Water Simulation Research

For my project I’ve decided to create a product advertisement using water simulation, much like several companies have done in the past to showcase waterproof products.

mindmap

As you can see from my mind map I’ve started thinking about Product Animation and the link in the mind map is to a Samsung phone animation advert. Samsung Advert

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I’ve recently tried some basic water animation through Blender as showing in my mind map to kind of work out the pros and cons of using it for the animation.

From what I’ve seen with it so far is that it’s quite simple to create a water simulation and play around with it, so I’m most likely going to use Blender to create the water simulation and use something like 3DSMax for the modelling as I’m more familiar with it.

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I later decided to use 3DsMax throughout the animation to allow for the lighting in the scene and to make sure that all of the scenes were aesthetically on the same page, which would be harder if I was producing renders from both software with different settings.

Levitating Water

I’ve been looking into a well known camera/magic trick filmed for Now You See Me 2 filmed on the Greenwich University campus, the trick involved water levitating in the air, I want to create a similar effect in a simulation in which the water stops at a given point and moves around similar to that of the effects used in this scene.

Now You See Me 2 Levitating Water Scene

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They do this by using strobe lights, the lights will flash at a set time to allow the eye to only see the droplets in one given position each time, whilst these are different droplets each time it gets perceived as levitating water.

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Picture/Video credit: The Strobe Light Effect (Levitating Water)

As you can see, when light is shined onto the apparent stream of water, the whole stream becomes visible again, hence the importance of the strobe effect.

For a part of my project I want to look into how this would work in an actual 3D scenario in order to make a situation where the water pauses in midair, without hitting the phone or having the water bounce around to create a similar effect through 3D software.

Technicalities for the animation

I’m using 3DsMax for this project to create the animation as I’ve personally had a better experience working with 3DsMax than other 3D packages when it comes to creating water animations, for this project I’ll be looking into how to create rain in 3DsMax and then adjusting the direction and amount of particles accordingly to match up with the appearance of levitating water.

 

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Phone advertisements

 

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I’ve noticed a pattern throughout research of phone animation that most phone advertisements have a plain (studio lighting, black or white) or a soft blurred colour background, this is something I’m going to incorporate into the lighting and background of the scene for rendering in the final outcome.

An effect I noticed within the Google Pixel phone advertisement (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rykmwn0SMWU) is that most of the renders of the phone are usually 1-3 seconds long and are always fast movements, showing off specific aspects of the phone to make it appear sleek.

In phone advertisements its common for the shots to be a second or two each, as an advertisement is usually 30-60 seconds long its important to highlight any features and angles of the phone whilst giving brief information throughout the advertisement. The Google Pixel advertisements is a great example of this use of time.

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Introducing Pixel, Phone by Google – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rykmwn0SMWU

 

Phone Models

Phone designs are constantly innovating and the changes through companies are vast due to ideas and concepts they try to bring to the market to forward the change in smart phones, here are some of those companies and their personal approaches.

Apple

Apple is more focused towards beauty, simplicity and trying to appeal from an aesthetic approach rather than a software/hardware advanced market, which they do incredibly well with their simple and minimalist designs for phones. Watching an Apple advert really makes you want to hold the phone and try it out. I’m going to use the iPhone 7 as an example for Apple’s design philosophy.

In the “Apple – Introducing iPhone 7” advertisement they’ve created a video of various different people using the phone in different scenarios and situations to highlight some of the features of the phone, but the advertisement continuously cuts back to the phone model rotating in a black background with a light highlighting the phone to capture the ‘beauty’ of the phone. They also have a lot of breakdowns of the CPU, Graphics chips and camera integrations to show what’s inside the phone each time, Apple’s overall goal with this is to give people an understanding of the design and delicacy that goes into making an iPhone.

When it comes to the design they’re actually showing off, it screams the same message. Simple, minimalist and straight forward.

iphone7lineup

– http://www.macrumors.com/roundup/iphone-7/

 

Google

Google have gone through several marketing strategies, price points and design philosophies whilst being in the phone market, their Nexus range of phones which has been discontinued from their brand was Google’s first approach at minimal smartphones, which appealed to a lot of people through being extremely affordable compared to other companies like HTC and Apple, if you look at the Nexus phones in order of release they’re a really clear indicator of the design approach and inspiration that comes from other phones. This is partly due to the fact that different manufacturers designed each version of the phone but also to do with the way that phone design is progressing towards minimalism over the years, I’ve shown this in a history of the Nexus products below.

nexus-history

Phone design from 2010 to now has become more about the flat, minimal look and feel and has lost the shiny futuristic look designers were trying to achieve back in 2010

In 2016 Google released the Google Pixel which is again going in the direction of flat and minimalism and is a great influence of how I’m going to produce a phone design for my end advertisement.

