Eloi Andaluz Fulla, more than FX ! Cebas interviews one of thinkingParticles highly versatile talents
cebas: Eloi, thank you for this interview. Please start with some interesting facts about yourself.
Hi! Im Eloi Andaluz from Catalonia. I am now living and working in Montreal for Moment Factory as the FX technical artist and mapping specialist. I studied architecture and structural analysis, but from the beginning my hobby was in visual effects, and for more than 10 years, I worked in parallel, playing with architectural 3D compositions, and in the last 5 years, I have been totally focused on vfx, mappings, particles, destruction and everything related to those amazing effects.
Cebas: Can you tell us how you were involved in the production of the show called Uplift and presented at FlyOver Canada in Vancouver?
The Uplift FX show was my first project at Moment Factory. Soaring Attractions of Vancouver had asked Moment Factory to create an original show to be presented right before the new FlyOver Canada experience at Canada Place in Vancouver. Uplift was a 360-degrees immersive FX where spectators celebrated Canada’s magnificent landscape and its diverse people. It was an amazing feat! We combined in the show, surround sound, custom HD multi-screen video projection, video mapping, computer animation and absolutely unique lighting installations that altered the entire feel when the spectators stepped into the show! All deployed in a custom-built architectural environment.
I was in charge of all the 3d transition effects, the 3d template, sought-and-tried for a good workflow to integrate all the video editions in 3d to work in a flexible way and I was also asked to edit all 3d sequences. It was mind-boggling! But we succeeded! I produce the show sequence, the 360 degree ice crumble sequence, the first sequence with a park-our-guy revealing the city, the different 360-degrees 3d wall movements during the show, transitions and different particle effects.
Cebas: What cebas software did you use and why?
I used thinkingParticles, not only in this project but on any other project I’d worked on. Thinking Particles gave me what 3ds Max on its own or any other package, for that matter, cannot offer to me. Flexibility in a user-friendly way. The procedural approach makes you think out of the box, you are not limited in any way. You don’t have to think about it, if there is a button to do what you need because you can focus and construct with any tool you want to create the effects. Also the possibility to reuse tools or what we call, DynamicSets from one project to another save me tons of time.
Cebas: How did you use our software to achieve the effects?
If you were there, you’d remember that the show starts with a projection around 360 degrees converting all walls into ice walls and revealing some of the characters the visitors will meet during the show. We needed a suspended moment of impact to say: “be ready, show starts now!” So we thought of creating a crumble effect.
With a 6K projection resolution projected on a 2 meters high wall just a short distance from the viewers, we had to have greatly detailed simulation. At the same time, we also had to have flexibility, to adjust the crumble to the entire projected scenery in an artistic manner, following exact, specific timing, and within a short amount of time to complete every scene.
My chosen tool for these immense quick succession of sequencing was Thinking Particles. I reused some of my free TD Demolition Master Dynamic sets then, I created a 3d scene of the ice walls adapted to the 2d template we used for the projection. I pre-fractured the wall using Procutter to have exact control over the look of my fragments and a nice detail on the edges.
Then, I created a dynamic simulation with big chunks of ice to check animation timings.
We projected this on the 360 degrees mock-up we created at Moment Factory, which allowed us to test color feelings, timing corrections and overall animation. Creating variations on Thinking Particles helped me to re-render the content and re-project the new simulation and it didn't take more than 2 hours, so we could test a lot of different variations for motions/gravity.
Once the scene speed/animation was approved, I created a new simulation (re-using the previous one), with smaller details, a bunch of pieces are fractured using volumeBreak and procedurally-joint to the big pieces, detached by rule-based time. So, I had exactly the same overall speed/timing from my original and approved animation but in greater detail as things burst into action.
At the beginning I isolated one part of the wall so I could focus on a greater details but without needing to calculate the overall wall sim(ulation), once I’m happy with the local-effect, the FX took over the overall wall. For simulations flexibility, what I did was to break the sim in four parts, creating a cache for every part individually and I wind in faster sim times, and it is much more easier to adjust only one portion of the simulation for the FX.
I would say, ‘thanks’ to tP access to cache particles I corrected some particles motion even after the whole cache was done. I created debris using cache particles velocity and some smoke for additional sensations.
For transitions I needed to rotate a lot of objects, and for this I used another tool I share for tP called Radius Effector. The steps were simple: Import the tool, select the objects I want to animate, select an animated null object, select if I want to rotate/scale/move my objects and done. The setup takes less than 2 minutes and it is totally flexible. If I need any extra feature for a specific shoot, all I had to do was to open tP properties, add some nodes and done.
Cebas: What features in particular helped you achieve your goal and how?
The shapeCollision tool (SC) in thinkingParticles is really great, robust, always accurate, works well with concave objects... I like the options that tP has for dynamic simulations, you can use bullet or physx for superfast and a large quantity of objects, or use SC for more accurate simulations with concave objects. The best of all is that you can combine different dynamic solvers in the same shoot.
The possibility to fracture geometry procedurally with VB is a win-win and the ability to create procedural joints is another totally cool feature that helped me a lot in this project.
As tP is totally procedural, I could delete particles when they cross the ground, so I don’t waste sim time on objects that are no longer visible on the camera, speeding up my simulation times. With any other dynamic solution inside 3ds Max, I would have had problems with sim times/sim accuracy and without the control that tP offered me.
Cebas: How did the cebas tools performed for you and what was the experience of working with them like?
What I like most about thinkingParticles is that some times I have a creative idea, like, will it be cool to use the velocity of this X particles, subtracted from the particles, the height of this other object and reuse this data with a random value to drive “x” property to create a specific effect. It doesn’t matter how complex or crazy the idea is, if you can imagine it, you can do it! It always works with tP! With other programs you always found a ‘wall’ because you realize that it is not possible to connect one parameter with another since there is no button for that. With other programs I do what programmers think you can do. With tP, I always do what I want, without any limitation, as an Artist.
Cebas: What do you wish cebas software did that it's not currently doing for you?
tP5 is a really complete particle/dynamic system, and with the news of a new release tP6, it will be a truly awesome software. (readers: note that thinkingParticles release 6 launched in October 14)
However, I’d say I would like better connection with third party render motors and tools, like the possibility to use instances/proxys in VRay or Scanline like you can do with Final Render.
Also, an improvement on VB (already fantastic) and this will be cool too. And the next step is to have per vertex control over our particles’ shape such as the possibility to create selections by volume or other particles, apply noises, bends, push modifiers procedurally,...etc.
Cebas: What new projects can we expect from you in the future (if you're able to tell us).
I must keep you in suspense about Moment Factory’s new projects for now, due to clients’ requirement for confidentiality, but as always they will be something unique. I must say there are several large projects but for now, readers can visit my profile www.andvfx.com
For Moment Factory works: www.momentfactory.com