All Screenshots © Gaijin Entertainment
All Working Screenshots © Niall Horn VFX
Hi Guys, So since June I have been working with the guys at Juice, Who are part of Platige Image on a WarThunder Game Cinematic trailer that has been released at GamesCom this year. Let me start of by saying what a pleasure it was to work with such a talented team on such a short turnaround of just over 2 months. This has been my first "Proper" freelance job, and working on a Cinematic Trailer for my favourite game was a dream come true. As you will see on my blog I've done some Tests in the past on WW2 themed shots (and I will continue to as I improve my FX and VFX Skills). Before I continue just want to say big thanks to my Supervisor: Adam Tunikowski and My Lead TD/FX Supervisor: Błażej Kowalski.
I Uploaded my FumeFX Summer Test/RnD Reel in Early June and a few days later got an email from Juice/Platige asking if I would want to work on the WarThunder Trailer. OfCourse I said Yes. I've learnt so much about working on a Studio Pipeline, Working with other really talented artists and in an FX Team, Learning a lot about how Platige/Juice setup there scenes, Also learning more about FumeFX and having dallies over Skype. Its been so much fun and a dream experience, My First job and I got to work on my dream project. I also got acess to use a second computer in Poland at Juice so I could leave renders and sims on the Farm overnight while I worked on my PC. This helped so much, Thanks Blazej! Render Farms are amazing!
First of all my Final FX Works on the trailer are:
* All the Flak Simulations, Flak Lookdev and RnD.
* End Shot Hero Bomber Engine Smoke, I also did my own Engine Fire sim and lots of RnD also.
* Part of the Bomber Crash Explosion/Fireball, Lots of RnD For the Explosion and Shockwaves.
FX- Making Of Process
Early in the project I was set to work on the FX for the Tank Crashing into the Jeep shot, However this whole shot got given to the amazing team at Bottleship VFX in Bulgaria lead by the amazing Hristo Velv!
So my first FX element to work on was the explosion of the Bomber (Before Time Reverses). I worked on this from Mid June to the start of July. For the explosion I was using FumeFX and PFlow to drive the sim. Very early on it was established that the client (Gaijin) and the Director wanted a fiery explosion that freezes in time as the bomber debris heads towards the camera and then time goes in reverse.
Bomber Explosion WIP Comp Screenshot
My First thoughts were to have the burn rate really fast on the emission/s and then animate the burn rate and timescale down to very close to 0 over the duration of the shot, however this does cause a few problems. First is that you start getting weird patterns in the fire when the burn rate is keyframed for to long and there is no longer any fuel/particles emitting, so the fire started to look ugly and almost blobby towards the end of each sim. To try and combat this I made over 25 Fire Shaders testing them all out. Another problem was, which I told the guys at Juice, I said when you have firey explosions going into environments, they may look good on black backgrounds, but when they have to be cc'd to match an environment you get problems with the lighting but also with the fire edges in comp. At this point I was looking at reference of the explosions RealtimeUK did for the World Of Warships Trailer at E3 2012, very fiery explosions with little/no smoke.
At this time I had done quite a few iterations, lots of Fume Previews and some Lowres-Mid Res Renders, I was still having problems with the fire lasting for so long. After speaking with the TD and Supervisor, I decided to go down a different route of using not so little burn rate but use lots of Multiple Scattering which I rarely rely on, which worked well with my particle setup because I have two PFlow emitters emitting fire on the impact Frame, then about 5 frames later two separate smoke only emitters on the sides which then rely on the high multiple scattering to illuminate them, thus giving the effect of fire burning at a slower burn rate. The fire itself does last for over 100 frames, but the gradual falloff to the smoke that's created thanks to the scattering works really well. And that's what was used in the Final Sim. At Juice there was another FX artist working on this also, So mine and his explosion renders were mixed by the Compositor.
Its a lot harder to get an CG/Fume explosion looking good when the camera is pointing downwards areal instead of the camera facing the side. Also the explosion had to crawl close to camera whereas on a side view the fire would be crawling/rolling out of frame.
I also did a thin Smoke/Shockwave you see across the ground in the field. This was done using a object source of a Tourus with a noise Modifier on in FumeFX.
Then I had KeyFramed High turbulence to get this^
Working Many Late Nights/Mornings. This Selfie took at 3:30am While Working on the Explosion. Cappuccinos + Lots of Sugar!!
After I handed over my Render/Scene Files to Juice I started working on the end shot along with some other FX Artists, I had to rolls FX wise on this shot, 1 Was doing all the Flak Explosions and the other the Engine Fire (See Below).
