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

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

FINAL SHOT / RnD


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

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Meteor Vs Building FX Shot



All Images © Niall Horn VFX

Hi Guys,

I posted a Work In Progress of the shot last month, Its been a super fun perosnal project to work on, in the past 2 months on and off (Mainly after work). This project got pushed into my Inactive folder through January, As I properly started the project in February again I got an amazing offer from a big VFX Studio, sadly I cant take it due to other concerns but it made me want to go back and turn this RnD into a finished shot, I am trying to do this a lot., I love doing FX RnD in my spare time, but I have been trying to find a niche for myself where I aim to put my RnD into a Production Shot, which is where my generalist skills come in handy for Lighting/Rendering/Comping. Plus I got loads of RnD and FX Notes out of this shot!

Shot Production-

Making Of Meteor Vs Building (Destruction of the NHVFX Office's!!)-

The First WIP is on the end of my 2014 Reel, as I say the idea came to me because i've been doing lots of fluids recently and wanted to do some Destruction RnD, also I knew I was going to be using thinkingParticles (TP) in production this year and hand't used it for a while. The Amazing thing with TP is the actual main setup for the Shot layout and early RBD Setup was done in one night!

Reference for this project was looking at Scanlines shot in Battleship with the Bank of China Destruction (One of my personal favourite shots/sequences,) I watched this frame by frame many times, theres so much little details put in there when you watch it frame by frame you don't notice in realtime. Also my hobby of watching lots of building demolition videos on YouTube. The Real life ref was used for the RBD/TP Sim Reference, wheras these did not serve aswell for the FumeFX Sims Reference.

The Modelling of the building is pretty simple, not based on any real building in paticular, the thing I added more time into was the interior details of the buildings break section which get torn apart and hidden by the dust! I modelled some tiny computer monitors in there, also office chairs, a few bookcases and desks are also in there! I even added a banner which flies out around frame 75 which says "Offices For Rent" for a bit of a laugh :) , but again its covered by the dust and explosions so you cant see it very well! (I'll talk more below about this, I added lots of Papaer and Extra Glass and Concrete Debris).

 Office Objects^^
Now try and find them with all the Debris ontop!

The TP System is using SC (ShapeCollison), I spent a bit of time experimenting with Pre fraging vs VolumeBreaker (VB), in the end I used VB to Procedurally Fracture the Concrete and Glass. All the Objects and extra debris were pre fragged. The Activation from the Meteor collision was in the end using an Omni Light which activates the First level of breaking, a frame before the metor collides with the building. Looking back I should/could of done this via Distance Threshold of the Building to the Metor, which is a more procedural approach. However the Omni light only activates a path of destruction led by the Meteor which then spreads to the whole buidling break section (By testing the velocity of the fragments in the first group (Break Level 1) and then if the exceed the threshold they go to a new group which breaks them again (Secondary Fragmentation).

Omni- Parented to Metor Activates Level 1 VB Fragmentation
Once Level 1 Fragments Exceed Vel Threshold, They Get Secondary Fragged

The Final sims were ran in a day why I adjusted settings, one thing with SC with is kins of a blessing and a curse is the high amount of friction you get. This is great when needing cheap bending/clustering of fragments (although ideally you'd use a Joint Setup). So I turned the Friction right down as Concrete and Glass needs mass to show the scale. The Glass VolumeBreakers Fragmentation is using a more Radial Voronoi pattern whereas the Concrete VolumeBreaker is using a more standard Voronoi Pattern. The Level 2 break has less gravity on them, as they are smaller and thus lighter. Same for the office objects they have less gravity. The bigger fragments have more spin on them however as the samller frags dont have spin which is deliberate, because I initially planned to emit dust from these and spinning frags would mean needing high substep sims. Once the sims were tweaked I used XMesh (I luckily got on a previous project an am loving it for caching!). I cached each group out to separate caches as changing topology in one cache is a nightmare to work with, especially when doing Fume and extra debri sims ontop. This means more HDD Space, but worth it.

