I plan to create the effect of hundreds of flies swarming out of a doorway as the actor opens the door. It will be a long shot, so the flies will be far away and very small.
It will be a short film shot in DV, output to MPEG2 DVD. It's a student project.
To create this effect I plan to create the flies in 3Ds max, render as .TIFs with transparency, and also render out a Z-depth channel. Maybe I shall render as an .RLA or .RPF so I can embed my Zdepth along with alpha into the image sequence.. what do you think?
To composite, I plan to use my Z depth to mimic depth of field with our real world lens, I will also experiment with 3D fog. (i'll be compositing with after effects).
Now, my problem for this shot is that I am unsure about how to create a realistic swarm in 3Dsmax. I have assumed that I will need to create some kind of partical system, with random motion, and then apply as a material a bitmap of my low-detail 'flies', along with a transparency map. I may also create a low-polly 3d fly which can fly towards the camera lens and maybe go out of focus before flying off out of frame. This can be done seperatly to my partical system.
okay, now as far as the practicalities of making a partical system that mimics a swarm of flies goes.. well, I'm stuck.
This is a big can o worms you are opening. But not that difficult when you break it down to simple elements. It should also be pretty fun to do.
There are basically two approaches I would take that would accomplish this. The first choice if the camera is far off would be to create a particle system in PFlow. Create a bunch or particles and have them follow an object through the door. You can do a serahc on google for PFLOW and Find Target to get some ideas for that.
The second choice if you need more control over the animation of the individual flys and/or need them more detailed would be to use the crowd system in Character Studio that comes with Max now.
Hope this gets you started in the right direction.