Thinking Particles

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.

We filmed a lot of the footage in slow motion and I needed 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.


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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Qualcomm: The World Without Mobile Viral

I was asked by The Viral Factory to supervise and produce the vfx for a Qualcomm viral commercial.

I supervised the 3 day shoot in London, and then produced most of the post work over the following few days.

At the time of posting the viral has had 2.4 million views!

Here’s a breakdown of the Tweeting shot:

Thinking Particles 5 was used to sim the 10,000 falling birds. The sim times were actually pretty quick at about 30 mins considering the large number of objects.

V-Ray was used to render, with a V-Ray camera and motion blur. I did think about rendering a velocity pass, and using Realsmart, but considering the large number of overlapping birds artifacts could have been an issue. The shot was comped in After Effects.

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Large Scale Petrol Based Explosion

A fume test for a large scale explosion.

I’ve gone for a messy out of control explosion, with lots of secondary explosions after the main starter.

This is achieved with a combination of object and particle sources. As the shape for the object source expands, it dumps out a load of fuel and temp, with a fair amount of object velocity. At the same time a particle source is fired, and also sprays out some fuel and temp (but less than the source). The particle source also emits a fair amount of velocity.

Although the particle source is also burning, some unburnt fuel is left behind above the main fireball. This then catches fire and the fireball expands and rises up. Any unburnt fuel is also caught by the secondary explosions.


LVJ Ship Crash Dust / Smoke Trail Dev

Quick test to run through some ideas on creating better fluids behavior from smoke or dust trails. The idea is to create some eddies behind an object as it passes through the air.

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LVJ Ship Crash Tests 1- 5

Proof of concept for a space ship crash shot on LVJ. Various low res tests to see how the shot’s going to work, and what sort of camera angles are going to look good. Sim times rise quickly as I try to produce finer debris, so there may be a limit to how near the camera can be to the crash.

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TP Destruction Test

Here’s a simple TP test using volume breaker, and particle based cells for fragmentation density.

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Building Destruction Test

Building Collapse (Thinking Particles) from Hugh Johnson on Vimeo.

Large scale destruction using TP.  Main physics is all handled by TP, with more particles spawned at the point of impact, and when the larger chunks are in motion. The TP setup for this scene file became corrupt and wouldn’t allow any changes without crashing, so I wasn’t able to take the test much further.  I had planned to create some dust too, as in the smaller test. Pretty pleased with how this went, but it does look like there’s loads of potatoes flying around when the camera is this close!

Will have to see how Rayfire handles something like this!



Simple Destruction with Fume Dust

Simple Wall Destruction with Fume Dust from Hugh Johnson on Vimeo.

Did this a while ago.  Main physics is done with Thinking Particles, the dust is generated using Fume, which is triggered by more TP particles.

Simple Wall Destruction with Fume Dust from Hugh Johnson on Vimeo.


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