Nick Damico is not all FX work and no play - hear him with Edwin Braun on this exclusive cebas Insights Interview
NOTE: Nick Damico added more juice here to each of the effects shots showcased on the reel/clips on this video interview. So, the contents here are on top of what you hear from Nick. Vice-versa, don't miss the video contents either.
IRONMAN 3 : Underwater Building Collapse effects
Nick Damico: Basically everything on my reel is TP, FumeFX, and Flowline. Mainly Flowline for fire spoke and explosions but with a few FumeFX elements here and there. TP is used for all the rigid bodies and also the particle based effects for things like Flash lightning, etc.
'Iron suit forming around Ironman and his assistant / girlfriend': timestamp: 0:27 though 0:53:
I did all of the debris ..particles and dust solves ( as well as lighting and rendering them). Thinking Particles was used for simulation in all of the debris and particulates, and as for spawning emission particles from the Suit surfaces, that was in ScanlineVFX proprietary software, Flowline, for emission density and velocity to solve the dust particles.
Timestamp: 2:10 though 2:18 ' effects of Ironman splashing in underwater' scene:
Nick: All of my Ironman three work was the stuff underwater right after the building falls in and I literally did nearly all the FX underwater :
In this scene, I did all of the rigid bodies and the particulates as well as the wires and some bubble and dust solves. TP was used for all the rigid bodies and particulates as well as the wires. TP was also used to spawn emission particles foaming on the surfaces. This setup was more complex and I used a lot of TP jointing and ShapeCollision.
The Geo was cut up by both the modeling department when we needed more detailed edges to the breakaway and by me using RayFire. There was also TP Volume Breaker to further break up grouting into smaller debris which is pretty typical for a setup like this. I should also state that this type of destruction are usually done in layers. Where we have low res deflectors which I first "rig" with the TP helper nulls used to define joints. I basically do the main action as a presolve with the low rez deflectors, cut strategically by me, and then jointed. This is then done as a precache.
Then a secondary layer of hand-cut high rez geo is solved with rules that either joint or follow the lower rez presolve and self-collide using Shape Collsion. There is a third high rez cache which brings in the second higher rez solve and does all the grouting debris including the Volume Breaker details. And a final fourth layer which caches out all the emission particles to be used inside of Flowline to emit Velocity and Density for the dust solves. The bubbles passes were also done in Flowline and uses the cached animated assets or the cached TP system to emit bubbles and advect them inside of Flowline with its internal fluid solver.
Timestamp: 2:19 through 2:47
Nick: This is done with the same basic idea as the Splashdown shot, with TP for all rigid and particles. Any Jointing etc. The main difference here is that I actually created low res FumeFX solves to make vector fields to advect the debris to give it more a water-like floaty effect. I still did all the bubbles and dust solves that were rendered in Flowline, but it was just faster to iterate the low res FumeFX solves for my advection grids. I also used an internal node ScanlineVFX made for TP called 'SCLnoise', which allowed us to do a noise field lookup. And to get the randomized rotation of the debris, I would use it's position to reference a value of a SCLnoise field and then fit/modulate to roatation axis with this value. It gives a tumbling type behavior effects which worked pretty well. But for the most part these shots were largely driven by thinkingParticles for the Geo and then just a lot of dust and bubble passes piled on to give it a solid atmospheric look.
Nick: I did all the clouds and Lightning in Afterburn by Sitni Satni.
The Tron bike transform I did exclusively. There was a few iterations where the Tron bike was coming together from a sort of an exploded assembly look and locking into place, but in the end Disney wanted it to formed more from the rod and less out of thin air. The final was done as a combination of some thinkingParticles effects and hand animated renderable splines which I rigged together and really hand animated. TP was used mainly to rotate and scale all of the polys of the bike after first fragmenting it into separate faces and then using a stored position and rotation as a target. Then, I used various TP rules to time the scale and rotation of the bits to give it a wipe on effect. I also did all of the impact sparks when the bike would ram and when it grazed the entrance to the tunnel. Another FX artist, James Atkinsen came onto the project when we did the second iteration, and we added the bike impact explosion, which he did in Houdini.
Nick: I did a number of things in this video but only a little TP work here. This was some years ago when ScanlineVFX first hired me as a generalist and I modeled a lot of props and set ups, and rigged/animated the falling palms in the beginning of the tsunami scene. I also did a lot of texture work and shading thoughout the project.
Impact FX at 0:54 though 1:13
I did the car impact into a red deck on screen left at around 1:02 (not very visible on these low rez clips but that's all we have), as well as the cloth sims of the draped signs. The deck impact was hand-cut with RayFire and then ShapeCollision simmed in thinkingParticles.
I did another deck impact at around 1:15 for a blue deck, which was again done with TP and ShapeCollision. And another at around 1:17. And I think the last one was at 1:24. I also setup and did shading and lighting on all the palm trees as well as some characters and buildings. Basically, I dressed this sequence with background action to depict the intensity of the flooding, including the cloth sims of draped signs and flags flapping hard in the wind. At one point, a van hits some palm trees, which I rigged animated and lit. I enjoyed it.
Thinking Particles was used extensively on this project by my team mates: Christian Zurcher did a pretty complex setup for the scene with the wave crashing against the beach and wiping out all the resort stuff. And Joe Scarr as well had some pretty complex setups for destroying most of the buildings. I also used TP do do some floating debris in numourous shots and some in the underwater shots around 2:48.
My last shot on this reel was at 4:40, I did the Smoke coming out of the builing in FumeFX.
More images of Nick Damico's FX, TP work on Justice League (2017) - Wonder Woman portion; Battleship - Jet fight, explosion; Rise of the 300 - oil boat explosion.