Alternate Realities Challenge Submission + Breakdown

My attempt at Clinton Jones @_Pwnisher_ Alternate Realities Challenge.
Made it to the top 15, on 2400 submitted shots, few.

I heard about it just two weeks before the deadline but used a few hours at night everyday to try something.
I deviated a minimum from my initial sketch to go faster and get a more predictable result, and decided handcrafting every single detail to have artistic control over the final look.
I painted most of the static elements before rendering, and painted over the final composite too before adding the smokes, to make sure everything feel as authentic and natural as possible.

Made in Blender, Photoshop, 3DCoat, After effects.

Lovely music from NaturesEye - Leigh Robinson

First time working in linear in AE, was a bit of a pain to export but found a way for anyone interested:
1 - Render your compositing in AE in EXR image sequence (so when it crashes you can restart from there)
2 - Open this EXR final composite in a new AE project, render a QuickTime in Prores, with this project still in linear sRGB in the project settings, but export settings can be whatever.
3 - In Media Encoder, import the Prores and render your H264/H265, the colors will be finally ok like in AE.