Fluid simulation with RealFlow

Realflow simulation



Martell Cognac – Fluid simulation with RealFlow

MPC – Motion Design Studio
MPC’s brief was to create an ad for Martell’s new Cognac label to be shown in Nigeria.


MPC is an international creative studio. They make everything from visual FX for blockbuster films like “The Martian” to mobile apps.

The Story

The client had already produced a print campaign which told a story through text formed out of flowing Cognac. The brief was to add Fluid simulation with RealFlow and find a way to make this work in motion, which meant creating realistic, constantly moving, liquid letters. Given that this was for Nigerian TV, the budget was tight. We had a team of two animators working over 4 weeks.

We initially looked at faking the fluid animation by compositing multiple stock footage plates of flowing liquid. But I saw pretty quickly that this wouldn’t work. Every letter would take hours and hours to get right  and there was no way to get specific animation I wanted for some of the bigger shots.

So I started doing some tests with RealFlow. I realised if I could simulate all the letters we needed one at a time, I could build a font of animated liquid letters. So we ran some tests. We started with 3D letters we built in C4D. Then animator Filiberto Chiarinelli ran simulations for each letter in RealFlow. We experimented with different scene scales and resolutions until we found something that felt right for Congac pouring into a glass. If the scale is wrong, you can end up with something feeling like a waterfall or an eye-dropper. So we wanted to get this right.

For the hero shots, where I wanted to run a single simulation over several letters or words, we built specific setups. You can see this best with the word SLICE. We animated a disk flying through the letters in C4D and then brought this into RealFlow as an SD file. Then we ran the simulation several times until we had something we liked. I think in the end we dialled the resolution up to 150. That’s why you see those wonderful tendrils of fluid drawing away and the text breaks up. I think it’s my favourite shot in the piece.

The one thing we couldn’t live without was the RealFlow Renderkit. This allowed us to skip the meshing process inside RealFlow and just mesh at render time, inside C4D. Without this we would have needed to load a mesh for each simulated letter into C4D and then position and retime it. Fluid meshes are heavy files and they can bring your 3D app to a standstill. With the Renderkit, we just loaded the particle sequences into C4D and placed them. The Renderkit creates the mesh as each frame is rendered and then deletes the mesh file. It’s a great way of working.

I’ve been using RealFlow off and on for about five years. I’m by no means an expert, but I enjoy using it. I think we’re reaching a point where it’s now practical to use it even on smaller jobs. The app is getting easier to use and more powerful with each version. And we can now run simulations pretty quickly on our standard work stations (2013 MacPro’s).

Features like The Maxwell Fire renderer, which lets us see high quality test renders inside RealFlow, and the Sheeter daemon, which stops fluid shapes from breaking up, help bring the app into the world of motion graphics artists like me. Things that used to require endless testing or even scripting are much simpler now because of features like these.

As a designer, there’s something extremely satisfying in pulling off a beautiful fluid shot. For about five minutes, you feel like a genius. Then you move onto the next shot and come back down to earth.




Digital Art Rave

ReaFlow with Maxwell Render


ReaFlow with Maxwell Render

Trojan Horse was a Unicorn


Emanuele Niri describes how the amazing opening and closing titles for ‘Trojan horse was a Unicorn’ were made using RealFlow. THU is a unique four-day Digital Art Rave.

About the company

The fluid job was carried out on behalf of Juice.pl based in Warsaw, Poland. It is a visual creative studio with four branches worldwide specializing in CG, VFX Post production, animation, rendering, compositing and sound design.

The Problem

The main goal of the simulation part was focused on the creation of a dynamic energy fluid in order to convey a sense of sparkling light upon darkness. Therefore making it flow across the various elements in the scene to give the impression of bringing the apparent state of death back to life once again. A short timing production of eight weeks overall out of which only four were spent on the fluid side alone presented a hard task due to the number of shots.  The team was composed of Juice.pl’s in house artists. The producer Natalia Lasota was in charge, alongside a network of external freelance artists under the brilliant art direction of Michał Misiński. A pressure we were up against was a tight deadline which sometimes forced me to compromise aspects of the simulations.

The Solution

RealFlow was used to meet our requirements in various ways. The new Spline tools available in RF2015 were of great help and extensively used alongside the new VDB meshing which helped me a lot when it came to blending more emitters into one.

I generally drew lots of curves and constrained them to geometry within Maya then exported them to RF2015 to create Spline driven forces, which in turn enabled me to keep the streams flowing seamlessly across the surfaces.

The hardest part was to keep the fluid attached to the surface of the animated characters while retaining a natural flowing feel and the required speed of the streams and in this respect the new Spline tool inside RF2015 was really spot-on.

Rendering was carried out by Juice.pl using V-Ray and of course the Maxwell preview within RF2015 was used to visualize most RnD stuff that preceded the work.

I have used RealFlow for the past seven years on almost every work that is particles or instance related. I mostly use RealFlow for liquids and viscous fluids of any kind, though I also like it to sketch out quick ideas that could be further developed for different purposes and in most cases it always turns out to be the right choice.

I guess nowadays RealFlow is fully adaptable to almost any pipeline and it is like one of those ingredients you can’t miss in a good kitchen. I will most certainly use RealFlow again, and I wish a bright future for it to be as great as its present and past time and time again.

The 3D platforms we used were Maya and Houdini. I operate with Windows 7 64-bit. The hardware at my disposal is: 2x Xeon x5650 @2.67ghz, 48gb ram.

The greatest benefit of RealFlow is that it is simple and intuitive at first sight and a truly responsive group of developers and friends are always there to help you.

Special thanks to the whole team at Juice for the opportunity they gave me to be part of it and particularly Michał Misiński, Łukasz Dziedziński and Jakub Knapik for coordinating the huge amount of work smoothly and patiently.

Thanks also to Igor Žanić and his alchemies whose help on one shot came from outside as an unexpected one off magical touch.


Waterline Scripting Magazine for RealFlow 2015





Realflow 2015 Waterline Magazine

Waterline magazine “Scripting with RealFlow” is a free PDF with almost 100 pages.

The introduction to Python teaches you how to work with vectors, use RealFlow’s scripting editors, differentiate between variables and data types, and create user interfaces.

You will also find complete projects:
A basic coin stacker script, particle swapping, colour blending, crown splashes, export management, and a script for calculating velocities from ocean statistical spectrum waves. Illustrations, step-by-step explanations, and complete listings will help you to understand the principles behind scripting.


For more details or talk to a specialist contact us here:

RealFlow 2015 Demo Reel

RealFlow 2015 Demo Reel

RealFlow 2015 Demo Reel

RealFlow 2015 Demo Reel

The following is the latest RealFlow 2015 Demo Reel which shows some of the amazing liquid flow effects that can be added to your video composites. Smart Technology is excited to now offer RealFlow 2015 in its new forms including with Maxwell Render included for high quality rendering as part of the package.

There is now a Special Offer valid till December 31 that makes the purchase of RealFLOW 2015 for existing 3D modelling workflows via Cinema4D, 3D Studio Max, Lightwave, Maya and Modo which can be viewed at our site Smarttec Realflow packages.