The Final TP Destruction Sim/s

Becuase I find it easier and a more smooth workflow, I decided to add all the Paper, Extra Concrete and Glass Debries in using PFlow. Using PFlow particles been born on Xmesh Caches can be a bit slow however, due to the geometry not actually been in the scene and is reading in from a cache. I mainly used Lock and Bond to lock particles onto the cache and then speed test them so if they exceed a speed (Just like in the main TP Setup) they emit Concrete debris, and paper etc.I then matched gravity in PFlow which was easy, and used Spawn and Age test to birth more debris needed in the slower areas and also delete them have a set amount of time so they debris will stop emitting on the frags and then fall to the ground. These PFlow Systems were then themselves Xmeshed and I setup a Final RBD Scene with all the caches together and checked they were working. I did delete some and key-frame some fragments/debris that fell to quickly or exploded, but this was easy. I added a sign ontop of the building a basic asset saying NHVFX (NiallHornVFX) for fun, I keyframed this reacting to the impact.

PFlow Debris Playblast Running

Viewport Preview of the Final Destruction Sims

I decided to render a WIP/Clay Render with V-Ray of the Building Destruction out, because I knew I was not going to be able to work on it for a while again due to getting a job on The Sea Serpents Song Project. Note I changed the camera, this was the original camera, but I changed it to a low angle shot to give more scale.


I resumed production on the shots, on my nights off late Feburary and worked on the shot, most mights for a few hours (Including sim and test render time). So next was onto the FumeFX Sims.

I wanted to go all out on the Fume Sims, I first started on the Meteor Fire/SmokeTrail sim. I've done long burning object smoke trails on 3 projects now, from Warthunder's B17 Engine Explosion. As any FX Artist/TD knows doing Fluid sims that need to trail over a long distance is a pain! Luckily the camera is quite tight so the grid didn't have to be a long as it could of been. I first went to Fumes N-Sim, However becuase I was using 3 grids, the sim time and turnaround time for iterations even at Lowres for testing sims was too high, so I decided to stick with one grid, and switch this project over to my more powerful machine, therefore I could only work on this project a few hours a day once I'd finished work, I used ObjSrc Emission from the Metor, I wanted dual coloured smoke mixing on the trail so my plan was to use to noise maps on each side of the metor and use these as emission maps in the Obj Src, this kinda worked, but I ended up needing really dense smoke emitting otherwise it was really think, so I ended up using no maps, just diffrent sides of the metor to emit Dark Grey/Black smoke and also a Lighter coloured grey smoke on the other side.I actually didnt use Fire Creates smoke as I wanted control over the amount more easily, so I used Fuel,Temp,Col and Smoke emission all in the Obj Sources (Using Colour Caching in the Fume Grid). I also used Wind to push the smoke backwards a bit and to have it expand more, I did NOT want the typical Straight Meteor Smoke trail!On the other end of the spectrum I didn't want it to be too turbulent and thin fire and smoke. I used an Effector to control the turbulence based on the fire strength. 

 Fume- Meteor Grid WIP
Meteor- Mid Res Test Renders

The Dust was actually emitted from particles birthed on the secondary fragments XMesh Cache (No SpeedTest) I just had particles born on them for a few frames when the Meteor hits and then keyframe the smoke (Dust) emission to die down. I also used a low velocity multiplier so when the dust particles died they did not leave big mushrooms, to hide the low velocity I used wind and high gravity in the dust sims to push it following the fragments. I managed to get away with using no collisions between the Fume Voxels and Fragments/Debris at all for the Dust Sims. There was a little bit of stair stepping present in the dust sim due to the Xmesh Frags having such a high velocity from the Meteor Collision, this was hidden anyway with MotionBlur.

