Micro Empire (2015)

A MA Digital Effects Masters Project and a VFX short film which depicts the creation of a miliary machine developed and assembled entirely by ants using scrap components.

The viewer observes the building process through a 12 hours long timelapse.

Personal Contribution
The entire project.
The geometries of the builder ants, the mech and the enviornment were created in Blender 3D.

The crowd simulation / flocking system of the builder ants was accomplished with Houdini and multiple steering behaviours designed specifically for the purpose of this project were coded entirely in VEX.

To enable multiple troops of ants to carry different components, a "Parcel Transportation" algorithm was written which allows the ants to be attached to its designated position on a pre-animated component. While attached to a parcel, trooper ants will cease their usual flocking activities until the parcel reaches its destination.

The film was rendered using Houdini Mantra Render and composited using Nuke. With lens flares added using the Video Copilot Optical Flares plugin for Adobe After Effects.

The timelapse effect was achieved by digitally extracting brightness and colour information from a pre-recorded timelapse video and applying them to the digital renders using Nuke.


  • Bournemouth University