Epic oriental show “Love and Destiny” visual effects breakdown last chapter: grand CG effects scene

Aug 16 2019

The epic TV show ”Love and Destiny”, with its breath-taking visuals, has aired for five weeks now, the whole show is now approaching the last chapter, and it’s popularity and critical acclaim is at an all-time high! “Love and Destiny” has attracted many die-hard fans, who binges on the show and recommend it to their friends and family. This is all thanks to the ingenuity of the core creative team, with their focus on polishing the show to high standards, and the actors fully committed to their roles, performing wholeheartedly in this beautiful world of romance. 

Recently the production team released a series of visual effects breakdown for the show “Love and Destiny” in order to take viewers on a journey behind the scenes and learn about the hard work that went into making the show. Firstly we have the episode on Environment Effects, which reveals the process of creating each environment starting from its original concept art, shooting on set, to integrating CG elements, the end result is a striking imagery with ample oriental appeal; the second episode on Divine Creatures include 11 fantasy creatures from the show, the detailed analysis of those lively characters will inspire yet another wave of popularity! 

The well received visual effects breakdown of “Love and Destiny” has come to the last episode, this show is, like previously mentioned, a huge undertaking whether compared to feature film or other TV shows. Other than CG environments and creatures, the show also has a high proportion of “CG Effects”. CG Effects act as the bridge between fantasy and reality, turning all the impossible into actual imagery, which imbued the show with a fantastic air and bring a greater visual impact to the viewer, seeing the scene’s grand effects acting out in front of yours eyes, it’s as if you are personally experiencing this majestic oriental world yourself. Those who love details definitely shouldn’t miss this brilliant last chapter, enjoy the in-depth look at the hurdles the effects team have to overcome in order create the splendid visual feast of the show!



◆ Inside Xi Xian pond


This is Xi Xian pond where important twists in the plot happen. Xi Xian pond, The pond where antagonist Yuan Tong pushed Ling Xi into was a terrifying abyss that stripes a celestial being of it’s celestial status. The main problem the effects team faces when making this scene is how to utilize the environment to show the character falling continuously.     

Since the character is static during shooting, extra work has to be done to the space around them.  Initially the team thought of molding the inside of the pond into the shape of a cylinder in order to create the feeling of endless falling, but due to the original concept being a pond, only the characteristic of “infinity” and “roundness” is extracted to put into the production of the scene. The effects team used large amount of rings as basis for solving smoke, then randomize the arrangement into the shape of a cylinder, thereby achieving the effect of endless falling. Now, the proportion between the inside of the pond and the motion of the camera have to be considered, after discussion, the team believed the falling of the scene can be adjusted according to the effect, with this as basis to go on adjusting the proportion of the smoke, speed of curling, size of the ring, speed of motion and the amount of smoke in the background.   

In order to show the dangerous, other-worldly inside of the pond, the team added to it additionally  elements of lightning and storm. When in the early stages of shooting, many lights were placed around Ni Ni to simulate the effect of lightning, after shooting, visual effects technique were used to create actual lightning, build up the surrounding atmosphere and create curly smoke, the shining lightning reveals the even more detail in the smoke, with the storm raging and lightning striking, Xi Xian pond acquires an even more malicious aura.


▊  On set photo



▊ Finished effect



◆ Slicing a mountain


In one of the episode, Jiu Chen came to Chu Wu Mountain to duel with Zhong Hau,and accidentally slices Chu Wu Mountain in half, this is one of the main scene in the show. Initially the effects team recreated the mountain to scale in 3D software, the amount of data in this scene is tremendous and requires a large amount of calculation, so finishing the effect in time is a huge challenge.  

Due to the irregularity of the fracture of the mountain, and the requirement to show detail on the inside, the mountain have to be sectioned into different areas in the early stage of the cut; initially the big chunks will be cut, and because of chunks inter-colliding, a second and third cut is required to separate rocks into smaller debris groups. The effects team used boolean to calculate the bigger pieces, then take those pieces and perform voronoi fracture on them. Since the way voronoi calculate will result in regular surface that lack detail, and further cuts to add detail will add additional strain on the system, therefore, the team employ the technique of applying detail at render time, which save the extra load and solves the problem.  

When solving the motion of the fragment, in order to make sure the fragment is moving according to actual impact, the effects team used two types of constraints, one of them is rigid constraint, used to keep the mountain from collapsing under gravity; secondly there’s the soft constraint, which is used to transfer forces that will cause a second and a third fracturing. These constraints are used alternately in practice, transforming between the two according to the accumulation of energy, thereby achieving the motion of the collapsing mountain. In the last stage of solving the scene, the team used cooperative and distributive methods to cope with the huge amount of calculation needed to simulate the entire mountain collapse.

Another big challenge is the fragments interacting with smoke, the large volume of smoke emitted by the collapsing mountain will be pushed by the motion of the rocks. Large amount of fragments along with large volume of smoke and sand, the amount of calculation needed is undoubtedly tremendous, so the team adopt proxy collision, importing the velocity field of the fragments into the smoke simulation to affect the motion of the smoke. In terms of dust, in addition to using traditional debris to simulate dust, another particle system is implemented on top, using the solved motion of the smoke to drive the particles in order to achieve the look of rising dust, eventually the striking effect is realized in the final shot. 


