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Submitted by Crowe, posted on August 03, 2001

Image Description, by Crowe

While this is not done in real time, this is a particle system I have been working on for some time. It contains 4 distinct partcile systems and over 3000 particles per frame.

While this is not an application but simply graphics, I wanted to share it with the rest, as it was quite an undertaking. I wrote the shader in Renderman's script and wrote the tornado script in 3dsmax's script. I can select a path and apply my script. The tornado will start on one side of the path and dissipate on the other. The funnel is fully animated and twists on its own via a noise modifier.

I have yet to add the debris element, but that is next, allowing random meshes to be used as debris within the tornado.

Image of the Day Gallery


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August 03, 2001, 01:31 PM

Wow, that's really neat. At first I thought it was like a tornado simulator or something ;). Very cool though.


August 03, 2001, 01:32 PM

Wow, that's awesome. Keep up the good work. It would be cool to see that effect implemented into a game.


August 03, 2001, 02:04 PM

Thats pretty sweet. How many particles do you think a decent system could handle in real time and do something like that? If you did that affect but just for dust and things like that, it would be great. I can just imagine a dust cloud blowing away in the wind as my character falls down from a hard hit and blah blah blah


August 03, 2001, 02:05 PM

That is fantastic. Can you give some details on your shader? What did you render it with PR Renderman, BMRT, Aqsis?
To bad you can't use the Renderman shaders in games, maybe someday will have realtime raytracing.

Lars Birkemose

August 03, 2001, 03:14 PM

Truely outstanding.
If you also can make this thing live (afterall, these are only stills), your next job should be at Industrial Light and Magic ;O)


August 03, 2001, 03:15 PM

There's no place like home, there's no place like home!

Cool :)


August 03, 2001, 03:18 PM

have an animation online?


August 03, 2001, 04:31 PM

Is the shape based on real tornado data? It looks very real.


August 03, 2001, 04:50 PM

Sweet looking man, If you make it into a renderman plug in it would be awesome for pre-rendered cutscenes.

zed zeek

August 03, 2001, 06:08 PM

great looking stuff + all done with 3000 particles which doesnt sound like many. it looks like 30000. why not realtime? most cards can handle 3000 easily or is there some major blending/overdraw going on


August 03, 2001, 06:15 PM

They had a similar thing going in realtime in DOA2/Xbox at E3. There was this forest scene, and this hurricane of leaves. I figured it was canned animation, since it looked so good, but the guy said that the physics calculations for it were done in realtime. They seemed to have an aerodynamics model going, or at least a very good approximation thereof, because the leaves actually fluttered in the wind and whatnot.
Can't wait till I start writing production code on Xbox.. heh.


Mark Friedenbach

August 03, 2001, 07:12 PM

OT: Actually, the Renderman shader language could be implemented on modern 3d hardware (fully on GeForce 3, and most functionality on earlier cards). All you need is dest alpha, stencil buffer, and many passes (or register combiners).


August 03, 2001, 08:01 PM

Now that is truly original. I don't think I've ever seen a screenshot of a Tornado before. Very impressive work.


August 03, 2001, 09:49 PM

I should say that they had a similar thing going in realtime in DOA2/Xbox at E3. It was .. well .. some time ago. Can't remember when and can't guarantee it really happened. I just know that this tornado definitely killed dozen of people and you must include some blood and dead corpses.

Best wishes


August 04, 2001, 03:29 AM

Why do everybody think it's funny to pretend it's a rendering each time a photo is submitted?


August 04, 2001, 06:03 AM

You wouldnt consider releasing the source to the max script would you? I'm sure that some people would consider attempting this in realtime. The hard part for us graphics games guys is getting the tornado behaviour down right.



August 04, 2001, 09:48 AM

Really cool effect :)
Could you please send us the sources, or write a little article on how to make the physic behind your program ?
It would be really nice from you :)


August 04, 2001, 12:48 PM

You need full dependant writes for renderman shaders.


August 04, 2001, 08:40 PM

pah! I'm not impressed... No terrain engine???

just kidding...
really cool stuff... This is one of the more unique iotd's... 'bout the only thing that is missing from the screens is a flying cow... but oh well, guess that gives you something to put in next time... lol

Mark Friedenbach

August 04, 2001, 09:39 PM

That's what the stencil buffer is for. (conditional SIMD processing)


August 04, 2001, 10:07 PM

Now, thats actually funny!

Robert Bear

August 05, 2001, 01:02 AM

Thanks for the input guys.

i was suprised to see it actually made iotd.

No source available right now. I should have it ready for distribution sometime soon. Busy working on my demo reel and web page to get that done however.

I would love to impliment this in real time, however, im not quite that good yet. I do mostly AI work, and fairly simplistic AI at that.

update to the Particle counts btw. I was counting visible particles, where I only see 1/10 of those that are rendered. particle count is indeed well over 30,000. Sorry about that.

Thanks again,


Robert Bear

August 05, 2001, 01:05 AM

Done with Renderman. Might port it over to BMRT however so that i might be able to get better volumetric effects.

Not sure how it would be done in real time.

Robert Bear

August 05, 2001, 01:06 AM

well those are stills from an animation. Haven't had time to render out the full animation yet..:)

takes over 3 minutes per frame and Im busy with other renders and work at the moment.

Robert Bear

August 05, 2001, 01:06 AM

based upon photos. Would love to incorporate real data.


August 05, 2001, 05:30 AM

Probably because it is a rendering...


August 05, 2001, 05:53 AM

Damn it, you dont get it! (Its a joke)


August 05, 2001, 01:58 PM

May 2001.


August 05, 2001, 02:15 PM

About a year ago, I saw some screenshots from a project which was presented at Siggraph 2000 which would compile Renderman shaders into OpenGL calls. Although the output wasn't pixel-perfect, it looked damned close. I can't find much detailed information, but there are several sites which talk about it; just do a Google search on "renderman opengl siggraph."

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