Winners announced for Rookie Awards 2021
Rebelway VFX Challenge
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Rebelway VFX Challenge

by paulrlockhart on 21 Jan 2021 for Rebelway FX Challenge

This is my entry for The Rookies - Rebelway VFX Challenge.

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Update - 31 Mar 2021


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Update - 31 Mar 2021

I am now in the stages of polishing off a couple of bit for my entry I thought I would do one last post before my final entry.

This is my first entry to a Rookies contest and I have really enjoyed doing it and am already looking to enter another that is currently running. I'm very proud that I have managed to complete the project and with my final result. I have learned loads in the process of completing this project from working with flip fluid simulations to taking a step back when I get stuck creatively.

Within my project I have simulated:

1 x Flip Fluid simulation at 79.99GB total taking 148 hours to bake.

9 x Particle simulations

6 x Smoke simulations

I finally wanted to add a thanks to all the people on the Discord, I found getting feedback from everyone really helpful and everyone has given great encouragement and have done amazing work themselves.

Update - 27 Mar 2021


I spent this week working on the hero attack. I'm still not happy with any of the ideas and test I have come up with so I will have to continue working on it into next week. 

I have decided on the effect this attack will have on the monster. I was going to have a smoke simulation to show the electricity burning the monster and reveal burnt skin on the monster.

Burnt skin texture.

Update - 18 Mar 2021


With less than a month to go I am now working on the final vfx shot.

I have broken this down into three parts, the build up, the attack itself and the effect this has on the monster.

Below is a breakdown of the progress I have made with the first part - the build up.

My idea was for the character to be building up electrical / magical energy in his hands to be released at the monster. 

I started by adding a sphere and tracking it to the characters hands. I first added a mask with a cloud texture, then I added a vertex weight edit node to all the vertices of the sphere so I could control the falloff of the texture and used this to drive the gaps within the sphere. Then to blend this into the next part I fractured the sphere into particles.

I wanted to keep the theme of electricity going, I therefore started adding bolts of lightning.

These are planes scaled into a thin strip. I then added edge loops for more geometry and displaced the plane. I used three displacements for each axis and used a clouds texture set to displace based on it global position. 

I then repeated this with a smaller voronoi texture to give more detail. To keep a lot of control I key framed the blots so I could easily control the position, scale and rotation of each bolt.

I next added a second sphere applied the same technique as before and added a particle emitter.  

The final part was to add a smoke simulation. I originally used the particle simulation as the emitter for the smoke sim but I found this was too much. I then tried using the sphere that I used for the particle sim and this looked a lot more subtle and gave a glowing look around the hands.

A couple of test renders.

Update - 3 Mar 2021


Just a quick update on my entry.

I have done a RBD on a rock which the monster destroys whilst taking a swipe at the hero. 

The rock was created from a icosphere with a couple of displacement modifiers to give it a rocky texture. 

I then applied a cell fracture to the asset. 

To the major parts of the cell fracture I added particle systems to create more detail and smaller chunks.

I finally added a smoke simulation to give it an extra level of detail.

Update - 24 Feb 2021


I've been doing some work on the hero's shield recently.

This part I have been really struggling trying to come up with ideas that I liked. 

I had been trying out different designs and shapes for a shield but I didn't like the look of anything that I came up with. I therefore took a little break from working on the contest and came back to it.

As the hero is technology based I wanted to have the feel of something digital or electric. When trying to develop shield ideas this wasn't working for me.

I went back and looked at my story idea. This hero is supposed to be a machine with a magical spirit attached to it.

I started with the magical element, so I took inspiration from Marvel and Dr Strange and added some sparks. Continuing this theme I added some smoke. The thinking behind this was to give it an enhanced magical feel.

After going through the process of trying to come up with shield ideas and not getting anywhere I wanted to change direction. So I took inspiration from Star Wars and wanted to try a force lightning effect. 

I much preferred this to anything I came up with for a shield so I decided to take this idea forward.

This theme can easily be carried forward for the hero attack and keep a good coherence with the hero's abilities.

Update - 10 Feb 2021


I have been working on the first attack of the monster. I have decided to do this as a 'fire breath' attack. 

