Floating Rocks

I'm trying to create something similar to the floating pebbles effect around Rey's hand in the new Star Wars trailer Is this possible in express? if not pro?


  • @MFX29 ; I am very weak on particles, bu in Pro, this probably can be done using the particle system and some keyframing. I would try to generate the rock field as I wanted it, and then freeze it with the lifetime controls and then keyframe them in groups of 3 or 4 along the Y axis.  Now, my preferred method, and one that works for Express as well, would be to create the rocks in Blender on two layers (foreground and background rocks) and key frame animate them there floating up until I had the look I wanted.  Then I would render them out as PNG sequence with transparency on and I would render the foreground rocks only first, then render the background rocks as 2 separate PNG sequences then import them into Hitfilm and sandwich any center element between them.  Now, say you want some rocks to interact with the the hand in this shot and bounce around it as they rise.  I would composite that all in Blender.  In the first method above you could do this with the particle system and intensive keyframing, I think.  Hope this helps somewhat.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Consider buying stock footage of this sort of thing. It absolutely exist.

    Yes, in Express you could create this type of effect from scratch, but, you probably don't want to do that much work, since you'd be getting rock images and hand-animating them.

    Yes, in Pro there are several ways to do this with the particle sim.

  • @Triem23 ; By golly, you are right.  I would have never thought that was available already.  Just checked ProductionCrate and they have a front rocks and back rocks and a couple all-in-one rocks.  It'll cost $10 for a year to download up to 5 clips per day but that's a bargain when you really need something in a hurry.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @tddavis I forgot on my prior post to post up this link: https://vfx.productioncrate.com/search.html?query=rocks

    Which is probably what you just looked at.

    Production Crate is NOT the largest stock library around (that's probably Pond 5), and is NOT the best quality around (that's probably ActionVFX for what those guys cover so far), but they ARE pretty much the best value around. $10/year is cheap!

  • Thanks I appreciate it. I'll post the clip when i finish it.


  • @Triem23 Is it better to learn how to use particles and make your own effects then relying on stock footage.   For example, I want to be part of the vfx industry, and I know that they make their effects from scratch?   

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @Andersen01498 there's not an easy answer to that question as "VFX" isn't a singular discipline. While there's a fair amount of overlap, VFX houses and studios tend towards specialization. So, on, say, Game of Thrones the artists who modeled the Dragon probably isn't the person who textured it. The Animator probably didn't light it. The Compositor  probably didn't Grade. None of those artists were the Editor.

    So, in Man of Steel, a 3D artist probably did a custom job animating the particle rocks, but, by the time it went to compositing they were rendered elements--basically stock footage.

    My personal opinion is to learn how to make your own with particles or in a 3D program because every skill you learn makes you better and more versatile, but you also have to know how to composite and blend stock.

    And make no mistake, VFX houses recycle, reuse, and license stock footage all the time. :) Plugging the guys at ActionVFX, in the last two years they've gone from a startup to having their stock used on everything from my YouTube videos thru some major Hollywood film/TV projects.

    One more comment on recycling. Almost every T-Rex used in film or TV is the model created for the first Jurassic Park. It's often cheaper to license a film-quality element that's rigged and textured than to build from scratch. 

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