Climax event | wip | guidence needed ...


Hi Guy,

I’ve been giving some thought in recent weeks to a scene that i wish to create. The scene is from a concept sketch i did some months ago, please see below …

It will consist of the typical New York skyline well and truely been pulled to pieces by some freaky alien / otherworldly ball of light and energy that has formed in the sky. I hope to create the whole opera! sh*t flying everywhere, stones, bricks and building part been ripped up from the ground and getting sucked into the ball of energy. Overall, a really bad experience for anyone in NYC on that day. Something fun and self educational.
So to list the following that i need to do …

Matte paint the background city

Create 3d ocean effect

create sky effect

breaking debris and buildings been pulled apart and getting sucked into the … thing.

(3ds max for production)

mmmm, well that should keep me busy for a while.

Any thoughts or suggestions are very welcome, my overall objective with this is to be as realistic and cool as it can be.

To begin with i’m creating a helicopter animation, i was thinking it could fly towards the camera then suddenly a burst of energy sucks everything back, the helicopter loses control and crashes back into the sea, breaking apart etc …

Click to see short test … (1.98mb)

My main problem with this is two things to begin with, one the impact, i have no idea how i’m going to approach this, how it will break up, will it explode, how i will do this etc … and second, how i will composite this correctly (but that can wait until later)

Any insight or thoughts please share.

  • David


Dave fantastic idea, love the helicopter.

A mad idea, the helicopter the audience will know it will crash and to shock them how about the helicopter on its final reverse flipping towards the water on the bay the audience wil expect a watery crash and splash. How about the water being sucked back tsunami style exposing the muddy bottom and the helicopter landing in a squelchy mess leaving a forty foot track mark towards the aliens.


I want to see more of this amazing work.


Cheers Rockhopper i’ll give your suggestion some thought, though the sea surface would only be revealed if the force was in the opposite direction, pushing away from the center.

For the moment my main problem is how to set this up to comp correctly in the end. I have three main elements, sea, city and sky. The camera will pan from right to left, so does this mean i need to set up the same camera for each scene? not sure. I’m also unsure if to remodel the front buildings and texture them or do a camera projection setup … mmmm.

The image below is work in progress of the final composition, lots more to do.

Cheers again - Dave.


Nice imagery, i have absolutely no idea how you would go about it,

The sky easy as that is a locked plate, you could animate that separatly and have that running away by itself, I would be tempted to put a atmospheric plate in front which is also animated ( a little bit of separation)

the city sky line crazy idea how about breaking it down to stages photoshop each main stage progression and do a rough morph between each stage. You can front project it onto a model which corresponds with each stage and time line synch to the city break up, it will be a absoulute nightmare of course ( i think you may be a masochist). I dont know what program you are running but i would be tempted to have particle effects handling breakup of the buildings as they are so far back they would be low res. You could have emitters throwing out odd shaped particles but the point of gravity would be the eye of the storm not the ground. A classic is a fuel truck and a couple of cars. the glass could peel off in sheets which would be different.

You can use smoke emitters the same way, i dont have a clue how you would place masking into the scene.

remember the helicopter is your audience point of focus throughout the action (which is awesome by the way) so the background does not need to be as good as the foreground, bit of fx misdirection.

I love the stormy water in the foreground, i have been looking everywhere for water for my oil rig alien rescue matte.

And remember there are other sites out there for masochism LOL

Good luck

looking forward to seeing it done, even with my bad advice



Hey the helicopter look great… though… it will look very unreal if the blades of the rotor are going through the camera… because that wouldn’t be possible in the real world… so if you want to make it look like film… don’t do it :slight_smile:

another idea would be to let it look as if it will crash into the water, but then is sucked in by the “thing”.

Also maybe you want to think about the pan from right to left again.
Pans from the left to the right feel and look better… but then again you want to make the audience feel that there’s something very strange going on… so decide which direction you want to go…

as a test I’d animate the matte from right to left… and vice versa… then decide what you want.

Also… wouldn’t it create more impact if the camera (the audience / viewer) itself would get sucked in by the thing?

so maybe make a pan from right to left (to make them feel uncomfy) and then slightly change the direction towards the city, as if the camera is slowly getting sucked in as well…

just a few thoughts… think about it :slight_smile:

the concepts look great too, I like the blue one a bit more.

will you use combustion?


Hi guys, Cheers for the feedback.:slight_smile:

Rockhopper -:bounce:

Yes i will have more atmospheric layers soon, debris and dust been pulled through the streets etc …

Regarding the buildings breaking up, i’m a little unsure how this will be done at the moment, i’m using 3ds max 8 with particle flow. Maybe i could fracture the building and place it behind and animate the motion of the segments been pulled away, while doing this i still need to have the forground buildings somehow dissolving, though each particle should represent clumps of rock say 4ft square in max size down to individual bricks.

There will also be rocks and dibris flying past the camera, from this point of view the photographer is stood on the brooklyn docks (i think) with lots of warehouses etc …

You stepped on one point that i’ve been giving a lot of thought to with the shot, the helicopter, the focal point of the shot is the energy ball and the fact that it’s sucking up the city brick by brick, piece by piece. I thought the helicopter would look cool but i’m beginning to think that maybe it’s distracting away from the point of the scene.

lehmi -

Cheers lehmi, my original thought about the helicopter blade was to create the effect that the helicopter was indeed hitting the viewer, causing the old ‘duck!’ effect. What about rotating the blades slightly above the camera? or do you think the camera should be pulled back?

The overall effect will only last about 4-5 seconds so i don’t think there would be enough time to see the helicopter been sucked up from this position. Though again i’m struggling with this one because i don’t want that to be the focal point. The original ideas was to have everything get sucked up into the ball of energy and i thought wouldn’t it be cool if there was say a news helicopter trying to escape then lose control and get sucked back, bouce into the water, then all the individual parts continue towards the energy center. I wanted the effect to be very dynamic, lots of crap flying around the viewer making them feel like any second they could get hit by a car or half a building.

I never thought about the pan, that one might be better than the other, interesting, i’ll try that. For this one i might keep the camera in a fixed position.

Interesting idea about the camera getting slowly dragged.

Yes the blue one is the actual shot (WIP) the red was just the concept sketch.

Thanks again for your suggestions, a lot to think about, this will be one of a few shots, a wide shot of the overall event, i might save the helicopter for a much closer dynamic shot. Another shot i have in mind is much closer between the buildings.

I recently purchased the Andy Mckay effects DVD (an early christmas present :slight_smile: and he has a great tutorial on creating waves and particle spray, i’m currently using seascape to generate the water and was wondering if it was possible to somehow bake the wave animation to apply the effect seen in the DVD. mmmm when i think about it baking the animation might not be required.

Cheers again, i’ll post some visual updates shortly.

Happy new year guys :thumbsup:


A few particle tests in the works …

Cheers - Dave.


Wow, amazing job so far. I can tell this is really gonna turn into something good. I agree with the camera getting sucked in, that would really hit home with the crowd because normally a camera is safe, but not then. What would be scary is if the helicopter crashed, and piece by piece got sucked off and eventually you would see the people that were in the helo fly away too, now that would be even scarier. Also, if you had the camera getting sucked in then it would be neat to have it fly by whatever would be left by the helo, maybe even looking down for a second from the air to see the wreckage. Just a few ideas :slight_smile: . I might be really off the mark though because I’m on dial-up so i haven’t seen anything more than the pics you’ve posted but I hope my ideas are somewhere near what you’re shooting for. But anyways, keep it going, I’m definitely gonna be following this project :wink:


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