View Full Version : FXWars! MoonShot!: Jeff Patton

03 March 2005, 08:21 PM
Well, this will be my first attempt at FXWars (hope I've entered correctly). I have a lot on my plate right now, but I think I'll be able to put something together by the May 2nd deadline.

Since my animation will be based on the near future, I will be competing amongst the Fantasy entries. I've googled some images and thrown a makeshift "storyboard" together:

Software I'll be using:
3dsmax7 (Afterburn plugin for launch scenes)
Combustion 3 & Photoshop CS for compositing & creating the video

I sure hope I can pull this off. :argh:

03 March 2005, 09:37 PM
This is a pretty well planned piece. I hope you pull it all off, it looks promising. What's your plan for the smoke particles?

03 March 2005, 12:49 AM
Thanks Todd. I'm planning on using PFlow & Afterburn for the smoke. I was testing some settings today, and here's a test render:

Still a lot of work to do (especially to remove the "puffs"), but I think it has potential.

03 March 2005, 01:27 AM
Looks good, Jeff. However, I recommend putting a higher Variation on the sphere size. In fact, I would probably use a variation of 100%. Also, make the sphere size about 10 at creation, and about 50 at maximum size. Depending on the scale of your scene of course.

03 March 2005, 06:42 AM
Is Afterburn and PFlow strictly a Max thing? Or are there similar plugins for Maya and likewise? Thanks.

03 March 2005, 07:46 AM
Thanks man. Yeah, 10 & 50 were almost spot on. I was using 5 and 20 and I ended up with 7 and 42. But the 100% variation tip really made it a lot better (thanks). I'll post a shot of the new smoke later. For now, here's an animation preview of the launch particles:

I don't think I need to worry about the smoke ending abruptly, I think I'll just switch camera views and won't need to worry about it. :thumbsup:

03 March 2005, 04:52 PM
Latest smoke test render:

03 March 2005, 05:32 PM
:twisted: i want that result ! u use after burn for the material ?

03 March 2005, 05:53 PM
It's 90% Afterburn, 10% Photoshop color tweaking.

I'm a bit concerned about the render times on the really thick smoke though, this frame took about 40 minutes! I'm going to have to spend some time trying to reduce that since I don't have a render farm! :sad:

03 March 2005, 06:12 PM
but you have a good computer, y have a toy laptop . with a .9ghz centrino procesor and 256 ram ... you can imagine . i have to care so much render times. im learning afterburn in this moment .. so .. is to heavy ?
maybe we can work together ?.

03 March 2005, 06:24 PM
Jeff, depending on how close you get to the smoke... you could always render 640 or even 320 and then upsize in post... just put a very soft blur on it...

again, all depends on how close you get, and how much detail you want... Sweet test renders thus far, though!

03 March 2005, 08:42 PM
Looking better. However, you are probably using too many particles. That's why it's taking so long to render. Yes, the render times will be big, but they shouldn't be that big.

How many particles are you using in your smoke plume?

Also, your smoke plume seems to be traveling in all directions. In a NASA launch, the smoke only travels in two directions. That's because the "smoke" is actually huge amounts of steam from water being vaporized by the rocket's engines. The vents are pointed away from the shuttle landing pad, and the smoke travels in only two directions away from each other.

And lastly, your particles seem to be moving to fast away from your rocket. Not the exaust, but the outward smoke particles. Slow them down by 50-75%.

If I am bugging you, just tell me to shut up...ha ha.

03 March 2005, 09:13 PM
If I am bugging you, just tell me to shut up...ha ha.
Not in the least, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to offer input! I don't remember a total particle count, but reducing the particles left my smoke a bit "puffy" looking (if that makes sense). I'll try reducing it again and see what happens.

I think your right about the speed. I'm not sure how everything will react with the launch tower & pad I will be constructing. I know I will put some ducting in the launch pad to direct the smoke/steam away from the spacecraft itself. So I'm thinking I'll add a negative wind at the entrance of each duct to pull the smoke out and away from the launch pad.

