Smokey Man

Was a pleasure meeting Matt and some of the Notch community at the LA class (3/23 - 3/24)

During the fields tutorial on Day 2, I decided to pipe the animated character FBX through a fields system to try and achieve a “smokey person”. Thought the result was pretty cool and shared on the FB group, so here is the DFX file and a breakdown on some of the modules.

First off, this effect comes out amazing and really showcases the real time simulation power Notch possesses. Being able to tweak and see the results immediately feels so foreign compared to expensive render iterations on particle / field systems in other softwares. On the rendering front, we measure around 50-100x faster than a traditional C4D render on the CPU. Though not all C4D effects import natively, most of the simpler methods do, and Notch proves to be a groundbreaking tool when compared against current GPU render plugins (VRay, Arnold, I-Ray, Octane, etc.) Notch simply blows them all out of the water.
All Notch needs is a standalone render queue system, or a node-based master-slave rendering system. Finally, it could use better rendering / export preset management, like Adobe’s Media Encoder. Would also be very interesting to be able to import After Effects files / compositions for more traditional motion graphics integration.

Enough talk, onto the smokey man bit:

The person model FBX was one of the class resources provided but could be swapped out for pretty much any object, animation, rig, etc. since the field uses an object emitter.

Field / System Info
The field currently is set to 200 x 200 x 200, which runs reasonably on my 780 Ti, but can be upped if newer cards allow for better performance. Increasing these values will help reduce the “gridding” you see near the person.


  • Velocity Affector - has a very low velocity scale. Adjusted to just barely clear the smoke so you can see the person, but not so much that it aggravates the gridding.
  • Turbulence Affector - better simulation of wind movement and turbulence, but a little harder to control because, well, turbulence
  • Curl Noise Fluid Affector - gives a very nice smokey curl feel. Play with the noise size / scale attributes to get different types of smoke

Lighting / Shading
For lighting / rendering, there is just a very basic field renderer. 2 lights in the lighting kit are used to do volume shading on the field system. The scatter light is used to give the atmospheric lighting look and provide a slight bit of volume lighting on the subject without washing out the volume shadows. It’s interesting to play with the vertical order of the lighting / shading nodes on the nodegraph since this dictates the order in which they are applied.

Post FX
I added some direction blur Post-FX to try and alleviate the “gridding”, and you’ll see more grid if you disable those Post-FX nodes.
Finally, there is a bit of film grading on the end just to soften the image slightly.

Placed in a continuously rotating Null to have the camera circle the smokey man. Though this leads to some lighting nuances, it gives you a 360 view of the field system when opening the project for the first time.
Simply switch to orbit mode (5) to explore the scene.

The video can be found on Vimeo
The project file can be accessed on Google Drive


All of it Now
Kev Zhu

1 Like

Thanks for sharing and explaining the process :slight_smile:

Hey man,

great post!

Unfortunately the links don’t seem to work.
Do you mind checking on them? Thanks!



Thanks Chris

Here’s the google link to the DFX