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Adding water ripples, waves and caustics to animated footage

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Douglas Fenton
Adding water ripples, waves and caustics to animated footage
on Nov 7, 2019 at 7:22:45 am


I am working on a series of animations rendered in 3ds Max with Corona, but composited in AE. One scene is a panning shot (the camera technically is rotating around a target, but the target is so far away the rotation is slight) in one-point perspective, with a plane of water and rows of columns either side. This shot is attached as an image here:

I am sure there is a way to do what I need - it's probably relatively simple.

Firstly, how can I create a very slight wave/ripple effect on the surface of the 'water' in the animation sequence? I know that I can use a combination of distortion effects, animated over time to create a ripple on the water, but how do I mask this onto the animation sequence such that it moves in accordance with the shot and looks correct perspective-wise and parallax-wise? The animation sequence is a series of rendered images, and I have alphas and render IDs for each frame.

Secondly, how can I overlay an animated fake caustics (water reflections) effect onto certain elements in the shot, and like the above, have it look correct as the POV moves? Something like this:

Please do share any insight on this! I used to be fairly competent with After Effects, but I haven't done a major project with it for several years now, and as I'm now not so sure about how to achieve what I need, it makes it tricky to plan workflow!

- Douglas

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Douglas Fenton
Re: Adding water ripples, waves and caustics to animated footage
on Nov 9, 2019 at 6:41:37 am

Hello again -- just wondering if anyone is able to share any insight on this, or perhaps point me in the right direction?

My searches aren't turning up the information I thought I'd find. I have found information on camera tracking for live footage, but I'd have thought that there must be some better way of doing this - especially as I have alpha and ID channel passes? Camera tracking seems like a heavy handed way of dealing with this ... but perhaps I am wrong?

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