Tornado Animation Scene WIP

Hi! I’m currently working on a challenging project (for me) of an animated tornado in an environment picking up and throwing some objects around. I’ve been dabbling in Blender here and there (in combination with After Effects) but this project is really forcing me to dig much much deeper into everything! Which is great, but also super challenging (feeling pretty tired atm, haha). I’ve been working on it for about two weeks now (used a range of models and animation from Adobe Fuse, Mixamo and Turbosquid) and am currently fixing up a few small mistakes with the animation, and continuing work on the materials and environment (whilst watching as many tutorials as I possibly can). :slight_smile:

My plan is to:
Add grass and rocks,
add alpha mapped trees and background,
add a fence and telegraph wires
increase particles for smoke (looks a bit thin and dotty at the moment)
add fog? (bit worried about the render time increase with this though)
add some lightning and rain? (if possible)
add lens effects (grime and flare)
Send off to a render farm!

My aim is to end up with a dark threatening tornado scene similar to

Here’s a frame with a quick storm-cloud background composite.

This is also a Matcap animation preview I rendered quickly today

Any thoughts or feedback is welcomed, the more I can learn the better!

I think the tractor and the car would stay on the ground, maybe get rolled over by the wind, and that building would get demolished.

Looking at the tornado itself, the particles making up the rotating cloud are too much like puffballs, they don’t shear with the extremely high winds, and are too much the same size. It makes the twister look very static and not very dense. Plus a tornado with winds capable of picking up heavy farm equipment would have a wide radius of gale-speed wind surrounding it, yet the area around the funnels is remarkably calm and lacking in wind-borne debris. The grass isn’t even bent. The lack of rain seems odd as well.

Wow first of all amazing job! Keep it up, the matcap looks amazing as well!

Yeah good point, the only problem I’ve got with this is that the objects need to end up in that final position for a transition into a logo, but maybe I can roll them more when they first enter the tornado. I’m still trying to work out the best way to demolish the building entirely as well, I think I will add a particle system to each mesh object?

I was thinking the same thing with the smoke, too puffy, but I don’t know how to shear the smoke, would changing the particle shape and size randomness do it? (will give it a go soon) Adding in more debris and wider wind area is a good idea too, will work on that.

Thanks for the encouragement! Will keep pushing forward :slight_smile:

I’m sure it would help some but it looks to me like you are using too few particles that are much too large. If you can manage to get the particle scale way down to dust-like ranging up to dirt-clod size, and greatly increase their density in the funnel, they will likely respond to any fields or physics you have in place more realistically.

Dust is not difficult to imitate. Perhaps if you create two particle systems, one for dust, the other for debris (or maybe more than only two?) you could control the particle size and count more specifically. I did this to a fair degree of success in Monster Movie. In that effort, the dust is simply halo particles, the debris at the end is objects as particles. Multiple particle system will also give you a means of coloring the funnel with some streaks that wrap the circumference, aiding the sense of a vortex wind.

you could always watch the movie Twister to get more of a feel for how the pros did it. (Just my two crazy cents worth) shrug

A couple of times a year for me lol, plus I lived in Tornado Alley for about 10 years.

Was just watching a scene again then! :slight_smile:

Ok I’m getting close to rendering… just did some test renders and I can’t actually render the entire scene via my GPU (GTX 980ti) because it runs out of cuda. :frowning:

But I can render the smoke sim separately to the rest of the scene on the GPU. Only problem is it currently takes about 20mins per frame (and 4-5mins per frame for the rest of the scene)… I’m not sure how to combine the smoke render layer with the rest of the scene at the moment but I assume it can be done in compositing with a Z-pass?

These are my settings for the smoke sim and render… any tips or ideas on how to speed up the render would be greatly appreciated!

This is a 200 sample render of the tornado with these settings

Certainly an improvement in terms of particle/smoke density and “twisterliness.”

Thanks @chipmasque

I just downloaded the 2.78 testbuild which includes GPU improvements for 980ti’s (my GPU) and smoke… and it cut my render time down from 18mins to 6mins!!! Which made me pretty happy!

Also this node setup trick I discovered here helped reduce the time from 25mins to 18mins for 2.77a.

PS. I went through every object in my scene and optimised textures which finally got the memory down to something the GPU could handle