Maelstorms, waterfalls, cave and ancient temple destruction

Mojin: The Lost Legend became a box office hit, with over $250M earnings. It’s a rollercoaster ride of adventure thrills set in the rich tapestry of Chinese culture and mythos.

Bottleship were approached by Phenom Films, with the task of creating some huge scale waterfalls and whirlpools, water set extensions, underwater effects, and full CG destruction of the cave, temple, statues and crystal ceiling.



With a very tight schedule and a compact team, we had to plan well and be efficient, especially with the heavy water shots. We built them as a patchwork of pre-made assets that we could simulate in high resolution and then assemble each shot as a mosaic of splashes, water surface geometry, waterfalls, and mist elements.The exception was the whirlpool shot, which was solved in quite a direct way – a geometry funnel with water emitted from the edge and a finely tuned force field solved it. The challenge there was the long camera move and the proximity to the whirling water which required heavy resolutions.


The FX team used a 3DS Max centered workflow, utilizing Krakatoa and Frost by Thinkbox for creating the water elements, FumeFX for the mist and haze, and Chaos Group’s VRay to render the water and the rest of the geometry. The simulated particle caches were adapted to the varying water surface using Krakatoa’s powerful Magma toolset for ‘smart’ displacement of particles, and Krakatoa also came into play for rendering the few hundred of million particles for each whitewater element.

Magma also helped us blend the water surface material between clear and foamed, reducing the need for extra elements for surface foam, and fitting water surface and splashes in a smooth and natural way.
On the shading front – VRay RT was amazing with giving us a realtime shading workflow that saved a lot of time tweaking lights and materials on the water – a traditionally time consuming process.



 The big temple and cave destruction shots were a mix of crashing water masses and rigid body destruction. The water part fit in the same workflow described above, and the rigid body destruction was split into fragmentation, dynamics, secondaries and dust. We fragmented using manual, Rayfire and Thinking Particles methods. Going manual was necessary for the important crack lines, and the rest was taken care of by Rayfire’s fast and easy cutting, and the procedural breaking with Thinking Particles. That’s where we also did all the rigid body dynamics and secondaries like dust emitters and debris. TP is fantastic at handling big scenes with lots of art directed behavior and detail.


We used the simulation data as particles and animated meshes to feed FumeFX simulations for dust and mist. Since the shots needed lots of atmospheric depth and interest, we built a library of interesting FumeFX mist simulations that we layered in each scene. These were augmented by scene specific simulations where interaction and other scene specific action was needed.

Finally – thanks to everybody in the talented teams at Bottleship and Phenom Films for the great work! We were excited to be a part of that interesting and original movie, and glad seeing it reach the success it deserves.


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