I have been a huge fan of adventure movies since I was a kid and I always wanted to create a film project around Indiana Jones. As part of my collaboration with Intel earlier in the year, I decided to create a VFX short film loosely based on Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I hope you will enjoy this (rather silly) take on this movie classic!
Besides Intel, this project would not have been possible without this awesome bunch of people:
- Celina from Fables in Fashion
- Jimmy from Jimmy America Photo
- Violet from Violet LeBeaux
- Nils as my personal Houdini expert
Behind The Scenes
The entire second half of the Indiana Jones short film was shot using a green screen. I upgraded my green screen a little while ago and was very grateful to have this giant backdrop available for the shoot.
The project required a lot of post-production work and I ended up spending almost an entire month working through the individual VFX shots. I had 23 VFX shots all up, each containing up to 30 layers in After Effects for different 3D background elements, action stock footage, lens flares and colour grading.
After I completed all the VFX shots, I moved on to the audio for the Indiana Jones short film. For big projects like this, I prefer doing my audio work in Steinberg Cubase. Cubase gives me much more flexibility and control than any software in the Adobe lineup.
Once both visuals and audio were completed, I brought everything back into Adobe Premiere Pro for last minute clean-up and the final export.
The Face Melt VFX
The primary visual effect I wanted to create for our Indiana Jones fan film was the iconic Face Melt VFX from the end of the movie. I already created a separate tutorial for the face melt VFX that you can check out. Here, I just want to talk a little bit about the background for the effect as well as the process.
This Indiana Jones fan film was my first ever project using SideFX Houdini. I love Houdini, but it is a very complicated program to learn and I had zero prior knowledge for how to use it.
My first challenge was to import the 3D model of my head that my brother had made for me and turn it into fluid particles. As I was playing around with the setup and getting familiar with Houdini, I ended up rendering out a large number of weird looking 3D heads with differently sized particles.
From here I still had a long way to go to create the actual fluid simulation. I needed to keep the texture attached to the fluid surface and I had to melt the 3D head slowly so it didn’t just all liquify in an instant.
I ended up calculating the fluid simulation with around 20 million particles, which took about 12 hours to simulate. The particles had to be extremely small to give the final result a fluid rather than a meta ball look. After simulation was completed, it took another 12 hours to render out the final images.
It’s a Wrap!
Creating this Indiana Jones fan film took a lot of effort. I had to learn an entirely new software tool, and not an easy one at that. I had lots of people help me shoot the footage over the course of a full day and my brother Nils was on instant-dial as my personal Houdini expert to help me whenever I got stuck.
Overall, it was a very rewarding and fun experience. I learnt a lot of new skills and techniques. I was able to add a lot of items to my list of mistakes to avoid for future projects. At the end though, what’s most important are the people you share the experience with. And I am grateful to every single one of them. Thank you all so much! On to new adventures!