For the group project at the NCCA, I worked with John Galloway, Luis Ho Tseng and Alex Hulse. The short film entitled Swarm, lasting about five minutes, was shot in The New Forest, Hampshire.

It begins with a man chopping wood in the forest and as he is walking back home, he hears an unusual sound. He is drawn deeper into the forest by the sound and a strange light. On reaching the source of the sound, he is suddenly startled and runs away as a large insect creature chases him. As he enters a clearing in the forest, the hero bug causes a swarm of tree insects to engulf him.

The large image accessed from the link below, shows a shot from Swarm highlighting the strange light.

Shot from Swarm showing the forest

Shot from Swarm showing the forest:
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The large image accessed from the link below, shows a shot from Swarm of the man looking at the hero bug.

Shot from Swarm showing the hero bug

Shot from Swarm showing the hero bug:
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One of my main tasks during the production, was to create the swarm of insects. After spending time researching swarming and flocking behaviour of insects I set about constructing a swarm system in Houdini. A particle system was created utilising several metaball and force operators, and expressions to control the flow of the particles. The model of the swarm insect was instanced during rendering which dramatically improved the simulation and render times. A digital asset was finally created with animation controls for additional movement and pulsing of the swarm.

The movie clip below highlights the swarm engulfing the man. The pulsing was keyframed in time with the movement of the actor.

Still of Swarm

Download Clip
Filename: swarmWeb.mov
File size: 2.8 MB