Epic oriental show “Love and Destiny” visual effects breakdown episode 1: environment effects

Aug 5 2019

With the airing of the year’s first epic TV show “Love and Destiny”, die-hard fans are captivated in front of their screens, and the non-stop spread of popularity and love for the show attracted countless new fans to join along the ride! This allowed “Love and Destiny” to maintain a good ranking of second place in the heated arena of the summer holiday season on the IQiYi streaming platform; with rising popularity, the score on DouBan soared to up 7.2 from the 5.4 in pre-release, which shattered expectations and became a trending phenomenon! From the growing interest in “Love and Destiny” we can sense the audience’s recognition of the show’s high quality, not only the protagonists Chang Jen and Ni Ni have fantastic acting skills, the story, which has a wide range of elements ranging from the lovely to the terrifying, also captured the audience’s appetite completely.  


In the visual effects production of this show, environments and CG creatures have been made to an improved quality, which draw wide praise from various sources! Whether compared to feature films or other TV shows, the effects production of “Love and Destiny” is a huge undertaking: a total shot count of 21038, which amounts to 1792.71 minutes; included are a total of 470 minutes of shots that contain 3D creatures, props, environments, it is over 100 minutes and 1363 shots for just the ones that contain 3D creature animation, which is already the length of a feature animation.    

The journey is about to begin, let us take you on a detailed tour to the stunning world of “Love and Destiny”!


Tian Zun mountain



In the grand and expansive scene of Tian Zun Mountain, the effects team successfully created the majestically expansive environment.


▋ Tian Zun Mountain cave entrance (concept art / onset shooting / final product)


The mountain is living quarters of the god of war Tian Zun, the main characteristic used in the design process is roots and vines, which is interlaced on two elongated rocks. In this scene, actual set pieces are built to scale for the two elongated rocks, making use of the real shadows from the model, combined with branches on the rock surface made in CG to make the animation, together they constitute the realistic yet fantastic view of shot.   


The main hurdle met when making this scene are the intricate tree vines, the effects team utilized a node based method to create the model of the tree layer by layer, from the trunk, branches, twigs, leaves to aerial roots, then adjusts the amount and density in each area. The vines, which have to be animated, requires higher quality, so the team created additional models that are more detailed, and is used for matching the CG elements naturally with the characters when placed in the same frame.






 Tian Zun Mountain clay model / rock texture reference / building diagram


 Inside Tian Zun Mountain (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)





▋ Tian Zun Mountain illusory realm (onset shooting / final shot)


Due to the requirement of animated camera movement in Tian Zun Mountain illusory realm, the surrounding sky, rocks, water, grass are all made in CG. It is previously mentioned that the water in Hua sheng pond is not as clear as regular water, a magical look have to be created for it; Instead the water in Tian Zun Mountain illusory realm is natural, likewise considerable effort have to be made in production in order to get a realistic look.


The effects team recreated the whole environment for the water in this scene, not only the parts visible to the camera, but also the mountains and trees that are outside the shot, the underwater environment, refraction and the bubbles in the water all have to be created in order to achieve a realistic lighting scenario. For further realism, the team created a riverbed under the river for true refraction, the inside of the water is filled with volume to simulate the depth of the water, the built scene and sky dome give reflection to the water.  




In this scene, the team has achieved breakthroughs in creating “whitewater”, traditionally when making whitewater, “mixing” whitewater with the main water body is a problematic step, the team tried a new technique of mixing different materials and sizes, thereby allowing the whole water to acquire a more natural look. In places where speed and turbulence are high, effect artist added spraying whitewater, due to the large amount of bubbles inside the spray, it appears as white as light passed through it. Likewise, a lot of bubbles will be brought in when water splashes into the main water body, through the difference in the index of refraction between air and water, more detail can be created for the inside of the water.  


So as to make the main water body and whitewater mix perfectly, the effects team enhanced the layering of the whitewater. It include different sized water mesh and water particles, opacity ramps are also applied to the water particles, multiple steps of polishing are utilized for the final Tian Zun Mountain illusory realm imagery the audience sees.




◆ Xi Xian pond, Wang Yue spring


Next we take a look at Xi Xian pond and Wang Yue spring where important twists in the story happen, the two natural settings have large amount of mountain structures and trees, only the set pieces where the actors perform are built, the rest are all blue screen. In order to create a most realistic natural scene, the effects team built the rough model based on the scanning data acquired onset to reference it’s proportions, then proceed to build the actual mountain models according to the areas where the camera points to, lastly trees are scattered on top. The difficulty in making the two scenes is in bridging the actual footage with CG elements, through adjustments to textures and lighting, and constant revisions, the CG elements are finally able to merge naturally with the footage.  


▋ Xi Xian pond (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)





▋ Wang Yue spring (concept art)



▋ Wang Yue spring panorama



▋ Wang Yue spring (onset shooting / final shot)







Zi Yun platform



▋ Zi Yun platform model texture combination



▋ Concept art / final shot




▋ Onset shooting / final shot




◆ Tian palace


In order to convey the grandeur and majestic aura of the Tian palace, the production team created a one to one palace that is highly elaborated, which pushes the level of detail to perfection; the effects team then created a complete environment for the palace, combining CG model with scanned data of the actual set to recreate three dimensional space, lastly the built elements are integrated together to create the grand and elegant scene of the Tian palace.