I think I need to go ahead and start modeling the launch pad, and spacecraft now before tweaking the smoke further, since it will change quite a bit. But I feel a lot better now that I have a better grasp on Afterburn.

Jeff, depending on how close you get to the smoke... you could always render 640 or even 320 and then upsize in post... just put a very soft blur on it...
Good thinking. The final composite will only be 320x240, so I can save a lot of time by that alone...but also by rendering low detail for those distant shots (thanks for the tips)

i have to care so much render times. im learning afterburn in this moment .. so .. is to heavy ?
maybe we can work together ?.
I'm not completely sure I understand what you mean by "heavy". If you mean the learning curve of Afterburn, it's not too bad. Actually, the smoke I've made so far is not far from the Afterburn default settings! I've just basically tweaked the size & noise controls so far.

As far as working together in a group, I'd better not. I had considered working with a group at first, but then I decided against it. Why?
Well, with my current work load, this "fun" stuff has to come last on my priority list (paying gig's take priority :thumbsup: ) there's no guarantee that I'll even be able to finish this project. Along those same lines, I wouldn't want to get in a group that's depending on me to create something, and then end up letting them down due to prior commitments.

Is Afterburn and PFlow strictly a Max thing? Or are there similar plugins for Maya and likewise? Thanks. I know PFlow is 100% Max (it's just the name for Max's "newer" particle system). And I don't think there's an Afterburn plugin for Maya...but surely Maya would have something similar?

03 March 2005, 10:07 AM
Thanks Jeff! The launch is progressing quite nicely, the smoke look fantastic. I assume there is no final render of the particles in a movie form due to time constraints? Keep it up, I'm sure the puffs will make their way to realityworlds or something like that even...

03 March 2005, 03:48 PM
Jeff that last test render is beautiful, you are off to a great start my friend! I hope to watch this progress, it shows great potential!


03 March 2005, 11:34 PM
i have 2 questions. 1st . how can i get that glow. and 2d how can i convine that glow smoke and that no glow smoke ?

03 March 2005, 07:14 AM
@Artman50 - I used the explosion "thing" (it's late and I don't remember the proper name) addition to the afterburn glow effect. I think the density of your smoke controls the amount of glow.

I began work on a spacecraft...and figured it would be quicker to just model after the space shuttle (I need the extra time savings). So I started with some free shuttle models (I can provide the links if others need it, but all I did was google space shuttle .3ds).

So naturally I had to edit these models and in the end I think it would've been quicker to just model one from scratch...oh well here's a quick composite. I'm not sure if I'll need to add more detail to this model since the final render size will be just looks white at that small size anyway (not to mention all the smoke that will be flying around).

03 March 2005, 12:44 PM
Now that's lovely compositing work!I assume that great looking smoke of yours is going to head toward the camera so you don't have to worry about matting it out behind the mobile launch structure?

03 March 2005, 03:35 PM
Thanks man. I'm thinking that I'll have to model the the basic shapes of the launch pad. Just so the smoke can be directed away properly, and appear to interact with the photo. I'll also need to model those two giant "clamps" that are holding the ship. Because I think they hinge back as it lifts off?

One thing I'm trying to figure out is how I will light the launch pad structure when the shuttle takes off. Some of the faces will need to glow yellow/orange as the shuttle takes off...and I do NOT have time to completely model that beast of a structure. :D

Anyone have ideas?

03 March 2005, 06:19 PM
how about just modeling some of the edges most likely to reflect the launch, not perfect but might help the illusion?

03 March 2005, 09:34 PM
Yea - there's a trick to that. Model the pad in a LOWPOLY hidden geometry, then make it so particles are deflected by the low poly pad. really very simple and does a great job. Problem is the CPU it requires.

