View Full Version : Dolphins in Sand VFX (Need advice!)

12 December 2007, 12:13 PM
Im currently working on a personal project where dolphins are jumping through sand. The only thing I have left to do is figure out how to achieve fairly realistic looking sand being kicked up. Dust clouds etc. I had a go at using sprites for the dust clouds for when the dolphins exit the sand and although it looked ok in maya it just looked pretty bad when i tried to composite it over what ive done already.

Im wondering if it this kind of effect would be better achieved using fluids instead? As I probably wont be able to get hold of any real stock footage of sand or anything..

Heres a screen grab from the animation minus the motion blur and below is the quicktime file.

Quicktime File

sand dolphins 5.51mb (

12 December 2007, 08:58 PM
Well, I don;t have any advice, but that's a pretty cool idea. Looks good so far.

What app did you use to combine the two. What is your workflow from 3D to editing app?

12 December 2007, 08:31 AM
hey H2 nice idea and great application. I have some suggestions that I think may help

* The animation looks a bit too samey across each dolphin but just offsetted. Try adding some variation into one or two of them. For example - maybe the 2nd to last one could lift its tail a bit too much as it reached the pinnacle of its arc and another could be a bit more forceful in its initial exit out the sand. Just some suggestions to break up the uniformity of animation.

*as a nice little secondary effect - maybe the last dolphin could dive into the sand BUT just its tail could juuuussst clip over the top of a small cgi bush like whats in the bg plate - this bush could then react slightly. If your using maya pfx would rock for this :).

*obviously dust but have you thought about exit apertures from the sand? blendshapes would be a good starting point for this. Start by modelling the basic exit aperture (piled up sand with a hole in it for example) then work backward to flatten it out in stages using artisan? That way you can animate this piece opening up with the blendshapes. Theres also a nice little plugin on that simulates simple interparticle collision - its supposedly for fluids but I think it would prob help simulate sand-like collision nicely?

*maybe a slight bit of camera wobble - only subtle but it would make it feel a bit less Right to Left. More of a "wander" as opposed to deathstar flyby camera shake n wobble lol

hope those help - great bit of work :thumbsup:

now be nice and gimme some ideas on my own wip in my siggy! :0)

12 December 2007, 01:17 AM
hey thanks for the suggestions! Once I get a good particle system going ill vary the animation as it was pretty much copy paste stuff lol As for the camera wobble that would be a nice touch ill prob add to the final piece.

Ill check out ur wip and see if i can make any suggestions :)

12 December 2007, 10:35 AM
cheers pal - all ideas greatfully taken on board - they help fire up my own... always feel like I'm working on my wip alone at times and its nice to get ppl's suggestions and thoughts

looking forward to seeing yer dolphin updates mate - try the blendshape trick for the exit shape around the dolphins. also check out stuff like the sandworms in the original dune film to see how they come out of the sand - you can see the collection of sand around the point where they push out of it. Also - a simple effect where the sand appears to move and shift prior to them coming out of the sand would be nice :)

take care

12 December 2007, 10:38 PM
Hello H2, I think that the particles are good for the sand when the dolphins jumps, should look like the sand is spread it out with the impulse I mean blocks of sand, and when the sand falls the sprites needs to work as dust. Try different mettods in the comp to make the particles integrated play with the opacity. see you :D.

sorry for my English is not good :P

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