VFX Portfolio - Monte


#1

Hey everybody, I recently put up my portfolio site with some VFX clips on it, and I was hoping to get some feedback on what I have uploaded so far!

Also I was hoping for some opinions on what kind of FX are most important to have on a folio, I’m trying to have a broad appeal as I’m a freelancer so I need to cover as many bases as possible.

http://montethompson.carbonmade.com/projects/4474196

Let me know what you all think


#2

Welcome!

It’s very interesting that you’ve chosen to go down the route of a freelacer in Game VFX. I’ve only heard of one other case of this. How do you do it? How do you get over the problem that most studios only have inhouse tools? Do you work on site or remotely? It would be ace if you could share your experiences.

Some feedback! The following is just my opinions. Read and do with them what you please. :slight_smile:

The Fire:
I assume the fire is based off two fire emitters, one smoke, one embers and one smokeburst.

Using two emitters for the fire isn’t very efficient. You get more overhead this way. Also it makes it very obvious that you have one tall and one short emitter. The shape then becomes static. If you use the sprite scale and movement to shape the fire it will look a lot more dynamic. Also, the fire texture animation looks like it’s playing at 5 times the normal speed. Try adding depthfade to the fire sprites to make it less visible where they intersect with the ground.

The Embers have a very obvious orbit. Make the offset bigger so they flow more back and forth rather than spinning around an offset.

The smoke is very solid (as in, I can see and count the sprites). A small fire like this wouldn’t generate smoke like that. Try to make the fire “turn into” the smoke instead of emitting it from a point in the middle. initial position and transparency usually helps with this.
The colourfade is nice.
Another trick I often use to give it more life is to use a local force to fake a bit of wind. It’s very rare to see a real fire with smoke rising dead straight.

The smoke arms that come flying out now and then. It’s a cool technique, but save it for explosions and collapses. Fires don’t do that.

The Healing thing:

Nice! I’m liking the colours and movement.

I think you could use a bit more transparency fade on the coloumns as they disappear to mask the pop they have now. The fade would also help you mask the stepping on the edges of the coloumn.

The finale could use some more work. I don’t understand whats going on. The nice glowing energy disappears and instead we get a sphere with a scrolling texture that scales out and explodes in a flat plane of sparks? Why no blinding light as the energy is released? Why no residual sparks falling down afterwards? Give the end a bit more love and you have a winner.

Plasma Explosion:

The colours and the ground stuff is lovely.

The biggest problem with this one is timing. You have a nice start with it being scaled up within a rame or two, but then it just fizzles for abit instead of giving you the Oompf of an explosion. This could very well be an artistic choice you made so it’s fine. Just saying what I would have done.

In General:

If I was looking I would first check to see if you could make the type of effects I would have you working on.
For example, if I was making a realistic shooter, I’d want to see explosions, muzzleflashes, fire and weather effects.

If I was making an MMO I’d want to see colourcoded effects, pickups, spells and general magic.

And so on.

My recommendation is that you pick a game type to focus on. Make a suite of effects and polish them. Once you are happy with them, try a new genre.

Best of luck to you, and keep us posted with your progress!


#3

Thanks a ton for all your advice Demno, you had a lot of valid points! I think I really need to up the quality for my folio, so I’m going start from scratch and really polish a set of themed VFX as you suggested.

So far I’ve only done some work for smaller indie titles using UDK and Unity engines, but what you said about freelance VFX artists being rare has me worried. Does that mean it’s super rare for studios etc to outsource their VFX? Should I stop trying to be a freelancer and focus on trying to work at one of the local studios? I’m a bit daunted by that, I was really planning on working remotely as I’ve done for environment work for the last year or so. My long term goal has been to freelance for awhile until I’m confident enough in my skills to apply at one of the local game studios such as EA.

Any advice you could give me on that would be hugely awesome, thanks again!


#4

It is rare. I have never heard of anyone outsourcing it. The only ones I’ve heard freelancing is FXVille. Not sure if anyone from there is on the forum. (Jeff?). I don’t know what they actually do.

The problem is that most companies use a non-commercially available engines. Even if you are a good VFX Artist, it will take you a month or so before you are actually up and running, producing stuff. It’s not just the engine, they have version controls, naming convnetions, workarounds and all kinds of stuff unique to them. Having a temporary employee on your payroll for a month without getting much out of it make it a bit unviable.

Environments is a different thing since a mesh is a mesh. It can always be imported into the engine with little overhead. Everyone writes their particleengines differently.

However, if you find someone developing on UDK you could be fine doing some freelance work.

I currently work at EA. We have an excellent engine with all the bells and whistles. Before I got this position I had worked with 5 different editors. It still took me about 2 - 3 months to get up speed.

My suggestion is, keep working at it and post stuff here so you can get feedback from all the brilliant VFX artists on the forum. Then apply for a junior VFX position. There are a lot of companies looking.


