About My Blog

This blog will follow the creation of my Visual Effects work and eventually my Visual Effects Show-Reel.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Mech Rise From Ocean FX Test- MvN

Hi Guys, I have been working on this shot in the past week, It all started when I came up with an idea for my Showreel to have a Battleship style 6 shot seqence where we see a Mech Robot rise from the ocean only to encounter a US Navy ship attacking it. Thats when I came up with the idea "Mech Vs Navy" (MvN). I plan to work on this as a main project, but still doing other shots/RnD for my Reel as well but I plan for this to be my "Showreel Seller Seqence". I have actully fully previs'd all the shots which I may post soon, but for now its my reference for planning out the 6 shots in more detail.

Shot 2 involves the Mech Robot rising from the ocean to attack the Navy Ship, In the final there will be splash/foam/bubbles/mist etc. but this test shot was for me to learn the Realflow PRT Frost Pipeline. In the Past to get the WhiteWater Effect when bodies of water move at high speeds my only way to do this has been faking it within my custom Ocean Shader created just for shading RF Sims and creating Ocean Surfaces, this method works well and I used it on my RF2014 Sea Monster Shot and you can see it works well, However this method is even better.


I started by creating the Mech asset- this has been a small ongoing side project as I am not a expert at modelling/texturing but I really wanted to make my own asset for this sequence as I have done in the past for my shots. I looked at a few Mech Designs and started with really simple blocking of the model then adding details like Panels and then I modelled the Rocket Launchers. Next I UV'd this and textured in Mudboxwhich was done while my Sea Monster Shot was simulating, I also rigged the Final Asset with a simple IK rig. 

Modelling/Rigging The Mech in 3DS Max
Texturing the Right Rocket Pod in Mudbox
Test Render with V-Ray Lit with a HDRI

Next Was The RealFlow Simulation- I animated a basic File of the Mech rising up where the water will be and exported this to RealFlow (2013). I knew early on I would not be simulation Secondary sims of Splash And Foam so I setup my scene with PRT Caching on for the Hybrido Domain. PRT Files take up a lot of HDD Space because of having to Cache Realflow's Native RPC Files at the same time. I first Ran low res sims of around 500,000 Particles to test the collisions with the Mech, I also was testing using a Noise Dameon thats bounded so it breaks up the initial breach of the Mech giving a nicer look and shape to the water as it cascades back into the ocean.

Testing the Noise Breakup on the Breach of the Mech

Once I was happy I left the Hi-res sim to run for around 12 Hours, The time is a lot longer than it should be but thats due to me caching out PRT Files with Velocity Data in them so I can use it when back in Max. 

The Final HiRes Sim (Screenshot)

Next Was Back to 3DS Max- I imported my PRT RealFlow Cache in via Krakatoa's PRT Loader, I then used a Magma Setup as described in previous posts to colour the Particles by Velocity, Min Range the Particles will be Black and Max Range White, this will be relevant later on. I was having trouble loading so many particles into the Viewport even though my PC should be good enough so I only loaded in 50% of the particles in the viewport. I then added a Frost Object in with Zhu/Bridson  meshing type, I would of gone for Anisotropic however it takes a long time and in this test I went for Zhu/Bridson. Due to the still high Particle count my Max scene was crashing, so Hristo Velv gave me an awesome trick for meshing with Frost in the Viewport, What you do is put the PRT loader on its own object layer and turn the layer off, then Frost on its own layer, The Particles are still tehcninally visible to Frost, however there are not displayed in the viewport which makes Frost super fast. I was getting 150FPS in the Viewport which enabled me to view the mesh in Realtime even with a Houdini Ocean Toolkit Modifier on it. The other 50% of the mesh will be meshed at Render Time.

PRT Loader, Frost, Mech Geo on Separate Object Layers

Once I was happy with the mesh in the Viewport I tested the colour via Velocity out, this was the main purpose of this test, Frost uses the Magma Data to colour the mesh White if the Particles are moving fast and Black if they are slow (Min&Max Range). 

