Psunami, originally designed by Brian Maffitt, was acquired by Digital Anarchy and then by Red Giant Software. A recent project required the Psunami look, and I have been thoroughly impressed with this plug-in, both in its ease of use, potential for creative extension and use in non intended ways.

Psunami is an excellent plug-in that I believe is well worth the money

Psunami, has been named accordingly as it is a physics-based wave generator. Whilst this sounds pretty cool, it also has a lot of clever integration of potential variables to make life and compositing much easier.   Apparently it has been used in many feature films – Titanic, Cast Away and Pearl Harbor to name a few, which should act as a testament to it’s level of realism.

A lot of scope exists for creative minds within the ocean environment, from placid lakes to monster tsunami’s.   The physics within the plug-in create rugged contours which when animated replicate waves, however the plug-in could also be used to create mountains, plains, deserts or an ocean floor, by simply setting up the project with non rolling wave forms. It also allows for the user to render out an animation as a 3D Grid, which could yield some interesting results.

Overview of the Features

  • Swell Control.
  • Air and light optics.
  • Wind.
  • Displacement Mapping (allowing for the creation of whirlpools).
  • 3D Camera Control.
  • Depth of Field Control.
  • Reflection Mapping.
  • Position the Camera above or below the surface.
  • Potential to sit the camera on a floating buoy/vessel (this is quite nauseating).
  • Easy integration of floating objects.
  • Water loops.
  • Grey scale mode, for speedy previews.
  • Atmospheric Effects – Rainbows, Fog, Sun, Sunsets and Haze.

Looking over the features list you can see a lot of value there, as the atmospheric effects may be used independently of the wave generating effects and vice versa. For my project I needed an underwater camera, to be integrated with underwater footage, with the help of some other plug-ins namely; CC Toner, Foam, Levels, Curves, and Trapcode Shine I was able to create a scene that in the end was quite impressive and an easy substitution for real underwater footage. Shine allowed for volumetric lighting under the water (from the out-of-water sun, nestled within Psunami). Foam allowed me to integrate both the sort of flaky particles and occasional bubbles that one might find under the water.

The render mode “Too Realistic” was used in this composition, it is the slowest Render Mode available and is recommended as the setting to use for underwater scenes, apparently adding to their realism.   The addition of these render modes allows speedy use of the plug-in, facilitating switching between quick previews and final output.

Psunami is an excellent plug-in, that I believe is well worth the money, in it’s assigned functions it performs excellently and it offers a degree of adaptability. It was easy to use, and just as easy to setup. It renders quite quickly, especially for something with such a high level of detail. In fact I’m eagerly looking forward bringing in some displacement maps, and engineering a mighty whirlpool, and incorporating an array of atmospherics – rain, fog, wind and swells. There is a lot of value within this package – it is worth buying, or if not at least trialling sometime, so that you too can feel the power of Psunami.

What’s Hot

  • Easy integration with other plug-ins.
  • Highly realistic output.
  • Fast render times.
  • Ability to tweak, save and use custom presets.
  • Highly customisable.
  • Ability to insert objects is very useful / time saving.
  • Excellent camera control.
  • Easy to use interface.

What’s Not

  • Wont work with Vista 64 or XP 64.
  • No changes since Digital Anarchy acquisition.
  • Lack of realism moving from above to below the surface and vice versa.
  • Lack of realism in display when then camera is too close to the ocean surface.
  1. illd

    Nice review, im very interested in this plugin since years:)
    Under “Whats not” you say its not working under XP 64, what do you mean exactly?
    Because i installed the demo weeks ago under my XP64 bit and it seemed to work fine.
    I mean I just went through some presets and played around a bit, no rendering at all. But it was running nicely…

  2. Jonathan

    This was mentioned on Red Giants website, I will try to confirm whether or not this is accurate, and ammend the review if neccessary. It is an interesting plugin for sure 🙂

  3. abe

    hi Jonathan,

    I just wonder if you ever try to use / parent the Psunami’s camera to AE camera? Basically I have a 3D camera that I exported from Maya, and I want use it with Psunami.

  4. Jonathan

    Hey Abe, I haven’t tried to do this yet, i might have a crack at it with a 3dsmax camera export and see if i can get it to work. Will let you know.

  5. illd

    Here you`ll get the neccesary expressions inside an AE project :

    I have also a PDF (which is no more available on the net) to this Project which explains it very well, but I cant upload it here.

    @Jonathan: Can you PM me and ill send it to you, so you can post it?

  6. illd

    I just found the link to the PDF:

  7. costa

    do you think you could post some more details about your .aep project ? because I’m trying to do the same thing, the camera into water, rising and after in the clouds.
    the shot you posted looks very nice.

  8. Jonathan Clegg

    Hi Costa, I would be happy to do this as a bit more of a breakdown and provide some more info. To give you the kind of detail that you are hoping for i will need to do this from home. WIll try to do asap

  9. Jonathan Clegg

    The shot posted had the following camera settings

    Elevation -9
    Pan +68
    Field of View 61.39

    (This should get the cam underwater.)

    The light had an elevation of +69

    The water colour (in ocean optics) was turqoise blue, water cour scale 1.50, and refraction 1.04

    This then had foam, levels, a few variations of cc toner (to grade the colour better), another layer with the same psunami settings set to overlay, a 45 degree angle vignette (arching from the top right hand side). I then sandwiched some footage between all of this and the same layers again at different blending modes to better integrate the footage.

    Im not sure how easy that will be to follow, but i basically experimented a lot until i achieved the desired look/grade – for this project that took up most of the time

  10. Jonathan

    check this out too, , this was also used at varying opacities with some blurring to enhance the illusion of being underwater.

  11. costa

    thank you!
    I’m working on it wright now, indeed is a lot of experimenting here. the export is really slow, so I’m making a preview once a day 🙂 to see if the movement is smooth.
    i was inspired by maltaannon’s tutorial, and after that i discovered this plugin.
    thanks for the quick reply, and all the info.

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>