Dynamics VFX: Final UFO Tractor Beam

For the final part of this assessment, we were given “client feedback” to make our adjustments to the tractor beam simulation before final submission to try and replicate what might happen in industry. Below is the feedback I received for my previous blog post;

“CLIENT FEEDBACK:
The outer cone of the tractor beam has a nice look to it. I like how it has the diagonal shafts coming from the top, it gives some variance to its makeup.
The tractor beam is turning on too slowly though. It needs to happen much faster so that there is time to lift the mannequin into the UFO. Think no more than 15 frames. 
We need to get some more detail into the simulation. I’d like to see thin rings run along the surface of the outer cone. These would move from the UFO down to the ground. As they run along the outer cone they would leave a faint trail of particles that would waft away from the outer cone and dissipate into the air. When the rings hit the ground they would dissipate and fade off.
I also want to see more detail in the current outer cone that you have. This will probably mean you’ll need to make the particles smaller and have more of them.
The colour is close, but it has too much green in it. Try to make it more of an electric blue.
Lose the grass type things that come up from the ground. Also, make sure the tractor beam is timed to the opening and closing or the UFO hatch doors. At present that is not happening.”

So I approached this by increasing the over samples of the particles to 3, to make the main part of the cone seem more like a veil than like individual particles. By doing so as well as trying to increase the time of the tractor beam contacting the earth, I lost the cross over effect of the particles. I do rather like the electric blue colour more than the aqua colour I had previously.

I had a bit of trouble trying to get the little rings to look how I wanted them to, I tried several different fields, emitter types and also goaling to an object. In the end I emitted particles from the initial rings I created and turned the visibility off, because I found if I had used any form of keys in the visibility attribute I had issues with the particles turning on and off again. So these initial rings became my emitters for the visible rings. After trying several fields, Newton, Gravity, Turbulence, Air, and Drag, I settled on using a Radial field. This still didn’t quite give me what I was after but I needed to keep moving forward in order to finish the simulation. I would rather that the particles actually moved away from the centre of the rings in a horizontal motion and slowly glittering into nothing.

I removed the particles floating up from the ground, I can see how they weren’t the desired effect. I only kept the point particles falling from the UFO, these I changed to a golden colour to add a little subtle contrast to the simulation and added a noise texture to the opacity ramp to make the particles sparkle on their way down.

After struggling a lot with the rag doll simulation, I finally got the simulation to work however I had further issues importing my file into the VFX file, so to get around this problem I referenced the original reference and made the hinge constraints and parenting constraints within the VFX file. I know this might not be the way it was meant to work, due to the assessment reflecting industry, however I wasn’t sure of the issues and needed a quick solution, so I improvised.

Below is a playblast of my final simulation, I feel the ring particles could be a little too fast but this can be changed later if need be.

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