View Full Version : Earthquake - VFX Challenge - Mouser

11 November 2002, 10:51 PM
I've been lurking here for quite some time, and decided to give this challenge a whirl.

I've never done a shot this complex, so hopefully I'll be able to pull it off

1) pre earthquake
2) road breaks apart
3) fissure widens
4) tentacle reaches out and grabs sign (CG replace for real sign)
5) tentacle breaks sign and pulls back into fissure

if the tentacle becomes too much, I'll probably just break the sign

here's my rough storyboard

let me know what you all think


11 November 2002, 11:03 PM
LOL!! That's a good gag! Looking forward to this one.


11 November 2002, 12:17 AM
And when you replace sign for the cg one change put there texture on which is written "Hail to Cthulu" :)

GL man:buttrock:

MC T-Roc
11 November 2002, 03:31 AM
I was debating about doing a shot as well, and was thinking about tenticles.....DAMN! TAKEN! Great idea!

11 November 2002, 01:06 AM
Of course it starts to rain just as I'm ready shoot my plate. Here is a still of the basic location I'm planning on using. I've taken it into photoshop to see if the framing will work per my original sketch & painted in a crack. I may do something with the telephone pole behind the tree...but still going to focus on the crack and tentacle first.


this is the location with no modifications

11 November 2002, 01:08 AM
Here is the same shot with the sign painted out and my crack forming... going to work on the steam & smoke next. Hopefully tonight I'll have the actual video plate captured so I can start working directly on the composite


11 November 2002, 01:27 AM
whoa nice crack :)

bet you dont hear that often

11 November 2002, 01:45 AM
heh... nice comment. Suppose that was bound to happen.
But I have to agree...

Although you need to lose contrast in your crack as it recedes from us.


11 November 2002, 03:58 AM

Quite frankly this looks cool!
Question :D : how did you make the crack? :)
I mean the inside of it?

Keep it up i wanna see more...i like it! :bounce: :bounce:

11 November 2002, 04:01 AM
AWESOME looking fissure! Whoa, I gotta get onto mine now...hehe!!


11 November 2002, 12:27 PM
Thats a mighty fine crack you have there, Mouser. Is it a 2d painting or a 3d rendering? It's going to be awsome to see the crack in motion!


11 November 2002, 04:13 PM
thanks guys :)

the fissure is just a photoshop painting. I'll animate the road crumbling into the fissure and all the dynamics (steam, rubble etc) in Maya, but mostly this will be a After Effects / Photoshop composite. I didn't have my footage so I got anxious to see how the crack was going to look (slow day at the office :).

Alex - I painted in some haze near the back, but it felt too washed out considering the distance away from camera. do you know how far away from camera before atmosphere starts to visually play a role? I'll play more with it on the real footage.

Cobrax & Knut - I made the inside of the crack from a photo of the Grand Canyon I had, and used it as a source texture. Then it was just the clone tool and the dodge/burn tool. took about 2 hours of going back and forth till it didn't look cloned (to me at least)

I'm hoping it doesn't look cheesy when it is in motion... got to work out the rubble sliding down into the crack still

11 November 2002, 04:28 PM
It's very good work.

But I think that roads have more complicated inner structer. There are layers of sand, stones and then asfalt to make it stable and water-proof.

11 November 2002, 04:41 PM
.overflowed - true :) I was thinking about painting in all the layers
we'll see how far I push the fissure texture...there is some construction going on near my office, so I may go down and take some pictures of the different materials to use as reference..

I believe alot of the fine details will be lost once the steam, smoke and fire are coming out... I'm going for the earthquake from hell look.. and with the 'Cthulu' tentacle reaching out, I'll have to see if any of those details will even show up in the final...