HighRes-Dust Sim Front


For the Impact Explosions and Firey Smoke Shooters/Trails I took advantage of something i've been working on since late last year. My own FX Asset Libary, becuase a lot of the work I do doesn't need every explosion, every smoke plume every watersplash etc, to be hero sim'd in the scene file (Although many do!). So Every Fume setup I do I save in there, so If I need to drag in an explosion or smoke trails I can just sim them, and merge them rather than having to setup Fume sims/particle emission for every sim in the scene. Both the Impact Explosions and firey shooters were made for this project, however I can re use them, readjust and re sim them in the future now. The Explosions are basic blasts using particle emission, quick burn rate, animated timescale etc. The Firey trails are PFlow particles that spawn trails and are deleted after a few frames to get the nice firey tips (Like you see in many Michael "Bayhem" Explosions both Real and CG!). So these were sim'd in there own file, I then merged each of the two trails grids and the explosions, Positioned them in the scene and set which frame they start. Of-course theres no interaction, which is not needed, if it was this approach would not work.

 All the Grids- Voxel Preview's 
Impact and Exit Explosion and Trails- RAM Player Test Render

I didn't use much mutliscattering here as for One the shots in daylight, so there would be not as much scatter from the fire to the smoke, Two the camera would be exposed properly so there wouldn't be much visbile light coming through the smoke anyway, and Three its not the look I was going for! The Impact Explosions and Trails were rendered togheter, then the Meteor Grid by itself, then the Dust by itself, for more control in comp. Each of these rendered, Beauty,Fire,Smoke,Velocity and Z-Depth passes for later use in Comp.

The Building,Meteor and Debris were rendered in V-Ray  in a Single Pass, (Beauty,Vel,Z-Depth,Refraction). I rendered a Refraction pass so in comp I could use it to pull a luma matte on the glass and convert to an alpha matte which would be use to fake the sky reflection on the windows for more realistic reflections, then off the HDRI only. I also used a few other V-Ray lights on the building, I dont think I ever light only using a HDRI! The XMeshed Caches carried the UV's from TP so I added Procedural concrete textures of fractal noise and bump fractal noise aswell. Also the Glint on the Glass is done in comp with an animated lens flare, I felt that was a good idea and helped sell the shot as been more real, its a subtle thing not many people notice which is exactly what its meant to do!

 Building Beauty Render- With Motion Blur and Z-Depth DOF
Basic AE, Creating Luma/Alpha Matte for Glass Through Refraction Pass

All the Fume Passes were rendred with Holdouts/Mattes for all of the debris, becuase the XMesh's are cached they wont change position so aslong as you match the motion blur on all passes you cant see the mattes of each fragment. (They are nearly 10,000 frags, all with mattes). The Skydome was rendered and the background buildings are 3D Layers using a 3D Camera matching the camera in Max. There was a small amount of ColCorrection done on the building but not much.

Building Comp WIP

The FumeFX renders were comp'd smoke first, then fire. I wanted to make sure the fire stayed saturated, on previous projects I've ended up taking a lot of the saturation and contrast from the fire, to help blend it to the show, but this is a bad habit as fire needs to be saturated in a shot like this with sunny environment/lighting. The fume sims were lit using Spot Lights to match the HDRI however I deliberately added a bounce light/second sun at behind the grids so theres nice light shining through the smoke. I also rendred a GI pass of all the Fume sims fire casting onto the building and used this in comp. I did some minor masking to get softer edges on some parts of the smoke, but due to fire and smoke been sperate not much of this was needed. I added a small grade and sharpened the final renders deliberately.

Fume Passes Comp'n WIP

Once I finished the shot after quite a few iterations, mainly from tweaking the fume passes I made a few breakdowns, I love breakdowns, mainly watching them, creating them can be more time consuming than the actual shot, as alot of people know! But its worth it to show the work you put in.

More Comp WIP!

Overall I spent 2 Months ish on and off working on this shot, Its been good fun! I plan to step up my personal projects to more epic ambitious FX Shots this year!

