Go From Beginner to Advanced at Setting Up Massive Water FX Simulations

After years of running water simulations with Chaos Phoenix, I’ve finally decided to take everything I’ve learned and turn it into the most value-packed course I could make. Avoid common mistakes that will make your simulations take forever to run and even longer to render, optimize your scenes & achieve impressive results fast. The course covers a variety of scenarios, including a submarine breach, 60-foot waterfall, mountain river and much much more. By the time you’re 30% done going through the lessons, you’ll feel comfortable & inspired to run your own large-scale water sims. See you inside the course! – Jesse

I first attempted this in 2012…(story time)

I’ve always found liquid simulations fascinating, so in 2012 I started learning RealFlow. Now don’t get me wrong, I think RealFlow is a great software for certain scenarios, but trying to do a shot of a ship going through water, with splash and foam, and an infinite ocean, turned out to be an absolute nightmare.

It’s because all of the simulation & meshing lives outside of 3Ds Max, so I had to export my animation from Max, import into RealFlow, run the sim, run the mesher, and worst part? Trying to somehow render splash & foam. Turns out you need another expensive plug-in called Karakatoa to read splash particles in Max, and even then they won’t properly render mixing with the water without compositing trickery. Not to mention it was all taking forever to load up and render, and I never figured out how to extend the sim box into an infinite ocean either.

Constantly going back and forth between Max and RealFlow was driving me crazy and killing my productivity. In complete frustration, I shelved the project.

But then in 2016, Phoenix FD 3.0 was released, and it was love at first sight. 

The Phoenix Difference

  • Phoenix FD is the only fluid dynamics plugin that allows you to create water simulations with splash and foam entirely within 3Ds Max
  • All-in-one solution to create water FX start-to-finish, including meshing, particle rendering & infinite oceans. It’s the full package.
  • Optimized to work well with Vray, it handles & renders millions of particles FAST
  • Used in production on major motion pictures & TV Shows such as Game of Thrones

This Course is Officially Recognized by Creators of Phoenix FD

You’ve heard me say this before, but it’s worth repeating

At a certain point you realize that you can either keep wasting your life away waiting for tutorials to pop up on Youtube, or you can skip all that, and take the shortcut to actual RESULTS. If I could go back in time to 3 years ago when I started learning Phoenix, and an actual professional made a step-by-step course that would teach me everything I need to know to make cool stuff NOW I would have jumped on the opportunity in a heartbeat. If you’re serious about acquiring new skills, you eventually realize that time is very precious, and investing a little bit of money to RAPIDLY advance your career is extremely worth it in the long run.

Covered FX Shots Include

I’ve designed this to be the only course on this topic you’ll ever need to take. There are so many different techniques and lessons to be learned from all of these examples. Each one will teach you something new. By the end of this course, you’ll have the skills to create just about any water effect imaginable.

You Will Learn How To:

  • Create large water simulations from ship wakes to rivers & waterfalls
  • Add realistic splash, foam, & mist and learn how to control them
  • Extend your base water sim seamlessly into an infinite ocean
  • Discover new features in Phoenix FD 4
  • Optimize and speed up your simulations & rendering
  • Add Wet-maps to make objects appear wet when water touches them (e.g. beach sand)
  • Use V-ray sun for daylight lighting
  • Setup a realistic ocean shader


Why This Course?

I made the course I wish had existed when I started learning Phoenix FD. I’m going to teach you:

  • exactly how this plugin works
  • what each and every setting does & how it influences the simulation
  • the common mistakes & pitfalls to avoid
  • how to stop simulations from taking forever to run
  • why it’s taking days to render instead of hours
  • why the foam is flickering and/or disappearing
  • why the ship isn’t interacting with the water as expected

This is The Most Definitive

And Entirely Comprehensive

Phoenix FD Water FX Course

There are so many opportunities

and so few people that can do

this type of work

Level up your reel and portfolio, wow your clients with premium visuals & start charging more for your work today. The transformation you will go through as you take the course will give you the tools and confidence to set-up a variety of unique water simulations for your own reel, give you very cool stuff to post on Instagram, wow your friends and take your work to a whole new level.

  • Music videos & VFX for films and TV shows
  • Concert visuals & Tradeshow displays & Commercials
  • The shipping & oil industries
  • Luxury product videos (yachts, ships) & Waterproof products
  • and much more

Your Instructor

Jesse Pitela is a Certified Phoenix FD Instructor, a Los Angeles-based CGI studio owner & award-winning VFX artist. His work has been showcased by every major computer-graphics website in the world, including CGSociety and Autodesk. He has extensive experience working with established VFX studios such as Resistance VFX, Chariotdrive & Riotmaker & his studio has created visuals for global clientele including Cristiano Ronaldo’s ROC, Western Digital, Shutterstock, and many others.

