FXWars! FLAMETHROWER !: Garrick Campsey, Freeform Entry


[font=Verdana]I’m entering into this challenge with a short I’d like to do.
It’s live action with 3d added in, so there will be matchmoves along with still camera shots and pans.
The only character of the video will be a wheeled robot with a connected flamethrower, shooting lots of fire and burning stuff. I also want to work on editing, so I want to try and show the robot being built. The fx focus is on the flamethrower simulations, as I intend the video to build up to a firey crescendo.
Character animation isn’t my best skill, so I chose a ‘hero’ that has a limited range of motion. I hope this will allow me to focus more on the rendering and compositing. I also want to record a new song for this short, so there may be a soundtrack to the fireballs, along with the mandatory foley sounds.
For a first step, I’m storyboarding out ideas for shots with a focus on foreground and background separation. I’m mostly trying to determine shots where the hero is in the foreground and the live action movement is in the background (so I can shortcut in compositing and not have to mask footage over a rendering).

     Here's some technical stuff:
     I'm going to be rendering mostly with MentalRay, relying on the Arch and Design materials as a basis.  I'd also like to develop experience rendering to the 32bit .EXR image format, as I've heard that 32bit allows a greater degree of control when compositing. 
     Footage will be shot on a Canon 7D w/ 50mm f1.8 lens, EFS 18-55mm f3.5 lens, and a 0.2x opteka fisheye adaptor.  The fisheye adaptor added to the EFS @ 18mm allows me to capture a full 180 degree image on the 1.6 crop sensor.  With bracketing, I can create an HDRI, and if I point the camera straight up, I can create an HDRI of the sky - then apply that to a skydome inside of 3dmax.  That should reproduce the ambient lighting well enough.  If I do this for every shot, this method should allow me to quickly light shots.  From there I will extend the lighting with main, fill, rim, bounce, etc... depending on how I want the robot to look.  
     I'm still defining the pipeline and methods for how this short will be produced, as the 30 day deadline mostly dictates whats possible and with what techniques. [/font][font=Verdana]The pipeline so far is:  3dsMax9, After Effects, Adobe Audition, and Photoshop.  I'll  start posting model images and storyboards soon-ish.  
     Any feedback, questions, comments, advice, wild ideas, or critiques welcome! :)[/font]


Sounds interesting so far. Good luck :slight_smile:


Yeah man sounds like fun idea looking forward to it.



I"m excited about it. Good luck :thumbsup:


Here’s the first of many updates!
I’ve put together a 360 .gif of the robot so far.

The robot is being designed with the functionality of a military vietnam-era flamethrower in mind. There are two canisters on the main body, one for liquid fuel and one for compressed gas. The compressed gas flows to the pressure gauges, which regulate the amount of gas entering the liquid fuel, which is then pushed into the tall nozzle on top. Finally, a spark plug is placed into the nozzle for an electronic ignition. The spark plug is powered by a battery pack underneath the main body. The whole robot is controlled remotely through radio frequencies, thus the antenna and receiver on the back of the bot. Underneath the antenna is the main computer used to control the pressure gauges, the electronic fuel ignition system, the electronic fuel release system, and the electronic motor. The electronic motor is linked through a gear system and belt to the back wheels. This is extended to the front wheels through two additional belts. There is a webcam on top of the main flamethrower nozzle, added in for the remote user’s viewing pleasure. The wheels, right now, are designed after skateboards wheels - so they are hard polyurethane with ball bearings inside them, held in place by a hex nut. The shock absorbers above the wheels are based on consumer car shocks, simplified for my purposes.

I’ve still got the hoses and wires to build, along with lots of details like knobs, dials, levers.

Designer & Josh - Thanks guys! I’m going to try and shoot some footage this weekend as a test, so hopefully we should be able to see some matchmoves by Monday!


Nice model!


Yeah nice model and cool idea.



I spent some time yesterday developing the HDRI and light capturing methods, here is the result of my explorations:

video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bPUXCatdGA

I shot a 180 degree bracketed view of the sky, then applied that to a skydome as an HDRI inside of 3dsMax using Mental Ray. That captured the light and reflections coming from the sky, but not from the environment and ground. I also had trouble getting the reflections to render properly due to the lack of a ground plane and surrounding environment data. Put to the test, this method failed at the type of CG integration that I am aiming for, which is good - cause I was going to shoot every shot like this. Now I know that I’ll need to develop my approach a little bit more. I’m going to shoot some tests today and tomorrow with some additional ideas on how to capture the light information to be rebuilt as HDRIs in 3d. This test did succeed in allowing me to render to the 32 bit EXR format.

Designer and Josh - Thanks guys! I can’t wait to start burning stuff :slight_smile:


Nice work buddy :thumbsup:
very good tracking , modeling and lighting
keep going …


Here’s the first flamethrower simulation, using a particle system in 3ds max linked to FumeFx.

video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X62jE6blE_4

hmsabry - thanks man!

More coming soon! :slight_smile:


COOL!!! eagerly waiting for the finished stuff…:bounce:


Here is the 2nd attempt at the flamethrower effect:

video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5CvSai1-wc

For this test, I wanted to focus on getting the velocity of the liquid to be more realistic, along with the volume of the flame. While I’m not aiming for an exact simulation, it needs to be rooted in reality. You’ll notice I added in a bit of a flame puff at the beginning of the simulation. I think this helps to add some visual interest, and it could be assumed that the initial liquid being ejected might not have the same velocity as the liquid following it due to use or age. None of the reference footage I’m using has this little flame puff, so it’s not “accurate” - but it looks cool. :stuck_out_tongue:

I see a lot of folks using 3dsMax and FumeFx for this challenge. I hope we (Max and FumeFX users) can share some tips, tricks, and techniques - so I’ve included a .GIF showing the breakdown of the particle system used for this video. I’ve color coded the individual particle systems and set out the forces that I’m using. Here ya go:

The initial particle stream is broken into two, one red and one light blue/green. These two streams have a high initial velocity with gravity applied. Once the particles reach a certain age on these two streams, they are transferred to the ‘blooming’ phase, with each stream having a unique age test value. The purple and blue particles are in the ‘blooming’ phase, essentially spreading out away from the two initial streams creating more volume for the overall stream. The blue and purple particles also have turbulence and drag forces applied to them. Finally, the red and blue/green streams interact with the ground, linked using a uDeflector. As the particles hit the ground, they are transferred into the ‘sticking’ phase, represented by the green particles. The green particles have drag, turbulence, and gravity applied, and live for a short period of time. Their function is to represent the unburned fuel attaching itself to the ground. The forces are applied to the particles in interesting ways as well, as the source value of the forces are all the same, but the unique multiplier value is different on each particle system.

I hope to see some tips, tricks, and techniques from other Maxers! :slight_smile:


I’m really liking the way your flames look when extreme movement is being applied, ie. when it shoots down and then back up, the feathering\fanning looks really nice.

good luck.


Really nice work so far!


Lighting and Compositing update

I finally got some lighting I’m (kinda) happy with. This uses no HDRI, I just shot reference footage of a grey matte sphere and rebuilt the lighting using Vray, rendering to Exr format. The gamma correction stuff is still a little suprising as I keep getting differences between the Vray VFB displays and what After Effects displays.

This is a test shot for the building montage. There’s a lot of shots that I’m going to be shooting tomorrow, along with tons of texturing, modeling, and building of the animation rig. Most of the production starts now. :slight_smile:

I’m hoping the 50mm (x1.6 = 80mm) lens to chrome sphere will be the best route for capturing HDRIs when necessary with my current setup. The 18mm to .2x fisheye adaptor creates a lens around 3.6mm, but the blurring and loss in image quality might be a deal breaker. I’m blurring the HDRI when applied, so maybe not… The reference footage of the grey sphere is really helping, as it gives me something to grade against when setting up the lighting. I need to add more lights to the shot above to really match the lighting. I only had about an hour to play about, before going to watch Toy Story 3 - which was awesome! …With this lighting, I was mainly aiming to match both the shadows position and color on the 3d objects when compared to the real objects nearby. The clouds also moved around a bit, so I tried to match the decrease in ambient light by animating the gamma of the 3d pass.

I’d love to get some feedback from compositors on how they would integrate these 3d objects better, as I’ve only applied some levels and fast blur. I know textures will add alot, along with reflections, etc… What would your thoughts be on chromatic aberration, grain matching, and other compositing things ?


if u match the levels, ie each channels according to your bg and the blur level of ur footage, ur 50% compositing work is done.next is grains, which is also should be matched according to RGB channels.:thumbsup:


Worked on the bot more today. All footage shot, edit locked down - done this weekend. All shots numbered and ordered, each in their own directory with 1920x1080 png sequence plates. Starting on the tracking next weekend. Got the hoses arranged, and had to solve a design issue I caused for myself by introducing an ‘alternator’ into the lower chassis area. In three of the pics below, the belt is running right through the alternator. I solved this problem by raising the belts higher with additional gears.

Here dem’ storyboard thing is:

Unfortunately, most of the drawn frames are vastly different then the shot frames.


worked on textures for the cylinders and materials for a bit today.


Great work so far! Really looking forward to see the final short.


More modeling and texturing done on the bot.

Here is the model being developed:

I’ve also recently become aware of ways with which to increase the dynamic range of the Canon 7D (via picture styles), so I am considering re-shooting a lot of footage (superflat!). I’ve got around 14 shots to add 3d to, within 20 days, with additional fire sims. I think if I re-shoot the footage to share the same lighting conditions, then I can develop one light rig and share it across scenes. :slight_smile: