View Full Version : Help needed for a beach scene

07-19-2006, 10:04 AM
I'm tyring to create an animation of waves breaking underneath a pier. I need to figure out what the best way to have the water interact with the pylons. Also I'm kind of confused how to create the water breaking at the beach.

Can anyone give me any advice or point me in the direction of a tutorial that will help me?

Thank you.

Thor Simpson
07-19-2006, 10:37 AM
Well, I'd say that has to be one of the hardest effects to create in the 3D world. How photorealistic are we talking?

07-19-2006, 11:20 AM
Mmm. Very tough indeed, especially without very expensive tools like Realflow.


The waves-lapping-on-a-beath bit is tough enough, but using weightmaps could help.

Using displacement maps added to the sea, controlled my nulls could get some of the way to getting the water broaching against the pillars. Combine this with an Event-driven particle-emitter and you might start having some luck.

I guess the critical questions are "How close to the action is the camera?" and "How realistic does it need to look?"

07-19-2006, 12:43 PM
It doesn't have to be that realistic. It can be kind of cartoony.

I've attached some images as examples of how the scene would be set up as far as camera set up. The image labeled pier is the image that I would perfer to model my scene after. I guess if it would be too difficult to have the waves break at the shore I could go for something more like the other image.

08-11-2006, 10:28 AM
Here is a recent render of my scene. I want to have the water become more opaque further away from the camera, but I have had no success as of yet. I also think the water needs other adjustments, but I'm not really sure what I should do next. Does anyone have any suggestions?

08-11-2006, 02:25 PM
I think applying a fresnel shader will give you the opacity difference you need. As for the waves I am not quite sure how to do that.:)

08-11-2006, 06:05 PM
Technically, you might (might) just be able to get away with hypervoxels. You'd need a fast machine to pull it off, but, as Bog says, without Realflow your pretty limited.

There used to be a scene within LW that contained a water trough moving backwards and forwards with the water swilling around inside. If you made your scene within such a container and rocked the container (lights, models and camera all parented to it), it is feasable you could create the effect.

I'd run some tests but I'm in the middle of a render. If I'm still up in an hour I'll take a look.

08-15-2006, 03:09 PM
I've been messing with my water texture. What do you think?

08-16-2006, 08:08 AM
Looks good. The waves can be done with a Ripple displacement and a gradient to acheive a white cap.

08-16-2006, 01:29 PM
I wanted to try to have the pylons interact with the water, and I read that the area that would be mingleing with the pylons would need to have more polygons in order to look realistic. Is there anyway to accomplish this without having increasing all of the number of polygons throughout the water mesh?:cursin:

08-16-2006, 01:35 PM
I believe in LW9, you could use weights and APS to get the areas you want at a high poly count level.

08-16-2006, 01:54 PM
APS is a good idea for poly count management. As for the waves breaking...hmm...maybe you could have some nodal displacement and surface work then have some particals splash up.

Even with realflow, I wonder how realistic you could get it to look; any realflow people out there think they'd like to try it? I'd like to see what it would look like.

08-17-2006, 03:19 PM
I don't have lightwave nine yet, but will the increase in polys from APS be affected by dynamics? I hope that wasn't a dumb question.

08-17-2006, 03:32 PM
You can model the water so that theres more polys closer to the camera.
Also your texture isnt too bad but is kind of looking more like ice to me in the flat area under the pier. :)

08-18-2006, 07:47 PM
The texture looks a little turbulent, and the procedural you used is a little too clearly procedural I think... Perhaps you can solve this by mixing varying sizes of turbulence and various types of procedurals.

As for an actual breaking wave--I hate to be johnny raincloud here, but this is easily one of the most difficult problems 3D animators face, even for the "big boys" at major effects houses. True, hypervoxels may provide a nice solution--however, you had better be ready to wait a while for your renders, and don't expect to be making realistic animations out of it.

Even RealFlow, as far as I know, can only do height-mapped wave effects. These can produce beautiful surface waves and splashes (achieved by mixing particle effects with the height-mapped polygonal mesh), however, highly articulated, rebounding and splashing breaking waves (as in the reference you provided) is a tall order I am not sure even RF can fill.

I know of arbitrarily developed, in-house solvers for such effects used by folks at ILM and whatnot--these are not even particle based, and I have not seen any simulations performed at such resolution to capture the detail seen in your reference. Wonderful progress is being made in this area (see the recent work of Fedkiw et al regarding height-mapping/volume sampled hybrid methods for breaking waves) but unfortunately this progress will probably take its time trickling down to the likes of us--even RealFlow is just a shiny thing in a box for many of us.

PS--one thing I did forget to mention is Scanline VFX's Flowline. Flowline was developed in-house by Scanline for Scanline, and they have recently gone public with the software, and are anticipating a commercial release. Large-scale breaking waves did appear in their demo videos, but I doubt the commercial release will be cheap when it arrives.

That's my take on that... hope I could be somewhat helpful, if a little disappointing. At any rate, I still think you should try--who knows, maybe you'll prove me wrong!

best of luck,

08-19-2006, 03:31 AM
another try cound be to generate some foam where the water hits the pier elements. setting up a foam texture based in it's intensity on a gradient depending on the distance to nulls or objects (in this case target the pier foundation and the beach) could be a first step into that direction.


09-15-2006, 08:52 AM
3dworks, do you know of any tutorials that could help me understand some of the techniques that you suggested?

09-15-2006, 09:14 AM
3dworks, do you know of any tutorials that could help me understand some of the techniques that you suggested?

there's great tutorial about LW and landscapes (well, it's more an e-book than a tutorial...) here:


most of the 'tricks' are covered there!

hope this helps!