1st place winner “the great transmutator” VFX Contest


Operating in Wilmslow, UK, Michał Piątek is working as VFX Artist at Foundry 42 ltd. since 2016. He worked before for CreativeForge Games, where he created VFX and cinematics for “Ancient Space”, “Hard west”. He is also sharing VFX knowledge on his personal website http://michalpiatek.com/



The Great Transmutator : Realtime VFX Contest Entry

Game VFX showreel 2015 – Michal Piatek



PopcornFX Pro License + HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, 1 year license Houdini Fx, 18 months license subscription Substance Live, NVidia Quadro M5000 card VR Ready, Cintiq 13HD Interactive pen display



I am very, very happy- I never ever won any contest in my life, and definitely I never won a VFX contest !
Thanks to all of you who took part in the contest. It was really awesome experience to compete against such talented people. There are definitely more cool entries than there are places on a podium.
Also many thanks for organizing this contest, for all the sponsors. Prizes are truly exceptional, theme was really challenging and the whole experience was great.
Thank you all and I hope to see you guys taking part in another contest !”



  • Why did you like The Great Transmutator VFX Contest ?

First of all, VFX contest are very, very rare. When I have seen the announcement I knew I had to give it a go. And then the topic – I think it was very well chosen. Transmutation is a really challenging subject. Morphing objects in real time has always been a very complex effect to achieve and you don’t see it very often in games. And because this type of effect is so uncommon I felt that I have a lot of freedom in how I can approach it. There are some effects which have certain type of look and audience already have some expectations. We all know how explosion looks like 🙂

Also, it would be silly not to mention prizes and big VFX names in the jury! If you will think about how much possibilities they open – it is really incredible. And when great prizes are at stake, knowing that someone with great deal of experience is going to judge you is very reassuring.

  • What was the biggest challenges in this contest ?

The hardest part was creating the illusion of seamless transmutation and developing my own technology for that. In offline rendering it’s realatively easy to, let’s just say, make a model X with 100 vertices and morph it into object Z which has 200 vertices. You can create missing vertices on the fly, rearrange them, reconnect them. In realtime this is not possible so you have to be creative. Texture-based vertex animation is one way to go but I had no access to tools which could generate that. Morph targets have a lot of limitations and they don’t look very nice. After I ruled out the only two available solutions to object morphing I knew I had to come up with my own solution. I decided to write a bunch of shaders which would mimick melting and bulging, somehow apply that to my meshes and use particles to bind these two objects together. Figuring out how to make a very technical effect to be visually appealing was another challange which I was struggling with up til the very end. There is a lot more to it and I will be posting a detailed breakdown on my website 🙂

  • Tell us what VFX mean to you ?

I always enjoyed drawing, painting, music, animation, creating movies. But I also liked maths, programming, electronics. Very often you have to choose between an artistic or technical job. Being a VFX artist is like a combination of both worlds. It allows me to express myself artistically through technology.

I like to think of VFX as of very odd version of animation. Explosions, nebulas or water splashes are your characters. You animate them to convey specific emotions such as feeling of being powerful, knowing that you are witnessing something epic or to show the beauty of nature in a virtual world.

Doing VFX means that you need to understand world around you. You cannot make a good looking explosion without briefly knowing how combustion works. It is an art of observation, of understanding all the nitty-gritty details and reproducing them.

  • Why would you recommand to use PopcornFX in production ?

Definitely. Everyone is talking about going procedural these days and I always explain to other VFX artist that PopcornFX is procedural for VFX. Most of particle editors out there allow you to do certain amount of things. You are limited to functionalities which were implemented. In PopcornFX you can pretty much do anything. Its design is very open and flexible. You can do all sorts of crazy particle interactions. I also love how easy it is to create gameplay dependencies. You can create your own particle behaviors which can be later driven by some gameplay value. You don’t have to ask a programmer to do it for you! Sure, you need to learn some scripting but it’s not that hard and is a lot of fun.

  • Would you participate to another VFX contest ?

For sure, if time allows of course 🙂

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