Sphere and Tori was created in Notch as an experiment with animated 3D objects, environmental reflections, and film grading techniques.
Animation was accomplished by plugging Continuous Modifier nodes into the X, Y, and Z rotation values of the Cloner node that duplicates the imported 3D torus object. Static values were inputted into the Cloner node’s scale values to cause each consecutive torus to be slightly larger than the last. The values coming from the Continuous Modifier nodes determine the radial distance the duplicated tori travel away from the parent torus.
To create environmental reflections in Notch that can also be used as a background, it’s quite handy to use a SkyBox node with a 360 spherical HDRI image (although an Environment Map or Screen Space Reflection node can also be used for reflections only with slightly different results). High quality HDRI images can be hard to come by, but with 360 cellphone image stitching, the technique is becoming easier and easier – especially when the spherical image is out of focus. To bump the intensity of the reflections and to give the illusion of caustic refraction, I used the Glow and Radial Blur nodes. The Temporal Antialiasing node is being used to smooth the reflections. Typically this would be done by increasing the roughness of the material, but the Temporal Antialiasing node seemed to do a better job in this case.
I’ve also utilized the color grading node with the addition of a few other Post-FX nodes to mimic a actual camera lens such as Bokeh Depth of Field and Film Grading nodes. To better understand the layout of the scene, just turn off the Post-FX node and switch to the Orbit View.
The video can be found at: https://vimeo.com/207292067
The project file can be accessed at: https://app.box.com/s/7s4987hhnfglky8mfdj0nfje3z4vegzm