Horizon-class Clouds

Helios 1.5 is the next big update, scheduled for Q3 2014. This update features several new clouds, and lots of new cloud templates. One of the most helpful cloud types is the new “Horizon” class cloud.

Preliminary build render
(Low Quality)

Preliminary build render
(Low Quality)
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ShimmerWind Alpha Tests

ShimmerWind is part of MDK 2.0 which introduced a completely new way of managing water surface features with breakthroughs in subpolygonal anisotropy.

We have had some exciting breakthroughs in ShimmerWind. We had to originally pull ShimmerWind out of MDK 1.0, but with MDK 2.0, it is back in full force with a whole new set of features. One of the major new features I will demonstrate soon is a physically animated wind gusts over water. This is done by simply manipulating a gizmo in the viewport as opposed to the traditional numbers approach found in previous MDK components.

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Understanding Helios - #1

In this first of a series of blog posts, I will take you through the conception of Helios, the thinking behind its creation, and a glimpse at how the core light processing logic was born.

Helios can be said to have started, technically, two years ago when I created a bunch of clouds that I kept reusing across my scenes. They were starting points to which I applied specific settings – predefined formulae for achieving a distinct look for the type of cloud I wanted. But Helios really took form in a hotel room in Los Angeles last year after the Master Class. It wasn’t a moment of inspiration where everything suddenly appeared right in front of my eyes. Nothing that glamorous. But it became apparent that instead of figuring out how to make the cloud library reusable for everyone else inside Vue, a better solution is to create a handling utility.

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Making of the Helios Volcano

This is an account from the beginning concept to the final compositing of the grand finale of the Helios preview video. This single scene became such a powerful example that the Helios software was rewritten to include a smoke plume cloud type.

This is the Helios “hero image”. Having a soft spot in my heart for volcanic things, a personal goal in building Helios was to have all sorts of clouds, not just those that float in the sky. In Vue, creating thunderheads has been just as hard as creating a realistic plume of smoke. Having seen various volcano “burps” - and with having QuadSpinner’s co-founder, Cynthia Najim, living right next door to the youngest and most active volcano in Central America - we had more than enough visual reference to take on this beast of a task.

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I am Thunderhead - Helios Teaser video

The teaser video for Helios, QuadSpinner's new cloud tech, was created literally in one night - including 2 complete renders and one mis-render. I have talked about dogfooding before. When you are constantly making products and techniques, dogfood (i.e., using your own product) is basically a constant part of your diet. But all of that is worth it when it tastes great!!

Dogfood does not always taste good and you are always a little concerned right before you test out something is not yet complete, but a couple of nights ago, my friend Marek Mihok and I got a pleasant surprise.

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