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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)
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.
FX #1- AT-AT Destruction-
FX #1- AT-AT Destruction-
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
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.
FX #2- Explosions,Trails and Firey Debris-
FX #2- Explosions,Trails and Firey Debris-
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.
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.