Ocean Project - Help needed!!

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  11 November 2013
Ocean Project - Help needed!!


so we recently got a project with lots of ocean scenes...and a tight deadline.
This is the first time I have to deal with that sort of scenes and Iīd have preferred for my boss to hire a freelance specialist for this one, but alas...heīs more confident in my abilities to rise to the occasion than me...
So I started researching what tools we might need, because it was clear, that we couldnīt get the desired qualitiy without the help of some plugins.

Naturally I started looking into Real Flow first. But since itīs quite expensive on itself, I was trying to figure out, if that is all we need.

So for some example setups Iīll have to build:

-beach with crashing waves and ship passing by.
-infinite Ocean scene with speedboads racing through it.

The two problems Iīm having most trouble finding a proper workflow for are:

1. How to get the simulated scenes back into max for shading and rendering.
2. I know you can create a displacement map for a basic ocean surface. but how can i properly combine this with the splashes and foam created within real flow in max?

Iīve seen a couple of R&D Videos and most had some sort of combination of "Frost" and "Krakatoa" in itīs description. So Iīm really wondering, if you can get decent results with only Real Flow, or if I should maybe look into some other package.

Only thing I found that looks sort of usable was Phoenix FD, which is way cheaper, but doesnīt seem to have a lot of learning material floating around.

Like I said - iīm in over my head here and Iīd really appreciate being pointed in the right direction ...
  12 December 2013
Using realflow for ocean simulation will look the best, but takes years of experience and lots of simulation time.

For your infinite ocean with speedboats, take a look at this. It is a modifier that you can do extra things on top of, in max. Meaning, you can make an ocean, and use other methods to displace a wake or waves.

If you have never used realflow before, I strongly suggest using this for as much as possible.

As for ocean crashing onto beach, that would be very difficult to do without simulation, and would take much time. I would reccomend contracting a freelancer to do this, it will end up being cheaper in the long run.

In order to render out this stuff, you'll either need to install the realflow plugin into max to get your meshes ( very likely gigabytes of ) or get a license of krakatoa and frost.

Krakatoa will allow you to mesh your simulated particles, and render those as a mesh. But much of the character of a wave is the spray and foam. That makes krakatoa necessary to render particles in the billions.

Good luck
Debris Maker
  12 December 2013

and thanks for the input!

Like I said, Iīd rather have a specialist do the fluid stuff and focus on the rest, but Iīm not calling the shots here, so I guess Iīll have to see how many years of experience I can squeeze into a couple of weeks...

Iīve already looked into the Houdini-Plugin and if it wasnīt for the splashes and foam, Iīd use it definitely for more than just a Plan B.

But just to make sure I understood you right: It IS possibe to do the whole shebang without any additional plugins like frost or krakatoa? Using the RFRK i suppose?

Iīve checked the homepage and as far as i could see, they offer the RFRK demo only for mental ray, or am I mistaken?

And any input on Phoenx FD as an alternative?
  12 December 2013
You can use RFRK, but from within Realflow you can export a mesh sequence and load it in with a special Realflow importer in Max, then just assign your material. Some people use Frost probably because it grants them greater control on the fly over meshing the particle data (like RFRK, but you need additional licenses per render machine I believe). But getting the mesh into Max from Realflow is super easy - your greatest challenge is 1) learning realflow and 2) allowing enough time for sims. Sims take a LONG time and take up a LOT of harddrive space. They take forever because you can't distribute the job amongst several machines (it has to be simulated in a linear progression). You can buy sim nodes, so you can sim no two (or more) machines at once, which is really handy for testing out parameters.

Regarding splashes, depending on distance, speed, etc - you might be able to get away with pflow splashes, but realflow does to splashes. Realflow was a pretty steep learning curve for me (especially regarding scales) so if you're going to learn it, I'd start tonight. I think your best water solution is going to be realflow. It's expensive, but there are a lot of learning resources.
Chris L. Harkins
  12 December 2013
Yeah, I already got started with the learning part...

I also checkd the "on demand" option, so that seems to be a viable way: get as much research as possible done with demo license and then use the on demand option to do the final Sims and rendering.

Rendering and compositing is actually the part Iīm still most worried about.

Like I said, additional plugins are out of the question.

