We’re happy to bring you this interview and breakdown with Tyler Britton on his most recent personal project, “KABOOM!” Check out the finished product below if you haven’t seen it, and lets dive right in…
Tell us a little bit about your process first conceptualizing this shot. Any inspiration you drew from? Did you plan it out ahead of time, did you do previs or more just make it up as you go?
I generally like to do a personal project every two years or so to focus on a new skill or to brush up on something I generally don’t get to do at work on a day to day basis. For a while I had been wanting to try Redshift since I heard so much about it, so I know I wanted to utilize that. I also looove doing explosions, but because of what I had been working on recently I feel like I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to show off what I could bring to the table. I originally had some broad ideas of what the final project finally was, and worked through them until they became something more feasible. For instance, I was going to originally have a live action plate, and I was going to have the explosion more magical, but I decided to stay grounded. Since the shot really relied on timing and the camera, I spent a few days prevising it out until I got it all sorted out. Very few things changed after that, so that was really helpful.
If you had to summarize your total process into 5-10 steps, then what would those be for this shot?
Well, there are so many levels to something like this. Because I was doing not only the FX but the environment, rendering, and comp, I broke it down into different categories such as Explosion, Environment, Environment FX, Ground FX, Missle FX, Atmospheres and then finally lighting and the comp. The biggest one was probably the Explosion category because it had so many different layers such as the Vapor, the main Plume, Trails, Twirlies (I ended up removing them from the final take), Flaming Pieces, Distortion Wave, Explosion Sparks, Embers, Fire, Smoke and two layers of Dust. Each one was its own mini-project, but I really feel like a good effect is achieved by adding up a whole lot of small ones. On top of that, I had the Trees Sim, Needles from the trees, Grass Sim, Grass that gets blown up, Dirt, RBD rocks, Missle Smoke, Missile Sparks and finally, Fluff!
What was the most fun aspect of working on this?
I am someone that really likes reactions, so I wanted to make something that makes people go “ohhhh”. The obvious realization of this is when the main explosion goes off after the boring beginning seconds. The juxtaposition between the when we are just flying through the trees and when things go kaboom was really fun to work on, and I hope that people like it.
How much time was spent on the main effect vs the
environment. Did you feel one was harder or easier than the other?
Before I started I planned out how many days that I envisioned each category i described above would take, so I never got too bogged down on one thing and kept moving along. The main explosion took about 2 weeks for pretty much the final result, and everything else took about 2-3. As an FX artist, the FX part was naturally easier for me and it took a while to find the best way to do the environment. I extensively used Redshift, Megascans, and Speedtree, and they were all pretty new to me so it took some time to get to a good point with those, that’s where most of my time was spent. I really enjoyed the way I did things and would do it the same way if I did it again.
What was the biggest challenge you faced with this piece?
It was probably finding a way to keep everything within the constraints of my home setup. My 1070ti GPU would often go out of core when rendering, which quadrupled render times, so that took a while to debug. The people working on Redshift and on the forum were extremely helpful in figuring out all the ins and outs, and by the end, I had everything under control. It was cool to see issues that I was struggling with in Redshift fixed by the end of the project, it just does to show how fast they are developing it to become an awesome renderer.
When you envision something it hardly comes out better than you think it will. You spend so much time making it picture-perfect in your head, but then lack the dedication or knowledge on how to see out your goals. Luckily for this project, I was given the time and planned a lot beforehand, and got to a point where I am really happy with the final project. I can always go and tweak the FX, or increase the render settings, or alter this and that, but at the end of the day I am very happy with how it turned out, and hopefully, others are too.
What’s next for you?
Like I mentioned above I like to do some big personal project every 2 years. Before this, I did a pretty big river project which I have on my Vimeo. I am always trying to work on something in my free time, whether it is a strength to showcase or a weakness to improve upon. I felt like I set the bar for myself with this project, and will have to spend a while on how to do better next time. Something that I want to work on is making my projects to feel more cinematic like they are in a movie. As much as I am happy with this project, it still feels like a personal project and not like that of something in a movie. It really stands out from my other film/tv work because it lacks that cinematic quality. Hopefully what I do next with overcoming that barrier.
Give Tyler a follow over on his Vimeo, and follow along with us here at FX World on your favorite social media platform. Cheers!