See The Velocities effecting the Vertex Colour Info

This is now so simple to create proper White Water based on Velocity, All I did was setup a basic Ocean Shader within V-Ray and used a Vertex Colour Map in the Refraction Map slot, thus driving the amount of Refraction, Thus Driving the Whiteness of the water based on the Particles Velocities. ( A side note Caching out Vorticity can also be used to Colour the Water and you can even cache both Vel and Vort out to get even cooler results). I tried various diffrent rendering techniqes to get the water looking as nice as possible, I was rendering Global Illumination Also. But I initally was lighting using a V-Ray Sky but then decied to switch to a HDRI and use some V-ray lights to have more control over the final look.

 Using V-Ray Sky For Lighting
Using 4K HDRI For Lighting

The Shot was rendered for 2 angles, Angle 1 was rendered for 120 Frames which took around 10 Hours, Cam 2 was only Rendered for 70 Frames only and took 8 Hours.

Comp in After Effects, a bit of Colour Correction on the water and thats it really. 

Final Shot Uploading Now

More Mech Vs Navy Tests coming soon, Got a lot of FX work in the seqence everything from more Fluid Sim Work, all the way to Destruction and FumeFX Sim's.

Thanks For Looking

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Lego Water Tank- FX RnD

Hi Guys, Just a quick RnD I have been working on, I really liked Animal Logics "Lego Brick Water" into the Lego Movie, I completed this R&D within a day. Using Realflow for low res Hybrido sim which is caching out as PRT Files with Velocity. Then Loaded into 3DS Max via Krakatoa PRT Loader and use Magma Modifer for Col by Velocity, Then used Frost for meshing using a simple piece of Lego model, then used vertex colour mapping to get the Col by Vel to show on the Bricks.

Magma/Frost/Mtl Setup, See Vertex Map in Diffuse Slow of a "Shiny" Material to get the Col by Vel to show in the render.

Pretty basic test, am sure there could be some pretty awesome things done with this, I may try some but am busy at the moment!

Final Shot

Thanks For Looking!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Warship Wake V1- Realflow 2013

Hi Guys,

I have started working on the very early stages of my big ShowReel Project (More to come on this soon). However I ran this sim in the background as I have been always wanting to get a nice looking foam/wake pattern for this type of shot.

Pretty standard setup in Realflow, the Core fluid sim had around 10M particles so was not that high res. The Ship is just moving through the water in 100 frames, I also have a cylinder emitter parented to the back of the ship emitting more fluid into the domain which simulated the Ships engines like a pump emitter would in Houdini.

Core Fluid Sim

Then I used Splash and Foam for the wake, Dumb/Ballistic particles are defiantly a no go for this type of shot there no control and you get lots of particles randomly exploding. I switched to using liquid particles for my splash and foam sim. I increased the velocity and surface tension a bit but the particles were just been created and then sitting on top and not spreading into the nice pattern you usually see with a boat/ships wake. So I created a new node tree based around the splash and foam sim. I added two attractors ethier side of the fluid container, these attractors used a small value of 5 to pull the foam slowly towards them thus revealing the pattern of the foam and making it look nice. Also added in some K Daemons for any fast moving splash particles.
Splash&Foam Settings

Extra Nodes added to Splash and Foam Sim.

I meshed the sim in Realflow and brought back to 3DS Max for rendering. I used my ocean shader for the ocean, and a normal V-Ray Mtl for the ship, also some GI but all rendered in a single pass. The Splash and Foam was rendered via Krakatoa and lit using Environmental lighting use the HDR map I used to light my V-Ray Render.

I also found in Comp if you lower the opacity of the splash and foam particles the snowy look goes away and it blends in with the water a lot nicer, I ended up lowering it to 55%.


Thanks For Looking!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Desert Explosion- Fume FX

Hi Guys,

Decided to do a Fume Shot as I have been doing a lot of Realflow stuff lately. I also Decided to put in a Plate instead of just leaving it on Black like usual.

The Sim consists of 3 Emitters, The Fireball, The Ground sand/smoky wave, and the Trails. The sim was very quick due to changing 4 settings which decrease the sim and render time massively.

Quality and Max iterations do not need to be on default settings most of the time, I lowered the quality from 5 down to 3 and the Max Iterations down from 200 to 70. Next Rendering Tab I Increased Step size up to 200% but left the fire at 50%. Lastly in the Illumination tab increasing step size to 180.

This made a huge impact on my Sim and Render time without loosing any noticeable quality in the sim or render. Thanks to Anselm and Fabian for this info!

