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A Song of Fire and Ice

A Song of Fire and Ice

Ahmed Mohamed
by IVAHD on 21 May 2023 for Rookie Awards 2023

In the world Visual FX, fire and water have been persistent elements to tackle. In my entry, I want to showcase projects that tackle those elements while sharing the challenges I went through to push fire and water towards realistic standards.

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"Scorch" is a piece I made where I can explore the look of fire and imitate the chaos it projects in an environment.

Initially I started the project using Houdini's pyro solver to try and look dev the flames. Unfortunately, with the resource and computing power at hand, I could only do so much before things start to get slow.

My solution to this issue was to try a tool called "Axiom". Axiom uses the computer's GPU to calculate the pyro simulation which speed up the process drastically.


For the RBDs, I ended up creating a node system that allowed me to art direct falling pieces by changing them from inactive (White) to active (Red).


Creating Plant dynamics was a first for me.

After generating a handful of dry bushes in SpeedTree, I connected points around the plant to its closest neighbor to use as a guide for the simulation (This gave a better effect than using the skeleton exported with the asset). After modifying a few physics attributes like thickness of the twig, bend, and wind strength, I pinned all the plant variation onto my ground geometry to simulate.


Ascend is one of those projects I had more fun with than anticipated. For this project, camera movement played a big role in emphasizing scale along with the running human figure.

The camera was animated in Houdini. It follows a linear path with a subtle noise modifier. Then animated a slow tilt to reveal the "Crab Claw" breaching.


Ice pieces were divided into large, medium, and small fractures to not only have variety but to differentiate between foreground, middle-ground, and background.


I used this project as an opportunity to try and create misty waters affected by the impact.

For reference I used videos that show water impact like waves crashing onto rocks or underwater atomic bomb testing. It helped shape an idea of how the water would look like changing from liquid to mist.

Thank you! 

Thank you for taking the time and reading through my submission, I hope you liked it!

I owe it to my teachers at Gnomon to post my work. Without their guidance these projects wouldn't have come to fruition.

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