The idea of the shot came to me while doing a high-stake mission in Metal Gear Solid 5. There an UTH-66 Helicopter came in to extract Snake while being chased by Parasite Unite. I wanted to recreate the feeling in a VFX shot.
The first test
The first test I did was a disaster. The animation was off, free 3d asset not optimal and I had no idea how to use Megascans for creating terrain.
I tried to making the Black Hawk more realistic and interesting in Substance Painter. However, it didn't make it more high-poly.
A New Hope
After some careful consideration I invested in a Black Hawk from CGTrader by Jason Rohr.
The first one I found was the Blackhawk, and started out using it. I later discovered the UN Seahawk and found it looked better. Moreover, what this gave me was a hope for the shot.
The new setting for the scene was at stern on a warship. I comped it, put it on my showreel and asked some high- ranking artists in the Norwegian VFX industry for feedback. The feedback given was that the background was uninteresting. The grade flat and rather boring.
Here is a snapshot of Version One
After a small break from the project I once again resumed it and found the feedback given by the Norwegian VFX industry. I replaced the flat cloudy background with 360 HDRI from HDRI Haven. I comped in destruction in the building behind like it looked like an idiot with a bazooka has been there and "hasta la vista" the building. The smoke was stock assets I found on our server free for all, and used Syrian Warzone press photographer pictures as reference.
"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes"- Oscar Wilde
If you don't fall. you never learn, and therefore it is important to reflect what you learned from all your work.
The most important thing I learned is the power of using reference when doing Visual Effects. I did not do that in the test, and that costed me dearly. For the grade ref I used the film White House Down (no, not the awesome one with Gerald Butler named Olympus has Fallen). Destruction and smoke was taken from Syrian Warzone.
The second important thing is of course to take breaks. I worked constantly from morning to night ever day for a month. I was then really tired and made mistake after mistake. I started rushing some work to get it done, not correct. A finally took a break from the project to get some rest. After I resumed the project I saw the shot more clearly and the mistakes I was blind for for weeks.
Nowadays I am only not working around the clock. It is not a fight against others in how many hours you have worked on it, but how efficient those hours are. This project thought me that working 9 to 5 with maximum efficiency 5/6 days a week is way more efficient than all the time slowly burning my energy away.
The reason why I write this is because this project didn't just teach me new skills, but also changed my modus operandi in how I now approach assignments and challenges.
If you have been reading this far, here is a Process view over the project from idea to finish.
The Seahawk is created by Jason Rohr and bought from CGTrader, and I am therefore not responsible for the 3D asset.