Jesse is doing an absolutely outstanding job teaching all aspects of Phoenix FD

Svetlin NikolovLead Phoenix FD Developer, Chaos Group

Student Work by Casey Balbontin

One of the very first enrolled students just sent me this work in progress shot! How EPIC is that?

Student Work by Aaron Morse

SICK shot by Aaron, combining water simulation, smoke burnout sim & the lava setup for an awesome triple drift

Student Work by asART. 3D & motion graphics

All of these examples beautifully showcase my goal for you with this course – to take the techniques I’m teaching you, combine them, put your own twist on them, and apply them to your own unique VFX shots. This shot beautifully combines Phoenix’s wetting with the river simulation lesson.

A Quick Word About The Project Files

The scene files (compatible with Max 2016 and higher) for all shown effects are included with the course. I had to exclude the 3D models per their license requirements, but all you have to do is import your own 3D model and hit “Start Simulation” and get a finished effect. If someone were to hire my studio to set up all of the 16+ effects that I’ve built for this course, I would charge them upwards of $30,000. I was told by an FX artist that I should charge for the project files separately, because he would pay just to get his hands on those. Many people have told me they have used my project files directly on well-paid commercial work, and that it saved them last minute on studio projects. By enrolling in this course, you get instant access to all of these scenes.

What Students Say

Lesson Highlight: Tidal Wave

Create a tidal wave that flips and washes over the beach. Learn how to set up the beach “ramp” geometry for best results. Understand foam generation and particle shader rendering in-depth. Tweak settings such as patterns & droplet surfing for radically different results. Set up wetting to make the beach appear wet when when it touches liquid particles. And much more.

Lesson Highlight: Submarine Breach

Oh the moneyshot of this course. So much to learn from this one. We go over everything from fixing the model to properly interact with Phoenix,  animating the whole thing to realistically emerge from water, tweaking the scale and speed for grounded results, changing how much effect the submarine has on the simulation, emitting liquid out of the sub’s body for added detail, and of course we adjust a TON of splash & foam settings, including various foam rendering modes and ways to speed up the simulation & rendering.

Lesson Highlight: Aqua Tokyo Drift

I saw a very similar FX shot done in a BMW commercial where the cars are drifting around in an indoor pool. I’ll show you how to animate a car drifting and then a few tricks I picked up when figuring out how to make this simulation run smoothly. Including position of the car, speed, animating the wheels, steps per frame, generating a good amount of foam and all that good stuff.


BONUS LESSON #1: Statue Collapse into Ocean + Introduction to tyFlow

$47 VALUE. Get a brief introduction into the tyFlow Plugin (available for free) and use it to make a statue fracture and collapse into beach waves.

BONUS LESSON #2: Repulsive Force

$27 VALUE. Learn how to setup a force that pushes water away from your objects. So many possibilities with this technique, including engine thruster shockwaves, helicopter rotor wash and various force field effects.

BONUS LESSON #3: Ocean Foam Caps

$27 VALUE. Go the extra 10% to make your ocean scenes stand out by adding realistic foam caps on crests of waves using the Phoenix FD Foam Texture

BONUS LESSON #4: Rocket Launch & Introduction to Fire & Smoke

$47 VALUE. Learn how to create a detailed rocket launch fire and smoke simulation that we’ll combine with the missile shooting out of the ocean.

tyFlow Bonus Lesson Preview

Combine Phoenix with tyFlow for some unique visuals and learn how to make these two powerhouse plug-ins work together.

NEW UPDATE: tyFlow PhysX Fluid Added!

As of February 2020, tyFlow now offers 2-way interaction with Phoenix FD. Meaning that our water simulations can now directly influence, push, or even destroy other objects in the scene. This course is now fully updated with lessons covering an introduction to the Fluid PhysX operator, as well as a wall destroyed by water scene, which was recently featured by Chaos Group on their Instagram.

Phoenix FD Advanced Large-Scale Water FX Course by RedefineFX

40+ in-depth visual effects lessons

15+ unique water FX shots

$148 worth of bonus content

Project files included

Beautiful Student Area (Powered by Teachable)

Learn from a Phoenix FD Certified Trainer


Ready to get serious about upgrading your skills?


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Got questions?

When does the course start and finish?

This is a completely self-paced online course. I’ve made the lessons bite-sized so you can make progress every day without feeling overwhelmed.