It took me a lot of attempts to get this the way I wanted it to look. I wanted to have as organic and natural looking fire as possible as this is a battle between a organic creature and a robotic hero.

I started by creating an emitter and locking it to the location of the tongue  of the monster. This emitted my particles and I used the particles as the source points of the smoke and fire.

Test 1

The fire to be seemed to be too wild and very fast. To get the particles to go where I wanted I added a charge to the particles and added an empty and gave it a negative charge. I also gave the particles an initial velocity. All these combined gave the particles too much velocity. The fire and smoke also burned out too quickly.

Test 2 

This was a lot more controlled, however, it was very focused and looked more cylindrical. 

Test 3

Although this created a really cool effect with particles bouncing off the hero and giving off smoke trails the fire and smoke lingered for too long and obscured too much of the camera. 

Test 4 

This was much better, good amount of control however it was still quite cylindrical and you can tell that the fire is being emitted from particles. The fire and smoke burned out far too quickly as well.

Test 5

This was the result I preferred the most, a good burnout at the end and the fire looked wild enough that it looked more natural but was controlled and focused.

I wanted to do one final test with just the emitter emitting the smoke and not have a particles.

This instantly gave a better result!

The fire looked so much more natural and the exact effect I wanted. By using a wind force I could easily direct the smoke and fire. 

I then went on to give the effect that this would have on the hero.

Being that he is a metal robot, I decided that he would be able to withstand a high temperature, however heated metal does glow when hot. So I gave him a gradient texture to show that he is glowing red hot when being attack by the fire.

I may increase the roughness of the material later on and see if this gives a more realistic look but overall for now I am happy with the results.

Update - 21 Jan 2021


The Mishoian, an ancient people of the planet Mashda  have mastered the ability to attach their spirit to machinery and robotics whilst maintaining their magical abilities.

The people use this knowledge to attach their greatest warriors spirits to machines to create ultimate warriors to defend the Mishoian people against the monstrous threats that roam the planet.  

Update - 21 Jan 2021


I have finalised the environment and have re baked the lava simulation.

I re baked the lava simulation because I didn't like some of the ways the liquid fell and some of the lava got trapped on the head of the monster.

I increased the resolution of the simulation increasing the number of particles and reducing the voxel size.

I added a smoke simulation with the lava mesh as the emitter. 

A few test renders of my progress so far.

First - the lava simulation.

Second - with a subtle smoke simulation.

Third - with full environment and textures.

Update - 20 Jan 2021


I have recently been finalizing all the materials for the characters and the environment. 

I tested out a few different ideas of schemes for the hero character. I wanted to have some scratches and damage to the paint to give the impression that they have been through a few battles.

At this point I also wanted to give a military/tactical vibe to the character.

After sharing my original designs on the discord chat it was suggested that I combined two of the materials from the left most character and the middle character. This gave the results above.

I also took this opportunity to try out different colour schemes. 

I then decided to reverse the materials so that the character overall was more reflective. I thought that it would be a lot more visually interesting.

A quick test render of the final materials for the hero character.

Update - 6 Jan 2021


A quick post on the progress I've made for the shield.

I have started coming up with ideas for the hero shield. This is currently my favorite of what I have produced.  

Update - 27 Dec 2020

I wanted to have the monster bursting out of a lava lake and have completed a couple of test fluid simulations.

I found that increasing the number of spray particles really added to the simulation. This bake took 24 hours to complete. I may go back and do another bake at a higher resolution and perhaps more spray particles.

Update - 22 Dec 2020

Hi, my name is Paul and this is my entry for The Rookies - Rebelway FX Challenge.

This is my first competition entry for The Rookies and I am really looking forward to getting stuck in with my entry.

I will be using mostly Blender as I am most familiar with this software but I will also use Houdini as I want to learn more of it.

In this first entry I wanted to establish the environment as this would have an impact on the style of the FX.

My original idea was to have a swamp theme. However after doing some test simulations the amount of time it would take to bake what I wanted would take days and days.

I therefore decided to go for a lava theme as I could bake at a lower resolution and save time.

I really like the third image above with a mix of lava and scifi industrial theme. 

I have started creating the environment and quickly added some material to the monster to get started.