 10 shot sequence with me as the lead FX TD! However the project got scrapped 3 days before my turnover due to budget problems on there end. As Stressful as this was I already am on a new gig and have all this fun FX RnD to show. I worked on the FX Setups/RnD from Mid March to 21st April. I also did all the Lighting/Rendering/Comping You See. The Idea for the project is an Underwater Naval Base That has epic destruction in 10 shots. I was brought on very early after the previs stage, and stayed on until the cancellation of the sequence. I've worked with someone who was in a similar situation as this, and he was not allowed to show any of his RnD, so still happy I can show my work on my reel!

Making Of-

My First part of production was reference, I knew I'd be alone doing all the FX (And Finishing) due to the budget and I wanted to try and bring a high budget/feature look in the FX to these shots. This was not a generalist project, I had to get high end FX setups and RnD done in a very short amount of time. Reference Wise I was looking mainly at MPC's work in GI-Joe Rise Of Cobra with the epic Naval Base Destruction. MPC Did lots of work with Flowline (Scanlines Fluid Sim Tool) to simulate Underwater Pressue in an Explosion, aswell as Destruction. Other good refernces were Scanlines Iron Man 3 underwater Shots (And there breakdown) and Pixomondo's work on Journey 2 (Underwater Submarine Escape Sequence). I studied these shots frame by frame I wrote nearly 10,000 Notes aswell as looking at US Navy underwater Explosion Studies. In the end it comes down to how much time did I have (Not much) to make the FX looks Physically Accurate vs Cinematically Epic. And that is what I love about FX !

The Naval Base Asset was based on a central building with 6 "Arm" Buildings most of the RBD FX RnD was based on these guy''s destructions! The Asset was sent un-named and in 10'000s of objects so I spent nearly a week just prepping the asset for destruction even having to re-UV some of the parts. Aswell as correct touching vertices. I hate Modelling/Model prep and usally dont have to do it, but in this case I did. 

Doing underwater destruction is hard, not only are underwater physics very different but everything that has velocity underwater creates bubbles, meaning the creation of Various Bubble systems/Tools was needed, aswell a highres Hero Bubble Fluid Sims. The Main System was one made for the static geometry (IE non RBD Sim'd) This was using PFlow to create random debris instances the fall and some rise using random values through Split Amount operators. These Debris they get checked for speed/vel and when they pass a defined threshold they spawn bubbles, as the debris sinks they bubbles rise and delete out of frame. There is also random "Dumb" Bubbles that fill up the scene. More on the Hero bubble sims later. Becuse I was using VRAY I worked on a fully Alembic Proxy Pipeline for rendering all the Bubbles,Instances and Meshed Bubble Clouds. I ended up with some hefty 10's Millions Poly Bubble Clouds per FX Asset however these were rendered as proxies in just minutes thanks to VRay 3. I also did some RealFlow Gas Globes RnD, however these were not used sadly as we went for a more firbeall look rather than shockwave explosion.

Mix Of Bubble Methods, From Instances to Fluid Sims.

RealFlow SPH and Hybrido Gas Globes RnD- Faking Velocity (SPH Has Pressure Settings!)

RBD- As stated above the main RBD work was on Blowing up 6 Command/"Arm" Buildings, There was no room for faking these, I wanted full destruction. Not only are these supposed to be huge, but there also made from steel, breaking/tearing metal is hard to look right. For the pre fragging it was a lot of Manual Work, IE Manually chopping/cutting the geo, There was an Inital pre frag stage to define invidual objects, these were then split into Hero Objects and Non Hero Objects. Some of the fracturing was done using a custom Voronoi  method to get rid of that Voronoi look. I also modelled basic internal destruction elements like bent wires and pipes.

Command Building C's Pre Frag Stage (In Sections)

My Tool For Destruction Was Thinking Particles (TP) right now there is no other tool that can handle geometry with not so great mesh in large quantities so well, while maintaing accurate collision detection aswell as iterative speed. The Shape Collision Solver although old now is still  one of  my favourite solvers for RBDs out there and I think i'll be using it for a while! Also with TP I could work procedurally when needed aswell as setup custom constrain systems via procedural joints. I made a two pretty big TP Setups where using a Bomb Force that defines its radius with a raster of particles I could position it anywhere in the scene and have it affect the fragments. From this joints were created and broken depending on the force, plus lots of friction. The Gas Tanks Destruction were also Sim'd in TP I did plan to do these via mParticles however TP was better. All the TP sims were exported through TP (No Budget For XMesh) and from there I manually added deformation to the hero parts and more debris were added as instances through PFlow. 