Grid Size/Res:

Gradients (Smoke is using Colour Caching, Smoke colours are set in each Particle Src)

Next was Composting:

In After Effects I added a lot of colour correction to enhance the sim as well as blend it into the plate. One of the main things I did was add Sharpen and Grain to the Fume Render, this really enhances the smoke detail and fire detail. I added a lot because I knew the H264 Video Compression will hide a lot of it, also the upload compression as well. I Recorded a video about the Compositing stage:

Final Shot:

Thanks For Looking!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Realflow 2014- Sea Monster Project

A few months ago I got asked by Next Limit to take part in the RealFlow 2014 Alpha. This was an amazing oppetrunity considering I am a 17 Year Old Student and Realflow is used by very big studios in Films,Games,TVC's.

Late last year I did a Sea Monster jumping from the ocean shot, this was when I was quite new to Realflow, It had a lot of problems, Bad Meshing, Splash&Foam looked very fake and almost like powder, Water Shader was not good there was no refraction in the shader. So for my RealFlow 2014 Project Shot I decied to go back an redo this shot. I made great use of the new meshing tools aswell as better object interaction (see more below). There a lots of new features in Realflow 2014 the headline feature been Viscosity in Hybrido which I did some testing with, I will upload some of that soon. However this is the Making of: Sea Monster Splash RF2014 Project:

I started with the same Realflow Cache I had from last year of the sea monster jumping and then splashing back down, it was very simple animation within 3DS Max. The "Sea Monster" its self was quickly sculpted and painted in Mudbox.

Loading up Realflow 2014, Next limit have done an amazing job on the UI and new toolbar Icons. Not sure how detailed I can go into this right now due been under a NDA but let me say the UI looks Like RF2013 with an awesome paint job. The Scene Set-up was realtivly normal A Bounding Box for the container, then a duplicate of it sat on the base for the emitter. I started by doing low res sims that I could turnaround within around 1 hour these sims had just 800,000 Particles so I could make adjustments without having to do a high res sim each time, thus wasting lots of time. After adjusting some mainly trying to get the Gravity right becase in my last test the gravity was way to low, I then ran a high res sim which took about 8 Hours on my Workstation (See Below for Specs).

High Res Sim Iteration 1

As you can see, the container is to small, the KVolume node also I have to admit I got worried the gravity was to high before I ran this sim so early in the morning I got up and change the value down to 4.5, you can see the splash looks not to bad but is hanging in the air to much. So while annoyed at the time wasted I reset the values, pretty much started again with a bigger container and more particles than I have ever sim'd in my history of Realflow. After Another Day I got this:

With these improvements, I know that its not perfect and maybe could last another 40 frames or so but I did not have the time of HDD Capacity. So I started working on the Splash and Foam pass, Using Liquid Particles this sim was very fast and I was getting nice results straight away. The Splash and Foam sims were also cached out as .PRT files so that I can render them with Krakatoa and also colour them via KCM/Magma Flow Colour by Velocity.

Awesome Looking Foam!

Next Was meshing, in RealFlow 2014 meshing is a lot more faster and proves for a more iterative workflow when it comes to meshing. I am able to view mesh value changes in the viewport without having to rebuild the mesh each time. Also due to having high poly mesh you can use a cube to mesh only the area inside of the cube which is a lot like region rendering, it saves you meshing the whole mesh like the region saves you rendering the whole frame.

 A Still Of the Mesh in the Max Viewport

Next was back to Max for rendering. I imported my RF Mesh, SD animation Cahce, Krakatoa PRT Splash and Foam Particles and also Created an extended ocean plane.

3DS Max Scene

 With my RF Mesh I added a HOT Modifier on to create the ocean waves surface I then duplicated the same modifier onto the Splash and Foam PRT loader aswell as a Plane which will extend the ocean in Comp. A lot of my work in Max was on the Water Shader. I used V-Ray and a custom Shader I have been developing for a few months. In my other Realflow projects my water has look very translucent on the splash, this translucency has been kept in the alpha channel which causes a big problem in comp. See Below.

However I just faked it in the end by putting an object behind the ocean Mesh and making it invisible to camera but visible in Reflection/Refraction. Problem solved! Some WIP's of the render.

