Mitchell D. Harper

FX Artist

SDGM 560

TheMill x SCAD

SCAD Students from a variety of disciplines within the School of Digital Media work as a team to research, conceptualize and develop creative solutions for current design challenges presented by The Mill, NY.



Week 10



We finally finished! The last 10 weeks have been challenging, sleep deprived and amazing. I want to thank The Mill - New York for their guidance and their time. I would also like to thank my team mates, as well as Professor Fowler and Professor Gaynor.

Project Breakdown

Week 9



Almost there!  This week I spent time extending the walls of the fluid containers to prevent the water from clipping. We also did a bit more work on the wetmaps to smooth out some rough edges.


I also noticed that in shot 4 (below) that the car is not properly rendering as a matte object. This may require a bit of research...

Here are the updated wetmaps

Week 8



I have been trying so hard to get the motion of the splash correct. I think that we are just looking at it from the wrong angle?


Week 7



Week 7 has been spent iterating the puddle splash and working on the ground wetmaps for shot 2. Professor Gaynor had offered a suggestion of chaining several of the puddles together to get multiple splashes. I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this idea (render below!)

Oh, also, we just were not happy with the water sim being rendered in Arnold. The fluid just seemed to lack volume and detail. We have decided to use Mantra to render the water with.


The general consensus seems to be that we want to extend shot 2 a little bit. Most of the sims cut off short so I will be re-simulating them to add some more time to the end (and to decrease the particle separation).

Ground Wetmaps

I was able to make some time this week to tackle the shot 2 ground wetmaps. As the video demonstrates, the wetmap solution seems to be working fine until I plug in a complex geometry (a.k.a. the car). I just does not want to work on the car. I feel that I am running out of time on it and Allie keeps asking me if she can implement her solution. I will gladly hand that to her!




This week I spent time implementing the feedback that I received from The Mill. Two of the biggest issues were that the water was shooting up too high in the air, and the other issue was the car was coming out of the splash completely dry. The image below is a rough rendered still of the new fluid sim. The following video is a flipbook of the flip sim and the meshed result. The last video is a low quality render to give me an idea of my progress on the puddle.


After speaking with Professor Fowler, we decided that the changes made to the puddle this week were not successful. I have left the original blog update here for reference. I have also added a flipbook at the end that is more in line of what I was trying to achieve. Mitch

Here is the updated flipbook with the splash that is more in line with an actual splash.



Week Five



This week I continued doing meshing & rendering tests on the shot 2 splash. I feel like I have most of the settings right for a shot from this distance. The sim was still a bit wild on the tests I ran but I have continued to tone down the sim with velocity fields and it is starting to look pretty good. We also cut out another scene that wasn't working. Here is the new set!



Velocity field

I owe David from The Mill a huge "thank you!" for this idea. It is essentially a pyro emitter in front of the vehicle. The smoke from the emitter is then used to create a velocity field for controlling the flip.



A few different renders...

Week Four



I started meshing some of my flip sims based on some wise feedback from The Mill. So many flaws came to light during the process! It also gave me a better idea of how low I will need to set my particle separation for the final sims. I also took a few minutes to set up a basic shader network in Maya to control the car shaders based on wet maps.


Yesterday (Sunday, April 17th) we finally were able to get the camera tracking for shot 2 completed So I can officially build out the scene. This is great news!



Flip Sims, Fluid Meshes & Wet Maps

I am starting to think that I might have been over-thinking the velocity field for this shot. After trying several overly-complicated setups I am finding this simple one to be giving the best results. The video under the Velocity Field Test 2 is the resulting splash I  am getting. This is the shape I have been after.



Shot 2 Progress

I did a quick shader test in Arnold to get a few sample shots of what the car will look like once it starts getting wet. Ill use a greyscale wet map to control the value between the two paint shaders



Maya / Arnold Shader Prep for Wet Map

Here are a few tests I did with meshing and playing around with some basic shading. It has been a while since I have used Arnold so the whitewater test is actually pretty gray. I tried adjusting the scattering but I could not get the volume white enough. I will do some research on this!



Flip meshing and LookDev Tests

Week Three



Week three has been eventful! In the final scene of our original pitch we had a drone shot flying high as our car speeds away. After a few hours of background shooting, we pulled the drone out to take a few shots. Unfortunately, after about 30 minutes the drone ended up stuck in a tree 25 meters high. We attempted to bribe the squirrels, they (and the neighbors) just laughed at us. You may notice our clip lineup is just a bit different due to this.


As for the puddle splashes, RnD is progressing. I have been experimenting with plugging different POP nodes into the flip fluid solver to further control the fluid simulations. One pretty interesting node I tried was the POP Replicate. I never thought about using this in a fluid sim and it has really added an interesting turn on the splashes. I need to work on some of the settings still because its a bit wild, however, I am pretty hopeful. Also I have developed a volume velocity field that is working ok, but I am sure I will need a few more. I feel like I need the water to churn around the car tires more, and its just not there yet.



Squirrels Hijacked Our Drone (no, really!)

Week Two



RnD Puddle Splashes

First R&D Puddle Splash

Most of this week was spent acquiring background plates and starting RnD on the puddle splashes.



Week One



Color Changing Car

Synopsis: A car drives through a puddle, gets splashed with water, and changes to a vibrant color where the water impacts.



Our Idea Pitch (click for Google Doc)