Fusion Creates "Smoke Screen" for Colourmovie!
When Syfy approached Colourmovie to create its “31 Days of Halloween” brand, Colourmovie devised a creative balance between macabre Halloween images and the sophistication of Syfy's brand. Inspired by Romantic Gothic and Victorian Gothic literature, Colormovie combined this with a modern and functional branding system to create a distinctive style for the network. To realize its imaginative vision for this project, Colourmovie turned to Fusion CI Studios and its dynamic effects expertise.
Fusion generated ink-in-water style smoky elements trailing behind animated characters, integrating the scenes. Fusion also created a large library of generic full HD frame “smoke” elements for Colourmovie to use as comp layers.
Fusion used Fume FX to create high-resolution simulations of low-turbulence fluid. The creative direction from Colourmovie required slowly moving “smoke” with very strong internal details. So the typical high-turbulence style smoke that we’re so familiar with simulating for explosions and realistic fire were of no use. Fusion had to r&d the particular parameter settings that would give us strong internal structures such as “jelly-roll” like vortices that would sustain for long periods of time behind the animated characters, regardless of the speed of the characters. For those of you familiar with fluid dynamics, we were really working in the laminar regime of flow rather than the momentum dominated turbulent regime. Once we worked out the parameter values for this character of simulation, we were able to generate very high resolution simulations that emitted from even the tiniest parts of the animated characters, for example, the feathers of the birds in the piece. Once we had the fluid simulations done we used Krakatoa to generate many millions of particles along density slices through the fluid simulation, which revealed very beautifully the internal structures. Even those internal structures which were a little murky in the fluid sims could be enhanced into sharp distinct sheets and swirls using Krakatoa.
The main technical challenge, apart from getting the fluid simulations to behave as required by the creative direction, was how close to camera some of the elements were because the Krakatoa rendering method is strongly dependent on camera proximity. When Krakatoa elements get close to camera you have to increase e the particle density significantly to maintain a smooth non-grainy look. To do this we used a farm of simulation machines to generate many passes of Krakatoa particles which, when rendered together and given a very slight amount of blur, were able to produce smooth, yet very detailed results. This was quite time consuming though and combined with very specific creative needs, a short schedule and a limited budget, it proved challenging.
Smokey type ‘fluids’ are particularly difficult to art-direct, unlike water-type fluids which can be pushed with forces while still maintaining a water like look because of lighting and surfacing. Smoke-type effects rely very strongly on the behaviour and internal structures to “sell” on-screen as smoke and if you try to push these around with forces, you break these internal structures. So in order to art-direct these kinds of flows you have to use very gentle sculpting forces and develop an in-depth knowledge of the fluid parameters to give creative directors what they are looking for. For this purpose, after discussions with the creative director, Fusion would generate a wide range of experimental simulations with slight changes in parameter settings, giving us a matrix of behaviours to present to the creative director. This worked out to be as much a learning experience for us as the creative director. But was an excellent way to give everyone a clear idea of what was possible and it was also the fastest way to settle on a look for particular shots.
The result was an exotic and sophisticated look that integrated the scenes and helped Colourmovie fulfill its creative vision for SyFy’s “31 Days of Halloween” brand.
DYNAMIC SIMULATION EFFECTS: Fusion CI Studios
VFX SUPERVISOR: Mark Stasiuk
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Lauren Millar
VFX ASSISTANT: Angel Moreno
FX ARTISTS: Matthew Benson, Deborah Zahler, Mike Wallner
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Brandon Martinez
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: John McGinnis
ART DIRECTOR: Magnus Hierta
PRODUCER: Elsa Mejia
DESIGNER: Brandon Martinez
ANIMATORS: Magnus Hierta, Preston Brown, Tyson Steigers, Casey Hupke, Brian Williams,
Jeni Wamberg, Christian Perez, Alan Torres, Jessica Vliet
SMOKE SIMULATION: Casey Hupke
EDITOR: Paula Salhany
AUDIO DESIGN: Malcolm Francis