Here is a ‘Dark Knight’ themed alleyway created to showcase several dynamic elements and techniques. Dynamic elements include 2D/3D fluid containers, particles, ncloth, and rigid bodies.

Using various reference images as guides, everything was first modeled in Maya to create a basic alleyway. Although stylized in appearance, I wanted the scene to look some what believable looking. Also because I decided on minimal camera movement, set dressing was important when setting the scene to make it look interesting and appealing. I used a total of 11 lights to illuminate the scene with 3 lights generating shadows.

Once I got the basic layout completed, it was on to creating the dynamic elements. Most of the rain in this scene was created in Maya using standard particles with collision events to create a ‘splash effect’ when they hit the ground. The water ripples on the grounds was dynamically created based on where the particle rain hit. To achieve this, I had to use a few expressions to pull the data from each collision and plug it into a 2D fluid container which generated the ripples via a displacement map.

The smoke coming out of the pipes and sewer along with the overall ground fog was created using 3D fluid containers set to specific settings and keyed to air fields for wind movement. The fire in the barrel was also created using 3D containers but was later incorporated in with real fire, embers, and smoke to get a more polished effect.

The bats were created with a particle stream replaced by animated geometry using a particle instancer and a few expressions. I used rigid bodies for the joker cards linked in with a turbulence field to generate the wind. Finally, the posters were animated using nCloth connected to an air field.

Both Maya and UVLayout was used to create all of the flattened UVs while Photoshop was used for texturing. Since this was a rainy scene, I made sure to bump up the specular and reflectivity on each texture to make everything appear soaking wet. Thus a combination of color, bump, and specular maps were created for all of the objects to complete the final scene.

Next it was onto rendering where I found out that my time management was a bit off. I did not anticipate render times to be as long as they were (some frames took well over 12 minutes to render). To make things easier, everything in the scene was broken down and rendered out separately using both ‘render layers’ and ‘render passes.’ These were then exported into After Effects for post production.

Once in After Effects, the had to be created. To do this, various smoke and simulated lighting layers were overlayed over a solid to create the final clouds and lightning. I then keyed in another solid to create the flashes. As for the bat signal, a 3D spotlight was created in After Effects with a 3D alpha to cast the shadow of the bat. Then a lux effect with a fractal overlay was applied to finish off the bat signal.

All of the audio and various sound effects used was first cleaned up in Audition and then exported into After Effects for final mixing.

The final rendered composition was composed of 45 solid layers and 21 audio layers (8 of those solid layers were rendered out of Maya). There was a total of 32 texture maps using 14 different UV layouts, and just over 4900 frames rendered out of maya to create the 8 layers (which made the final composition about 700 frames long). Overall this was a much bigger project than I thought but also by far one of the best pieces I’ve made so far.

Check out the gallery for some screenshot renders, UV layouts, and all of the texture maps. Also view the final rendered video along with a VFX breakdown of it below:

Software Utilized: Autodesk Maya, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Audition, Headus UVLayout