#5

Hey Takoya,
Cool post! I have a little bit of feedback for the VFX:

The fire:
the fire and smoke seem to have different timing. The fire is so fast and the smoke is moving at a very different rate, and is really thick. One thing that would help is to slow the fire down a bit and maybe add a scrolling defom in the UVs of the fire to give it more variation as the licks of flame are a little predictable.

The healing column is cool, but all of the overall intesities are the same, so I’m not clear on where I’m looking at. There is a ton of good detail in it, so show some of it off! I agree with Denmo, you should have the columns fade instead of snap out.

the explosion: I’ve been working on explosions at work for what seems like forever, and the timing is off. I like the direction and the color, but its lacking some pop. I found a really great breakdown of explosions. http://www.groundzerofx.com/explosions.htm. Its for realistic booms, but its still a good starting place for stuff like that.

thanks for posting! Looks sweet!

[QUOTE=Tokoya;17731]Hey everybody, I recently put up my portfolio site with some VFX clips on it, and I was hoping to get some feedback on what I have uploaded so far!

Also I was hoping for some opinions on what kind of FX are most important to have on a folio, I’m trying to have a broad appeal as I’m a freelancer so I need to cover as many bases as possible.

http://montethompson.carbonmade.com/projects/4474196

Let me know what you all think[/QUOTE]


#6

Ok, i’ll just chip in some thoughts that haven’t already been covered.

The Fire:

Apart from the orbits of the embers themselves i’d also suggest cutting their spawn count down and probably throwing in a random burst spawn, to represent the embers you tend to get when the heat causes fracturing in the fuel, like the snap and crackle you get on wood fires.

For the smoke, you can add a few more bells and whistles by using Dynamic Paramters in UDK to access the particle’s Z position, this will let you, with some math, to interpolate textures as the smoke rises. I tend to lerp between a fire and a smoke texture or a harder edged alpha for thicker smoke to a soft alpha as the smoke dissipates.

The Healing Aura:

I get the idea of the healing aura but the current effect doesn’t really play into it too well. You want to try and get that build up of barely contained energy as it builds up and then explodes. You could try pulsing the brightness and sizes of the different mesh particles to get that kind of unstable growth. Maybe look at some energy discharges as it builds up.

Also i’d suggest something like an expanding sphere of some sort for the blast, it can just be a very quick effect, as well as a flash and some left over motes of energy.

Plasma Explosion:

For the explosion, to really sell it you want to have a central burst going outwards, as at the moment you have small cluster of explosions in the effect. Some streaks or smoke trails shooting out of the mass might help give it a bit more of a kinetic feel.

Also the dark spherical mesh that sort of contains the explosion could use with some brightening and a fade, so it better reflects the force coming out of the exposion.


#7

Wow, thanks for all your feedback fellas, it has been a huge amount of help! I followed all your advice and re-did the fire effects, now on to revising the other two!

Thanks for all your help, let me know what you think :smiley:

https://vimeo.com/48992268


#8

Right. It’s better. But Now I’ll ask what I always get asked when asking for feedback on realistic effects. What’s your ref?
If it’s a youtube clip, post the link so we can compare it to your effect. Usually when I get told this, i start looking closer and realize what’s wrong on my own.
So have a good look at your refmaterial, do any tweaks you can think of, then post the ref and the new version here. :slight_smile:


#9

Hey again, I know it’s been little while but I’ve been busy with some freelance stuff! here is the latest version of the fire I created using scrolling uv distortion, the result is much more appealing than the results I was getting with the subuv flipbook, the effect is a lot more randomized and fluid as fire should be:

Monte


#10

In the case of your fire:
I am assuming those are unlit particles. Which is fine, but if you can manage to make this effect with lit particles you can add that sort of glow to the ‘bottom’ of the smoke that you see in real fires with a dedicated light, which you could also make flicker with a toggle or brightness parameter. Of course for just a small bonfire you don’t really have that solid plume of smoke either, so in this very instance it’s not necessary and you might do with removing more of the smoke and adding variance to the way the flame ‘licks’. I also assume that this particle is for a game. If that is the case, you might want to think about the way that the level designers will be using your asset. Most times, smaller ‘pieces’ of fire is a better asset than a large ‘pretty’ fire. It is just more useful because then it can be scaled up and iterated to be made bigger later. Smaller pieces are also more useful because you can then take more care in placing the asset around its source, or whatever it is that is burning. Always take into affect the source burning material if you are creating realistic fire. If it is a sort of plasma or magic fire, it is fine to have it look like it’s spawning off of a flat or dynamic surface without a fuel source there (like on the ground, in the air, or on a weapon) but the amount of smoke would also be nil.

Cheers!


