What I’m Using Now – Next Limit’s ReelFlow
Los Angeles, CA
It’s a really powerful tool for the obvious water and liquid simulation and adds another level of experimentation. But we found that because it is such a powerful particle simulator, you can use it to create a bunch of other effects, too. We used it to make streaming fire effects on the main titles for The Legend of Zorro. I also used it on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy teaser, a sci-fi job, to add a ripple effect to an explosion in space.
Though it’s a standalone program, it also works in conjunction with Maya. As an example, we did a Pontiac commercial in which we had a CG car driving through puddles. We wanted to have big waves come up and ripple off the car. We started by creating the geometry in Maya and exported that right into ReelFlow, so the particles were affected by the geometry and animation. Next, we did the particle simulation in ReelFlow and then took that back into Maya as a mesh to fit over our geometry. You can add additional textures in Maya to enhance it and work it into your scene.
We’ve tried to build water directly with Maya before, but it takes a lot more time and the effect is never as good. ReelFlow, on the other hand, is very specific, so if you need to build a puddle of water, the physics are set up and ready to go. Maya starts with a blank slate and you have to build everything from scratch.