Baptiste Audouin

VFX Compositor

Circle Tool


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The nukepedia link to download the tool:

I created this tool while working on an NFTS Visual Effects short film named Reality Heist .


I was in charge of a shot where a scientist looks at a machine she built that is unfolding itself and then activating with some kind of nuclear reaction. The machine is CG and has been created by the Director Olivier Lemery. One of his specifications was to add lightning coming out of it.


My plan was to use the X_telsa node from Xavier Martín to generate the lightning but I wasn’t sure about hand animating the different positions. I wanted to find a procedural way and this is how I came to develop this “circle tool”.


The concept is quite simple: the tool generates two x and y positions from two ellipse shapes related to a chosen angle. You have a display that shows you what the ellipses look like and you have full control on those shapes.


You have two modes, either manual or random:

  • The manual mode will give you fixed values depending on the angle you choose (you can still hand animate the angle).
  • The random mode will give random values every frame that you can adjust. With the settings amplitude and offset you can change the area where the position will be generated. You can check the random curve in the curve editor.

The tool output values that you can use for whatever purpose you want. You also have a centre value that you can move or expression-link to a track.



I made this tool thinking of the X tesla node that asks for two x and y input values, I just plug the values from my tool directly in the node. I positioned the ellipse in the right place and tweaked the a and b value until the perspective felt right. I turned on the random mode and played with the amplitude and offset to get the lighting only in the direction of the camera. I then duplicated the tool to get different lightning generations and plugged this back to the comp.

Even though this tool was for the X_tesla node, I’m pretty sure it can have other uses. Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any other ideas and if you have any recommendation or improvement you think I could add to this tool.