Once the water shader and Sea Monster Mtl's were sorted I set this off rendering overnight. After That I did the same with the Extended Ocean Plane. The Splash and Foam was rendered in Krakatoa using the same Magma KCM setup as I have showed previously.

Final Step-  Compositing

The Bulk of the compsoting work was getting the Extended Ocean plane to blend with the RF Mesh Render. This was pretty hard due to the camera angle. In the end after lots of Colour Correction filters trying to match them, I also added in custom animated paint to get rid of the hard edges, also I used 6 masks all animated to hide the blend.

I also added a bit of camera shake using an After Effects Wiggle Expression: wiggle (3,20); also a fake zoom just keyframing scale. I also erased/softened some of the foam as there's some random particles spawning on the surface even before the breach so I just painted them out!

Final Shot

Thanks so much to Next Limt for this amazing opportunity. I can't wait to play with the Release Version of RF2014 and will be using it on upcoming projects.

Thanks For Looking!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Realflow River RnD

Hi Guys,

I worked on this RnD over a couple of days while I was finishing up on the Battleship Explosion Shot.

For College I am working on a project which will involve a river for a big amount of shots and was trying to spice it up a bit by using Realflow. I Modelled the River/Rocks in 3DS Max very quickly, using a Box With some noise for the terrain and then a few Chamfer Boxes for the rocks again with noise modifiers on.

Sim times were not so long due to the particle count been under 4 million particles, the core fluid and the Splash/Foam simulation took around 5 Hours . The Meshing took around 2 hours.

Rendering was done with V-Ray using a HDRI aswell as some V-Ray Lights for the Water Mesh. The Splash and Foam was rendered using Krakatoa and for the first time and after a some trying and failing I coloured the Particles via KCM/Magma Flow Colour by Velocity so when the particles are moving fast they are white but when they are slower they are more of a blueish watery colour.

V-Ray Water Shader was based on my Ocean Shader I developed for my Whale Jump Project (See the Fake White Water based within the shader)

Krakatoa KCM Setup

Comp'd in After Effects. 


After some feedback I do agree that it is a little fast, this was due to me using directional gravity in Realflow to make the river flow from the emitter to the end of the stream where a KVolume Daemon kills off the particles. I think the value was a little to high. Next I am re working on a old shot and also doing RnD for a VFX Seqence. I have also just setup a new WEBSITE to look professional! 

Thanks For Looking!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Battleship Explosion Project

If you look back a few months ago I did a Battleship Explosion shot, I was not happy with it, a lot of things were not right and I wanted to wait a little while before I came back and re did again.

The Making:

This time round I started doing about a weeks worth of RnD (aswell as all the previous weeks/months) for the Ship Destruction, Theres many different approaches I tried everything from Thinking Particles to Cloth Simulation. For this Project I actually used no simulation for the destruction at all, I had my ship asset which I split into two pieces where the explosion occurs, then I just animated them to jump out the water and then fall back down. Then I used Rayfire to detach some of the elements of the ship and used a basic PFlow system to throw some debri into the air.Next my plan was to bake these particles out to geometry which I did using PFlow Baker from Script Spot. I would then use these pieces as an Object Src in Fume FX.

                                             The Destruction Setup in the Max Viewport

Fume FX:

Once I had finished the layout, added the camera move and locked the shot and the scene file I jumped into a new scene to setup the FumeFX sims. 

The Fume FX scene used 2 grids, one for the fireball explosions and the other one for the fiery smoke trails/tendrils. For both grids I used Colour Caching, this enabled me to use multiple smoke colours in the same gird, for the Fireball grid, There were 3 Fireball PFlow systems each emitting very quickly a burst of particles and then deleting, Two of the smokes were black smoke and the other was a lighter grey to give some variation to the colour. The other Grid is the using One PFlow system for the trails which is emitting around 70 Particles that get pulled down by gravity after a few frames, then using the Spawn operator with a low lifetime of the spawned particles you can create nice fiery smoke trails.

                                              A very simple low res test of fiery smoke trails

The Fume fx sim was meant to have a quick burst of fire, and then burn out into rolling smoke. The Fume FX sims for the final grids took around 8 hours to sim and to render around 10 hours. A lot of the Fume FX look is added in comp with colour correction and glows, I even added a sharpen filter that was animated to show on the smoke making the smoke look a lot more bolder and higher quality.

