Creative studio Analog was set with the task of turning Water to Foil, Fire to Varnish, and Ice to Jelly for three new IDs for the SmashHits cable channel on the UK’s Box TV. The three idents demonstrate the outstanding capabilities of the Analog VFX and animation team, as each element seamlessly molds itself into the next physical form.
Gushing water transforms into an elegant foil material, oozing pink jelly bursts through a rigid ice block and a raging fire is contained and manipulated into a varnished formation. All of the transfigurations reveal the new sleek, SmashHits logo. The structured creation of the SmashHits Idents took just over two months and created new challenges for the small Analog team.
“Watching flames and fluids rolling across screen can have a hypnotic effect on the viewer,” commented Matt Chandler, Analog’s director of 3D VFX, speaking about the challenges, techniques and successes of creating this originative task. “Fluid simulations and fluid behaviors are always a popular demand of creatives and designers due to their beauty, realism and unique movements, so when we were asked to realize the new SmashHits idents we had to not just create convincing, beautiful simulations but make them transform and grow into another material altogether.”
This task turned out to be a much bigger challenge for Studio Analog than it first appeared. “Turning large-scale water into solidifying foil balloons whilst still interacting independently as elements was a massive technical challenge which ended up having to be solved with some extensive custom scripting for the water elements and ultimately combined four separate simulation softwares to achieve the desired effect,” Chandler continued.
“The amount of particle data and generated mesh data for this 10-second ident alone exceeded a few terabytes of storage. Turning fiery explosions into flowing, sparkly liquid was the next problem with high resolution fumefx simulation data being meshed and then passed to Realflow and back. This was potentially the most challenging ident, with each stage of the visual effects interacting but then rendered separately and the transition being created at the compositing stage with various custom render passes/channels. There were a number of solutions we tried out for this effect, each with numerous pros and cons. The final sequence we were very happy with and hasn't been done before in such detail, close up and narrative as far as we know.”
Arvid Niklasson, from Analog’s 3D team, added, “In the last ident we had to turn big chunks of Ice into Jelly. The main challenge was to make the Jelly explode out of the ice while both materials were confined to the boundaries of the letters. Since a lot of it was simulated there was a lot of back and forth of different simulations and tests.”