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LG

LG introduced a feature in their release of the LG G2 and a feature that I currently use every day on my LG G3 personally, this feature is the placement of the volume and power button on the top back of the phone, naturally your hand rests on the back of the phone making it easier to control music volumes and turning the phones screen on and off, this is something I’m going to be implementing into my phone model as it feels incredibly ergonomic.

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My design

For my design I’ve added features from many smart phones and created something I’d personally like to use as a daily phone.

phone-modelFrom this sketch I’m going to produce the 3D model of the phone design, the features mentioned on this drawing are going to be the points I’m going to bring up as selling points during the phone advertisement in a similar style to the previously mentioned Google Pixel advertisement.

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All of these sections of the phone were created using the extrude tool and quick slice to create portions of the phone to engrave or extrude and a different colour was added to allow for the contract between the different sections of each part of the phone.

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The camera was made in a similar way with the added element of using a texture for the camera modules to create a more realistic look to this element.

 

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I created volume buttons on Photoshop to add to the volume buttons on the back of the phone.

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I later added a mesh texture to this to give it more of a textured look as phone volume and power buttons are often a different texture so people are aware they’re touching that section of the phone and provides grip.

 

 

Storyboard and scene building plans

From previous research into phone advertisement styles from Google and Apple I produced a storyboard highlighting the key shots I want to produce in accordance to what I see appearing most in phone advertisements, the order of the storyboard is an idea of the order the shots will be in but is an insight into the shots that will be present within the final animation.

I’ve chosen to divide the workload of the scenes into different software depending on what scene would benefit from each the most, any of the text will be made in After Effects for ease of use, any model only renders of the phone rotating or using a light to highlight the phone will be done in 3dsMax due to knowing the software well and being right for the shots and any rain effects will be made through Blender because of its ease of use and great visuals in simulation.

 

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The scenes shown in the storyboard are all quite simple (as many phone advertisements are) to allow for the viewer to focus on the phone rather than the backgrounds of the images, for this I’ve chosen studio colour backgrounds similar to what you’d see in a phone advertisement. For this I have shots of the phone with a white background and shots of the phone with a black background with a light panning over certain elements to highlight features of the phone.

 

Brand Development

I wanted to add a brand specific to the phone advertisement that would add to the feel of the advertisement, for this I created the name “AQUA” as the title of the phone. The whole feel of the advertisement is to create a sleek and minimal approach to the advertisement similar to that of the Google Pixel advertisement shown in earlier research. The colour choice is a white background with a blue bold font to catch the viewers eye.

Aqua

The logo includes a raindrop to further add to the feel of the advertisement and that the phone represents the ability to withstand water.Minimal

Sleek

Water resistent

These are words I’m going to include in the advertisement to further the idea of the phone and create a tone for the phone.

 

 

Scene Building, Animation Tests & Final Shots

Lighting Tests

To create this advertisement I had to emulate the lighting scenarios that other big brand phone companies use to show their phones which is usually either pure black or pure white backgrounds to prevent the background from being a distraction and to get an accurate simulation of the phones look and feel through to the viewer.

1Vray render – attempt of emulating studio lighting

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VRay Render using subtle lighting and glass textures on phone screen.

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VRay using HDRI map – consisted of too much grain and took substantially longer to render

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Mental Ray Render with a HDRI Map

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Mental Ray render – final outcome with studio lighting.

I went through several tests using multiple rendering solutions in 3DsMax, which consisted of Vray and Mental Ray, I used mental ray as a solution after these tests as it was the quickest and most effective at producing a solid colour without blotches or shadows.

 

Shot 1 – Test Render

Refer to the storyboard in reference of the shot numbers, these are subject to change in the final outcome of the editing as phone advertisements generally cut to the music and the organisation of the shots is likely to change.

Shot 1 Render Test 1

At this point I began adding more depth to the camera as it was blending into the material on the back of the phone, for this I used a free sourced camera lens texture and applied it onto the camera section I previously modelled and used the extrude tool in 3DsMax to add depth to the camera.