A Viewport Preview of the Fume FX Simulations

Fume FX Comp Render

Next I knew that due to avoiding using 3D Fluid simulations for the Ship and Debri interaction with the ocean I was going to have to fake some water splashes, I setup a new scene from the Layout scene so I could create 3 water splashes using PFlow and Krakatoa. First was a big impact water splash for when the ship explodes (I did not use this in the final comp, due to it hiding the Explosion Render to much). Another was a splash for when the back of the ship hits the water as it lifts in the air, and the other was a water shock wave a long the Ocean surface. The Ocean surface was made with Houdini Ocean Toolkit and for this scene I used a low res version so the Particle sim time would be quicker. All the systems were realtivly simple and using pretty much the same setup as one another, I am really excited to work on this shot again but doing full 3D Fluid sims in Reallfow as I know it will make it so much better.

                                                                  The PFlow Setups
Destruction, Explosion, Water Splash passes Preivews

I also Did A quick test a few weeks ago on making a water splash in 3DS Max with PFlow and Krakatoa. Looking back I need to add a Water Shock wave around the base of the explosion.

Once this pass was rendered in Krakatoa I moved onto lighting/shading/rendering the ship and the Ocean. I switched to V-Ray for this as well as using V-Ray for the Fume FX Global Illumination pass. I setup shaders for the ships hull, the guns on the ship aswell as misc parts of the ship. Each Shader was using different relction values the ships hull is meant to be a bit more "rusty" then say the ships guns.

The Ocean Shader was one of which I have been developing for my Realflow Work, It has fake Foam Interaction using the V-Ray dirt shader due to the fact of there been no ship/water interaction. The lighting for the shot was based on a HDRI (High Dynamic Range Image) of a sky as well as a few V-Ray Lights. One V-Ray Light I used to fake the Reflection of the fire on the Ocean which was key framed to fade off when the explosion fire burns out. This really helped me in comp as the FumeFX Pass is not actully been reflected on the water surface. For Reflection passes I usually just hand key them onto say an ocean surface in comp and add some 2D noise so it kind of matches the ocean wave displacment, a cheap trick that works well!

The Ocean and Ship Pass Rendering

The Plan was then to have a skydome pass which I did render but in the end I used a "Checker Dome" for the background this is due to you been able to see the Fume FX sim better which enables me to get better feedback on what to improve for the future. However Here is a test comp using the skydome pass (This was before all render passes were complete).

It Looks pretty ugly! 

Next was the Final Two Stages all done in one long night! While Listening to some FXGuide Podcasts! Compositing was done in After Effects, The Main things were blending all the elements together and making the Fume Fx sim look much more realistic, adding a lot of Colour Correction to it aswell as glows to really make it look the part. For this shot I faked all my motion blur using Real Smart Motion Blur which is really good when used properly! It saves rendering Motion blur or even velocity passes out of 3DS Max. Its a really exciting stage seeing all your hard work come together. I made a few shot changing decisions in comp, like getting rid of some of the water spary passes as well as getting rid of the sky dome. I was going to leave BG Black but rendered a Checker Dome pass out. I also created a new style of  Breakdown that you see a lot on ILM's Breakdowns and some other big name studios, its where you see the camera fly around all the layers in the comp. For this I duplicated my Shot Comp and made a 3D Camera and all the passes 3D Layers, I added White Borders to the edges so you can see each layer clearly. Then All I did was move each later the same distance behind on another and rescaled them so they lined back up to the final comp. The Using the Camera tool with a 3D Camera I create a camera animation that tracks around to see all the Layers and then tracks back to the camera view. 

This is the Type of 3D Layer Breakdown I created!

Once the shot was Final at around 2 AM in the morning I set it to render for After Effects and uploaded it!

I have got some really positive feedback, and some critique about it been to fast making the scale look small, I am currently in the process of correcting his and will be re uploading the Version 2 soon! Overall I spent around 5 days of 6-8 Hours per day working on this (including 2 days rendering) So 3 Days really! 


I hope this article was informative, I have a lot of ideas for VFX shots coming soon. 

Thanks For Looking!