 Tian main palace (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)



 Tian palace path (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)





▋ Tian palace garden (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)




Peach blossom forest


The dreamy peach blossom forest is where junior celestial being Ling Xi lives in the heavenly realm, it is imagined by the art department as a place with abundant plants and flowers with a view to a flourishing peach blossom forest along the mountains; for the purpose of acquiring more richness in details, the production team break away from the restriction of a single plane in traditional methods of set building, and built the set with a difference in elevation for the forest hills, thereby creating a height discrepancy between the peach blossom forest and the red bridge, which added additional richness to the scene. Combined with a panoramic matte painting, animated CG peach blossom trees and supportive effects elements, the whole Kua Fu mountain Peach blossom forest comes alive as a place of heavenly beauty and elegance.

▋ Peach blossom forest panorama (concept art / final shot)




▋ Peach blossom forest viewing platform (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)



▋ Red bridge (concept art / onset shooting / final shot) 



Hua Shen pond


“The ride of the king of devil ‘Tun Tian’ melts in the Hua Shen pond, its blood and bones will rot away before long!”, now we come to the first scene that teems with the theme of illusory spirits “Hua Shen pond”, from its name we know it contains a deadly corrosive liquid and melts any creature that comes in contact with it. Different from regular clear water, Hua Shen pond needs to have a magical look to it, so the effects team adopt the design of a pool with a neon green glow.


Tun Tian, due to being submerged in Hua Shen pond for 49 days and is in dire pain, it tried to escape, its struggling moves affect the flowing speed and condition of the water. The effects team tried to limit the glow of the pond to be flowing naturally in certain areas rather than the whole pond, and later come to the decision to use the speed of the flowing liquid as the factor for the intensity of the glow: faster speed gets a brighter glow; lower speed gets a dimmer glow, thereby achieving the magical characteristic of the Hua Shen pond.


▋ onset shooting / final shot




The water effect is created in full CG, the difficulties faced when making this shot are the Hua Shen pond and the CG creature, in other words the compositing of Tun Tian. Tun Tian has wings and feathers, the CG pond has a variety of forms and materials, how does one combine all the elements to create a natural image challenges the team’s technical abilities.  

Below are more comparison images for the production of the epic oriental world.

Fu Yun palace


▋ Fu Yun palace positioning (concept art / final shot)




▋ Fu Yun main palace (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)




▋ A corner in Fu Yun palace (onset shooting / final shot)




▋ Guan Yun palace (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)




Yuan temple


▋ concept art / onset shooting / final shot




Suo Yao tower


 Suo Yao tower panorama (concept art / final shot)




▋ Suo Yao tower model and material



▋ Outside Suo Yao tower (onset shooting / final shot)




 Inside Suo Yao tower (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)





Nan Tian gate


▋ concept art / onset shooting / final shot





Tsung Ji lake


▋ Tsung Ji lake (concept art / final shot)




▋ Tsung Ji lake (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)







◆Tian Lei palace


▋ concept art / material reference and model



▋ onset shooting / final shot





Nan Ji Shian island


▋ Nan Ji Shian island built model



▋ Sian Wong Dong building (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)




▋ Tsang Bau Dong building (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)




Chih Yen cave


▋ Outside Chih Yen cave (concept art / final shot)



▋ Outside Chih Yen cave (onset shooting / final shot)




▋ Inside Chih Yen cave (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)






◆Chang Sheng sea


▋ concept art / final shot




▋ onset shooting / final shot





▋ Chang Sheng Hai Bing palace (onset shooting / final shot)




Shan Ling realm intersection


Shan Ling realm is located at the intersection between Tian realm and Mo realm, surrounded by a hundred thousand Li of spiritual mountain an spiritual water, with scenic view; tribe members come from the fire bird tribe in “Shan Hai Jing”.


▋ final shot




Tian Xi palace


Tian Xi palace is the main building of Shan Ling tribe, its outer layer made from bamboo with delicate craftsmanship, the top is made from glass that shines exotic colors, the building shows the Shan Ling tribe’ respect for nature, low key characteristic and highly spiritual culture.



 Tian Xi main palace (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)




▋ Outside Tian Xi palace (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)





Jing Hsiu residence


▋ concept art / onset shooting / final shot




Jin Yu underground prison


▋ onset shooting / final shot





Kun Lun Shan Yao pond


 concept art / onset shooting / final shot





You Du mountain


You Du mountain is the arena for the war between god and devil, it’s also the place where the antagonist in the show “Mo Jun” is sealed, it’s a place of mysteriousness and gloomy atmosphere. The effects team used bare and jagged rocks to create an ominous and dangerous feel, depth of field and color grading are then used to create the final image the audience sees.



▋ At the foot of You Du mountain ( onset shooting / final shot)




 Hei Lian Pan long shot (final shot)



▋ Hei Lian Pan (concept art / onset shooting / final shot)





Fu Ling abyss


▋ Outside Fu Ling abyss (concept art / final shot)



▋ Inside Fu Ling abyss (concept art / final shot)




▋ Inside Fu Ling abyss (onset shooting / final shot)




▋ Fu Ling abyss platform (concept art / onset shooting / final shot) 





The visual effects breakdown for “Love and Destiny” ends here for this section, later we have more interesting behind the scenes look to share with all of you, do you want to learn more about which scenes come from the hands of the TWR visual effects team? Or take a peek at the technical ingenuity behind those splendid effects? Let us look forward to the release of more making-of episodes as we continue to watch the show; while captivated by Chen and Xi’s highs and lows, don’t forget to enjoy the stunning world that we created through visual effects! See you next time! 

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