de Volkskrant: Creative Press Challenge

Sometimes projects fall on your lap serendipitously. A few weeks ago I started experimenting with TurbulenceFD, and a week later I was asked if I could do smoke and fire simulations for a project.

This project was for Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant and was directed by Corriette Schoenaerts and art directed by Thijs Biersteker. It’s the opening video for the Creative Press Challenge, and it was a treat to work on.

I focused on the smoke/fluid simulations, as well as the Facebook Likes shots, and SuperHeroes intern Fredrik Dejert worked on the 2D illustration that’s on a screen. Compositing, grading and titling was done by the nice guys at Glassworks.

Technical & Creative Development

As I mentioned in the beginning, the smoke was all simulated using TurbulenceFD. The dragon was a 3d model animated with some basic deformers, and the fireworks were a mix of an object following a spline as well as emitting particles generated using X-Particles.

The stylized Facebook Likes were animated using both C4D Dynamics, as well as X-Particles for the more complicated shot with the Likes twirling around the bulbous glass container. Here’s a quick breakdown of the research and development process:

This project allowed me to dive in deeper into TFD’s settings and also figure out how to optimize renders – originally I thought the bulk of the render times was going to be in the smoke simulations but those were really fast compared to the painstakingly long renders for the Facebook Likes caused by all the refraction and internal reflections.

Also, X-Particle’s ease of use really helped out: no more trial and error to get Thinking Particles to get things kind of how you want them to look.

Development Stills

Back when we were initially thinking of having the dragon be made out of fire and thick black smoke.


Some coloring examples developed for the Directors (TFD’s shading methods are really interesting, especially once you start mapping Opacity/Transparency as well as colors to other fluid channels).
When we realized that we couldn’t use the iconic Facebook Likes because of legal issues, we made a hand/thumb that was similar but not too similar. Then I developed some different looks based on wants & feedback to give the directors options.


  1. Pingback: SuperHeroes' blog - a creative interactive agency with offices in Amsterdam and New York

  2. Pingback: Plume: Smoke RnD | Motion Sketches

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