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FX Challenge
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FX Challenge

Valentin Beaumont
by el1ven on 17 Mar 2021 for Rebelway FX Challenge

My take on the Rebelway FX Challenge : a lost android encounter a monster in a snowy environment.

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Update - 18 Mar 2021


I just finished the cloak FX, and added some snow flowing around, sourced by the cape and the cybord. The simulation and snow scattering still requires some love though :

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Update - 18 Mar 2021


I worked late yesterday, and came up with a first version of a cloak vellum simulation : 

I tried to blend everything by adding some snow on the cloak, using the same method I used on the rocks, withoyt remeshing it and rendering the snow as particles :

I need to refine the base model, but the simulation is behaving quite well! Here are the last renders :

I spent a lot of time on the grading, using multiple references, including this gorgeous one coming from Unit Images : 

Update - 17 Mar 2021


Here are the tests render of today. I might actually add some cloth sim to the cyborg :

Update - 17 Mar 2021


The environment is a major part of the render, so we need to make it look as sexy as possible. I decided to keep the given terrains but I optimized it, removing all the unecessary faces, and adding some others with some tools I created during other projects :

I then added some Megascans assets and blended them with the actual environment, that I had to rework due to the really poor quality of their LODs :

I added some snow on top of the given assets with particles projected on the top, and remeshed them through some VDBs manipulation :

Finally some layered shaders and a bit of vegetation scattering and here we go!

Update - 17 Mar 2021


The smoke was my biggest fear : Redshift doesn't allow any out of core volumes, and with such a scale it could quickly become massive. I created a simple Pyro FX setup, but as it is too slow and too low-res at the moment, I'll probably switch for Axiom really soon : 

Update - 17 Mar 2021


I paused all the sims and decided to optimize the file as much as possible, getting rid of all the unecessary things and ordering all the nodes. For example, I used the Fetch node to relaunch all my filecaches if I decide to change one simulation, as the rocky ground FX has an impact on the snow, the debris and the smoke for example : 

I added switches to every simulation not starting on frame 1, to make them appear only when necessary : 

Update - 17 Mar 2021


To add some details, I decided to add saliva dripping from the monster mouth.

This is a temporary sim, as I need to refine it when I'll have some time!

Update - 17 Mar 2021


On top of the ground, I wanted to add some snow. I like snowy environments and didn't play a lot with grain, so this was a good occasion! It's a vellum grain sim, divided in clusters to have this snow packed effect : 

The sim is fairly low-res with only around 10.000.000 particles, but the upres sand Shelf tool can be extremely handy to make it feel more dense  :

Update - 17 Mar 2021


I also wanted the hyralisk to generate some debris, to mimic the dust being on his body while he's jumping through the ground :

Update - 17 Mar 2021


Then comes the debris simulation. Those will also be driving the smoke sim :

Update - 17 Mar 2021


The first simulation I took care of was the RBD ground. It created 2 versions, one high-res and one low-res, to be able to test the sim settings rapidly and then switch to the high-res fractured ground.

I added a glue constraint and a soft one, to have the ground deforming before exploding. The creature is activating the simulation trhough a Transfer Attributes in a SOP solver. I also limited the pieces speed to mimic a huge mass aspect :

I used the point deform method to do the rbd on the low-res pieces, which are then transferred to a the high-res ones to gain time!

Update - 17 Mar 2021


Here are some renders I did, trying to find the right mood/lighting. I'll create an update later on the different simulations happening :

Update - 17 Mar 2021


Here is my simili pipeline. I created some custom Redshift Houdini nodes. The first one is a Valentin_Redshift_Options, a node created to rule them all. It basically emulates the Katana filters option, giving me the ability to change settings quickly accross all my render layers, disabling options to fasten any lookdev render. The second ones are basic Redshift ROP nodes, with my pipeline options added : 

Those nodes are following my projects template, and saving everything at the right place. You can choose which discipline you're working on (tmp, lookdev, master, etc.), the shot,  the version and the layer. This is a huge time saver! Here is how it looks like on my hard drive :

Then I created a Nuke template which automatically picks up the version you want. This tree has option to activate the different layers I decided to render, some custom gizmos I created to match the plate and the Camera, which would be automatically picked up through the AutoCam node : 

It will basically gather any Render through the AutoGather node, and the Cryptomattes linked and be processed through an AOV template. You have the ability to choose between Arnold, Redshift or V-Ray.

Last but not least is the AutoWrite node. This will also save any final render at the right place, create a daily etc. It has an option to add a Slate at the beginning of the final output, great option to troubleshoot issues in terms of color management and add any notes : 

All of those things are allowing me to iterate extremely quickly and are avoiding any headache while trying to organize my project!

Update - 17 Mar 2021


Joining the party a bit late, but here is my entry! I thought it would be a great exercice as I didn't do any pure FX in a while.

I started a week and a half ago, and already created all the low-res simulations for the shot 1, dived into the lookdev and the environment creation. I also rendered and composited some images : I like to go as soon as possible from start to finish, as I found it's a great method to troubleshoot the different issues I'll have to face. It's also extremely useful in terms of production : our job is to create a stunning image/video, and going straight to the end allows me to know what I need to polish but more importantly where I can cheat.

For this project I chose Houdini as my DCC and Redshift for the rendering. This is not the most evident and adapted choice as Redshift is limited by the amount of VRAM available on the grapic card, and is not recommended for huge volumes or billion of particles. This will force me to optimize my scene as much as possible!