Clash of Kings

This was a very interesting commercial to work on. I was asked to provide all of the FX shots, and also to supervise the shoot in Hungary. We shot 1 day at Korda Studios and then 3 days in central Budapest. I also used photogrammetry on set for the first time, and found it an invaluable tool. Its always a good idea to capture as much data from the location as possible, and having scans of the location just made things much easier in the post work.

I used FumeFX for all the smoke and fire effects, and Thinking Particle for the dynamics simulations. I did have some nice ember effects working in PFlow, but its become unstable in the last few releases of Max with frequent crashes, and I found I couldn’t rely on it during production.

We filmed a lot of the footage in slow motion and I need to match the speed with the FX. The final shot also contains a few speed ramps, so the only way we could match these was to simulate the FX on the whole slow motion plate, and then apply the ramps in post. This meant that the final shot is simulated over 200 frames to produce the correct look.

Slack – Animals

I was the senior Hair and Fur TD on this commercial for Slack. I was responsible for the Fur on the Lion, Goat, and the feathers on the Owl. The fur was made using Hair Farm, and rendered with V-Ray.

Once the commercial was finished Nexus made this fantastic blooper reel:

BBC Christmas Ident FX Look Dev

FX Look Development for a specific shot in the BBC Christmas ident involving falling clumpy snow. Using Houdini’s Grain Solver I delivered a proof of concept shot of the wet snow falling on a test object. The simulation was saved as an Alembic file and imported into 3ds Max where I set up the V-Ray shader for rendering realistic snow.


Here’s the whole ident with the falling snow shot at 16 seconds in:

BBC – Christmas – Sprout Boy from Factory Studios on Vimeo.

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Winter 2016 FX Reel

Here’s my latest FX Reel:

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The Seed and the Moon

I recently finished working on this short film made for the Umpqua Bank in the States.

Using GrowFX, X-Mesh, Forest Pack and V-Ray, I was responsible for the procedural plant growth FX Look Dev, and then a large number of shots in the final short film involving pant growth.

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Phone Camera and PhotoScan

I was interested to see how good the results would be to use my phone camera (Sony Z1) for Photogrammetry (with PhotoScan).

It turns out the results were pretty good! The final meshes are rough, and the textures are pixelated, but the results are usable in production.

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Flip Fluids: Mud and Water

This is a test to see how 2 liquids of different densities would interact. Each fluid also has separate viscosity settings.

To get this working I created a volume in sops, scattered points inside the volume, and then gave them custom point attributes to describe density, and viscosity. The water and mud were each assigned point groups, and then it was possible to separate them and assign the correct point attributes.

The mud has a varying viscosity from 100 to 1000,000 which creates the clumps within the mud. This is set in an attribute VOP in sops, and is driven by a random noise.

In dops the particles are fed into a Flip Object node, and the initial data input type is set to Particle Field to pick up the points created in sops. I also matched the particle separation value in the Flip Object node to the Points from Volume node used to created the points.

The liquids were meshed in Houdini and exported to Max using alembic.

The scene was rendered with Vray using a single dome light set to image based lighting with an HDR used for lighting and reflections.

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Houdini Flip Fluid Viscosity by age

Quick test to change the viscosity of a flip fluid by particle age.

A point attribute called birthframe is made in Sops so that each particle knows when it was born. Then in Dops a Popvop is used to read the birthframe attribute, and subtract it from the current frame of the sim which gives the particle’s age. This age is then passed to a fit range node which fits the value of 0 to 40, to 0 to 5000. This is the value written to the viscosity attribute on each frame.


This is what the flip section of dops looks like. The popvop is placed after the source volume for the flip fluid.


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Houdini Flip Fluids in Max test

Krakatoa Particles playback in Max viewport

This is a first test of getting a Houdini Flip Fluids sim into Max for rendering in V-Ray.

I used the Krakatoa PRT Rop driver available from this site:

Which is pretty awesome. Drivers are available for Houdini 13 and 14. The version I tested was for 14.0335. The driver is easy to install, and is then available under a custom section of the Output drivers.

As well as baking out the particles to PRT files, the Rop driver can also write out the particle velocities, which are read by Frost back in Max. V-Ray is able to use the velocity data for in-camera montionblur.

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Thinking Particles Breakable Joint Tests

A series of tests varying the breakable velocity value for joints. The strength of the joints is also effected by a distance test to the center of the force that’s used to exploded the boxes. In some of the tests I add a random multiplier to add some variation to the effect.

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