Rebelway FX Challenge
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Rebelway FX Challenge

by comradecrunch on 17 Dec 2020 for Rebelway FX Challenge

Hi, i am Dani from Germany and i have been learning 3D and VFX for around 2 and a half years now. Since i have no professional experience at all, being able to work on a production shot is truly amazing, so i would like to thank the sponsors for making this possible.

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Update - 1 Mar 2021

I continue working on the lighting. Im happy with the layout for now, changes might happen though.
I also modelled some trees with L-Systems and Labs Tree Tools.

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Update - 24 Feb 2021

Did a first testrender of my initial Layout to see if the materials work with the instancing. Still needs lots of variation in the grass, leaves, etc. Going to spend alot of time for the environment this and probably the coming week.

Update - 23 Feb 2021

I've been doing some RnD on scattering very fine moss/grass on the ground, while also trying to figure out how to scatter it efficiently in Arnold. I decided to go with Arnold, because Mantra felt too slow for me. The image above is still rendered in Mantra just to test the look of the scatter, but i figured out how Arnolds scattering works. The scatter in the render has around 800k points with around 200-300 grassblades per instance. I have modelled five variations each of fresh and dry grass clumps and made an HDA for grass clump generation, so i can iterate faster.

At the moment im at the stage of laying out the trees of my forest. The red trees are simulated, the grey ones are static. Im still experimenting with the composition but i think i will be able to implement all the RnD i did during the time soon.

Update - 11 Feb 2021

Did some RnD for bending trees. After initially trying Houdinis Vellum and Wiresolver for the effect, i couldn't make it work properly, so i went for an RBD approach with Softconstraints. Basicly i created some constraints between  the ground and the tree that are unbreakable. After that i created some Glueconstraints for the ground and very stiff Softconstraints for the tree. This approach gives me fast results and the best controll, as i dont have to use  two different solvers that interact with eachother.

Update - 19 Jan 2021

I have added the roots to the claw with a basic animation. Had to fix a problem where the roots wouldnt work with the claw as the input geometry. Now it works fine, so i can focus on the timing of individual roots, the positioning and simulate the force applied to them by the creatures claw

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Update - 18 Jan 2021

Just wanted to give a quick update. I cant record at the moment, but i still wanted to share a small tool i have been working on. I decided that i want the Hydralisk to stay under the ground and move towards the character before he breaks through the ground. So i made a tool, to animate  a groundcrack with some sliders and ramps, so i could control better and iterate faster over this type of destruction. Smoke and Debris will be added, but first im going to have to finish the RBD destruction fast, so i can keep going with the other FX. I will present the Tool in another video, but for now i just have a screenshot.

Edit: I managed to do some more today, and i got an RBD simulation that i like. It's not the final sim, but im going to setup the debris next. The first destruction is a procedural animation. The small impact from the creature is driven by a cloth sim and a pointdeform. When the creature breaks out from the ground it's fully simulated rigid bodies. I did a standard setup with glue and softconstraints to deform the destruction before it breaks. I will not use my initial idea of the guided RBDs, since i couldn't get it to sim the way i wanted to. So it's going to be a topic for another day.

Update - 6 Jan 2021

Have been working on the roots  and came up with a procedural system to wrap them around the lines. It's not perfect yet but its improving. The OdForce forum has been a huge help for some of the code i used in this setup. Once i optimized the setup im going to make an HDA (Houdini Digital Asset) out of it, so i'll be able to reuse it on the claw.

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Update - 3 Jan 2021

After a short Christmasbreak, i wanted to give a quick update.

I haven't worked much on the RBD's yet, but i did a quick basic setup for the roots based on normals and tangents on a cylinder. I will have to do some more RnD to make it look good and fix some issues with the geometry of the roots which are seen in the video aswell.

The process for creating the initial roots was quite simple. When you abstract it into its simplest form, a root is just a line. From there you just need to think about steps how to create it. My thoughts were as follows:

1. Scatter points on defined area of the claw (in my case initially a cylinder)
2. Create one vector pointing down and another one being horizontal.
3. Linear interpolate those direction to set where you want the roots to emerge from (either complete vertically or horizontal).
4. Ray points to ground and connect.
5. Create the element that wraps arround the claw (copy line to point with negated directional vector)
5. Add a noise and animate the roots.
6. Create geometry out of lines. 

I also found some reference for how i want the roots to look like, in a League of Legends cinematic. I plan to make the shape similar but with brighter colors to give some contrast to the monster who is all about decay, with the roots getting infected, where they touch the monsters claw.

Update - 22 Dec 2020

I have been thinking how to make the RBD Destruction as artdirectable as possible. Since i didnt want to rely on just pressing the play button and hoping for  good results (no i dont think it works like that) i decided to go for a guided RBD sim for the initial movement of the monster.

For that i handanimated a grid and pointdeformed a lowres fracture (see pictures). After that i used that geometry as a guide in the RBD Bullet Sopsolver. I'm planning to setup a customsetup for that in dops, since SideFX introduced RBD Guide tools within dops in Houdini 18.5. But first i will have to get familiar with the workflow more.

I've decided not to go with a Booleanfracture, because i think i will be able to control my softconstraints behaviour better with  voronoi pieces. Which i will use to create bigger clustered pieces, that deform in the air. This will be really important to sell the shot, because the monster is cracking through soil and not asphalt. To round the RBDs off im goin to displace the edges and the interior, add colorvariation dependend on depth and add Rendertimedisplacement to the interior of the pieces.

At last i played around with the Fur Tools in Houdini to create some grass. My render looks pretty uniform but i will keep working on it.

Update - 16 Dec 2020

My idea is about a forest, that gets corrupted by the monster. Everywhere the monster goes, decay will occur. On the other side there is the protagonist, a protector of the forest, who is able to communicate with nature through his magic. The plants will obey his will, as long as it is for the purpose of protecting the forest.

The software I'm going to use is Houdini for the FX, Nuke for the Compositing and Photoshop for visualisation. For the plants i was was planning to use Quixel Megascans and might create some by my own if there is the need and the time for it. I might have a look at Substance Painter aswell if i will have to do some custom textures.

First i started to gather some reference, to set the mood of the scene. I particularly liked a shot from the movie Electra, where a character named Typhoid Mary decays the forest with her powers. I would like to go with a similar decay effect for the monster. 

After that i tried to visualise some of the keyframes of the scene (im not the best painter/drawer don't be too harsh on me). Since i haven't established a design for the monster and the protagonist yet, i focused on the environment and some of the FX.

I hope it is visible what i am trying to achieve, but for the sake of being clear im going to describe it here in textform.

First we look at a beautiful scene in a forest, when after a short time the ground starts to rise and the monster starts to corrupt the ground, which turns dark and decays as a result.

The Monster breaks out of the dirt and screams at the protagonist, while some black smoke comes out of his mouth which starts to spread around the area and makes it decay.

When the monster attacks, the protagonist commands some plants (probably some roots), to block his attack by blocking his claw.

For the shots i didn't include in the visualisation i will probably make the monster cut some plants with his second attack and make some grass/plants bend when the character dodges his attacks and falls to the ground.

For the attack of the protagonist i decided to make him use some natural magic by forming a green sphere of energy, to spawn some lianas  that twirl around themselves while they're on their way to the monster to impale him. They change their appearance from a ghostly to a physical form depending on their distance to the core.

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