Earthquake - VFX Challenge - Astrofish

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  12 December 2002
By chance, I've found I had a local copy of last night's update, so here it is again:-


Ok, a bit later than planned, here's another update...

I've been rendering out loads of layers, and have pieced them all together in After Effects. I still need to do a lot of tweaking within AE in order to get the thing to look its best. I also need to add grain and blurring to the CG elements, then zoom in and add camera shake.

Other things I would like to do, but probably won't have time:-
1. Tweak some of the animation.
2. Smoke/dust effects.
3. Add some audio.

Anyway, since I've been fiddling with all these layers, this update is a bit graphics heavy. Rather than putting lots of links here, I've added a couple of pages to my website.

Go to: VFX Composite

You'll find thumbnails and hi-res images for example frames for all of the layers, and short descriptions of what they all are.

There is a second page which describes how they are being used, and shows some of the intermediate composites.

Remember, I've not tweaked the compositions themselves yet, so colour matching, etc isn't very good yet.

Hope you find it interesting...

(please let me know if you find any problems with the pages, as I've had to upload this in a rush...)
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  12 December 2002
Ok, I assume that since there's been no word about how to submit, and the challenge site is still not accepting entries, that tonights deadline is going to be extended.

Presumeably the CGtalk people have been too busy sorting out the server crash hassles to deal with this. Fair enough.

Anyway, since I was expecting to have to submit tonight, I have 'finished' my entry.

If anyone wants to see it, It's on my website, along with the storyboard, and the original raw footage.

Both movies are compressed with Sorenson(2), quality set to 90%, 25fps, keyframe every 25 frames.
Resolution 320x240 (a bit on the low side, but as specified in the challenge rules).

Both movies are approx. 1Mb.

Here are the links:

Earthquake SFX

Raw footage


I'm off to have a rest now.

Good luck to everyone else who's finishing off!
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  12 December 2002
Whew, submitted at last!

(Well, a still and a coudple of links anyway. Still doesn't seem to be anywhere to upload the movies...)

I stayed up till 1:30AM waiting for the site to open for submissions.

I then checked this morning to hear that it opened 'for a few hours' at 3:30AM.

Sudden panic!

Fortunately, it was still open, despite the message saying that it's closed.

Good job too, otherwise all us Europeans would have been asleep for the entire submission period...

Anyway, good luck to all, it's been great fun, and I've learned lots...
fusionThing 1.0 and other C4D plugins at, including FREE geometry checker!
Personal site at

Last edited by astrofish : 12 December 2002 at 11:27 AM.
  12 December 2002
I've created a better page to host my entry. Go here.
fusionThing 1.0 and other C4D plugins at, including FREE geometry checker!
Personal site at
  12 December 2002

Hehehe thanks, astrofish, i am glad there isn't any extension too to this Challenge.....i am sick of watching my Clip.

It was done so fast....anyways... i'll concentrate more on the next one.. Yours IS AWESOME incredibly done

For a forst time at this VFX you sure know a lot more stuff than me

Take care and see you next month for the new challenge
  12 December 2002
Hi CobraX,
Glad you liked my entry! I've spent a lot of time 'fiddling around' with computer graphics, but this challenge provided a good focus for me to actually do a proper project from scratch. I'm sure it won't be the last one I do...

And well done for finishing - I thought that you were going to give up at one point. One thing that I do know, is that getting good results takes a lot of work and you've got to stick at it.
fusionThing 1.0 and other C4D plugins at, including FREE geometry checker!
Personal site at

Last edited by astrofish : 12 December 2002 at 08:48 PM.
  12 December 2002
Following CobraX's lead, I've decided to post my comments and thoughts about the challenge.

Overall, I thought it was a great idea. There are a lot of challenges out there for most other areas of CG, but this is the only one I've come across specifically for special effects.

The only bad thing was the mess-up with the submissions (meant to be open all month, only actually open for one day _after_ the challenge was officially over). I suppose that next time we know to complain louder if the site isn't accepting entries in the run up to the deadline.

I found that the challenge required a lot more work than I expected it to (doesn't everything?), and one thing I need to do differently next time is to plan ahead more.

There were a few things that I wished I'd done differently, but were too hard to change by that point. One example was that I wanted to change the shapes of the tarmac fragments fairly late on, but because I'd already sliced up the geometry and subdivided the meshes, they weren't easy to work with any more.

I had also split my subsurface up into five seperate pieces, with the intention of animating them all independently. In the end I grouped them into three elements and animated them, because I never got time to do the extra animation.

A physics/dynamics simulation would have helped a lot with this. As it was, everything was hand animated.

I would have liked to have added some particle effects for dust/smoke, but I've barely used particles in my software so far, and I didn't have time to learn how to use them for this challenge, so that was something else that had to be dropped.

I learned a lot about camera mapping and compositing during this challenge. I was quite surprised to realise just how many layers I was actually going to need. It was only on my last day of work on this that I realised I was going to need another two layers just to mark out which areas of the image should have noise added (all the CG stuff) and which needed blurring (all the CG stuff, except that containing camera mapped textures from the original footage...)

One other thing, I learned that I don't know much about after effects yet. I did a lot of my AE work inefficiently, and I'm sure there must be better ways of approaching the work.

More generally, it was great to have a shared challenge, and to see what other people were coming up with. I was quite surprised at the variety in styles of peoples entries, and it was good to chat to everyone.

I think that everyone that entered should be proud of their submissions, there isn't a bad one among them.

I'm certainly going to leave mine up on my website, and I'm happy to provide links to everyone else who entered, if they would like.

Looking forward to the next challenge (as long as I get a rest first).

I wonder what the subject of the next VFX challenge is going to be?

Anyone care to speculate wildly?
fusionThing 1.0 and other C4D plugins at, including FREE geometry checker!
Personal site at

Last edited by astrofish : 12 December 2002 at 11:11 AM.
  12 December 2002
Excellent Post Astrofish :xtreme: :xtreme: :xtreme:

Maybe the next challenge could be a Meteor hitting earth....
Or tornado devastating some houses...
...a Solar explosion...

An accident of some know how it goes with all those catastrophies movies.

Last edited by CobraX : 12 December 2002 at 05:19 PM.
  12 December 2002
I've just realised that one of my updates fell victim to the server crash...

Here's a rewrite of it, since I haven't got a copy of the original post.

This post is about creating the CG car that falls into the chasm.

I originally tried to be lazy and to use a van from the original footage as a camera map onto some very simple geometry.

From the front, this looked like this.
Note, its quite fuzzy because this is enlarged significantly from the original footage.
Looks OK, but not great.

Seen from the side (as it would need to be as it rolls over into the hole), it looks like this.

Oh dear. The problem is that the camera map has no detail for the side, and it looks terrible.

So, I then decided to do it properly.
I took front and side photos of my car, and used them as reference for making a fairly simple HyperNURBs model of the car. I then (after some tweaking in Gimp) used these images as projection maps for the car.

The only complication with this is that I needed the material to blend between the two photos, depending upon position on the model.

For this I created a mask channel with intensity dependent upon the surface normal. The closer the surface normal is to pointing towards the 'front' or 'back', the brighter the mask, and the closer to the side the darker.
A colourised version of this can be seen here (the actual mask is greyscale):

The model was first textured by camera mapping from the side, then an extra map from the front was applied, and the mask used to selectively apply it.

Car with front map only:

Car with side map only:

Finally, the car with both maps:
fusionThing 1.0 and other C4D plugins at, including FREE geometry checker!
Personal site at
  01 January 2006
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