Data Visualisation: Dynamics

Alec Parkin began a lecture on dynamics and simulation techniques, dynamics are an extremely powerful feature in any 3D application. Without them there would be no particle effects like smoke, fire, realistic fluid effects to explosions, or complex cloth simulations.

Fantasia did a lot of experimental hand draw dynamics. Oskar Wilhelm Fischinger had a massive part in this as he was an abstract animator, bringing a lot of shapes and lines in to the animation which Disney liked but wanted to make it more realistic, so a shape would be an actual object. When experimenting with particles they used paint bottles upside down in water to create a bubbling lava effect in Fantasia.

James Cameron’s The Abyss had the first ever fluid effect in their feature film. You can see in this video how they do this and how they add a 3D scanned face within the particle effects.

Prince of Egypt created large scale effects with a 2D created background while the effects are computer generated. The also had 2D characters as well as computer generated characters and they took pride in how people couldn’t tell what one was computer generated and what was one 2D. Our lecturer Conánn Fitzpatrick who worked on Prince of Egypt told us how he animated water splashes, clouds, as well as the burning bush, using both 2D and digital animation to create it. He also talked about how he created Spritical software that was then further used in many successful animated films, such as the Lion King.

This MPC film effects reel, which is a modern VFX studio, showing really high quality and realistic particle effects, including effects used in the Avengers movies.

Lorenzo Lavatelli is also a great Dynamic effects artist working with Fluid effects. He has working on the likes of Harry Potter. Here is his showreel;


Pixar had cloth, hair and other dynamics breakthrough in the likes of Monsters Ink and in Brave. This test video is a great example of this;

When simulating anything dynamic in Autodesk Maya set your playback speed to ‘play every frame’ This will force each frame to be calculated without skipping a frame to match playback speed.

Dynamic systems available in maya consist of; nparticles, ncloth, nhair, maya fluids, soft and rigid bodies, bullet, bitfrost, fur/Xgen.

Nparticles can be used for effects such as dust, smoke, fire, water and wind effects. It’s a pretty face and versatile took for a bread ranger of dynamic effects and can interact with other nsystems.


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