At Scanline VFX, we were doing a whole lot of CG water for the movie "Megalodon - Hai-Alarm auf Mallorca". I leave it to you to rate the movie, but, hey: the project got me a credit on The Internet Movie Database. My part in this was the R&D on ocean water surface simulation.


I ended up doing a variation of the FFT-based approach put forth by Jerry Tessendorf, and combined it with an implicit model representation to allow additional modification of the ocean waves by blended shapes. You can watch a short scene from the movie on YouTube illustrating the method. Around 0:38, you can nicely see how the simulated open water surface combines with the bulge of the shark-like shape under water.

Some shots also used a real CFD simulation engine, which was separately developed at Scanline.

Aside from the interesting work on the algorithms, it was very enlightening to turn this into a 3ds Max plugin that could be used by the artists in production. And the renderings they produced were nothing short of amazing.