Producing a 3D 'Carbon Copy' to Demo a Technology
July 29, 2015

Producing a 3D 'Carbon Copy' to Demo a Technology

When Carbon 3D announced its groundbreaking 3D printing process, CLIP, at a Vancouver TED talk, the company needed to create an artistic depiction of how the printer works. This is when Fusion CIS partnered with Cinco Design to use RealFlow and other software to undertake this challenge. 

Fusion’s fluid and particle effects had to artfully represent the 3D printer’s unique chemical reaction of laser-lights and liquid resin that, as if by magic, creates a 3D object. With only three weeks to simulate and render a complex, original particle FX “nebula,” a photoreal droplet traveling through space, and a viscous fluid elegantly interacting with intricately detailed “buckyball” geometry, the challenge was intense.

Cinco created previsualized Autodesk Maya scenes containing a rising, intricate "buckyball" plus cameras for all shots above the surface of the resin bath. Fusion devised a nebula particle system of 12 elements and more than 300 million particles using Next Limit’s RealFlow, Sitni Sati’s FumeFX plug-in, and Thinkbox Software’s Krakatoa. From each RealFlow particle set, different characters of swirly FumeFX sims were generated, some rapidly moving and dispersing, others slower and more concentrated on their sources. Fusion then varied the density slicing settings when generating Krakatoa particles, In the render, different elements were assigned different color variations with age, based on the approved color palette.

The photoreal droplet was simulated at a high frames-per-second rate, rendered with shallow depth of field and some lens flaring. Key to rendering transparent liquids is reflecting and refracting the environment. With this droplet coalescingat the center of a swirling nebula, that’s the environment Fusion used.

Several shots followed whereby the 3D printed buckyball ascends from its resin pool. The challenge was to make it feel like the buckyball was actually forming from an illuminated zone just below the fluid surface. Given the timeframe, this was best achieved not by morphing, but through lighting, shading, and compositing. Despite complex geometry naturally capturing and containing liquid as the buckyball rose, the creative required any excess fluid to slip off the object just a little above the surface.

So Fusion created a scripted force field, "the cleaner," affecting only particles touching the geometry above the liquid surface. The cleaner pushed particles parallel to their colliding face, in a direction as parallel to vertically downward as possible. This gave the fluid a slightly lively movement, quite similar to the unique motion of excess resin in the actual printing process.