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rocket engine

- 3ds Max
- After Effects


Rocket engine & environments were built in 3DS MAX. Flames, objects, mattes & backgrounds were rendered out separately before compositing in After Effects.

Particular use was made of Digimation's 'Phoenix' plug-in for Max; a sophisticated flame and fire generator.

Smoke footage was added in post.




At the moment the motors fire within each engine cone, I wanted to introduce a burst of sparks or residue using a simple Max particle system: for convenience's sake this was a separate render which composited into the final mix. Motion blur incorporated at the 3d stage helped soften the particles' hard edges.
A juddering effect, as the rocket engines gather ferocity, was easily achieved by wiring a little noise to the base footage's transform keyframes in AE.

Like all the best plugins, Phoenix doesn't come without its idosyncrasies, but it's infinitely tweakable, and offered me enough keyframeable paramenters to gradually shunt the flames' appearance - colour, ferocity and volume - from initial bunsen burner to full-on Apollo 11


Multiple instances of the same flame components: additive transfer mode for burnout; with each layer offset from the other by sufficient frames to introduce randomness - both within each flare, and also between each of the three separate cones: a common enough technique which saves having to re-render identical sequences for the sake of acquiring a different random seed.