How long do I have access to the course?

How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like – across any and all devices you own.

I haven't upgraded to Phoenix FD 4 yet, can I still follow?

Great question. The answer is YES, this entire course is backwards compatible all the way to Phoenix FD 3.0 – just be aware that older versions might produce slightly different looking results.

Do I need a high-end PC to make these effects?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a high-end PC to run liquid simulations. A standard quad core machine with at least 16GB ram will be sufficient.

Are the project files included?

Yes. All of the project files are included so you can just open the file and look at my settings if at any point you’re stuck. Or you can just straight up use them for commercial work. All good with me.

Are the 3D models included?

The seaplane model is included (because I modeled it myself), but I’m not allowed to resell the other 3D models, so the project files will contain a dummy object that you need to replace with your own model, then just hit “start simulation” and get a finished effect to learn from.

I use Maya, can I still follow?

Phoenix FD is available for both Maya and 3Ds Max. While this course is entirely 3Ds Max based, the general techniques and settings remain the same for both versions, and you can still follow in Maya.

What software do I need?

3Ds Max (free trial available), Phoenix FD (free trial available) and Vray (free trial available)

I'm completely new to all this, can I still follow?

While this is NOT a beginner course, I tried to keep everything as beginner-friendly as I could make it, however If you consider yourself an absolute beginner, I recommend you check out our beginner Phoenix FD course prior to taking this one.

Do I get a Certificate?

Yes! Upon completion of all lessons, you will automatically receive a unique Certificate of Completion.

Can I watch this on my phone?

Yes. Just download the Teachable app.


Phoenix FD Advanced Large-Scale Water FX Course by RedefineFX


Hello & Introduction to The Course

Introduction to Phoenix FD

My #1 Hardware Recommendation for Faster Simulations

How to Create an Infinite Ocean with Realistic Sun Lighting

Splash & Foam General Overview

3 Pillars of a Realistic Water Sim & Understanding the Importance of Scale

Seaplane Landing – Animation & Calculating Correct Speed

Water Simulation Settings – In-Depth Overview & Seaplane Setup

Tweaking Foam Particle Amounts for an Optimized Simulation

Understanding Splash & Mist

Rendering Splash & Foam particles using the Particle Shader

Quick Tip: Adding Underwater Terrain to Seaplane Scene

Submarine Breach: Optimizing the Model, Seting up Scale, Speed, Ocean Level, Motion Velocity Effect

Submarine Breach: Water Settings, Foam Patterns, Steps per Frame, Rendering Tab

Quick Tip: Emitting Liquid out of Submarine Body for Additional Liquid Detail

Submarine Breach: Rendering Splash & Foam Particles

How to Emit Additional Splash & Foam Separately to Add Detail Where Needed

Ballistic Missile Launch

Quick Tip: Adding a Realistic Sky Background to Your Infinite Ocean

Basement Flood & Wetting!

Ocean Inside of an Object

Waterfall – Splash by Free Fly

Animal Walking Through Water with Realistic Ripples

Person Falling into a Pool

Fountain for Archviz – Rendering Liquid as Foam

Aircraft Carrier Ship Wake

Quick Tip: How to Fill an Object with Foam or Splash

Yacht Ship Wake

Spaceship Rising from Ocean

BONUS: Repulsive Force

Car Water Tokyo Drift

Sully – Emergency Airplane Water Landing

Rolling Wave Beach Setup

Beach Scene with Realistic Waves

BONUS: tyFlow Introduction & Statue Collapse into Ocean

BONUS: Add Foam Caps to Crests of Waves using Phoenix Foam Texture

tyFlow Physx Fluid: Introduction

tyFlow Physx Fluid: Wall Destruction

New to Phoenix 4: Particle Tuner Overview

New to Phoenix 4: Active Bodies Basic Overview

New to Phoenix 4: UVW

BONUS: Introduction for Fire & Smoke – Ballistic Rocket Launch

Thank You, Here’s What’s NEXT!

Jesse really shows what all Phoenix is capable of.

Anselm von Seherr-ThossVFX Supervisor & CEO of Incendii VFX

This skillset is highly valuable. It’s unique. And it’s in demand.

The potential return on investment (ROI) of this course is astronomical. For a small investment into your future you’ll have the skills to earn thousands of dollars per project. It’s VERY doable, If I could learn how to do this stuff, so can you. This course will get you going faster than you think. You can literally take what I’m teaching you and use it to book jobs worth 10-100x the price of this course


Ready to take the shortcut to actual results? Let me guide you step by step. I'll see you inside the course! - Jesse


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