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I also added arrows and textured buttons to the back of the phone on the volume and power button panel in the middle of the phone, I used the same approach with the camera here and used a free carbon fibre texture to create a textured look to the volume and power buttons.

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Up Volume

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Shot 1 – Final Render

Shot 1 Final Render

Shot 3 – Test Render

Shot 3 Render Test 1

Shot 3 – Scene Building

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To create the darker scenes of the advertisement I disabled the global lighting in 3DsMax to enable a pure black background to allow for light to shine onto highlighted features of the phone.

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I then used a spotlight to track along where the camera is moving to allow for a smooth pan of the phone.

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Shot 3 – Final Render

Shot 3 Final Render

The outcome of this allowed for shots similar to the Google Pixel phone advertisement I previously researched which is the aesthetic I’m trying to emulate in some shots of this advertisement.

Shot 4 – Test Render

Shot 4 Test 1

Shot 4 – Final Render

Shot 4 Render 1

The same aesthetic style and 3DsMax treatment from shot 3 was applied to the bottom of the phone, highlighting the headphone jack and USB charging connector.

Shot 7 – Test Render

Shot 7 Test 1

Shot 7 – Scene Building

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The same technique from shots 3 and 4 were used again to highlight the front side of the phone and create the similar Google Pixel aesthetic needed for the advertisement.

Shot 7 – Final Render

Shot 7 Final Render

Shot 10 – Scene Building

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For this scene I needed to emulate the phone dropping into a liquid, for this I set up a UDeflector and disabled the bounce to allow for the simulation to occur and not create any bounce within it.

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My choice of modifier for this simulation was flex as it didn’t need to be incredibly accurate due to the small duration of the clip in the final animation.

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I then changed the vertex weight properties to allow for the surface to be completely equal and to ensure that the flex modifier emulates water in a more accurate way.

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This is the outcome from the modifier, the ripples produced by the flex modifier worked for this shot.

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I then added the water texture from the materials in 3DsMax to give it more of a reflection and water look.

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I experimented with how the phone is shown in water and added sides with the same material to show the phone underwater.

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This is the angle I chose after experimentation to show the phone hitting the surface of the water and floating around in the water with the ripples around it, the view showing under the surface didn’t fit in with the aesthetic I was going for in the advertisement.

Shot 10 – Final Render

Shot 10 Final Render

Shot 11 – Test Render (Water Resistant Guards)

This shots purpose is to show the viewer what enables the phone to be water resistant with the idea of pushing a slider and blocking the headphone jack and USB port to ensure that water is unable to get into the phone.

Shot 11 Test 1

This was an experimental render to see how the sliders might work and to see how I can show this to a viewer.

Shot 11 – Scene Building (Water Resistant Guards)

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To make this mechanism I used the quick slice tool to extrude a portion of the phone to allow for a place for the slider to fit in.

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I then put in a slider using a plane and used the same technique for the protection of both the headphone jack and USB port and applied a mesh material similar to that on the back of the phone volume rocker to add to its overall look. I keyframed the slider and protectors for the headphone and USB port to allow for them to move at the same time to give the impression that the slider is allowing for this action.

Shot 11 – Final Render (Water Resistant Guards)

Shot 11 Final Render

Rain Drops Shot – Scene Building

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For the raindrops scene I needed to use Particle View to create water droplets running down the phone and raindrops that are still on the phone.

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I disabled the speed, rotation and shape modifiers in this section as they weren’t needed at the time and I added the Position Object modifier to be able to tell the simulation where it needs to be placed which in this case was the phone.

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I changed the display type to circles to allow for a more accurate image of a raindrop instead of just using ticks.

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I then used the Speed By Surface parameter to allow for the particles to select a speed based on the surface of the object.

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Gravity was added to the parameters to allow for the particles to be affected in a more accurate way.

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I added wind for the same reason as gravity, allowing the simulation to be a more accurate representation of drops falling off of a phone screen.39

I added several parameters, one that allowed for the spawning of objects in the simulation and to affect when and at what rate they disappear from the screen and another parameter that purely focuses on the look of the rain drops.

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This was the outcome of the overall look from the simulation I made using Particle Flow.

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These are the parameters I used to create it in total, I added a material texture to the overall simulation to create the water look that needs to be present in the shot.

