I had two tasks on Injustice 2 that contained beams. One was the tiniest, quickest, you-barely-see-it beam ever. And one was nearly half the cinematic and it destroyed Superman. Dang.
The first one was in the very first scene of the game. Kara witnesses the destruction of her home planet by Braniac and his Braniac… lings. In the craziness of the shooting and the beaming and the storming and the dust, there’s a man who gets obliterated with some super cool eye beam in the background.
This was the reference I was given:
Most of the work is in the material on the cone. Because it was a cinematic effect, I knew the exact distance the characters were going to be from the camera, so I was able to use depth to create a couple of masks, and then I used UV distortion on those masks to give it that dissolving/windblown look.
I also animated the cone by hand. I tried attaching it to the character’s face, but it wiggled around too much and looked really weird.
And here’s the big big beam:
It was one of the last tasks we had. I felt a lot more comfortable in their cinematic tools, but I spent way less time on the inner details of the beam. There are a lot of different camera angles here, so it was much more about getting a good composition per-shot. In addition to the big big beam, I also created all the cracks on Superman’s face and dissolved his clothes away. This wasn’t part of the task, but I thought it would be cool to include – Superman was getting blasted so hard that it was eating away at his supersuit. I put a generic male skeletal mesh underneath his so that when his clothes dissolved away, he still had skin underneath.
1) The beams in the longer shots don’t actually connect to the Ship’s tentacles. I just positioned them so that they looked like they were attached. The real Brainiac ship was so far away that it would have been impossible to manage particles and meshes traveling that great a distance.
2) Related to the first fun fact, the first shot where the Brainiac ship’s tentacle charges up and then the beam shoots down at Superman, there’s a camera cut. I attached a very quick particle effect to the camera to help the transition. It’s like 4 frames.
3) At one point I dissolved too much of his skin and I had to contemplate texturing some Superman nipples because “generic male” is just a ken doll. We split the difference and just left most of his clothing in tact.