Rolling Floor / Tremors!

I was approached with a job to simulate something moving along the ground on live footage. It needed to have ripples and it also needed a sense of direction as it passed through multiple shots. The whole idea was a bit eerie, but also quite challenging in the sense of quality and realism.

Technically, it was a straight forward workflow in this order:

  1. Camera Tracking
  2. Proxy Model Placement
  3. Camera Projection
  4. Texture Baking / Stitching Multiple Projections
  5. Animation
  6. Rendering
  7. VFX Simulation
  8. Final Compositing

Non-Linear Deformers

Who doesn’t love these little monsters? I knew from the start I would be utilizing them when animating the rolling ground, I just didn’t know which ones to use. After a few rounds of development, I used a combination of the 2 x Sine deformers and 1 x Bend Deformer.

VFX Simulation

I always get excited when I have the chance to throw in some extra simulation. The key is to not make the simulation too elaborate and over the top so that it doesn’t take away from the main focus of the shot. Adding subtle elements is what we need to do in this case. I usually do a pre-comp of my final render to start judging on what we should see, and what we need to account for in 3D simulation, because sometimes you might get away with using stock footage or 2D effects.

In this case, I felt that we needed a little bit of movement in some of the environment elements (the pebbles that have accumulated along the edge of the curb) and introduction of some particles and rocks that could break off as the ground splits. I didn’t have to go too elaborate with the breaking of the rocks, since they will be very small and simply emitting them on velocity will get the job done.