Cebas catches up with Will Wallace, VFX Supervisor, Darkhorse10-Plusmos Vancouver-Hangzhou

Destruction Reel 2016 from imyourfriend on Vimeo.

Will Wallace // FX Reel // 2014 from imyourfriend on Vimeo.

Will Wallace, former Senior FX Artist at Scanline VFX, was previously with Hydraulx Film, and Pixomondo. Brah, he has been around! Will was originally from a small town in Massachusetts, and went to school for digital design in 2005. From there, he worked with motion graphics, design & 3D, eventually moving to California in 2010 to tackle VFX. He still delights in experimenting on his own while working on commercials and web projects. Says Will, “my passion lies in destruction, fluids, particle. Creating badass'ry!”

Droid Legs - Animation : FX - Test from imyourfriend on Vimeo.

Cebas: it seems that this upcoming earthquake VFX was an important project for you. Can you tell us how you were involved?

Will: at Hydraulx, we knew there were going to be a lot of shots involving collapsing rock simulations so we started RnD early. I worked on most of the RnD for the ground collapse and was asked to simulate the final shots as well.


Cebas: which shots/sequences in particular were you involved in?

Will: I was involved with most of the ground collapse sequences. Almost all the rocks were rigid body simulations. A few of the shots required specific direction and were hand animated by one of our animators. The very beginning of the sequence was all procedural with art direction right out of thinkingParticles.

Cebas: what software did you use and why?

Will: The Rigid Bodies were all done through thinkingParticles. Two words – Speed and Control. I would add the most ridiculous amount of geometry! There are moments of disbelief at how fast thinkingParticles could handle it.

Cebas: How did you use our software to achieve the effects?

Will: We started with modeled ground and rocks. Some shots were fully dynamic out of thinkingParticles and then polished with animation after. Some were the other way around; the base rocks were given an animation and then brought into thinkingParticles for dynamics and secondary effects.

Cebas: what features in particular helped you achieve your goal and how?

Will: I'm a gluten for control so I needed to be able to change all the dynamic aspects affecting the simulation. The rigs I built weren’t overly complex and had all the control I needed.

Also the Shape Collision engine always proves to be the best in producing a hyper natural look, which we wanted, as the majority of the sequences were earth tearing open.

Cebas: what was the most difficult aspect of this project and how did you solve it?

Will: cross-platform was a challenge - Getting the Simulations out of 3ds Max to Maya since we light and render everything in Maya. Most geometry was baked and exported. For changing topology with volumeBreaker we used Thinkbox XMesh.

Cebas: what was a step-by-step breakdown of a typical shot/image/sequence?

Will: once the lookdev and modeling was done for the environment, it was either given a base animation or exported straight to thinkingParticles for dynamics. Once simulated and approved, the geometry was put back into Maya for shading, lighting, and rendering.

Cebas: how did the cebas tools perform for you and how was the experience of working with them like?

Will: for me, thinkingParticles is always fun to work with. It's extremely robust and
flexible, which means I can throw anything at it and it totally thrills me back in
the its final output with stability. I have 100% control which is sexy! It does what
I tell it, no questions.

Cebas: how did it compare to other software you may have used?

Will: as it goes for particles and simulations, the only package I've used is 3ds Max. I
started with it and don’t see any need to use anything else. For FX, 3ds Max +
thinkingParticles, along with other awesome plugins, are a superpower capable of
creating anything with almost no limits.

Cebas: how did cebas software integrate into your production pipeline? How straightforward was it?
Will: integrating thinkingParticle is seamless. tP has a mind of its own but plays well
with others.

Cebas: what was the most fun or rewarding part of this project for you?

Will: the results! Nothing is more satisfying than knowing what you want to create, and then watching it behave even more interesting than you thought it would. Top it off with a voice over yours saying, " Yo, that looks “badass"!

Cebas: what is your wishlist for cebas software that it's not currently doing for you?

Will: I've been seeing some promising tease from thinkingParticle 6, but Softbodies would be my number one request. tP5 softbody rope is wickedly nice but would love to have similar control even with straight up objects. Also more options with the volumeBreaker node; more of a variety in shapes, fracture types, etc.

Last would be some kind of visual reference with the voxels surrounding the geometry. It’s just nice to see how the simulation is working with boundaries.

Cebas: what new projects can we expect from you in the future (if you're able to tell us).

Will: at Hydraulx, we're working on some pretty awesome projects with a ton more thinkingParticles!

TP Cloth - Step 1 from imyourfriend on Vimeo.


Thank you so much Will! For sharing your thoughts with Cebas and we look forward to more awesome VFX from you!