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Thread: Star Wars Animation and VFX experiments!

  1. #1
    The Kinky Turtle Sensei Howard Day's Avatar
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    Star Wars Animation and VFX experiments!

    Hey, guys! Long time, etc, etc. For a while now I've sort of promised myself that I'd not do any star wars work, after a series of...bad interactions with Lucasfilm. All well and good to say that you'll ignore one of your favorite IPs, but following through? Nah.
    So, that leads us to this thread. I've got some render tests of an animation I'm working on in the little free time I have. Comments, suggestions, and mockery are welcome!
    First up - an animation, lighting, materials, and vfx test done with Ansel's gracefully donated TIE Mangler model...

    And slightly older, a custom MC42 Mon Calamari Cruiser.


    And now the more WIP shots - For the first two of these, I was using 3dsMax and Mental ray. I've since moved to VRay, as its massively faster with much better quality, especially when rendered on my GPUs using CUDA. Here's potential scenes 1, 2 and 3...
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B75...ew?usp=sharing
    And a further on combat test, still using Mental Ray:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B75...ew?usp=sharing
    And now - a much improved actual combat clip from even further down the line of the short, now using VRay:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B75...ew?usp=sharing
    Now, the action in this needs a bit of embellishment as it drags abit in the last 2/3rds - and I need to add the laser blast hits on the X-Wing, and the two Mangler Turbolasers going off, missing the first shot, and blowing new holes in the BFF-1 Freighter.
    Speaking of Blowing new holes - I've also been working with VRay's Phoenix FD simulator for explosions. Here're some of those tests!
    The first, laaaame one:

    And now some better ones:


    And then I started playing with...slightly large scale explosions.


    Before finally getting to something I really quite like!

    Yes! Feeling a bit more ANH-y with the blueish explosions. I still needed to work a bit harder on this, though... So I started working on just a recreation of a famous TIE Fighter Death...You know the one:

    And then went some revisions, adding back in some orange:



    Annnnd then we reach tonight...where I've got the result I'm most proud of! Check this out.

    Anyhow - I'll keep posting updates. hope you guys enjoy this crap.

  2. #2
    SFM Guru BlobVanDam's Avatar
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    Very cool work! My only feedback is in that third google drive vid, XWing_Hunt-11.mp4, the ship closest to the camera appears to have a minor rendering issue on the back of the wings, like there are two surfaces at the same spot causing some flickering. Aside from that, looking great so far.
    I really need to update my V-Ray so I can use the CUDA rendering. It seems to crash when I try it in my version.

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    Administrator Comco's Avatar
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    Inspiring stuff, as always, Howard.

    I'm interested in how do you animate the ships? I've used spline path constraints as the primary method for doing this for some time, but I've found that if I have very specific movement in mind, this can be a real paint to achieve this way. This is more apparent when trying to animate a real-world aircraft realistically, mind you. Just interested to know if you've got a better way.

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    Meeoooowwww..... IRML's Avatar
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    great work

    funny about the blue/white explosions, I thought they looked more authentic before I read your comment, but I never consciously noticed them that colour in the film before
    I pity the fool!

  5. #5
    The Kinky Turtle Sensei Howard Day's Avatar
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    BlobVanDam: Thanks! Yes! that video has *flipped* faces on those wings - I've since fixed the model, and those won't be an issue in the future. Thanks for pointing them out!
    Comco: Thank you, sir. Yes! I'm using the spline method - however, it's modified, as regular spline path movement with follow and bank checked tends to be..really oddly jerky at times. To get around that, I use a position list for the Dummy that I link the ship to, that includes 3 different spline path followers - each at like .5 - 1% offset from each other. I do *Not* check the follow or bank options, and instead, make the rotation a lookat the position of another dummy (with also 3 averaged spline path constraints, just 2-3% further down the line), and control the Axis-of-travel roll by linking another dummy to that primary dummy and spinning that. You can get some really cool movement - especially if you've got the lookat dummy aways out - you get anticipation in the angle of rotation, before the position follows. It's cool.
    IRML: Right? You kinda gotta frame by frame it like a completely obsessive nutter. :P Also, ANH is distinctly different at various points, and very different from ESB and ROTJ. It's fun to sorta find the ones that look...the most Star Warsy.

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    Administrator Comco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Day View Post
    Comco: Thank you, sir. Yes! I'm using the spline method - however, it's modified, as regular spline path movement with follow and bank checked tends to be..really oddly jerky at times. To get around that, I use a position list for the Dummy that I link the ship to, that includes 3 different spline path followers - each at like .5 - 1% offset from each other. I do *Not* check the follow or bank options, and instead, make the rotation a lookat the position of another dummy (with also 3 averaged spline path constraints, just 2-3% further down the line), and control the Axis-of-travel roll by linking another dummy to that primary dummy and spinning that. You can get some really cool movement - especially if you've got the lookat dummy aways out - you get anticipation in the angle of rotation, before the position follows. It's cool.
    I understand most of what you're saying, and it makes a whole lot of sense. And yeah - the jerkiness thing has driven me crazy in the past.

    I really like the lookat constraint looking at a position slightly in front of the ship's path. What I'm not following is the '3 different spline path followers - each at like .5 -1% offset from each other'. Can you post a pic? Or even better, a max file with an example? I'm very interested to understand this setup better...

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    Worldwide Phenomenon Guerrilla's Avatar
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    Very cool. I was just looking at your pixelated shader stuff the other day and thinking "Howard should post more often".

    The corvette explosion is kinda bugging me, because the simulation volume is obviously following the model at a constant speed, but I'm thinking that's probably more authentic (Star Warsy) way of doing it than simulating some kind of drag. I never noticed the color thing either, but it's obvious now that you brought it up.
    Comco: i entered it manually in the back end

    Join our fancy new Discord Server!

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    SFM Pimp Army evil_genius_180's Avatar
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    Why does it mangle pies?

    Great stuff as always, Howard, it's great to see you back around these parts. Sorry to hear you had some bad interactions with LucasFilm. Might we know at least what that was in reference to? (IE: one of your projects) Of course, if you don't want to talk about it, then that's cool, it's none of my business, really. I hear you on being "done" with your favorite IP. I don't know how many times I've told myself I was "done" doing Star Trek. I finally stopped lying to myself a few years ago.

    The ships look fantastic. I love that Mon Cal flyby. I'm sorry, but whoever disliked that on YouTube is just plain wrong. The ship looks like a real model. The explosions look really good. I've always liked how much time and work you put into your explosions, rather than just slapping something together. That last TIE explosion at the end of the post is just gorgeous. The only thing bugging me about the Blockade Runner explosion is that it seems like the engines should fly off with an explosion that big.

  9. #9
    The Kinky Turtle Sensei Howard Day's Avatar
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    Comco: Whyyyy yes I can! Here's an earlierish version of that X-Wing Hunt animation, with a regular tie fighter instead of a TIE Mangler! https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B75...ew?usp=sharing
    Any missing plugins just ignore, it's likely it's just VRay crap.
    Guerrilla: Yeah! That pixel art stuff keeps popping up - I really should try and get that into a shippable plugin/method. :/ And yeah - Drag is... it doesn't look right. either the explosion continues with the ship it's exploding off of, or the explosion is completely stationary and stopped when the ship's destroyed. \_(ツ)_/
    evil_genius_180: Pentagonal Ion Engine. :P Just screwing around, basically. My bad interactions go alll the way back to the release of episode 3...basically I did some fan artwork some rube publicity ad guy at Lucasfilm mistook for the real ILM thing, stuck it on a bunch of posters, and then threatened me with legal action for mentioning it. At the time I didn't have a tenth of the resources I have now, so I just dropped it, but that "**** you!!!!!" attitude really did not sit well with me.
    On the youtube dislikes - every one of them is a friend who is just picking on me for funsies. :P And yeah - that explosion might be a little overdone for the rear end to stay attached...but if you're going to overdo anything, it should be explosions!

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    The Kinky Turtle Sensei Howard Day's Avatar
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    WIP update, different angle.

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