3d fireworks. Pre or Post
Ok, so I'm doing this 3D Flythrough of a city, and it has fireworks that need to be added in Maya or in After Effects. The way I see it, I have two options.
I know I could do it with Maya's particles, but it seems to not be incredibly efficient considering all the particle caching etc. However this would give me nice reflections in the windows of the buildings which I think would make the whole composite stronger. I also know it has the Effect > Fireworks but that seems sort of plain and not incredibly interesting.
After Effects / Trapcode Particular option:
I could easily export the camera data from Maya to AE and use the nulls as emitters for Particular. I've tried this before and had decent results, but I'm puzzled on how I could get semi-realistic reflections on the buildings.
I'm also wondering if there's an option I'm not thinking about. Like maybe using normal maps or depth maps with some magical plugin in After Effects. :)
One really fast 'cheat' might be possible if your buildings offer fairly simple reflective surfaces (i.e. they're all parallel and flat, without curves or complicated indentations).
What a mirror does is create the visual illusion that objects exist beyond the mirror. So an object sitting 1 foot away from a mirror appears to have a twin which is 2 feet away from it, measured directly towards the mirror (1 foot to get to the mirror, then 1 additional foot inside).
So one possibility is to set up some fireworks in Maya (yes, avoid the canned Effect) with a 'twin' being rendered in the appropriate position in space to look like the reflection. That is, have it render inside the building. You would want to render this pass separately, so that you could tweak colours, maybe blur it a little, and of course mask it so that it only appears where the face of the building is.
As I say, this is heavily dependant on the structure of your city! If you have multiple bursts reflected from different angles, it is probably not worth the effort--but it might be a quick fix if you've got a fairly simple layout.
Beyond that... remember that Maya's hardware particles will not, as far as I know, show up in raytraced reflections. I'm not sure how any of Maya's particles interact with Mental Ray, either.
Thanks for replying.
That's a great approach that I haven't thought of, but my city is farily detailed and I'm afraid it will be difficult to make it look right. I might try a quick test though.
You are right about Maya's particles too. I suppose I could use an instancer with the particle system, and use a really simple low poly sphere for the particle shape. This will then render in Mental Ray. The big down side I see with this however, is that I'll need a particle cache for every single firework I shoot off. That could go all pear shaped in no time. :)
I'm very tempted at this point to rely on Trapcode's Particular, or do a video game trick. I thought I could render say 3 passes of fireworks that are all very similar, but slightly randomized. Then take these 3 passes and apply them to flat planes in maya. Then take the 3 textured planes and align them in a cross formation. It would be a sort of pseudo 3D firework that would render in Mental Ray and reflect correctly. The down side is that the fireworks could look a little flat from certain angles. If I go totally Particular in AE, I just don't see a way to make them reflect off the buildings in post. For that matter I don't think I could get them to reflect on a ground plane either.