Gas Tanks Destruction Sims
                                                                       TP Base Sim (Using Lowres Parts)^

The RBD Side was a lot of work and a lot of fun. The Helicarrier Destruction In Cap America 2 served as good reference for how metal hulls break, aswell as my favourite ever film Battleship! The Systems/Workflows I made here will be used in my Epic Summer Personal Project I keep going on about!

 Command Building D RBDs (WIP)
Shot FX Layout with RBD Sims (WIP)
Command Building B Destruction + Debris WIP

The Non Hero Destructions were keyframed using modifiers to fake the deformation as they fall. The Main RBD Sims were then used in my Bubbles Systems to Spawn bubbles. The two hero command buildings use there own Fume Sims that uses smoke with temperature thats then advected, meshed using Frost to create bubble clouds.

Fume+Frost+PFlow- Bubble Emission Sims (Command Building A)

TP and PFlow Working together! TP Main RBD Sim, PFlow Debris and Fume/Bubble Emission.

Underwater Explosions-

This is where the main FX Assets were created. Using FumeFX and PFlow as the main tools here. I needed a good way to fake pressure aswell as keep the explosions looking epic. The pressure was faked by using keyframed values and forces to get the explosions to Expand/Explode then Implode as they would underwater this implosion pressure lasts barely 3 frames which then is turned off quickly causing the nice looking underwater swirling look, and then neg gravity so they rise up. This meant that i setup around 12 different explosion grids using this method to populate the shots. I didn't have the luxury of a pressure solver/mixing liquid and gas sims to get proper underwater explosions. However due to the time and buget the focus was on cinematiclly epic rather than physically accurate.

A Selection Of the Best sims!

The Next stage is all underwater explosions create Bubble Clouds which refract the smoke. These explosions I went with were more fireball like than gas cloud/shockwave. All the explosions were made as FX Assets theres, the hero sims all were meshed using FumeFollow/Smoke and Frost to there own alembic caches, so an Artist could add these (Or me in the end!) to any scene. The what were to be background explosions/ population grids, these were not frost meshed, they each had there own PF System using FumeFollow and instancing bubble geometries.To make things easier I setup a system where I could open one of the scenes sim it and merge it into my main FX Scenes very quickly, and then quickly load the alembic proxie bubbles in.

Most of the explosions were simple srcs driven by velocity IE No particle voxel emission, becuase for one it makes nicer emissions for this case, also I can let the velocity particles live longer and actually drive the motion of the src's emission. You get much nicer bursting explosions than with particle emission. However it takes longer to setup, and is not very controllable and you cant have velocity particles driving the sims all the time as it'd be impossible to calcluate how the velocity is been advected aswell as how much does Fume influence this into the sims. So in some cases I might use a mix of Particle emission and fire some velocity particles into the grids to mix up the emission a bit. Some of the sims have smoke trails (This would be not realistic underwater, as smoke trails are burning debris in most cases which the water would either extinguish or slow down due the the pressure, however smoke/firey trails look awesome) and these were emitted via particles.

Command Building B Main Explosion Sim (4 Emitters)


Due to the sad cancellation of the sequence, I knew i'd be making an FX Reel of all my work and wanted to render a shot with some of my favourite FX Setups/Assets in. I like to do finishing on shots You kinda have to know how to finish into nice shots when your from a smaller studio background which is good because I can do FX projects and do the Light,RenderComp myself I know my skills are a heavy WIP, but with the ability to showcase my FX in a shot I think really helped show the work I put into this project. Would of been nice to have a lighting department here, but I am looking around and theres only me sat here!! I knew I was started a new project next week so did not have time for enviro fog and proper caustics and proper underwater lighting, so I did most of it in comp just showcase the FX in a finished shot. With VRay is really quick to be able to put Materials/simple shader setups on for iterative dailies, gives more of a clear example of how the FX Sims/Renders will be used and will look.

Lighting/Rendering of the "FX Showcase Shot" !

Overall I really enjoyed the work I did for this project, has defiantly been my biggest yet, sad that the sequence got cancelled but that was out of my hands. I learnt a lot on this project and have some great FX Setups for future use. I really enjoyed the underwater FX Side! Right now I am on a new project smaller scale, but have some more RealFlow 2015 RnD in the works aswell as prepping for my summer VFX Personal Project in my free time which will be lots of FX with full shot finsihing I am amining to do a really super ambitious (And Probably stupid) personal FX project! I am also working on a StarWars Game doing an FX Shot! (Dont worry its not confidential!)

So Just big thanks for reading, supporting my work. 2015s brought some awesome projects so far, I hope to get more awesome projects soon! Thanks- Niall

Underwater Naval Base Destruction FX Reel

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Zombie Head Destruction - FX RnD Fun Project

Hi Guys!

