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

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Battleship Attack FX Shot

(Re-Uploaded A Re Comp'd Version- See Below) These Screenshots are from the original comp^

Hi Guys, Once again another Battleship Shot, this is Version 3 and hopefully you can see some improvement, I put a lot of work into this shot, lots of render time and lots of render passes! I have just had some great feedback on the shot and know what I need to work on next, Everytime I do a new iteration I like to change the shot completely so this time I decided to actually put in an ocean,sky to make the shot feel more complete. The Battleship Model is from a free 3D Model site, and the BF109 is an amazing Model and Texture Paint by Anders Lejczack.

Total Turnaround time of this shot was around 2-3 weeks although I was not working on it all day in that time as I had been ill for a full week, also this includes all the sims and render time. The time also included writing over 3000 words in notes!

A Section of my Shot Notes

I started as I do with all shots on the layout, animating the Plane, the ship and the camera, This took around 2 nights to get nailed down. I locked all the geo and cameras and like usual split the scenes into two folders, one for the FX Scenes and one for the Geo Rendering Scenes.

Scene Setup

I started working on the FX Side of things, I actually started working on the Flak Fire first, I went for a more spikey looking Flak explosion over the later invented Proximity fused rounds which were used after 1942 I think. I had a quick burst of Particles (PFlow) and they would spawn trails with some inherited speed and divergence which would then delete and let fume take over the simulation.

 Flak Preview using Method Described Above

I then merged this Flak Fume FX Grid into a new scene to create the flythrough, I used the same sim but from diffrent angles so it kinda looks like different sims:

Flak Flythrough 3DS Max Playblast

I then started working on the MG Fire coming from the plane as it strafes the ship,  Back in Januray I was working on a system for college which would enable 3DS Max novices to merge a scene file and be able to create Machine Gun Fire without having to go into Particle Flow, I re worked the System so that that even though its hard to see when the Bullets hit the ship they cause bullet holes and sparks.

MG System V2- Was Made For College Students With no knowlege of 3DS Max and PFlow

Here is a Video I put together showing off the system for anyone that's interested:

MG System V2- Demo/Tutorial Video

For the MG Fire smoke trails I used facing particles with a simple smoke material on, this is also How I did the White Smoke trails/ Technically Called Streamers in the Pyrotechnic Industry, I actully got away with it and not having to have a huge FumeFX Grid.

Awesome Way to Fake Smoke Trails using Facing Particles and a basic Smoke Material

The Explosion Itself I think Could have looked better and I will try and get some more shape on it in the next version of this shot. But I started working on this just based on Basic PFlow Systems for the fireballs, Nothing mega special here, Very similar to my other FumeFX Works. I rendered 3 Versions of it out before I was happy with it, The problem is when you have a Fume Explosion, it looks awesome against black, but as soon as you try and blend it into the overall comp you loose a lot of detail. Along with the Motion Blur, I was using RealSmartMotionBlur (RSMB) for the motion blur but I toned it down in the end due to worrying I was going to over do it as I have done in the past. However I sharpened the explosion so that the motion blur would not hide it too much.

 First Render of Fume FX Explosion Pass

Third Render of Fume FX Explosion Pass With Facing Trails

Also you should notice the water blast I added as if there was a Submarine trying to fire a Torpedo that Misses the ship as the Plane goes in for the strafe, This was done in Realflow 2013, Using a Basic Sphere and Noise Daemons to create a low res core fluid sim Hybrido FLIP which then drove the Splash and Foam SPH Sim which was added into the scene.

Water Blast FX Element Creation in Realflow

Next Was the Lighting/Shading/Rendering of the Ship, The scenes were split up into rendering the Ocean pass with just the ship and plane reflections, then another pass for the ship and plane with the ocean geo masking the ships hull (Using MtlWrapper Matte Shadow). Lighting the Geo was done with a HDRI for the overall lighting although I kept this rather diffused I used V-Ray lights one spherical light for the sun, and one behind camera illuminating the ship. Also the Explosion was lighting the ship with its GI pass. All the Shading/Lighting/Rendering was done in V-Ray Excluding the Fume FX and Smoke trails which were rendered with Scanline, and the Water Shockwave was rendered with Krakatoa. I really need to work on my Lighting and Rendering Skills so thats why I am starting to add environments into my shots so I can get more practise.

Render Testing
Render Testing

Once all the renders were done which took over 5 days, bearing in mind some renders had to be redone. My PC was rendering for around 14 hours a day, I ran a few other sims for RnD aswell during those days but mostly it was left running while I was out.

Compositing was a big part of this shot, so many passes that had to all blend together, and I agree its not perfect and defiantly needs work but I feel its better than my past works.

Lots of Colour Correction, that was the main part of it, some Roto work to get some of the passes that were not working well together work! Also stuff like the Explosion Reflection on the water and the DOF of the Horzion was all hand tracked into the shot.

Making Sure the MG Rounds Don't Penetrate the Wings

 WIP of the Comp
Some of the Comp Layers

Around Two days were spent on comp. I uploaded the shot this morning to Vimeo and got some really great feedback, So I have replaced the original Shot (Screenshots at top are of the Original Comp) with a new comp. I added Haze on the Horizon, More Motion Blur with RSMB and Also Colour Correction on the Explosion that works better along with a lens flare. 

Shot Version 1 vs Version 2 (Re-comp)

A Screenshot of Comp V2- Looks a lot better I think

Once again I will be revisiting this shot in the near future- The Water Scale needs sorting out also the ship needs to have destruction sims on also with aftermath Burn Marks/Damage Marks and Aftermath Fires.


Thanks For Looking!- Gonna have a rest from this shot for now, gonna work on my Lighting and Rendering Skills and also some more Fluid Sim work. Also have a big college project which involves lots of CG Smoke and even some Fluid sims.

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