Coolkalle's UE4 VFX

Edit; Having created new effects since this post, I’ve decided to change the topic to a broader “Different-stuff-I’ve-made-in-UE4” thing that I can update as I go along rather than clogging up the forum with new topics every time I want to post something :slight_smile:

Hi Real time! After lurking on the site for a few months and seeing everyones amazing work I felt like making something. Here’s a teleporter effect I’ve made in Unreal Engine 4:

While I’m liking the overall feel of it, I was hoping you guys could give some of your input on the effect as a whole: Anything you like more, things you like less, suggestions or advice on pushing it further, etc.


I feel like it lingers with the character “fully” emissive for too long with essentially nothing happening. There should be something else happening during that time looking like it’s still building up. You could slow down the time it takes to fully envelop the character, or you could push the emission even brighter (possibly faking it with a glow particle).

I would keep the character using a masked material when it dissolves away instead of using a transparent blend. This is mainly because the reflection of the character jarringly “jumps”.

There’s a burst of particles that occur right when the dissolve starts. Right now it’s relatively small and centered on the character’s crotch. I would suggest making that bigger and moving it closer to the middle of the torso (aka the “center of mass”).

I would also have the “retraction” of the bottom tornado effect finish just before the dissolve / particle burst. RIght now it overlaps a little.

You might play with a world space vertex offset when the dissolve happens so the body shape is broken up more. Either have the vertices pull up as they dissolve, or out along the vertex normal, or a bit of both, so it looks more like the shape is evaporating.

You’ve got a lot of space where you can add some interest here, at the very least a cylindrical glow coming up.

The teleporting cubes look cool, perhaps try some more size/width variations for them.

Thanks for your advice! I finally got back to this - I added some particles during the build up before the model goes full emissive, added a vertex offset to the model as it starts to dissolve, and tweaked the scales on the cubes at the end.

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Made a new effect! I watched the Iron giant recently and felt inspired by one of the later scenes, so I decided to make a Plasma explosion in UE4:

I think it came out pretty nice, but if you guys could offer some C&C on it that would be really appreciated!

Updated the effect - I added some more lightning bolts and size variations at the end of the effect to make it seem like there still was a lot of energy left in the air. I also added some noise to the dissolve to make it feel a bit more energetic and moved the landscape a bit to frame the effect better.





I loved the Iron Giants plasma explosion, before even reading the text i was like "hmm, that looks just like the Iron Giant’s plasma! You absolutely nailed it, great timing, animation, and colors!


Looks pretty good, really nailed the iron giant vibe. The fractal noise pattern on the second bubble erosion looks much better than the first iteration you had.

I do have a few minor suggestions to improve the effect a bit, take it with a grain of salt. :slight_smile:

I would reduce the length of time the lightning is happening at the end. I feel it should die out roughly the same time as the energy bubble dissipates instead of continuing to crackle afterwards. It feels a bit isolated on its own. (brighter/more bloom?)

I would also have lightning arcing out of the ball and hitting objects and terrain it gets close to as it flies forward like in the movie. Perhaps tone down the ground dust a bit, feels a bit thick. (less opacity)

I feel the muzzle flash has too many sparks. It just turns into a massive blob of particles. It could use a little more structure/defined shape. Could also have a few quick electric arcs fire out with it.

The initial detonation could use some more bloom/glow particles between the radial light beams. If you take a look at this gif of the detonation in the movie the whole sky is lit up with a subtle green haze. You can also add a very quick and bright initial flash at the moment of detonation to add more feeling of impact. In the gif you can see it gets super bright, then quickly dims down, then slowly gets brighter again as the bubble/light rays expand. The expansion of the glow and light rays also feels a bit slow at the moment. I would also add a second layer of light rays that are much softer/dimmer and last a bit longer than the ones from the initial flash. Dim them in time with the bubble expansion.

The timing on the green dust bits in the middle of the bubble could be tightened up a bit. (the lighter green/teal particles) It appears as if it gets triggered twice during the effect. Personally i would only trigger it only once, right as the bubble starts to break apart and extend the length of it slightly so it dies out in sync with the bubble. So its as if the bubble was disintegrating and filling up with energy particles because of that disintegration. Perhaps have it linger very briefly after the bubble is gone. Could have the occasional quick/smaller lightning arc between these to show that it is a highly charged cloud of particles?

The mesh deform you have on the ball as it is growing feels a bit odd to me. Feels more like a liquid style wobble. There is also a slight jolt halfway through the deform animation.

The lifetime on the lightning coming from the barrel after the shot feels a bit too long/slow. I would decrease it so the lightning arcs are more quick and snappy like the lingering lightning you have at the end.

The outer bubble with the lightning on it feels too big/isolated from the other bubble right at the start. (the ending looks good though) It should start out the same size as the energy bubble and then expand and deform away from the main bubble, as if the energy arcs are crackling along the edge and then arcing out from the surface.

Some very subtle light flickering during the charge would help it feel less static during the buildup.

The trail behind the ball as it flies feels a little bit weak. I would either axe it and go with electric arcs like in the movie or i would beef it up a lot more. It feels like its only coming from a single small point in the middle of the ball instead of coming from the balls surface.

Hopefully some of these suggestions will be useful. Keep up the good work! :grinning:

Here is a link to the scene on youtube so you can see it frame by frame.:slight_smile:

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Thanks for the feedback, cEssex! Very precise stuff :slight_smile: I’m currently hard at work on another effect, but I should be wrapping that up by next week, so I’m going to see if I can’t integrate some of your feedback into the plasma blast sometime later next week.

That said, I was wondering if you could elaborate your feedback on the muzzle flash? A lot of the detail in it is lost when the camera pans aways from it as it introduces significant blur in the image. For reference, this is the muzzle flash effect as seen from the side without the blur:

With that in mind, do you think the effect still has too sparks and is in need of more structure? I like the idea of some electrical arcs, so I’ll be sure to look into that :smiley:

@JangaFX Thank you! I absolutely loved the movie so it means a lot that people seem to make the connection :slight_smile:

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Michel Gagne’s stuff is always amazing reference. He actually has break downs of that scene on his site.


I see what you mean about the blur, it muddles everything. :frowning:

I think your on the right track with your muzzle flash. I would dial down the sparks and use more of the blue plasma bit. Use the blue plasma to build up the shape the muzzle flash, then have it dissipate into sparks in the end.

The animation and shape could also use a little more work. Its a bit too perfect of a cone shape and the motion feels too linier and straight.

When making an effect i try and account for things such as object acceleration/deceleration and pressure. Even super fast objects always have some type of accel/decel curve and this can change how the effect looks, sometimes quite dramatically. (small scale liquid sims can be a pain because of this.:unamused:) Even if its only a few frames you can still feel it. This breakdown from the illustrator demonstrates this perfectly.

You can see how it starts out as a small cylinder that shoots out, then as the pressure of the plasma coming out of the barrel increases, it forces its way out the sides causing it to expand laterally into more of a cone shape. Even though its only a couple frames it really helps sell the feeling of pressure. The blast has a fairly coherent shape for most of it until the end where it erodes into a few sparks.

P.S. Little tip for spark bursts. Instead of having them simply fire out in a cone, I like to setup a parent/child system where it will fire several cones of sparks that you can layer together. I usually have the children inherit velocity from the parent and use drag with high randomness to make them spread out. The parent also has some randomness on the speed and angles so each cone is slightly different from the next. This really helps break up the uniformity and makes it feel more natural. :slight_smile:

Been working on a Tank explosion these last couple of days because the voices keep telling me to blow things up :smiley: Joking aside, this is what I’ve got now; what do you think?



Haven’t forgotten about the Plasma explosion btw, I just wanted to work on another project a bit to get some more variety for my portfolio :wink:

@bgolus Thank you for posting the breakdown! That will help out a ton :smiley:

@cEssex Thanks for clearing that up, mate! I’ll get to working on it next week, got some other projects that needs doing in the meantime :slight_smile:

Got back to the Tank explosion after noticing some things that bugged me. Did some timing adjustments across the board, but the big thing was tweaking the timing and the amount of the sand cloud particles that get thrown up after the turret lands, and had the fire in it linger just a little while longer so it doesn’t just cut off at landing. I also added a sand mesh around the turret in order to make it feel like it actually burrows into the ground on impact:

Video for those too cool for compressed GIFs:

Back on the plasma explosion again to integrate some feedback. Not quite done yet, but I did a lot of tweaks on the timing across the board. I spent a lot of time trying to work out how to approach the muzzle flash - My current setup is using two layered cylinders with a climbing mask and a GPU emitter for additional sparks.

The way I’m reading the scene from the movie, I get the feeling that the ball is launched in a cloud of superheated plasma. To try and accomodate this, I changed my texture for the flash itself into a something more splatter-like. I also added a world position offset noise in order to make the cylinders feel a bit more organic as it fires.

I tried adding a velocity module to the cylinders to make it feel like the plasma is really flung away as the sphere gets launched. I’m feeling partial to the one with a velocity module, but I also like elements of the one without it :confused: Which one do you prefer?

New with Velocity module:

New without velocity module:


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i like it with velocity, but i think you could split the difference and limit the velocity over lifetime. have it slow down at the end slightly to give it a chance to spread out more like in the one without velocity. looking awesome compared to the old version!

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They are both looking much better than the previous one!

I like the start of the one without velocity and the ending of the one with velocity. I also echo Ryans suggestion, have a bit of deceleration on the main core at the end. I would also tweak it so the start of the main core doesn’t move away from its emission point, just have it stretch forward.

The lateral expansion feels a little too slow and linier imo, it should forcefully expand out words much faster at the start than the finish. (try a logarithmic curve) Almost everything in nature has some sort of accel/deccel curve, nothing is ever linier unless its something artificial/man made. I personally try and apply this theory to pretty much every element in my vfx.

The spark burst along with the main core seems a bit too slow and disconnected. Try and match velocities with the main core. Have the sparks shoot out at the same speed the core travels forward, then have lots of randomness on the speed and a high degree of drag to make them slow down and fall. The sparks should roughly match the shape and speed of the main core, it will help them feel a bit more connected together instead of them being 2 separate elements.

Good job, keep it up!:grinning:

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Got back to the muzzle flash and did a new render of the whole thing while I was at it. I incorporated some velocity into the muzzle flash cylinders, with the blue plasma gaining the bulk of velocity before decelarating at the end. I also added a small amount of velocity to the green plasma flash to match it better with the blue plasma and offset the “retraction” that happens when the alpha erosion kicks in.

Muzzle flash:


Here’s an overall changelog

  • Added a flickering light to the build-up
  • Smoothed out the sphere so that it transitions nicely into a ball shape before firing
  • Reworked the muzzle flash to make it feel more organic
  • Removed the lightning trail from the sphere, instead added arcs of lightning shooting out of it
  • Made the dust particles less opaque
  • Slightly reduced the UV distortion on the bubble dissolve
  • Changed the timing of the lightning grid to sit tighter to the dome, tearing itself away as the dome starts to rupture
  • Tightened up the lightning bolts at the end of the dissolve so they stop spawning around the same time the dome has vanished
  • Initial “light pillars” from the explosion live a lot longer

If you were looking to continue polishing it…
But that’s why i’m a bit disappointed by the launch. It feels like there’s no reactive forces in it. And the ball flying forward looks like just a sphere flying forward. It’s not deformed or blurred, and the trail is tiny. To a degree that tiny trail helps the scale. So a very very transparent something to help sell the travel might be cool.

The lightning mapped on the sphere has a bit too much … orthogonality? All the lines are horizontal and vertical which is very unlightning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen lightning connect at 90 degrees.
The lightning sprites that are small don’t seem to be connecting anything and maybe hang around a bit long? If you look at the IG lightning, it’s more like a plasma globe and there’s one strong ground to sky element that persists and evolves.
The frequency / speed of the dust cloud is detracting from the massiveness because of how fast it’s animated.
Speed kills scale.
So you might want to make them all move very slowly after the initial shock. The flipbook for the initial dust cloud is very nice!

Great work.

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Thanks William! I’ll probably take another spin at the plasma at a later date, I’ve got a lot on my plate atm.

Did some Houdini stuff at school to try out the texture vertex animation tool. After a little tweaking with the Unreal shaders, I managed to get this out:

While certainly pretty cool, I was hoping that someone could clue me in on the advantages/disadvantages of this method compared to simply baking the animation to an FBX? Smaller file size?

Also threw together a small cinematic to contextualize the destruction:

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I’m not an authority on this, but I believe the reason would be so that all of the animation gets moved up to the GPU?
So the only bandwidth from cpu to gpu is the update for time.

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