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How to create a bouncing building effect in 3D

Quarks! is a drama series for children that takes place exists in the forms of TV show, online hub, app, book and merchandise. It stars a group of teenage pranksters who can change the laws of physics, giving a a whole new dimension to childhood pranks.

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"The main event is the series of short films each one about a different prank," explains Nigel Hunt, owner and creative director of Glowfrog Studios (opens in new tab), which creates the spectacular effects for the Screen Glue (opens in new tab) series. "They are shot hand-held to feel like real video blogs and use extensive computer graphics to show the outrageous consequences when our characters meddle with the laws of nature."

The video above shows the first minute of the show, featuring an amazing 'bouncing building' effect. Below, Nigel explains how it was made...

01. Pick a building

Find a building to model your shot around

Find a building to model your shot around

First pick a building that you can build a 3D model from using either traditional 3D modelling and texturing or photogrammetry software to capture the building from all sides.

For this film shot we used high resolution photography shot on all sides and projected onto the 3D model.

02. Get reaction shots

Actors' reactions are crucial to making it believable

Actors' reactions are crucial to making it believable

Get some actors to perform and react to the building. Time them to hit the ground simultaneously and the count the seconds while the building jumps and lands.

03. Position your model

Building jump animation - walkthrough

Building jump animation - walkthrough

The animation was created in 3DMax

The animation was created in 3DMax

Here's a test frame showing 3D in place – used for lighting and simulating dust and debris.

For this shot we used 3DS Max with Fume FX and Thinking particles. It was rendered using Vray and comped in Nuke.

The finished shot

The finished shot

Build and position the 3D model into the shot. Use 3D camera tracking software to track the shot as there may be a small amount of movement to the camera, even if locked off.

Light your 3D building to perfectly match the background plate. Use mirror and matte balls on location to photograph or capture HDRI.

04. Add some devastation

Devastation helps the shot look realistic and convincing

Devastation helps the shot look realistic and convincing

Generate debris, dust and rubble. Finally, make sure you add lots of impact camera shake to give your shot authenticity. This shot was suppose to look like the teenage pranksters had shot this using their smartphone.

Words: Nigel Hunt

Nigel Hunt is owner and creative director of Glowfrog Studios (opens in new tab)

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