Creating the Explosion Simulation

By - - 3ds Max , Arnold , Flame , Maya , Maya LT , MotionBuilder , Mudbox , ShotGrid
Last modification: 26 Jul, 2021

I’m back for another explosive Mkali’s Mission update! This week, I’ll walk you through some of the amazing effects work done in Bifrost by none other than MayaGuy himself. This is where the magic happens, so prepare to be blown away by Phil Radford’s insane FX work.   

Joining us for the first time?
We’re producing an epic 3D sequence called Mkali’s Mission using each of the tools in the Media & Entertainment Collection and sharing the whole journey right here on AREA. Take a look back at earlier blog posts in this series to learn more.

It was finally time to find an artist for the visual effects work in Mkali’s Mission, so I worked with the Bifrost team at Autodesk for possible suggestions. Numerous people recommended Phil Radford who is based in the UK, is an active beta tester, has a strong online presence on Autodesk forums, and is widely known as MayaGuy on YouTube and Twitter where he posts a lot of his work and tutorials.

When I reached out to Phil, I gave him the rundown of the project and the type of FX work it entailed. His actual response to me was “Wow! Exploding bunkers and avalanches? Sounds like fun, I’m in!”.


Phil Radford and Ken La Rue in a Zoom meeting.Phil and I meeting to discuss the project. 


Since the scope of the work entailed simulation work for multiple shots - a bunker explosion, an avalanche, and other small snow effects – I thought I would need to hire multiple artists for the job. Though, after meeting Phil a couple of times, I realized that he would be able to tackle all the effects work on his own. The work he presents online speaks for itself, but seeing his excitement was all the convincing I needed.  


WIP of the small explosion of the bunker. Made using Bifrost in Maya.


We had several calls to discuss how we wanted the explosion of the bunker to occur. There were many ways we could have approached this, especially with the power of Bifrost in Maya. I knew I wanted there to be 2 explosions - a small one on the lower side of the bunker, and a larger one that would ultimately lead to its demolition.


Compilation of explosion playblasts. Made using Bifrost in Maya. 


Phil started experimenting with different explosions using the Aero Solver in Bifrost. Who knew one could have so much fun digitally blowing up stuff? We later set up a meeting with Eloi Andaluz Fullà, the artist creating the destruction work on the bunker in 3ds Max, as he and Phil would need to work closely together on this part of the sequence. Eloi managed to export the bunker’s destruction work as an FBX file, and Phil imported it back into Maya to add the final explosions.


See Phil in action. Watch him simulate the bunker explosion for Mkali's Mission using Bifrost in Maya.


There were many elements to consider - the timing and strength of the two explosions, the intensity of the flames, and the amount of smoke – just to name a few. We had also undergone several edits to both Eloi and Phil’s work to ensure that everything lined up. Despite the back and forth, it was fun seeing everything come to life…or rather, come to destruction?

This was just the beginning of Phil’s work. As I mentioned, he would also go on to create the avalanche, the drifting atmospheric snow, and the smaller effects from characters and props interacting with the snow on the ground. You’ll just have to wait until the next blog to learn more about it!

Want to see more of Mkali's Mission? Visit our virtual animation studio to discover the different stages of the process and to get a glimpse at some real 3D eye candy.


Posted By
Published In
  • 3ds Max
  • Arnold
  • Flame
  • Maya
  • Maya LT
  • MotionBuilder
  • Mudbox
  • ShotGrid
  • Film & VFX
  • Games
To post a comment please login or register