Final Render

My idea for this project was to create a scene with water and floating lanterns out of a particle system in an attempt to learn more about Houdini.

Inspiration and References

I was inspired by Taiwan's annual lantern festival in Taipei. The lanterns were so beautiful and I wanted to create a similar scene.

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Breakdown

Water

The grid I used for the ocean was originally 8,994,001 polys but I was able to lower it to 3,758,472 polys by deleting the geometry outside of the camera view.

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Floating Lanterns Breakdown

I still couldn’t preview the movement of the waves in Houdini because of the high polycount, so I ran a few playblasts before I settled on the wave height and movement of the water.
 

I copied the boat to a point on a copy of the grid with a reduced polycount, and that had been smoothed so that it wouldn’t move as dramatically as it did when I attached it directly to the original ocean. This created the illusion that the boat is floating on the water.

Lanterns

Setup - I created the lanterns using a particle system from the Location Particle Emitter shelf tool. I turned off gravity and adjusted the variance and velocity along with the impulse count to create a movement that would be similar to floating lanterns. Using a for-each point loop and a switch node I copied a random lantern to each particle, and I used an instance node to instance a point light to each point.

Additionally, I added random rotation to the lanterns to give them a little more variation. On the x and z axis they appear rotated anywhere between -5 and 5 degrees. On the y axis, lanterns constantly rotate anywhere between -.5 and .5 degrees per frame.

Shading – It was challenging to get the lantern shader to look like my references. To match the references, I turned on Sub Surface Scattering which created a lot of noise on the lanterns.

Rendering – The light instances slowed my rendering down a lot until I changed the attenuation from physically correct to no attenuation. This took my render time from 3+ hours to around 3 minutes. After this was fixed, I was able to raise the pixel samples, minimum and maximum rays, and diffuse quality which got rid of most of the noise in the lanterns.

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Before

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After

Mountains

Since the heightfield is not heavy on the scene at all, I was able to use the same mountain three times to create more interesting depth than my original idea. I textured it with masks that are created by the heightfield erode node and using the mask created by the mask-by-feature node. It only required minimal detail since the mountains are mostly in silhouette.

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