FINAL SHOT AND BREAKDOWNS

One another note, Please dont reupload screenshots or the final shot without permission (PM Me , i'll respond ASAP) and ofcourse do not duplicate. I had work stolen earlier this year and then used as promotional material, I caught all persons involved and named and shamed. Stealing work is pretty sad and Its a frustrating experience in our industry.

Thanks For Looking! I've Got More Projects Coming Soon! -Niall

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Making Of - Station Rise Shot (Sea Serpent's Song)




All Breakdowns/Screenshots © NiallHornVFX
All Final Stills © Island Tribe Productions

*Do not Re-Upload any Images/Videos Without Permission*


Hi Guys,

I now have time to write up the making of the Station Rise shot I did for the upcoming Canadian film, The Sea Serpents Song. I am the Lead FX Artist on the project, doing mainly all the FX Shots aswell as finishing them all the way to comping them. I have my Meteor Vs Building Shot very close to been completed also, which I've been working on and off for 2 months ish. Aswell as numerous other Projects and my big Personal Project for later this year!

I started this project in Mid February and worked on it throughout February to early March. I started the project aged 17 and am now 18 haha! The reason I got approached by Tribe Productions was because of my Space Pyramid Rise Shot/RnD I did, I have a big focous on not only doing FX RnD but actually making a complete shot from this to improve my 3D Generalist Skills, as I usally end up doing lots of Lighting,Rendering and Most of the Compositing.

This shot gave me an opportunity to work on my RealFlow To 3DS Max Pipeline, I didn't have acess Krakatoa due to the budget so I switched to VRay for rendering everything (See Below). I also have been working on a "Toolkit" of Ocean Shaders and a PFlow tool for creating WhiteWater in Max.


Shot Production

The first two days of production were spent doing the Shot Layout and modelling a Proxy Mesh for the station, due to it been high poly and not modelled with Fluid Sims in mind. I am not a fan of this part at all! The station is quite a unique shape so I built the proxy in diffrent parts and then merged them together, to create the final proxy mesh. I knew the camera wasn't going to be very close, however at the same time this shot was to be rendered at 3000x1500 so the interaction/fluid collisions had to be pretty soild.

 Modelling Proxy Mesh
I was able to quickly test each proxy's Volume in RealFlow

The Next step was the RealFlow sims, I've done objects rising out the water before, each time I hope to get better and better. One thing I knew once again is that when you have a large object rising out a body of water there is not much fluid thats in a liquid/mesh state however there is lots of Whitewater and cascading Spray and Mist. Theres not much reference for this (If you dont count other FX Shots) however there is a really nice video of an Iceberg rolling over in Antarctica and you can see the iceberg breaching upwards from the ocean and that served as good reference for the shot. This shot was actually harder in some ways than Space Pyramid Rise, as the Station is a lot smaller in size, however its still got to look big and cinematic as it rises, also its rising a lot slower, so this presented the challenge all FX Artists face... Getting the Scale Right!

The Base/Core Fluid RealFlow Sim

I continued to use my "OFF Surface Bubbling Method" I devised where I use FumeFX to sim smoke swirls and then render this as a greyscale pass and use it as an animated texutre in RealFlows Ocean Force Field, to advect the grey-scale velocities into the fluid, thus creating the effect of bubbling you see when a large object breaches from the ocean, this is caused by the object pushing and creating large amounts of bubbles underwater which are pushed to the surface before the object rises. Igor Zanic created a workflow (based on ILM's Battleship Siggraph talk) in Houdini where he uses a PyroFX Sim advected into a FLIP Sim to create not only surface bubbling but also simulates airflow in the fluid which greats some super amazing Fluid Sims!