... btw, I can't tell you guys how exciting it is for me to have people in the industry giving me advice on a composite.. I usually work on small market TV commercals, and don't get alot of feedback from people in the industry... usually it's just a client saying 'make the type bigger and the bevel thicker... no thicker... thicker.. there doesn't that look nice' :scream:

11 November 2002, 04:54 PM
Sure that quite a lot of deatails will be hard to spot. But it always suprise me that lack of deatails that should be hard to spot lowers realism of work. (sorry for my english but i hope I made it clear :))

BTW what software will you use for composite?

11 November 2002, 05:02 PM
I'll be using After Effects for the composite of elements, and Photoshop for the paint work... Maya will be used for the road replacement, tentacle, steam, and 3d sign replacment... nothing too fancy..

we had an old Flint system (one of the drives crapped out on us), but I never could get as much done on it as in After Effects.. probably because I do broadcast design mostly... or maybe because I just never caught on.. dunno :)

11 November 2002, 06:35 AM
I've put up a test to get the feel of how much shake to put into the shot... I have the traffic slow and stop on the freeway... none of the elements in the frame are animated yet (telephone pole, sign, wires etc.. ) just wanted to get the shake amount down 1st.
the more I watch it, the more the shake seems to much.. but when it shakes less, it starts to feel seasick to me...

would love to hear any suggestions / comments



11 November 2002, 06:48 AM

Hi mouer - Is that earlier image with the crack a still photoshop work?
if yes. How would go over to animate that crack forming ...?

I was trying something similar...i painted cracks using actaul pics and stuff....but am having a hard it in 3D for animation, heres the image below...

hop to hear some ideas...maybe some alternative way...

11 November 2002, 07:12 AM
the pic I posted earlier was done in photoshop. I'll be recreating the crack style in polygons. basically I'll draw the fractures so that they all seam together when in the start position (I'm still in the process of creating the 3d fissure) when the earthquake starts, I'll cross dissolve to the crumbling pieces... add particle dust & rocks, and hopefully it'll fly :)


11 November 2002, 08:32 PM
Are you going to free up the different layers in your shot? It looks like you could get a really nice parallax feel to it if you had the elements seperated. The element that would benefit most I think is the barrier going across the whole frame, not forgetting the telephone pole (wich should be real easy to key out.


11 November 2002, 08:51 PM
i think the shake is on the right track but it seems to vibrate a bit much to look real. maybe a bit bigger, slower movements? good start tho :)


11 November 2002, 08:55 PM
I think the amount of shake you have going right now looks good, especially with the slight blur. I'm curious how you delt with the edges of the comp during the blur movement. Did you crop in so that the edge of the video didn't come into the frame or something else?

11 November 2002, 10:50 PM
MichaelP - if you mean am I going to shake the elements at a different rate... hmm... that's a really good idea :) I hadn't thought about doing that... that will make if feel like the whole place is moving vs. just shaking a still.. I'll give it a whirl.. :)

fig - Yeah.. I'm still struggling with the amount of the shake.. maybe when I have all the elements in place (and michaleP's suggestion may help alot) shaking it less will feel more natural to me.

Arioch - I'm using After Effects, so in the render que panel, I put in a crop of 6 pixels on all edges.. got rid of the frame going black on the edge.

thanks for the comments :)


11 November 2002, 12:13 PM
the main problem i can see with this (if you're going for super realism) is the rain on the ground, the leaves on the tree and the cars on the road. all of these things would visibly react to such a violent tremor. maybe a simpler shot would make for a better result?
hope this helps.

11 November 2002, 04:37 AM
The Job has been really keeping me busy lately.. I'm going to work on this and hopefully finish this weekend. I've roto'd the mail truck, and have painted a replacment road to break apart.

I still need to

1) roto tree / telephone pole
2) create stand in sign geometry
3) animate crack / tenticle..

most of my crack tests haven't been rendered out so I can't show you the progress.. will try and get some rendered out by this weekend

I'm attaching a few Jegs of the progress.

here is the original still

11 November 2002, 04:39 AM
here is the street replacment.. the road goes over the sign a bit, but I still need to paint the sign out completely. (there is a little stick in the forground that will be cg as well)

11 November 2002, 04:44 AM
mail truck only

11 November 2002, 04:47 AM
and the composite. I'll put the animation (with crack forming hopefully) later tonight...

11 November 2002, 05:52 AM
i'm VERY eager to see your progress!

11 November 2002, 07:22 AM
well it's getting late & I'm not happy yet with the crack.. but here is a small update with the telephone pole shaking, the replacment road, and the roto'd mailtruck.. there is some weirdness at the end that won't be there in the final comp


11 November 2002, 03:02 PM
So far looks great. But in the end of clip there are some problems with compression I think. And I think motion blur of the electric pole (I don't know it in eanglish) is to big.


11 November 2002, 03:21 PM
.overflowed- the artifacting I believe is from slowing down the footage to make the traffic on the freeway come to a crawl. I still need render the slowdown... AE's Time remapping is not the highest quality.
do you think the motion blur is too much? or the motion of the power lines pole is to big?

~ Mouser

11 November 2002, 03:23 PM
I think taht m blur of power lines pole is to big. The rest seems to be okey.

12 December 2002, 11:27 PM
here's an update to the shot... the tentacle has finally made it's appearance. not real happy overall, but it's been a great learning exercise :scream:

take a look and let me know what you think

Crack test 7 (

p.s. how do we upload our final shots? CG Challenge is still not accepting entries...

edit... just realized that a layer was left on that should have been turned off :) fixing it now

12 December 2002, 11:30 PM
I'd probably lose the fire, it looks extremely fake.

Great road breakup, though.

12 December 2002, 11:40 PM
:) that's what my girlfriend has been saying too... so majority wins I guess :hmm:

pulling out the 'purple' glitch in the end of the render now...

12 December 2002, 12:01 AM
I like it! The sign collecting tentacle is a great idea. I wonder how many other souveniers it's got down there...

12 December 2002, 12:24 AM
fixed the render glitch.. but now see that my street is popping at the render fix point :( going to have to figure out where I need to pick up the render from...

fixed test 7 (

12 December 2002, 12:32 AM
Great work. No 1 for me.

But the tentacle should move sign first up and then left to the hole. And you should add some debris and deatails to that movement. The sign noww looks that it's taken not broken. There in't any force in this movement stop tentacle like it struggels for moment tna some debris and next both legs of sign and which left in ground should move like reactiong to be broken.

:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

12 December 2002, 01:00 AM
realized I wasn't reflecting the tentacle in the water puddle.. added a reflection, and changed the timing of when the tentacle breaks through the rubble...

overflowed - I agree.. the motion of the tentacle doesn't have the anticipation, realization there is a sign, force to break sign, and debris as it pulls it back through the hole.. I wanted to shatter the sign into splinters as it got pulled back into the rubble... I'm not sure when the deadline for this challenge is.. so if I have time, I'll keep pluggin away..

Going to a Peter Gabriel concert tonight, so if it's tonight, then this is about as 'finished' as it's going to get

crack 8 (

12 December 2002, 01:10 AM
decided to put the original footage and the VFX shot side by side

original & earthquake together (

12 December 2002, 11:24 AM
Hi Mouser,
The site is finally open for submissions. Better get your entry in sharpish, still open at the moment but sounds like its closing soon...

submit (

12 December 2002, 04:25 PM
I really like how it turned out in the end, the tentacle is great and has a definate attitude. I also like the organization on your site, kind of like a progress report.

Gentle Fury
12 December 2002, 11:44 PM
looks really nice, but i think the overall feel is still not quite perfect.....and it is a little distracting having the traffic in the BG freeze when the animation happens.......looks really good though!

12 December 2002, 05:51 AM
Gentle Fury - thanks for the crit :) Yeah, I agree... in my early comps, I had the traffic slow down, but it was suggested that the background traffic not responding to a quake that big looked weird... without modeling the traffic crashing (didn't have time) I just slowed the traffic down to a stop...I wasn't satisfied with how that looked.. but <shrug> was hoping the focus would be the tentacle :shrug:

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