Explosive Pyro Action Sequences with RenderMan

Taught by Liam Whitehouse

Course Number:
Software Version:
Original Run Date:
October 2015 
9 hours 38 minutes 
Pixar’s RenderMan, Autodesk Maya, Side FX Houdini and The Foundry Nuke X will be used in this high end 3D Lighting and Stereoscopic Deep Compositing course to complete a final feature film quality VFX shot. The course will feature an exploding highly detailed War Rig Truck Explosion (inspired by the Mad Max: Fury Road Film) which has been specially made by fxphd. This course will take completed Houdini PyroFX Simulation scenes from course HOU215 and turn them into a finished film quality VFX shot with a focus on photo-real lighting and compositing.

For any Nuke Compositor, 3D Lighting Artist or 3D Generalist, this course will show how to finish a highly detailed and complex VFX destruction shot using the latest high end film post production software. Techniques including interactive lighting using Pixar’s RIS, lighting Pyro FX in Mantra, Deep Compositing and Stereoscopic workflows in Nuke X will all be covered in this course. The software packages used will include Side FX Houdini and Autodesk Maya which are high end software for FX simulation and 3D animation. This is an intermediate to advanced course and students are given access to full versions of all software used in the course via the fxphd VPN. All the 3D scene files, 3D rendered layers, stock footage and deep rendered files will be available to all students to complete the course.

The course is taught by Liam Whitehouse who has been in the 3D and visual effects industry since 2003, graduating from Griffith University with a degree in Industrial Design. He has most recently worked as a Technical Director at Industrial Light and Magic where he completed work on Transformers 3. He has extensive experience using commercially available software for water simulations as well as experience using proprietary software available inside Lucasfilm for generating Rigid Body (Physbam), Gas Simulations (Plume) and particle simulations (Zeno). Liam has been recently teaching VFX at fxphd and Griffith University Film School.
Explosive Pyro Action Sequences with RenderMan
Watch our overview of the course

Class Listing

Class 1

Introduction and course overview. An overview of this intermediate lighting course will be introduced in this lesson. Some key concepts will be discussed including deep compositing, stereoscopic workflows and 3D rendering using Side FX Mantra and Pixar’s Renderman v20.

Class 2

Introduction to Pixar’s Renderman 20 and RIS. This lesson introduces RIB files and PhotoRealistic RenderMan. It also introduces a basicoverview of the RenderMan Shading Language. The new RIS rendering mode is introduced covering the way it handles the Camera, the Integrator, the Geometry, the Materials and the Lights.

Class 3

Guide to Photoreal Lighting in Pixar’s Renderman 20. This lesson studies the scientific and artistic task of combining a live action plate with 3D rendered computer animation. Technology in this area has become very advanced with the use of Image Based Lighting and Deep Compositing. The use of wide dynamic range digital film camera’s which shoot in raw formats like the ALEXA with cinema prime lenses also allows for very high detail 4k or 6k background plates which can be heavily post processed for Visual Effects. This class will introduce the core concepts of how to begin a photo-real integration of digital and live action elements from 3D software to Compositing.

Class 4

How to create Renderman Shaders using Pixar Slim. This lesson will cover how to manipulate and edit materials using Pixar’s SLIM. Realistic materials are a crucial aspect of creating photo-real computer generated images, and this lesson will cover how to adjust materials to match their real life counterparts in our vfx shot.

Class 5

Interactive Lighting and Look Development using Pixar RIS. Pixar has really outdone itself with RenderMan 20 and RIS, its new super fast memory efficient Rendering Mode. This lesson will cover the use of the new interactive lighting feature which can drastically improve the speed of setting up lighting for large complex scenes. The setup of HDRI image based lighting will be covered which is ideal for integrating cg renders into live action background plates.

Class 6

Guide to Lighting and Rendering PyroFX in Houdini Mantra. Houdini is the ideal VFX 3D software for completing complex fluid simulations due to its node based procedural structure. In Houdini, rigid body simulations, particles and fluid simulations all work and RENDER together without any plugins. This lesson will cover how to setup lights in a pre-made Houdini PyroFX scene, how to cache simulations to disk and how to adjust the render settings in Mantra to get fast, clean, motion blurred production quality renders of Pyro FX.

Class 7

Rendering stereoscopic AOV’s from Pixar’s Renderman and Houdini Mantra. This lesson is all about Output from Pixar’s Renderman 20 and Houdini Mantra. The first half of the lesson will cover how to setup all the AOV’s (render passes) inside RenderMan for Maya so that Deep compositing layers and multiple .exr sequences are written out to disk for compositing. The second half of the lesson will cover Houdini Mantra and how to setup all the Passes in Mantra using the Houdini Rendering controls to separate .exr sequences for compositing in Nuke X.

Class 8

How to deep composite stereoscopic 3D render passes in Nuke X. All the render passes will be used to assemble a node network in Nuke X. This will allow greater creative freedom to finish the lighting and colour grading of the CGI elements. It will also cover techniques including how to create 3D scenes including fbx files in NukeX, Deep compositing, Stereoscopic Compositing and the 2D and 3D nodes of Nuke X.

Class 9

How to colour grade 3D AOV Renders to match live action background plates using Nuke X. Colour grading is a crucial aspect of integration of CG elements into live action background photography. This lesson will cover all the different colour grading nodes in Nuke X. Also covered will be puzzle mattes which are multi coloured hold out mattes which can be used to colour grade a specific part of 3D renders like tires or specific panels. This is a key element to colour work in Nuke X as these “grade mattes” help isolate areas to change colours without having to make manual roto shapes. LUT’s, Colour theory and colour spaces will also be covered.

Class 10

How To Add Realistic Camera Optical Effects using RenderMan and Nuke X. Pixar’s Renderman 20 features many stunning “real world camera” effects which are traditionally added in 2D Compositing software using plugins. This lesson will cover the use of these optical effects to give the image an organic real look. Some of these new effects include setting the RenderMan v20 camera Aperture, adjusting the camera Bokeh, Shutter speed and selecting Lenses. These are all great true 3D solutions to replicating the look and behaviour of real world cinema cameras. Additionally in Nuke X similar optical effects in 2D will be covered including the awesome kronos node to produce slow motion effects, the defocus node, Sapphire Lense flare effects, and motion blur nodes as well as many other optical nodes. This should give a good overview of true 3D Rendered Optical effects by Pixar and 2D Compositing Optical Effects by Nuke and the advantages and disadvantages of both.