See how Apple used real fire and practical effects for new Apple Watch faces

Sep 21, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

See how Apple used real fire and practical effects for new Apple Watch faces

Sep 21, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Regular as clockwork, every year, Apple announces their new products and mobile operating system updates. And that includes their line of watches. The new WatchOS 5 comes with new dynamic faces. Designed to work with the Apple Watch Series 4, these new faces are not CG as we might first think. They were actually made using practical effects.

The new faces include Fire & Water, Vapour and Liquid Metal. They can be configured in numerous ways, and animate when you raise your arm to look at your watch. Cool Hunting posted this minute-long video to show how they were made and we see some pretty cool techniques.

While there’s no narration in the video, it’s interesting to see how some of the effects were made, particularly the fire. Fire has a tendency to rise, as it’s warmer and lighter than the surrounding cool air. So, to create the look of fire spreading across the face of the watch, they built a mockup of the watch and mounted it facing downwards to force the fire to spread across its surface. The camera was then pointed up to capture it in slow motion.

The water was created a little differently, by filling a mockup giant watch face with water, and then agitating it in various ways to create bubbles, waves and circular movement.

Vapour was made with air explosions of powder, but what I found most fascinating was the Liquid Metal. To create the movement and momentum, the entire container seems to rotate on the outside, causing some great looking swirls.

While they could have used CG to create these, I think it’s great to see that Apple chose to go with practical effects. But then, practical effects for this kind of thing in the tech world seems to have come back into fashion again ever since Microsoft did it with the Windows 10 wallpaper.

Here are all the new faces in the new WatchOS 5 update, courtesy of Mac Rumors.

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I always enjoy seeing how practical effects are made. While many of them are way outside of my budget or skillset, they can offer insights and ideas for things to do with my own work.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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