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Rain Drops Shot – Full Frame – Render Tests

RainDrops Full Frame Test 1

This is a render test of the simulation that I created from this process.

RainDrops Full Frame Test 2

I experimented with the composition of the shot and how the camera was going to interact with the scene, after this shot I chose to stick with a still shot of the simulation to make the water droplets more significant than the camera, the camera seemed to interfere with what I wanted to show during this shot.

Rain Drops Shot – Full Frame – Final Render

RainDrops Full Frame Final Render

This is the final outcome of the process, some of the water droplets don’t completely sync up to where the phone actually is because of the angle of the phone but is a very small problem when it comes to the final animation and cutting footage together as this shot isn’t used for a very long time.

Rain Drops Shot – Close up – Final Render

RainDrops Close up Final Render

From the process above I created another shot of this from a close up angle to use as something to switch between in the final animation.

Levitating Water – Scene Building

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This scenes purpose is based on the ideology of levitating water which I previously researched, the purpose of the animation is to show the water bouncing to and from the top of the scene and the bottom of the scene to create the illusion of levitating water, similar to that of the real effect of levitating water.

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I used Spray to create an array of particles to fall from a certain point and used particle flow to tweak the settings of this simulation similar to how I created the rain look in the previous water simulation.

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I created and placed a deflector at the base of the phone to allow for the particles to fall down from the beginning of the simulation and bounce back up to the source.

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I then added a second deflector that would allow for the simulation to bounce off of the source and create a loop of particles bouncing from the top of the frame to the phone screen at the bottom of the frame endlessly.

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I then added the same parameters from the rain drop scene to allow for rain drops to be placed on the phone screen at the same time to give the illusion that the water particles in the scene are affecting the phone screen.

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I changed the birth parameters to allow for the emitting of the rain drops to come in based on when the levitating water intensifies, the simulation doesn’t start until 150 frames into the animation so the Emit Start is 150 and the Emit Stop is 500 at the end of the simulation creating the effect of the rain drops hitting the screen.

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This was the final outcome from the process.

Levitating Water – Render Tests

Levitating Water render Test 1

I experimented with the lighting scenarios as I wanted the water to be as clear as possible during the simulation and tried using a complete black background similar to the light pan shots I produced earlier, this caused the problem of flickering which occurs due to the light hitting the particles at different times and creating more of a glitter effect than rain.

Levitating water render test 2

I switched back to a white background allowing for the rain to be more accurately shown through the render.

Levitating Water – Final Render

Levitating Water Final Render

This is the final outcome of the process.

 

Composition and Audio

Composition and audio both play a huge role in advertisements and I’m choosing to base my final animation with the shots I’ve rendered on the Google Pixel advertisement.

This advertisement uses quick, shot cuts of renders and uses an inverted effect to allow for the colours to change to the songs rhythm, which is something that I’m going to try and recreate using my own renders and song of my choice.

My song of choice is DROELOE – Bon Voyage because of its soft tone and quick clicking noises to allow for cuts of the phone to be placed in a rhythmic way.

Audio 2

I imported this song into audacity and scanned through areas of the song that would work within a 30 second segment of an advertisement without cutting out randomly or starting/ending suddenly.

Audio 1

I chose the section from 40 seconds in to around 1 minute 10 seconds and faded in the start and end of the audio to allow for a smooth transition in and out of the advertisement.

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I created inversions of the phone using the invert effect in After Effects that match up with the music, I then created similar effects throughout the animation by pressing Control and panning through the animation to allow me to hear when the snare hits or when a click in the track happens allowing me to smoothly animate the video to a soundtrack.

Whilst the initial idea was to have the words and phrases like “water resistant” or “minimal” throughout the animation whilst highlighting key features I decided against it to create a smoother animation throughout, it simply didn’t fit the animation so I added all of the words I would associate with the phone at the end of the animation whilst the fade out roles and a click track is present, allowing for all of the words to match up with clicks in the track.

Ending Gif

The simple rule of the animation composition I chose to stick by is having the shots consisting of highlighting and showcasing the phone first and showing water animation later on in the animation, the shots correspond to the audio by switching based on the rhythm and the same process is applied to the inversion of any shots from black to white. This follows the trend of the phone advertisements I have researched and provide an overview of the phone in the 30 second time frame of the advertisement.

Transitions and inversion gif