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Particles: Abyss-Style Water Creature in EffectsLab Pro

Posted: Wed, 21st Mar 2007, 8:45pm

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pixelboy

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TUTORIAL: Abyss-Style Water Creature in EffectsLab Pro

Click any thumbnail to view the full image.
The idea for this effect came about while I was experimenting with Mr. Asger’s “floating water” preset. The end result looks something like the pseudopod creature from “The Abyss”, but of course you can experiment with the technique for some other water-based effects.
There are 3 visible attributes of water that I focused on for this effect. Firstly, water is almost completely transparent, meaning that it does not absorb most of the light that hits it. Second, it refracts (bends) the light that passes through it, and finally, it reflects some the light off of its surface.
Step 1. The Particles:
This effect starts with a small rectangular emitter. To give the particles a watery shape, use round textures. I used the two “ball” textures, and the circular “bullet trail” textures, thanks to Mr. Asger’s preset. You will want to keep the “particle max” and “particle lifetime” settings quite high, to keep a solid stream of particles, and put the “angle range“ very low. Your “rotation” settings may be different, but mine are pointed almost straight down. Your particles should form a dense, narrow stream. Animate your emitter however you want the effect to move in your scene.
Next, add an “angle blur” filter to your effect. I’d have the strength set at the default 30, but the direction of course will vary based on your animation. You should end up with something more or less like this:


Step 2. Refraction:
This step is very simple. Just add a displacement map composite filter to your particle effect. You should set the horizontal and vertical distances quite high, since this is a fairly dense stream of water.


Step 3. Reflection:
This bit is much more complicated. First, copy your particle effect so that the 2 copies are lined up exactly with one another. Remove the Displacement map from the bottom copy. To give a faint blueish look to my effect, I changed the color of the bottom particles to a very dark blue.

You may want to try using colors similar to those in your background, to give the impression that your effect is reflecting its surroundings. Be sure to keep the colors very dark, however.
Next you’ll be adding a lot of grading filters to your bottom layer. The idea is to brighten the highlights of the effect, and turn the darker areas black. Here are the filters I used, from top to bottom:
Blur: Gaussian: 43
Contrast: Pro: Black Pt. 255, White Pt. 193
Brightness: 21
Also, the Blur: Angle filter I applied before, at the bottom.
Now, Change the Composite Blend Method of this layer to Add.


Finally, to prevent the highlights from spilling over the edges of the effect, apply an object mask to your reflection layer based on your top layer.
Step 4.
Your effect should look pretty cool by now, but you may notice that it lacks definition. If you recall, I stated that water is mostly transparent, meaning that some light is absorbed. To add this final aspect to the effect, simply add a Grade Object underneath the two particle effects. Add a “Brightness” filter to it, and lower it a bit. I have the Composite Blend method for the Grade Object set to Darken, and the Brightness set at -55, but these setting will likely need to be different, depending on your background. Apply an Object Mask to your Grade Object, based on your top particle effect.

Now, your effect should be much more clearly defined. I hope this tutorial has been helpful, and if you would like me to clarify anything, just ask!
To view the final clip on YouTube, Click Here.
Posted: Wed, 21st Mar 2007, 10:49pm

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Plainly

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Great tutorial!

Hehe the sound effect is funny in the rendered video smile.

Why don't you submit your effect to the effect preset library? That would be very cool cool.
Posted: Thu, 22nd Mar 2007, 1:21am

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SGB

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Pixelboy, you rock.

Really nice tute. I used similar concepts for my "stream of water" preset, but you took this to a whole new level. I liked how you broke down exactly what water is and how essentially its just a distortion of light (i'm talking about on film of course). Very nice tutorial, well explained, amazing product in the end. I for one would simply love it if you could upload a VIDEO tutorial of this. It would be very informative and helpful.

Great tutorial, keep up this amazing work on water based things. those are always the hardest in cg stuff.

SGB
Posted: Thu, 22nd Mar 2007, 4:42pm

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pixelboy

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Thanks guys!

I wouldn't mind making a video tutorial, but I'm not sure how to go about that; what software I'd need, etc. Does anyone else know? I suppose I could film my monitor razz
As for making a preset, I'm not sure how well this would work for that, since it is three layers, and some of the settings would need to be different depending on the background. I could submit them and provide some instructions, perhaps, but it might be a little complicated.
Thanks again for the kind feedback!
Posted: Thu, 22nd Mar 2007, 4:53pm

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Simon K Jones

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Great stuff! Good info and good technique, Pixelboy!

For video tutorials, we use Camtasia Studio. It's pretty good, but also rather expensive. There is a free (and legal) version of Camtasia (just the screen recording part) floating around, I believe, and you could probably then use your editing program to put it together.
Posted: Thu, 22nd Mar 2007, 9:53pm

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Axeman

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SuperUser

Great tutorial pixelboy! Nice use of multiple layers and the available tools to composite the effect in. Really cool.

I've added it to the tutorials list to keep it easy to find for everyone.
Posted: Sun, 25th Mar 2007, 7:13am

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TemporalCoder

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Hi, thanks for the great tutorial

I have used CamStudio for Recording with, it's free.


http://www.camstudio.org/
Posted: Wed, 18th Apr 2007, 9:54pm

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DJP444

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dude u r amazing. now try and see there is a method to make a liquid metal substance to put as a mask on people or let the liquid float around so people can do uber cool terminator movies lol
Posted: Thu, 19th Apr 2007, 2:33am

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pixelboy

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Thanks! I have actually been experimenting with a similar technique on some footage in CompositeLab: http://img136.imageshack.us/img136/338/waterman1tf9.png
I was trying to make it look like water, but it turned out almost metallic, I think. It's basically the same procedure, except that the reflection level is above the displacement map layer, and uses the Threshold filter to create the highlights.

As for the video tutorial, I've downloaded CamStudio, but haven't found time to record it just yet. I'll get around to it before too long though.
Regards,
Pixelboy
Posted: Sun, 22nd Apr 2007, 2:12am

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DJP444

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man that looked really good in composite lab its like just wat i was thinkin
Posted: Thu, 12th Jun 2008, 6:33pm

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May the Force be with you

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You could make a preset of the grading effect you used.