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

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!


  1. Really Really a great work...And thank you so much for sharing the workflow and issues u have faced..

  2. Big Congrats. You are doing seriously incredible work, especially considering your age. Being invited to be in the alpha as well...what an honour. that says a lot. All the best with what is surely going to be a very great career!