 Creating the FumeFX Smoke Swirl Sims In Max
The OFFs Scattered Across the Surface

The Core fluid sim was ran overnight with around 35 Million particles, the detail did not need to be that high as I knew I would be slicing the mesh off above the height as the Whitewater sims would take over. There was around 7 (Lowres/Midres) Iterations of the core fluid sim, my main problem as mentioned above is scale, you can have stringy fluid all over the station as instantly it looks like the fluid is a bath tub! So aswell as the bubbling force fields I also used bounded noise fields to break up the breach further thus breaking the fluid up more, I also use a bit of vorticity boost and played with the interaction factor. The simulation scale was the closest to real-world scale i've ever done however I still used low gravity and drag to fake the large fluid scale/behaviour further for cinematic effect,

All Secondary Sims were exported as Alembic Files and Stitched through RealFlows Alembic Siticher tool so they could be rendered through V-Ray 3.0's Alembic Proxy (possibly the coolest feature in VRay 3. Well worth the upgrade!). 

The main Secondary sims, were Splash (Hybrido- Dumb Particles) Foam and Bubbles (Hybrido-FLIP) aswell as the cascading spray which was an RealFlow Object emitter using Dumb Particles streaming from the station proxy, using noise fields and wind to get nicer swirls/turbulence in the whitewater. A Low res mist simulation was also ran using RealFlows VDB Mist which was rendered in RealFlowRenderKit (MentalRay).

Meshing With ThinkBox's Frost 

The Meshing was done using the PRT Files from the Core Fluid sim (Hybrido) through Thinkbox Frost. No budget for Krakatoa here, so I faked the Velocity Shading by using a Refraction pass of the fluid mesh and some comp work! The Alembic Secondarines were loaded through VRay Proxy and I ran some quick test renders to see how the shot was looking.

Early Test Render/Slap Comp

One thing a lot of people dont do (including me untill now!) is render specular passes with Whitewater, you end up with flat looking spray/foam renders without using Specular, you have to remeber that water is extremely reflective no matter what sate its in, and Foam is lots of small bubbles when you look closesly, so specular plays a big role. I simulated Normals in RealFlow for all the secondarines and used Specular and Reflection Passes in V-Ray which were comp'd into the Beauty Whitewater Renders to add more specularity. 

WhiteWater Pass Rendering

The Ocean Displacement was created using HOT (Houdini Ocean Toolkit/HOT4MAX) that creates the main waves, I then use fractal noise maps to create bump and displacement at render time for the smaller surface waves. I was matching the ocean to a plate shot on a RED EPIC Camera in 5K so that gave me some great reference! One thing I also did was the Full lookdev/Shader Setup of the Station, I had to re UV some of the station which is always a pain, the shader setups were done using VRay, the client provided the base Diffuse Maps, I then painted some basic bump maps as well as using Procedural Noise and Fractals for extra Bump maps and Specular Maps.

Station Turntable

The Compositing was done as the renders were coming out, I orignally planned to do all the fog in comp as 3D Layers, however this didn't hold up well for the foreground fog so I used VRays Environment Fog to get an atmospheric pass for the lights on the station shining through which helped sell the shot I think. The rest of the fog was done in comp though. Another first for me was the original plan for the shot was to comp in the Station/Fluid mesh into a Live Action plate of an Actress in a Kayak, However I presented some tests to the client who decided we would Roto the Kayak out and add it in the CG Shot. I managed to pull a pretty good key on the Kayak and did some basic roto to blend it into the shot.

 Compositing in After Effects
Comparing the Fog Amount

Once I was happy with the comp, there was a few iterations between me and the client to get the shot looking great! The shot was completed on March 7th (2015).

See Top Of Page For Breakdown!

Thanks For Looking Guys, 

My Personal project will be done this week, with another Blog Writeup explaining the Making of! My Main project is now doing more work on a very FX heavy Sequence for The Sea Serpents Song.

I also want to say big thanks to Next Limit for there support as I continue to use RealFlow on bigger and more ambitious shots. I hope to do a second RealFlow 2015 Beta test if I get time this spring.


-NIALL