03 March 2005, 12:45 AM
Heya Jeff... don't know how much you know about afterburn, but the first thing you should play with for speed is probably changing step size and falloff bigger values means faster, but "more harsh" renders... you should be able to find a really good in-between. You can also play with the density afc to make them fade out over particle life if you need also. Looks like you're doing really well with everything so far though.
With your reputation, i'm scared to attempt creating anything for this competition!! :)

03 March 2005, 09:12 PM
ahhh man where dyou find that picture..!

i was looking for something like that

03 March 2005, 09:36 PM
Wow Jeff, that's sweet. Haha, I didn't even know anything about this FXWARS stuff. Anyway, the smoke is turning out nicely. To get those render times down try turning the every Nth particle quanity higher to like 4 or 5. This means it will skip every 4 or 5 particle to apply the effect to. And yes, as SoLiTuDe said turn your step size up. I would try values between 1.2 and 2.0. OHh and from what I also saw on the last smoke render test. Try turning the AFC controllers on for the sphere size and have the curve ramp up overtime so they get big really quick. For example the starting value would be 15 and the ending one 40 but the curve would just make it ramp up to those values a lot quicker. Good luck mate, and have fun. :)

03 March 2005, 06:56 AM
Thanks guys. I don't use Afterburn a lot so I appreciate the tips. Been busy with work and haven't had time to get back to this. I should be able to do some more over the weekend (I hope).

R.Quinn - I just posted some links in the references thread for this challenge (I added the one where I found that pic).

03 March 2005, 05:56 PM
thanks mr patton

03 March 2005, 03:55 AM
My smoke is jumping now...Any of you Afterburn guru's seen anything like this happen before?

The smoke moves around like that whether I'm looking through a camera, or perspective (so I've made sure my camera wasnt moving). What the heck could be causing the smoke to jump around like that?

Figured I'd ask here before posting this at the afterburn forum...just incase it's something silly I've done.

NOTE: Don't worry about the smoke disapearing roughly...I know how to fix that...but I can't find anything causing the smoke to jump around.

03 March 2005, 05:13 AM
Ehhh, figured it out (thanks for helping figure that one out treed :thumbsup: ). As it turns out, it was a new spacewarp (betterwind). So I had to delete that wind space warp and use the default wind.

I'll post another updated video soon.

03 March 2005, 03:55 PM
Hi Jeff..

You're making really very nice stuff here..!
Sorry, I didn't post any new shaders in the simbiont thread.. First I had no time and second, soon my website [] ( will be up and running and all the shaders will be available for download from there..

By the way, if you need any help with shading/texturing I'd be glad to assist you.. I have a lot of space stuff (hulls, planets, moons etc.) ready and it can save a lot of time..
Also many special effects, including particles, can be done much faster and often with better quality using animated textures and special shaders..

The best of luck and cheers,

04 April 2005, 05:14 AM
Needed a break from some I jumped on this a bit more (smoke settings again). I haven't found the right sky background to use yet, so disregard the black background. I have to add the smaller particles/smoke for the actual shuttle rockets as well (not just boosters)


04 April 2005, 11:52 AM
Fire looks great, but the smoke needs to be whiter, and softer. Have a slight translucency.

04 April 2005, 01:31 PM
yes mr.jeff u r doing gr8!!! yeah smoke needs to be white!!

04 April 2005, 01:33 PM
i m trying to fake volumatric smoke using blobmesh object as a particles!!but my pc gets hang out.but ur one is really good did u do that?

04 April 2005, 03:52 PM
Looks good Jeff. However, the smoke needs to be wider at the base. They should become so wide at the base that the smoke column becomes one column instead of two.

04 April 2005, 05:27 PM
Thanks for the tips, here's an update:

Jigu - I'm using afterburn (plugin), not blobmesh particles.

04 April 2005, 02:20 AM
Looks better. But I wouldn't use those standard Photoshop flares. However, if you do, at least color adjust them to be orange. The quickest way to color adjust the flares is to go to put them on their own layer against a black background. Then go to Image>Adjust>Color Balance. Then push the midtone Reds up to 100 then the midtone greens up to 50. Then push the Highlight reds up to 75 and the highlight greens up to 32.

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