In my own projects I had been doing some basic Flak RnD but for the trailer I wanted to do better than anything I'd done before same goes for the Flak Sims. I started by looking at a lot of reference, Based on the Animatic and conversations with my TD We were going for the "Spikey" Looking Flak and not the Proximity Fuzed Flak which was developed later on in WW2. I referenced and researched the Flak that had been done in the RealtimeUK Trailers by Graham Collier and did very basic annotations of How I thought I could get that look. Also I looked at the Flak sims the Pixomondo did for there work in Red Tails (2012).
I really liked the look of these due to having the "Core" Trails which mushroom on the edges and then various different coloured Smoke trails that radiate out with different thicknesses. So my Fume FX Setups were using a Quick 2 Frame PFlow System to emit a quick Fireball which then burnt out really quickly. Then I have the Black smoke trails which mushroom on the edges (Like Real Flak Explosions Do) by using a PFlow Spawn setup and then a high Velocity Multiplier in Fume and high inheritance and Divergence values in the PFlow System.
Then For the Longer and Thinner Trails they were using the same system, just a lot less inheritance and Divergence, and longer lifespan so they "Shoot Out" More. In Fume I used Colour Caching to have different coloured smokes for each emitter. The Fire and Mushroom Trails would have black smoke, then the thinner trails would be white and grey smoke. I had a quick blast of turbulence at the start of particle emission for about 5 frames. A Key thing I did was using an animated the timescale so the Flak bursts and shoots out trails then by the 20th Frame we slow the sim right down and it really does look like Flak Then.
Early Flak Tests
Early Flak Fire Tests
The Plan for the trailer was I would set up several Flak Scenes and send them over to Juice so they can merge the FumeFX grids into the FX scene, which was what they did at the end, but When they wanted even more Flak some of it was renders hand tracked by the Compositors into the shot. When we started testing this we realised that the flak needed to be more Turbulent so I used a lot of Turbulence throughout the Flak sims to get nicer motion, also did not have such a big drop in the animated timescale, Also I took out the longer trails and just kept the short grey trails in.
More Turbulent Flak
Flak Test Render and Comp
Overall for my Flak Sims I wrote over 5,000 Words of notes all about making Flak Sims! The Team at Juice Lit my sims using there setup and rendred them on the Render Farm. Credit goes to the amazing Compositors at Juice who made my Flak sims fit well into the shot.
B-17 Engine Explosion
Out of all the FX this is what I spent the most of my time on. Theres a few B-17s that get shot down in the final shot however I worked on the one that is closest to camera before the camera swings around.
Final Engine Fire In The Trailer
End Shot Concept Art- By Juice
I worked on the engine explosion once I was happy the Flak sims were getting there. The big problem in the scene was how far in 3D Space the Bombers travelled it was impossible to use one long Fume Grid for the Engine Fire. I looked into using N-Sim in Fume but in the end went down the route of having the FumeFX Grid attached to the B-17s Wing, and then faking the velocity using Directional Wind and some Turbulence.
FumeFX Grid Attached to the B-17
The Grid However still had to be very long because as you see in the Final Shot the camera has to swing past the end of the grid. When the weeks and days were counting down I looked into doing Volumetric shaded particles using Krakatoa Voxel rendering and using PRT Volume. However its really hard to get the right result and is no competition for FumeFX.
Now it was clear I was going to have to make the grid smaller but not to short on the length. I also had to use really high substeps to avoid getting bad patterns in the smoke. All of this made the sim times very long, so when i was doing the hires sims towards the end of production I was leaving these sims on the the RenderFarm node overnight which sometimes led into two full days for one sim. Another Problem I had was the smoke was to fat, where as the Director and TD were looking for a lot thinner smoke like you see in the Red Tails Opening Sequence.
B-17 Engine Fire- By ILM- Red Tails
After some testing I decided to use a Cylinder to kinda Shape the smoke and keep it from becoming so "fat and puffy". To stop the collision along the edges of the cylinder, I tried to use animated noise on it to get rid of the uniform edges, however due to needing to have a high res cylinder collision so I could have animated noise, the sims were taking even longer. So I had to use really high vales of Turbulence and Vorticity to keep the turbulence throughout the sim.
Using the Cylinder worked quite well
With this success I was able to shorten the fume grid and after some testing I was able to hide the end of the grid as the camera pans past. Originally planned was some debris to fly off the engine and fly over the camera, however we did not go down this route in the end. I also created a sparks system based on the FumeFX smoke but that was not used by the compositors is the final shot.
My Engine Fire/Smoke
Early Slap Comp of the Engine Fire/Smoke
In the Final Shot there are Four Engine Fire/Explosion sims including mine, the others were done by the talented FX team from Juice/Platige. My Final Engine Sim got mixed with another Artists Fire sim.
Once Again, Just want to say what an Amazing Experience its been, It has been the most fun 2 months in my Life. Working with Platige/Juice has taught me so much about working with a studio and to a real life client. I've made a few new Friends and connections, and hope to be working with the talented teams again.
Heres the Final Trailer: