Almost after 3 years, I’m still getting a lot of questions about SPA animation:


More info/Credits: link

Let’s take a look how it was made…




1. Character Modelling

2. Character Animation:

3. FumeFX simulation, separately for every char. (Don’t forget to save FumeFX cache with Velocity channel – this will be needed to place pflow particles on FumeFX data)


4. Add PFlow particles on every character, wich will be driven by FumeFX (FumeFX Follow operator)

5. Render particle pass with Krakatoa

6. Render FumeFX pass with default scanline render (This pass I used for some masking in compositing process)


7. Compositing

I love to work with eyeon Fusion. But this task could be done in any compositing software – After Effects, Shake, Combustion or Nuke.



SPA evilness

For this part, the workflow was even simpler. In most shots, there was pure FumeFX simulation with added PFlow on top by “FumeFX Birth” operator. Sure, here we need a lot of more particles just to get ‘some’ stable shape. Keep in mind that this can be taken further and FumeFX can be driven with particles too, so more advanced workflow will be:

PFlow –> FumeFX (particle source) –> PFlow –> Krakatoa.


And that’s all :) 

And here is what we got at the end:


Of course, current hardware possibilities can render a lot more particles. 3 years ago, I can’t have more than 6-12 millions on one character, and there was still a lot of troubles to polish grainy look in compositing. Now you can easily render 20-40 million on one machine, with one pass. Also, current Krakatoa versions have great tools to render FumeFX directly or save particles on disk, multiply them and have enormous options to modify final look. Don’t waste a chance to not try it :)


Simple 3dsmax 2009 example to play with:

Download (1.3 MB)

21 Responses to “making of: SPA”

  1. hoon, Reply

    I get touched by your enthusiasm and spirit. I will get a lot of help and inspiration. Thank you.

  2. Croze, Reply

    was wondering how it is done.. :)Thanks!

  3. deko, Reply

    Sorry pal, I do not have max scene for 9 version. You can download latest 3dsmax trial from autodesk site. Keep in mind that every plugin must be also upgraded. Best of luck!

  4. Samuel Bel??m Beneduce, Reply

    hey dude this show was so your animation you would not have an advanced tutorial

  5. deko, Reply

    Thank you guys.@Samuel, can you rethink and repeat your question?

  6. Samuel Bel??m Beneduce, Reply

    I was wondering if it would have an advanced tutorial on FumeFX

  7. Samuel Bel??m Beneduce, Reply

    ah I went forgetting myself, where you lowered fumefx for max 2009 because I only have pro max 09

  8. Andrei Bittencourt, Reply

    Fantastic, amazing job, Deko! Thanks!

  9. deko, Reply

    Hey, thank you. I hope soon to post more.

  10. Alan Cocksedge, Reply

    Great work Deko & thanks for taking the time to give us an insight into your workflow. One question, did use use one large fumefx grid for the long smoke trails or did you overlap them?Thanks.

    • deko, Reply

      Thank you. Unfortunately, other methods than one large grid didn’t worked for me. So I use one grid (for every character), but keep in mind that grid density was pretty low. This allowed me put even more particles on simulated data. Denser grid = more calculation for pflow and this is main problem when we have to deal with milions of particles. So, in any circumstances try to reduce single-threaded pflow calculation.

  11. Viktor Kokoruza, Reply

    Thanks a lot. It’s been useful for me

  12. Zane Morley, Reply

    Where did you learn this? This looks amazing. I have always wanted to do a FumeFX and Krakatoa particle animations, but i just don’t know how.

    • deko, Reply

      try and try again. Everything learned by experimenting and studying how real things work. Best of luck :)

  13. Anonymous, Reply

    great man!

  14. Roman, Reply

    Thanks for sharing your 3dsmax scene with fumefx to krakatoa setup!I have a quick question. When I open your scene SPA_LAB_Scene2_02.max I see some missing pflow objects in schematic view. I am using 3dsmax 2012 so maybe new pflow is not anymore compatible with the 2009 version? What version of fumefx and krakatoa did you use?Roman

    • deko, Reply

      Theoretically it should be compatible. There is no additional operators except FumeFX follow op. Check out screenshots in this post.

  15. Roman, Reply

    cool, thanks!

  16. Roman, Reply

    i followed your steps again and it works! amazing results..

  17. Brent, Reply

    wow. gorgeous stuff there. I may have to play with this right away!

  18. Stephanie, Reply

    Thanks!! great to study!! :D

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