Looping Waves

Learn how Simon Smalley created this lovely animated scene in LightWave 3D

Posted: Wed 24 May 2017

Summer is here and with temperatures raising up what is better than watching the superb work of Simon Smalley on the looping waves around this lovely desert island? Let's go behind the scenes and see how LightWave 3D enabled him to create this appealing project.

Interview with Simon Smalley

I originally created this desert island scene for ‘Feel Stress Free’, a therapeutic mobile app presented by Thrive. One of the key requirements for the scene is that the wave animation should loop, so I decided that in order to get the perfect loop and predictable results I would deform the waves with image sequences UV’d to a mesh, rather than making complex fluid simulations in other software or plugins. LightWave is great for making the seemingly complicated simple. With it not having integrated fluid systems etc. you look at other ways to achieve the result you want, and in most cases, it is a usually faster and more efficient solution.

In Layout, I started out by creating a crashing wave style emitter, which I animated to move along the Z-axis (giving the motion of a wave moving into shore). Once I was happy with the look and motion, I set up a top down camera and rendered a black and white image sequence.

Over in Modeler I then set up my mesh (in this case a subdivided disc) and UV’d it in such a way that the image sequence I’d created would animate towards the center of the mesh, towards my desert island.

Back in Layout I applied a ‘normal displacement’ to my water mesh and started to assign image sequences to the layers. I then move ahead and made tweaks and variations to the image sequence in After Effects. First, I exported a low detail, blurred image sequence which I used to control the wave height/displacement. This gave me a nice smooth animated wave effect that I could then blend on top of with my more detailed surf image sequences.

The detailed image sequence was then used to control opacity, color and bump etc. to give some nice variation to the water surface.

Learn more about this project: