In this project I was tasked with creating an interesting car animation for an ad pitch. The car was modified from a library model. I did additional modeling, shaders, lighting and rigging in 3DSMAX as well as rendering in Mental Ray, and compositing and finishing in Combustion. For rigging I used the excellent MadCar script plugin that can be found here. I used the plugin to dynamically drive the car model inside Max.
Above is the final render from Max. To get the trails made by the tires I tried several methods but ended up using a combination of volume selection and the selection cache modifier. Basically as the wheels traveled over the surface they selected faces and that selection was cached on subsequent frames to make a trail. I took the output of those rendered as a map from above(ortho) on each frame and rendered it in AfterEffects as a movie with a slight blur to get smoothness. I put that movie as a displacement on the surface to make the ruts.
The dust was created with pflow and afterburn in several layers, the first of which is above. The next two images show the additional dust layers.
And below is the dust images composited together along with the final image as finished with motion blur, grain, etc.