#11

[QUOTE=MackenzieDiedrich;20156]In the case of your fire:
I am assuming those are unlit particles. Which is fine, but if you can manage to make this effect with lit particles you can add that sort of glow to the ‘bottom’ of the smoke that you see in real fires with a dedicated light, which you could also make flicker with a toggle or brightness parameter. Of course for just a small bonfire you don’t really have that solid plume of smoke either, so in this very instance it’s not necessary and you might do with removing more of the smoke and adding variance to the way the flame ‘licks’. I also assume that this particle is for a game. If that is the case, you might want to think about the way that the level designers will be using your asset. Most times, smaller ‘pieces’ of fire is a better asset than a large ‘pretty’ fire. It is just more useful because then it can be scaled up and iterated to be made bigger later. Smaller pieces are also more useful because you can then take more care in placing the asset around its source, or whatever it is that is burning. Always take into affect the source burning material if you are creating realistic fire. If it is a sort of plasma or magic fire, it is fine to have it look like it’s spawning off of a flat or dynamic surface without a fuel source there (like on the ground, in the air, or on a weapon) but the amount of smoke would also be nil.

Cheers![/QUOTE]

Wait what?
Why would he use lit particles for something that is supposed to look like it’s emitting light? They should be unlit/emissive or they will recive shadows. You find me a ref where you can see a shadow on a fire.
If you mean that he should have used particles that emit actual light, then it would make more sense. But since it says it’s made in UDK, an engine with no such functionality it doesn’t apply.
Like you say, different materials will generate different amounts of smoke, and since we don’t know what material he is trying to burn we can’t really say that it’s too much. It’s a reasonable amount for something like dry wood. It always look heavier than it is against a black background.

Why would it be beneficial with smaller fires? To me that fire looks to be the size of a campfire. A very common size. Excellent for the designers to use to block out levels. For an actual game it would be needed to create the full range of sizes but to nail the style, I think he is going in the right direction.

Now, with regards to the actual fire, I still haven’t seen the reference footage used for this so I am going to assume there is none and therefore you have not given yourself all the feedback you can. When you have, I’ll provide some of mine :slight_smile:


#12

[QUOTE=Demno;20199]Wait what?
Why would he use lit particles for something that is supposed to look like it’s emitting light? They should be unlit/emissive or they will recive shadows. You find me a ref where you can see a shadow on a fire.
If you mean that he should have used particles that emit actual light, then it would make more sense. But since it says it’s made in UDK, an engine with no such functionality it doesn’t apply.[/QUOTE]

Demno, I was referring to the smoke using lit particles, not the flames. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.
So the ideal setup would be unlit flames which give off light (like you can in UE4), and lit smoke particles so you can have the light dance through the smoke as it rises, right?


#13

Maybe this has be mentioned, but I was thinking about the format of the videos. Personally I would like them bigger on your page, and in 16:9. Maybe nobody else cares, but it sometimes bothers me that Vimeo doesn’t let you watch HD videos unless you go to Vimeo’s site.
Best of luck! :slight_smile:


#14

[QUOTE=Demno;17747]It is rare. I have never heard of anyone outsourcing it. The only ones I’ve heard freelancing is FXVille. Not sure if anyone from there is on the forum. (Jeff?). I don’t know what they actually do.

The problem is that most companies use a non-commercially available engines. Even if you are a good VFX Artist, it will take you a month or so before you are actually up and running, producing stuff. It’s not just the engine, they have version controls, naming convnetions, workarounds and all kinds of stuff unique to them. Having a temporary employee on your payroll for a month without getting much out of it make it a bit unviable.

Environments is a different thing since a mesh is a mesh. It can always be imported into the engine with little overhead. Everyone writes their particleengines differently.

However, if you find someone developing on UDK you could be fine doing some freelance work.

I currently work at EA. We have an excellent engine with all the bells and whistles. Before I got this position I had worked with 5 different editors. It still took me about 2 - 3 months to get up speed.

My suggestion is, keep working at it and post stuff here so you can get feedback from all the brilliant VFX artists on the forum. Then apply for a junior VFX position. There are a lot of companies looking.[/QUOTE]
Agreed on all points. I used to work with FXVille but that was on a Unreal project, probably wouldn’t have worked on a proprietary engine indeed.

What’s interesting about that freelance situation is that the company was willing to pay a huge sum of money for them, they would never have done that for an in-house guy. What’s interesting about that is how huge respect management had for their time. This was at a company where if you had a crash blocking you from a task, you would be lucky to get a programmer making a comment on your bugzilla post the following month, and if you tried to bump up the priority from a manager they would say “a good artist will do what he can with what he has”. But when the managers were paying big money for the artists then suddenly I had INSTANT programmer support whenever I said “If this bug isn’t fixed, it’s going to slow down FXVille” :stuck_out_tongue: