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Atmospheric african forest and cave environment
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Atmospheric african forest and cave environment

by JaimeArevalo on 1 Jun 2023

These environments are created in Houdini and Redshift. The 3D assets are from Speedtree, Megascans and Kitbash3D.

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Hi!, these projects are created in houdini and rendered in redshift (forest) and arnold (cave), with a prior preparation and use of 3D assets from Speedtree, Quixel Megascans and Kitbash3D.

Atmospheric African Forest Scene

Main tools. The main tools and methods I used inside Houdini were the heightfield nodes for the terrain, scattering, proxys and instances for positioning the trees, shading and lookdev, VDBs to create the fog and a lot of poly reduce nodes in order to get the fastest render times possible. Also the images were splitted in layers of different quality, to save space and time when rendering, so I could reduce the original time rendering from 45 minutes per frame, to 9 minutes. The lowres images like background and middleground were optimized to 1-3 minutes per frame. For a total final sequence of 120 frames. Always having in mind the final size/resolution was 1920 x 1080, so there is no need of heavy meshes and heavy textures, so textures were lowered aswell, specially the leaves.

Ivy tool. It was also set a procedural tool for the Ivy around the main tree. I watched a tutorial inside SideFX for that. in order to add a little drama for the story telling.

God rays. For the atmospheric look, I found inspiration and reference from the images showed below. Also I got the idea of animating the intensity of light, to give it that transition from cloudy to sunny mood, like Frodo and Sam when they noticed the head of the king was crowned again. For that, I had the need to apply a blocking object with holes, using a simple grid with a basic noise in a VOP node, exported Cd attribute and then deleted all the black ones, in order to create those fog lines.

Cave scanned by drone
Prometheus Alien movie inspiration FX

The main focuse of this is the cave and rock formation, the scanning fx is more like a secundary fx, in order to enrich the story telling. So, what I´m saying here is that, I do love to create any kind of FX, but I prefer to focus more on environment creation.

The cave. Also kept it simple this time, the cave formation is created in houdini with VDB´s and tweeked with a noise in a volume Vop node, in order to have that carved/sculpted look made by a machine, then turned it to polygon mesh, bended and twisted to give it those elements of random deep and height, added some megascans rocks on top (just a few), some shading and finally turned the lights on and touched the setting by a lot, which was the hard part of the project, having in mind a dark scene inside a cave is different of an open day light scene. (Well I struggled more than I thought)

The drone. This scene was created for another contest by Kitbash3D on december 2022, so I took some parts from different assets of Mission to Minerva free kit, to create the drone. It is a basic setup with a normal point and centered the parts I wanted, then assembled other separate parts to those normal points based on the pivot and vuoalá! got a drone assembled. Sounds very easy now, but I spent a lot of time to figure out how to achieve this, looking and looking for tutorials everywhere, specially youtube, but at the end was satisfactory. Also what is interesting on this process is the animation of the wings, which was done proceduraly with a sine and cosine function for the rotation rotor.

Laser scan effect. This one is kinda messy I know, and also hard to achieve, but fortunately I found a good amount and quality of information in tutorials out there. For this effect basically the job was done by a null from the cave and projected lines on the surface of the cave walls with some ray nodes, also some math operator inside point vops.


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