This was a fun little FX RnD done over 4 Nights after work. Last week I was re-watching 300 Rise Of An Empire  and seeing the awesome blood sims done by Scanline and MPC, aswell as the awesome blood fluid sims in TheWalkingDead I came up with this FX RnD.

The first stage was the actual head destruction, This was done by getting a head asset from Turbo squid, I used mParticles/Box#2 in 3DS Max for the destruction, I created a proxy  of the head and brain using RayFire Voxels, these were then sim'd using mParticles to break apart on collsion from the saw. They were glue'd using mPGlue. with Distance Binding and breakable by max force. The Brain was also sim'd using this setup, the brain model was just a Deformed Sphere using a cellular displacement map to create the bumps/veins on it. With the sims I did look into using some drag, but I really wanted to keep the tearing feel you get with mParticles.

Voxelised Head and Brain mParticles Sim
Using glue, plus extra deflectors, to joint the glue to.

I then used a 3rd PFlow System to throwout extra brain debris which you will see in the final RnD, these were just PFlow instances of spheres with noise that bounced off the ground/wall.
The mParticles Brain and Head sims were cached using the Cache Data Operator, and then re skinned to there original high res (Non voxelised) assets. Particle skinner would usally crash my Max around 5-20 times a night! I could have added more detail/debris to the head destruction like eye balls and teeth etc! Maybe next time!

Glue Bindings test with Skinned Particles
Final Skinned Brain and Head.

The Original plan was to cache with Alembic and Export the Voxels to RealFlow and use them as the proxy collsions in there, however the latest build of Crate I am using right now is really buggy, so I ended up using now interaction, but just exporting the head's start pos as reference, to Realflow.. To make sure the blood was behaving the same speed/directions as the skinned head, I got playblasts from RealFlow and max, and compared them on every major sim.

The Setup in RealFlow was using the Standard SPH Emitters, theres two blood emitters, one with lower viscosity/density to create the nice blood burst, and a second with higher density and viscosity to create the more heavy blood, like you see the tendril of blood hit the ground. I setup some Noise Fields to actually drive the blood sims through there velocity rather than just be forces. Noise + Gravity and Direction Gravity was they key to getting the blood tendrilling nicely, like the blood in 300. There was stickyness on the back wall/ground aswell as KSpeed that would slow all the particles down if they were in an area near the back wall/ground with some falloff. I didnt use any attractors, just each emitter had its own gravity (Y Gravity) aswell as having directional gravity to drive the velocity, there were two noise fields for the emitters mainly to get the blast/stringy look from the blood on emission.

RealFlow And Head Destruction Sims- Previews 

The meshing was done with Particle Legacy meshing and some relaxation filter to get rid of the metaball look and get more realistic tendrilly/web like mesh.

The Rendering was done in V-Ray with V-Ray 3's Progressive renderer which is awesome, I like to render my FX Tests rather than just showing play blasts. The blood shader was quite good fun, blood needs to be really dark and a bit desaturated, if you look at some of the 300 work, especially the scanline shots you see the blood is nearly black. The Head was using VRay's Fast SSS2 Skin shader and the brain was using a basic shader with displacement on for more surface details which you dont see in the end as its covered in blood! The Brain debris used this same shader. As this was just FX RnD, everything was rendered in one beauty pass. With some basic AE Comping.

V-Ray Render WIP


Thanks For Looking, 

I am finishing an epic shot for a project right now and will have some breakdowns/RnD to show for it. I am also working on a Star Wars Game doing an FX Heavy Cinematic shot, which is not only FX also doing the finishing, however the focous is on the epic FX Sims (Standby for more info soon) aswell as more RnD Planned, in Both Bifrost Maya 2016, and RealFlow 2015, a second large scale splash shot I will be doing to promote the 2015 Release. And that personal project I keep pushing back !! Gonan be an epic few months!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

RealFlow 2015 Alpha Demo- VDB Meshing- Pyramid Water Gush

With RealFlow 2015's release on the Horizon and more and more exciting features been added to it, I wanted to make a new demo video of RealFlow 2015's VDB Meshing.

*NOTE Any screenshots of RealFlow 2015s UI are from the current Alpha Build and subject to change. Also I wont be showing too much here, so stay tuned for Next Limit at FMX 2015 For more info on new features in RealFlow 2015 !

The Demo Shot- 

I decided a Pyramid Gushing water looked quite cool! So I used this as a small scale production style test shot, of a large scale fluid sim to test the VDB Meshing. I thought it'd be nicer rather than just showing clay rendered mesh! On the other had, in production a lot of the fluid mesh here would be culled out due to the velocity of the fluid it would be a lot more spray rather than mesh, however I ignored this fact due to showing the mesh is the purpose of this shot.

