Various VFX Presentations and Papers


Here’s a list of GDC / Siggraph presentations we put together after the roundtable. It’s just getting started, so please add more!

Notes from the Uncharted 3 VFX Talk

Special Effects with Depth in Unity is a really interesting presentation that covers:
Soft particles • Animated shields • Intersection highlights • GPU simulated particles • Refractive force field effect • Object outlines • Vertical, fluffy fog • Point light shafts
Although it takes place in unity, the tricks would work in any engine.

Creation of Killzone 3 (Killzone particles starting at page 141! Really fascinating to see their tools. All their particle shaders are authored in the maya hypershade. Videos are here:

Making of Killzone 3 GDC 2012 talk, a lot about how they use Maya in their pipeline, some other tools and some shading network examples.

Making and using Non-Standard Textures in Portal 2 is a great talk Bronwen Grimes gave about crazy ways of using textures on Portal. Flow maps, shader based sprite bubbles and more. Inspiring ideas!

Rock Show VFX was my GDC talk from 2010 - deals with random stuff like particle lighting, simulation, rendering and some framebuffer trickery

Rapid Prototyping Techniques for Kinect Game Development is mostly about kinect and unfortunately all the videos are missing so I’m not sure how much sense it will make. Deals with rapid prototyping VFX and gameplay using “Processing” so I wanted to include it since that came up in the roundtable.

Visual Effects Roundtable 2012 notes from GDC 2012

Visual Effects Roundtable 2013 notes from GDC 2013

Visual Effects Roundtable 2014 notes from GDC 2014

Visual Effects Roundtable 2015 notes from GDC 2015


Useful info there. I especially like some of the topics raised at the round table. I’ll be at the next one for sure.


I’ve heard about the killzone viewport renderer like 2 years ago, hadn’t seen anything until now. Very cool stuff and something I actually had in mind to develop for fun, now I almost have the motivation but not the time :stuck_out_tongue:


Thanks for posting these, I had forgotten to bookmark that valve PDF so it’s nice to look at again. I recreated their camera-facing-UVs math in the UDK material editor and it works like a champ, cool trick that I’ll be looking for reasons to use.


FWIW, here’s a bunch of bookmarks I had for publication pages - some of the might be a bit old now (Bungie and Valve):

Real time / game:





Adding one to dunk’s list:

more film-focused, but lots of cool papers nonetheless.

Oh, and this one: <-- it’s a subdomain of dunk’s first link, but for some reason isn’t in the resource page


Pushing for Large Scale Destruction FX (slides)
Lessons learned from Gears of War 3: Raam’s Shadow DLC


I just stumbled across this bungie fx presentation, not sure how I missed it!

Blowing S#!t Up the Bungie Way

Super cool details on the bungie effect system as well as some great effect breakdowns, and rendering tips and tricks.


Dat gradientmap :eek:


Yeah it’s a classic - we use the greyscale + LUT a fair bit. Sometimes 2D LUTs with the V coord keyed off some other property.

Chris Tchou’s Halo Reach Effects presentation from GDC 2011 is also cool:
Hefty download due to the embedded videos, but worth it.

Screen space particle collisions is a hefty system to implement, but the depth faded effects are more easily achievable (as long as you can get a hold of the depth buffer in your PS) and give great results!


Just saw that 3dBuzz is going to do a 6 week webinar about UDK. Could be good for the guys who want to get into it. There is one week of material stuff and one week of particles. Should be good!
3d Buzz


I think i’m going to do this too. Always good to get a more rounded view of a tool I use all the time. I’ve been doing the Houdini webinars too, so I’m curious as to the differences in teaching style. I’ve done some of the buzz videos before, so they’re usually pretty solid albeit a little chatty. haha


Fxphd just got a intro to Houdini class and theres a re-run of their fluids class. Also there’s 2 3ds Max destruction courses. I’ve taken their courses before and it was really enjoyable and thinking I’m going to enroll again for the 3ds max courses and the fluids one. (its about 395 US dollars) Also once you register you have 2 weeks to decide your final three choices.


Just added Roundtable notes from GDC 2013 to the stickies at the top. Here’s a shortcut. It was a great year awesome to see folks in meat space!

GDC 2013 Visual Effects Artist Roundtable Notes