View Full Version : End of world swirling sky | suggestions on how >>>

11 November 2006, 12:05 PM
Hey guys,

I'm about to create/animate a sky like the concept below for a matte painting comp, It has a swirly motion that centres towards a light beam. Any suggestions on how to approach this effect? I'll be using 3ds Max for this, but open to suggestions.

- Dave.

11 November 2006, 03:30 PM
How about this:

Create a high-poly mesh (a plane or a half sphere etc.), align it so it covers the sky, and then camera map your sky painting on to it.

Now just twist/deform/whatever your mapped object to get the desired motion. Render in passes and tweak it in comp (by adding light effects and maybe subtle smoke and dust).

11 November 2006, 03:37 PM
I plan on recreating the sky itself in 3d, the concept image is only a visual aid and wont be used in the final composition.

I've just been watching World of the worlds (new version) and Day after tomorrow, they both show this kind of effect with the clouds, not quite sure if it's 3d in WOTW, look more like water/smoke effect.

I think maybe i could create, as you said, a plane or sphere and use some kind of deformer perhaps. mmmm needs a lot of thought.

Cheers - Dave

11 November 2006, 03:53 PM
Yeah, using 3D/live smoke elements is a good idea, but I'd still use a deforming photoreal painting underneath, as it's much easier to get to look instantly right rather than running trial particle simulations.

I recall reading that the core smoke element of Mount Doom exploding in Return of the King was simply a painted column of smoke deformed using 2D Grid Warp.

But yes, using particles is a good idea. I just haven't used them enough to give any informed answer on how to use them properly. By the way, Peter Draper has something interesting stuff on creating realistic smoke and fire elements without plugins, using 3D Max at his site:

I highly recommend his book as well.

11 November 2006, 04:06 PM
Yeah, i've got his book sat right beside me but not much in the way of such effects.

Yeah i heard about the mount doom effect also, but its a little vague. Can you expand on who this might be done?

I don't think using real smoke is a praticle option, it will have to CG/photographic in some way.

deforming photoreal painting underneath - so you say if i have a still shot of a cloud i can make this move just as effectively and as believable as the real thing?

Cheers - Dave.

11 November 2006, 09:13 PM
Basically grid warping is about deforming and moving parts of the image around to create an illusion of animation. The function is similar in pretty much every application and its pretty self-explanatory how it works. Just move the points in the grid around to deform the image and then animate the transformation.

Here's a quick use of Grid Warp used into your swirly vortex image (I hope you don't mind). No 3D used, just deforming the JPEG plate. It's QuickTime .mov, 1.3Mb:

11 November 2006, 09:34 PM
Cheers, i get what you mean now, out of interest what program did you use? I think this effects works well to an extent but can only work well for a short time before the background begins to break up with over distortion, in the provided animation i think this works well for about the first 40% of the effect, it then begins too become noticably distorted. So how do you think this over distortion could be corrected? or maybe you just need to cut to another shot.

Can i also ask how you created the flaring effect on the beam?

Cheers, really appreciate your time and suggestions.

- Dave.

11 November 2006, 09:47 PM
Yeah, breaking down of the image is an issue. But it can be alleviated by using layered image (different distortion to different layers, depending on the need, and keeping effects like lightning on separate layer) and/or maybe having several "hand-painted" variations of the effect and morphing between them when distortion starts to become too noticeable (i.e. image #1 -> warp -> morph to #2 -> warp -> morph to #3 etc.). Also, having a high-res source plate also helps.

The beam effect is simply playing around with the gain and color and animating the effect using a noise mask. Same for the reflection.

11 November 2006, 10:13 PM
Also, reviewing the render, a lot of bad distortion is simply due to sloppy work. ;)

It was a quick comp and I eyeballed all the warps. But it gives you an idea of the concept.

11 November 2006, 10:29 PM
Cheers again, can i ask what software you used, if it was after effects i was wondering if you could post up the source file so i could deconstruct the effect.

Cheers - Dave.

11 November 2006, 10:42 PM
I used Digital Fusion, so AE can't read it. However, the core of the effect is really simple, done with a single keyframe. The function is similar in AE, I believe (the Mount Doom shot was done in AE). Here's some screenshots to clarify:

I comped the original back over the warped image to selectively get rid of unwanted distortion (notably the beam).

11 November 2006, 11:02 PM
Yep you're right, it's simple but effective. I'd love to see how they created the mount doom effect. Where have you seen this, is it online? there's a good making of on the DVDs i'll take a look through and see if i can find a break down.

Cheers again, please stay tuned.

11 November 2006, 11:18 PM
I read about the Mt. Doom effect here on CGTalk when Dylan Cole posted one of his awesome Return of the King mattes on this thread:

He goes into some detail on how he did the smoke. Here's the relevant bit:

As to the animation of the pyroclastic cloud-it was all a matte painting and I took it into after effects and used a mesh warp on it. I also had separate glow elements that I would fade on and off to simulate internal eruptions. I would also paint separate lit layers of clouds for the lightning. I would do my own pre comp of the animated matte painting and then pass it off to the compositor for the final touches. The actual lava spurting that you see in the film was added by the compositor as were the lava bombs, but everything else was just a warped painting. I painted this at 4k so I could really get in there and then delivered my animation at 2k. It is a rare treat to be allowed to animate something like this.


Mesh warp is the same thing in AE as grid warp in Fusion.

11 November 2006, 11:47 PM
Quite surprising, but very effective never the less. I'm guess the smoke itself was taken from photographic references. I will give it a go and see what i come up with.

Watch this space :thumbsup:

Cheers - Dave.

11 November 2006, 01:13 PM
I will also need to create a few more effects, the water been pulled towards the centre of the beam, (remember the film contact, where in the end the ship and water get pulled towards the transport machine just before Jodie foster gets wisked off to meet her alien dad, that kind of pull.) Also the buildings begin to come apart, first brick by brick but then in large sections. I'm sure these wont pose too much of a problem but any insight or suggestion you might have would be really great.

Cheers - Dave.

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