The Gift

My entry in the Feb. 2003 CGTalk VFX challenge.

This challenge involved creating visual effects for the disintegration of someone unfortunate enough to come into contact with 'The Gift', and was inspired by the animated film 'Heavy Metal'.

The main challenge page, is here.

Basic Materials

I decided to start by doing some experiments with materials. I exported models for a man and a male skeleton from Poser as obj files, and imported them into Cinema4D. I then scaled and positioned them so they roughly matched. This gave a simple 'hollow' model consisting of one layer of skin, and an interior skeleton.

For the materials, I wanted the bone to have a fairly rough appearance, with streaks of blood on top. For the skin I wanted a two layer effect, with lots of holes burnt through. The two layers represent undamaged skin on the top, and a reddish raw-flesh layer below it. To make these two layers match up well, I used the same procedural noise for both, but with different thresholds determining transparency. This allowed the patches of undamaged surface skin to always be surrounded by raw skin.

After an evening of experimentation, I came up with this (click for larger image):

These materials were produced using the SLA procedural shaders in C4D - no textures.

Material animation

The next stage was to animate the disintegration spreading over the body. I had to write a custom shader plugin to provide this control.

A test animation is here. A still from this is shown below (click for larger image).

This looks fairly good for a start. The biggest problem is that the person clearly has no internal structure other than the skeleton, so this needs to be dealt with next...

No time!

And then a period of extreme hecticness intervened, and I had very little time to work on this before the deadline.

What I did manage to do was:-
  • Project a realistic skin texture on to the model.
  • Create and animate the Orb.
  • Get the Orb to emit strong volumetric light, split into beams by the rib-cage.

Unfortunately, what I didn't have time for was to add any animation to the character. This is a shame because I think it would have added a lot to the shot.

Final Version

The final version as submitted for the contest is here (320x240, 1 Meg download).
A higher res version is here (640x480, 2 Meg download)