Note this was sim'd on my second machine (specs below), over easter due to taking a few days off (Not had a proper day off for a long time!Ha!) and due to my main machine working on more awesome shots for The Sea Serpent's Song, Stay tuned for those, I also plan to make a breakdown reel when I am done on that project!

The Sim itself is pretty simple, Using RealFlows Hybrido Solver (FLIP) using two emitters inside the pipes, that have animated speed to have an initial burst of fluid which then turns into a stream of fluid. The particles Die on collision with the ground. I used Noise Fields and Vorticity Boost in the domain itself to get more Air/Turbulence in the fluid rather than a perfect stream of fluid. No Viscosity was used.

Core Fluid (Hybrido FLIP) Sim- Peak 7M Particles

I decided to do secondary sims, RealFlow 2015 includes a Bubbles only emitter so rather than doing Bubbles and Foam in one emitter for this test I did them as Separate Emitters. The Bubbles sim was HY-SPH and the Foam was dumb particles. The bubbles sim will come into play at render time a lot.

Rather than doing Colour By Velocity/Vorticity becuase I am meshing in RealFlow to Alembic and have not found a method to render a grey scale velocity map for comping (Like the method with Krakatoa and Frost, with VRays ExtraTex Vertex Colour render pass). I rendered the Bubbles with fluid mesh, and thus the bubbles are refracted through the fluid to get the White/Translucent Water Colour By Velocity look. This is actually what Colour By Velocity Mimics in the real world anyway, Bubbles refracting through fluid when fluid is move at high vort/velocity!

Bubbles to Refract Through Fluid Mesh

I used Dumb Particles for the foam sim just so I could have more of them and because the foam doesnt need to be as stringy as it would if its surface foam, its gonna break apart into droplets pretty quickly in this sim so thats why I went for Dumb Foam over doing an SPH or FLIP sim.

All sims and Info, VDB Meshing At the Bottom

The Meshing is very simple, Rather than using standard Hybrido meshing I added the new VDB Meshing node into my scene. VDB Meshing breif history- developed by Dreamworks in 2010/2011 VDB (OpenVDB) is way of using/storying Sparse Volumetric Data. Meshing is just one of its uses. Sony Picture Imageworks developed there own similar type called Field3D (.F3D) however VDB has taking over, theres lots of FX support for VDB all around now!

The RealFlow VDB Mehser does not only include the speed and versatility of VDB Meshing but also includes filters such as Erode, and Boolean operations. More info on LuisMs Blog Check it out It also features the "Splash Thinning Filter" as in the standard Hybrido Mesher, which is great for refining the mesh. So the final meshing was done in a few hours, I left it overnight and woke up to check on it, and it was done already :) Really Loving the VDB Meshing, the amount of detail and speed it can mesh from particles for high res sims is amazing, I cant wait to use it in production.

VDB Mehser "View As Points" Feature

Meshing Detail, Meshed this frame within a minute

Both the Mesh and the Secondary Sim particles were cached out as Alembic sequences and stitched together so they could be rendered through V-Ray Alembic Proxies. The Advantage of caching them out in a seq as frames rather than as one file means if something goes wrong like a system crash, you wont loose the whole cache, only the frame the sim/system crashed on. If you were to cache/wrire to one alembic file and had a system crash or powercut then you've just wasted hours of sim time, down the drain... Literately :)

 RealFlow Stitcher Tool  For Alembic Sequences
VDB Mesh Vray Proxy back in Max. (Viewport Preview)

The Pyramid/pipes was a very simple model a 5 minute job, all the detail/stone comes from V-Ray Displacement Modifier using a Standard Max Tiles Procedural Map,  UV Map'd onto the Pyramid, The additional stone detail comes from Fractal Noise Bump maps ontop of the Displacement.   The Lighting was done with Two V-Ray lights and a HDRI Map, as you can see in the final. The water shader I wanted was muddy water pretty simple setup using a standard VRayMtl with Fog to colour the refractions/water.

Muddy Water Shader WIP

The trees were added in to add more completion to the shot, aswell as hide the mesh kill on collison with the ground, they are basic trees (From Maya Paint Effects Actually) using PFlow to scatter them, and then baked into an Alembic file using Exocortex Crate and rendered through VRay Alembic Proxy also. 

Compositing was very simple in AE as all passes apart from the foam were beauty passes, I also rendered the mesh on its own as a claymesh pass.

Final Comp Of The Test Shot^

Big Thanks to Next Limit, Especially Gus,Luis and Dan aswell as the awesome RealFlow Developers lead by Angel Tena! 

Final Demo Video - RealFlow 2015 VDB Meshing- Pryamid Water Gush

Thanks For Looking, Be Sure to check back for more of my work, and Checkout RealFlow 2015 at FMX :) - Niall