FX and simulations by Ludovic Habas


Being able to produce diverse and realistic simulations like smoke, clouds, dust, explosions, fire, water ... is essential to give credibility to certain 3D scenes. This step, both artistic and very technical, often has the particularity of requiring a lot of computer calculation.

A long story

My first FX are not young anymore. At the time they required a lot of computing time. The simulations were set up during the day and the calculations were done at night. This left little room for error to carry out simulations in the given time. However we had the pleasure to discover the result of our calculations in the early morning. Below is one of my very first simulations for my very first short film (2011).


Motion graphics

My first FX order was made for the Geneva studio Le-Truc and their client Nespresso. Almost every month we had a small advertisement for the coffee capsules and each movie had little bit of FX. The majority was done directly in 3ds Max with Particle Flow for the most part. A simple and effective solution to achieve relatively quickly a lot of effects.

FX explosion nespresso motion

The drop

To resume and realize a new drop of coffee still for Nespresso, particle flow was not enough. The use of realflow has proven necessary to achieve realistic simulation and mesher drop. A simulation more complicated than it seems because I had to make several versions to find the right form of gout that pleased the customer.

FX drop



For Le-Truc, I also participated in several mappings shows with also its share of FX. Here on the right, particles are scattered to form different shapes such as a bird, a panda, a game of tic-tac toe or a tiger. The set made with Particle Flow and some scripts. Below for a mapping show for Audemars piguet, I had to perform "mystical" smoke simulations. Particle flow not being adapted, they I decided to use PhoenixFD for that.

Lebron James - Audemars Piguet

For this film event directed by the studio Le-truc, liquid metal was to build the watch box. To achieve this effect, I tested different methods. But I turned to Particle Flow for its simplicity and the ability to quickly change the effect to meet customer demands. The effect has been achieved in the opposite direction. The box of the watch was filled with particles that flew away following paths drawn with splines. Then the animation was reversed to give the illusion that the particles form the box. To mesher particles I then used the Frost plugin that can give great results.


For some time a new super plugin has appeared in 3ds Max. Tyflow, developed by Tyson Ibele, a kind of improved Particle Flow that increases the possibilities. Although it is still beta, it allows to multiply a large number of particles and their interactions without overloading the processor and slow down the scene too much. I had the opportunity to test this plugin with pleasure for a film by Le-Truc for Jaeger LeCoultre.

FX Cadran

The snow

Motivated by this experience, I decided to use Tyflow on our latest short film project to achieve some of the FX. Complex effects because we need to perform snow simulations which is not necessarily easy to reproduce. Below is a test to simulate the snow that the character takes between his fingers.