I created this scene in April 2018 partly in order to learn several new pieces of software. These included SideFX Houdini (for particle effects), NextLimit’s Realflow (for fluid simulation) and 3DQuaker’s Forester plugin for C4D. I also used many of the tools in my usual arsenal: Octane render, C4D, Zbrush, Maya (with Arnold render), the Quixel Suite for texturing, and the Adobe CS.
The first step was to create the models I wanted to use. In this scene, this was relatively easy; I only needed to create the mausoleum and the (simple) gravestones from scratch. I could use Forester to create the plants much more simply and with greater variation than making them from scratch, and I could use realflow and houdini to simulate all the effects I would need. I also created a simple figure in Zbrush to use as a guide for the Realflow mesh — the Ghost.
Next I set up the Realflow simulation — first creating and texturing the liquid, then using a magic daemon to pull the liquid onto the figure I built. I was keyframing elements for the animation along the way, including the passage of time using an Octane daylight tag.
Now that I had the fluid simulation figured out, I just needed to keyframe a few more things, like the color and consistency change in the fluid once the sun hits it, and create the particle effects in Houdini. Fortunately, Houdini is very powerful and easy to learn, so making smoke effects didn’t take too long.
Once everything was keyed, I did a test render, made a couple of small changes, and did a full-res render (which took about 30 hours at 1080p using Octane Directlighting w/ 128 samples). Frames with smoke in them tended to take longer to render, because the program has to calculate the complex way that light passes through a “volume medium” like smoke or fog. Below are some stills from the final render.