▊ On set photo



▊ The process of making the effect



▊ The final effect



◆ The explosion of three beasts


In those terrifying explosion scenes, the greatest challenge was in managing the tremendous scale of the environment, and achieving the realistic motion and appearance of the petrol bomb. In order to maintain the large scale of the environment while keeping basic detail, the effects team separate the scene into 6 areas to perform the simulation, then used 6 custom made force field to control the motion of the explosion. The realistic motion of the petrol bomb is created using specialized calculation technique to control the spread of the burn. For the final look, in order to acquire high level of detail in the explosion, all the six simulation exported 12 volume field, amounting to 72 fields for the final render. These intricate processes is testament to the attention to detail and professionalism of the effects team.    


▊ The final effect



◆ Chen Xi celestial cloud


Celestial cloud which Jiu Chen and Xi Ling rid together, it’s appearance is a fluffy cloud; it’s characteristic is between Somersault cloud and magic carpet, the team started gathering large amount of reference once they got the design sketches early on. 

The effects team sections the cloud into 6 structure: left-right, tail, bottom, dash and collide, loose and scattered. The idea of a double wing originated from the team, deliberately making them resemble the wings of angel, which breaks away from the common perception of cloud, adds a little playfulness, and comes with its own set of challenges. Due to the high speed of the camera, if the speed of the cloud is to match that of the camera, a wide variety of parameters will have to be adjusted, for instance the proportion of the wings, turbulence of different scale, noise etc. With turbulence being especially tricky, also the timing of the dispersion and the motion regularity of the celestial cloud required repeated previewing for confirmation. Speaking of turbulence, the team created a turbulence field externally to import into the fluid simulation for the best visual quality, it also increase fineness of the final render.

The bottom of the celestial cloud is in the shape of a bow, turning it into fluid will have it collide with both wings and the character, combined with the speed of the camera, adjusting the simulation is a process that requires constantly referencing the motion of the wings, and making relative adjustments to the parameters that affect the cloud’s speed, proportion and noise. The scattered cloud is made in the shape of smoke, white appears loose and stringy, combined with the collision of characters, many parameters need back and forth adjustments in order to acquire a physical look. The scene with Chen Xi riding what looks like a ship with wings, is eventually achieved only by the collective creativity and tireless experimentation of the production team. 


▊ Onset shooting



▊ The final effect



◆ Tian Zun mountain illusory realm


Due to the requirement of animated camera movement in Tian Zun mountain illusory realm, the surrounding sky, rocks, water, grass are all made in CG. Since the water in Tian Zun mountain illusory realm is natural water, considerable effort have to be made in order to get a realistic look. The effects team recreated the whole environment for the water in this scene, not only the parts visible to the camera, but also the mountains and trees that are outside the shot, the underwater environment, refraction and the bubbles in the water all have to be created in order to achieve a realistic lighting scenario. For further realism, the team created a riverbed under the river for true refraction, the inside of the water is filled with volume to simulate the depth of the water, the built scene and sky dome give reflection to the water. 


For the purpose of adding variation to the direction of water flow, the team placed rocks at the right side of the scene, a vortex is created when water hits the rock, which will in turn break the uniformity of the direction and speed of the water flow. The areas where water flows at high speed white foam will emerge, if actual bubbles were used in calculation, computing pressure will be too high and the whole process becomes slow; if particles are used to simulate instead, the effect is not ideal. Therefore the effects team tried modifying the inner volume. The color of the inner volume is based on velocity and go from dark green to white on a ramp, this technique strikes a balance between calculation speed and final effect.   


▊ Onset shooting



▊ Process of making the effect



▊ Process of making the effect



So as to make the main water body and whitewater mix perfectly, the effects team enhanced the layering of the whitewater. It include different sized water mesh and water particles, opacity ramps are also applied to the water particles, multiple steps of polishing are utilized for the final Tian Zun mountain illusory realm image the audience see.


▊ Finished effect




With complicated production procedures and a high shot count, specialized software is required to manage the workload, which ensures that production process runs smoothly and the efficiency increased. The professional management post production team of TWR entertainment spanning various locations utilized high end industry tools including ftrack, cinesync, aspera to manage, review and transfer over 20000 shots from this project. In addition to help of those specialized software, members of the production management and post production team also need to communicate regularly with directors, visual effects supervisor and the production team, only through seamless cooperation and communication between departments, attention to detail, working as a team, can we deliver those large volume of highly technical visual effects work in a relatively short production time line. 


▊ Screenshot of visual effects management



▊ List of visual effects shots




▊ List of onset records




The thing we want create is not just a critically acclaimed film,

But a mythological world that belong to us.

 These are the words of the visual effects supervisor of this show, and also the mission of this team; 
the ideal of the artisan is demanding to the point beyond reasonable, all for building a virtual world from nothingness. 

Whether its environment, CG creature effects or the grand CG effects introduced in this chapter, they all contribute to “Love and Destiny”’s visual aesthetic of “symbiosis of the real and the virtual”, brilliant visuals lead the audience deeper into the story of the show, the intricate details also attract praise from viewers.

With meticulous polish and tireless effort, the team behind “Love and Destiny” bring this boutique item of a show to fruition, the heart of the artisan is transmitted through the presentation of details. As this breath taking journey near its end, read the three special episode of behind the scenes and back to binge-watching the show, a new feeling will arise with a second viewing! Tonight let us welcome the grand finale of “Love and Destiny”, and please follow the future development of TWR, expect new, wonderful work from us!    


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