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Thread: Conquest of Europa | Set extensions, 3d & particle elements

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Helsinki, Finland

    Default Conquest of Europa | Set extensions, 3d & particle elements

    Hello again.

    After finishing Red Skies I wanted to experiment further with science fiction theme. This time I went for VFX heavy and light on plot approach. What we have here is large use of set extensions (almost every shot had it's original background rotoscoped out), some particle effects (steam and smoke from the mask, snowfall etc) and few 3d elements that have fluid simulations inside them. It was a lot of work, especially the all too painful rotoscoping.

    Conquest of Europa | Scifi Short (2013) - YouTube

    Prior to editing it was just me standing in small snowy field surrounded by forest, roads and people with their dogs. It looks much more vast now, some of the snowy plain is matte painting too.

    I'll be the first to admit that it's by no means perfect. Or maybe it's just me, I have seen every single frame of it way too many times and spot every mistake I couldn't fix. As I have slowly lost means to say anything objective about it, I'd like to hear what you think.

    Thanks for watching and I hope you liked it!

  2. #2


    Firstly I think it looks really good. So much better than I could ever hope to do. The only thing I spotted which could do with a very little tweak is the contrast level on the distant mountains needs to be taken down, just a little, to match the foreground better.

    I'm not sure if the smoke coming out of the mask was a bit too heavy, it just seemed unnatural to me.

    Great job.

  3. #3


    I liked it. Good rotoscoping (well worth the time) and fx.
    We can see there is a column of smoke which gets wider as it goes further away. We learn which direction it is going. But, all of a sudden; the smoke disapears!
    I might "expect" (in reality!) that smoke, after a few seconds, would become lost because of wind forces; and not be travelling as a result of the initial explosive force from the source. I have no idea, but might it be possible to allow the smoke to travel further; but to gently feather a blur at end of the ever widening smoke column, so it dissipates as real smoke does?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Helsinki, Finland


    Thanks, Midnight Blue and Tim. This was actually a lot warmer reception than I expected.

    Midnight Blue, you're right about the mountains now that I look at it. They were not icy mountains to begin with, they were part of this set of matte painting resources. Sand instead of snow. Guess I was too obsessed with masks to notice the contrast once I had them set up with basic color correction. The smoke is a bit on the heavy side too. There is a reason for it, as it serves two purposes. It's not there just to be cool, it's also covering a bit of bad/hard to mask spots when the character moves in the second shot. That was hellish to mask, I can't really explain why but it just kept looking bad. The smoke was originally much more whiter shade of gray, but I cranked it up to give more industrial and burning feel, and give better coverage for the weaker spots of the mask.

    Tim, I take it you're talking about the smoke coming from the mask too? If that's the case, there actually is simulated wind instead of initial force that's pulling it away from the emitter. But you're right, I had some hard time trying to make it look fine when fading/disappearing. I just randomized the life-time of particles so that some of them would flow further than others before disappearing. I would have liked if the "column" would break more as it progressed further from the point of origin, but couln't get it to work too well. Adding a mask with high feather could have improved it, as you suggested.

    I didn't (surprisingly!) find any basic tutorials on creating smoke with AE particles, so I had to improvise this one myself. Seriously, isn't smoke the first thing most people would want to do with particles?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Helsinki, Finland


    Hey, I just released visual effects breakdown for those who might be interested in what steps I took from the raw footage to the final product.

    Europa, Icy Moon | Visual Effects Breakdown - YouTube

    It is by no means a tutorial, it just shows different stages of editing step by step.

  6. #6


    I find it interesting how these sorts of composites are made up.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    Nothing to add. Excellent job. Imagine if you'd done this 15 years ago!

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