So there is one more question: I guess the base Hybrido Domain and splashes shouldnīt pose much of a problem then, but what about foam/mist particles? I read in the manual it should be possible to render those via the RFRK aswell, has anyone had any experience with that, does it get the job done?
  12 December 2013
And could anyone elaborate about the scale issue?
I also read about that a couple of times now, but I donīt quite understand it yet...Shouldnīt scale be nor problem if everything is modelled and simulated to scale?
Does it have to do something with the amount of particles used for simulation or more with the detailing of the mesher?
  12 December 2013
And since Iīm still up and running...iīve tested a scene with the crashing waves on a beach and standard settings (.3 grid. particle sampling at 2 or 4) and I got way shorter sim times than expected...what am I doing wrong? Since lots of the info I got so far is a bit outdated - is Real Flow 2013 just that much faster, or do I have to expect some nasty surprises after rendering (havenīt gotten to that part yet...)?
And If so...for medium scale ocean scene...what settings should I up first? Lower the grid size or up the particle sampling?
  12 December 2013
Just a quick update on mya progress...
I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to properly integrate Real Flow into 3ds Max without additional plugins, and it just too hard to plan ahead with our hard schedule with so many uncertain parameters.
So in the end we went with Phoenix FD. and its looking pretty good so far:

-Very fast turnarounds for blocking in the shots
-Very intuitive interface
-Great integration with 3ds Max
-Great support.

I hope Iīll find the time to report back, once we finished the project...
  12 December 2013
Any update?
Finishing? Or finished?
  12 December 2013
Yep. Finished right in time.
Canīt post any results yet, due to NDA and we did have to make some compromises due to the time constraint.
But we are very happy, that we went with phoenix.
Of course, there still were some problems we ran into, most of them were solved by the incredible support team, some of them even in the nightly builds we got access to.
All in all we had about little more than a week to finish all fluids, while learning the program and I donīt think we would have been able to do that with real flow.
No offence, real flow still is king in that field, it still has more options phoenix doesnīt have yet (soft body support p.e.). But AFAIK Phoenix wasnīt even meant to be a fluid sim in the first place, so there is still plenty of room for further development.

But my first impressions were definitely right:

1. Its great, that is works directly in 3ds Max and the integration is very good.
(for example you can simply use all the forces within Max to influence your Phoenix sims, which you might use to drive diefferent things in Max at the same time, letīs say some MassFX simulation).
2. Native Particle Shaders letīs you render millions of particles without the need for another plugin like Krakatoa.
3. Very fast and intuitive setup, great for blocking in the simulation.
4. Even though there is still a lack of good tutorials, the support is incredible good and just by looking at the demo scens, we were able to get a good start with our project.
5. It does all sorts of things, from smoke to explosions to fluids.
  01 January 2014

I have almost the same issue as u do ... We have a project that includes an animation of a ocean and a boat and a shore line ofcourse... im working with phoenix fd 2.0 and im trying to figure out how to do the ocean... I have the project ready and i just have to make the water surface , I tried to fill the bottom of the ocean with a cylinder witch ofcourse was not a good idea and now im testing the whole water object added to the phoenix source with calm watter settings but im stuck in one place with that thing ... If its possible, can u give me some directions about that , Ill be very thankful ... ! Thanks in advance !
Best regards
  01 January 2014
Hey Nikolay,

sorry, your question is a little too vague to give you directions. Iīd advice you to just check the phoenix forums on chaosgroup, I started a couple of threads there and there might be some useful tips for you in there.

In General:

We didnīt have time to do the shoreline properly (and thatīs a tough one in any fluid-package). You can do some trickery by simply using a shader setup with Vray-Distance texture, but we didnīt even bother with that in the end.
If possible, just avoid showing the shoreline to up close and you can get away with just infinite ocean, or hide it by using clever camera perspectives, objects covering the view etc.
  01 January 2014
Thanks for the respond!
Sorry for the vague question haha ... My point was that i cannot set the movement of the water properly like an ocean surface , but i kinda made it according to the renders ,i just need to see hows moving but idk how to adjust the settings for the gpu preview like with the fire ( in the viewport).And the other problem i have is that ot the 40th frame the water is gone idk why ... Ill check the forums tho , thanks !
  01 January 2014
Hey insertmesh, did you render with VRay and over a network? How does network render work with phoenix fd? Licensing, cache, etc.
Chris L. Harkins
  01 January 2014
Yes, we rendered with Vray. Makes kind of sense, since its both from chaosgroup, but you can use any renderer you want.

Rendering via backburner works like a charm. Simply install phoenix on all your render nodes with render slave option only, if you already have Vray renderer installed on those, you donīt even need to install another license server, since it uses the same as Vray.
Unlimited render licenses for phoenix are included.
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