thinkingParticles: The tool of choice for Ghost Rider's Vengeance of Disintegrating Spirits!




 Jonathan Freisler has been with Iloura DP Studio in Melbourne, Australia for over two years - working on  various commercials and more recently focusing on feature films, specializing in particles, simulations and all  things FX based.

 A recent achievement of his was being part of the FX artists team at Iloura DP that worked on the movie  Ghost rider: Spirit of Vengeace.






cebas: It seems that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was an important project for you (and your firm). Can you tell us how you were involved?

Ghost Rider was a great project for us to work on. We were the primary vendor and covered almost all of the shots in the film that required post-production. We covered approximately 450 shots. I was involved in a lot of look development initially, and then moved onto completing shots. I completed the FX for around 60 of those shots.

cebas: Which shots/images/sequences in particular were you involved in?

I was mainly involved in skull fire shots, ash / disintegration shots and ‘hell-truck’ shots. All of the character ash / disintegration shots in the film were handled by myself to ensure continuity and visual consistency. I also did a bunch of one off shots such as the wooden plank disintegration shot.

 Courtesy of Iloura DP and Columbia Pictures


cebas: What cebas software did you use and why?

thinkingParticles was used for complex particle effects throughout the film by a group of artists. Alex Lombardi, a tP guru, came on to give us a hand and mainly worked on the majority of the larger destruction scenes in the Quarry sequence. We used finalRender in a few situations as well.

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

All of the disintegration shots were handled by myself in tP. For me, tP enables an efficient work flow of importing match moved or animated geometry, creating a system and then driving it with a set of conditions previously developed in an RnD phase. Any changes the client wants can be easily adjusted to suit.

The same work flow was applied to the plank shot; I could shatter and sub shatter the plank on the fly as I needed and spawn particles from specific faces to add splits and detail where required. If the shot changes halfway through (which in this case it did) it’s just a matter of updating and letting everything downstream work itself out.


  Courtesy of Iloura DP and Columbia Pictures


cebas: What features in particular helped you achieve your goal and how?

Volume Break was the main hero in all the disintegration shots. I used a number of different sub VBs with different variations and - for the wood shot in particular - I could control it so they were similar to wood splinters in shape. Being able to activate and spread the VB was really handy as well.

I also found the caching system and shape collision to be really solid and they came through as two standouts to me.

The FumeFX integration helped a lot. Being able to use specific dynamic sets to emit fire, smoke and dust was pretty straightforward. Also using sims to drive tP particles and events was invaluable.


 Courtesy of Iloura DP and Columbia Pictures


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

One of the things I did find limiting was the lack of UV mapping control available over the new faces created by the volume breaker. In all the character disintegration shots, it was fine and not an issue. But for the plank shot the mapping had to run down the flow of the grain on the internal newly created faces. I got around this by doing some camera mapping techniques, however, it would be great to have that control in the future.


cebas: What was a step-by-step breakdown of a typical shot/image/sequence?

Basically shots would come in from tracking and the match move department, go through animation if required, then into FX where we would spend time doing look development or - if the look was already established - we would work on the shot through the iterations until the FX gets approved. This coupled with lighting passes would move into comp, where the shot gets all the polish.


  Courtesy of Iloura DP and Columbia Pictures


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

thinkingParticles was great. It has power behind it and I really enjoy the workflow and structure. Prior to Ghost Rider, I had only dabbled in tP. The robust nature of tP and how it can handle a complex scene was fantastic. Also it was completely art directable and is certainly my preference when it comes to working with complex and large particle effects.


  Courtesy of Iloura DP and Columbia Pictures


cebas: How did cebas software integrate into your production pipeline? How straightforward was it?

It integrated fine. Most of the rendering of shots was done within 3D Studio max using Vray, so we didn't have to pass any data around to other packages. It was pretty much plug in and play.


  Courtesy of Iloura DP and Columbia Pictures


cebas: What was the most fun or rewarding part of this project for you?

The most rewarding part of a project is always learning things and working with some very talented and awesome people. We had a solid team and produced some nice looking stuff, which is always nice.

cebas: What do you wish cebas software did that it's not currently doing for you?

thinkingParticles for Maya? Having something as strong as that in Maya would be awesome, and a good bridge between the two.

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

Our studio just finished working on Seth Macfarlane’s ‘TED’, we worked on about half the shots in the film, with Tippet Studios as the other main vendor. There are a few other projects coming up soon, but I can’t talk about them....



 Courtesy of Iloura DP and Columbia Pictures



Thank you Jonathan for your time! Your work is certainly inspiring and motivating :)

You can visit Iloura DP's website to see more of their work in movies and TV commercials.

We look forward to everybody's feedback and comments on the extremely soon-to-be-released thinkingParticles 5 - so keep your Google News Alerts on standby!