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Archive for May, 2010

There’s still a way to go until it’s finished, but here’s the teaser trailer for my Fallen Star film project.

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With most of my learning time spent modelling our spaceship, I was a bit more comfortable with the process when it came time to make some more space-faring vehicles, namely our enemy ships, space station and a large cannon. However I still kept the shapes quite simple.

The space station's basic shape is a docking ring around a central pillar

Four struts connect the outer ring to the middle

Lights on the bottom of the station

The main barrel of our giant space cannon

The rest of the cannon is added

More detail is added, including lights and cylinders

Pipes added to the back

With the materials added, it looks quite alien.

And that’s all I want to show off for now. The rest is under wraps until the project is finished and released into the wild.

I will do some more features and a comprehensive VFX showreel once it’s all done. Thanks for reading.

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It’s beyond the scope of this website to go into too much detail about our set design and construction, as I mostly want to showcase my digital work, however I thought it pertinent to briefly mention it as part of the overall design philosophy. The idea was for our characters to spend the majority of their screen time on the bridge set, meaning we didn’t need to go crazy with locations and we could present much of the ‘action’ via the ship’s viewscreen (long sequences of people staring straight ahead, nice and easy). We also knew we couldn’t really do moving parts or complex decoration, so we had to keep it simple.

Sketch showing the design of the bridge set

The sketch above is the design we settled on. One of the challenges was going to be how to make the rear door appear to slide open and close to allow people to enter and leave the set. Having a real moving door wouldn’t be practical, so I proposed we simply stick the door panel to the wall and handle any entrance or exit with a digital effect, specifically greenscreen (chromakey). The other challenge would be how to make the computer screens come to life with information and graphics, and I again proposed a digital solution rather than trying to fit computer panels into the walls or whatever. It’s actually all turned out quite well, although it has been a time-consuming process given how many shots have one or more computer monitors in view. I’ll be sure to post a showreel of the results when the project is finished. For now, it’s still under wraps. But let’s move on to virtual sets…

Now, the bridge is a three-walled set (made up of staging panels and held together with screws). The fourth wall does not exist, so for any shots where the front wall/viewscreen is shown, I have created this digitally in 3D. There are also several other rooms and corridors featured throughout the episode and these had to be created in 3D as well. We wrote the script in such a way that we didn’t need to spend too much time there as I wasn’t sure how good they’d look.

3D model of part of our 'transporter' room.

Part of the room, rendered. The textures were made from photographs of the actual walls and carpet on our real set.

Early version of the top deck central corridor.

I’ve made some changes since these pictures were made, including doors, hatches and a different colour carpet, but I’m not ready to show them all off yet, not until the finished film is released. Considering I had zero 3D modelling experience before starting all of this, I am quite pleased with how they’ve turned out.

I had plenty more things to model, including alien ships, space stations and giant cannons. More on those soon.

[To be continued…]

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We sat down to do some sketches. Creating an original spaceship design is no easy thing when there are so many influences in popular culture. We didn’t want it to look super-sleek but we did like the general saucer-like shape that Star Trek ships use.

Below are the very first rough sketches from our brainstorm:

Ship Design 1

Twin engine design, but it looks like a coffin.

The ship takes shape. This is actually pretty close to the final design.

The design is refined.

The shape of the ship’s exterior was centred around our physical interior bridge set; by this point, we’d decided that a small-ish retangular room would be used and that this shape should be apparent when viewing the ship from the outside. Thus the upper section of the hull you can see in the sketches is where the bridge is supposed to be, with a forward-facing window. We were happy with the rough design and I so I went away to create a 3D version of it.

I should probably mention at this point that  this was the first time I’d done any 3D modelling, and although it’s not a paricularly tricky shape, it was a learning process that took several months, gradually layering on more detail.

The final shape, in 3D.

I started with a sphere. This was then cut in half and vertically squashed, with another one mirrored beneath it. A cylinder was placed between the two halves. This created the ‘flying saucer’ shape.

Next, I took the polygons in the bottom half of the saucer and ‘pinched’ them inwards. This wasn’t an exact science but I kept going until I liked the look of it.

Then I  stretched one half of the saucer out horizontally. The elongated side was then sliced off to give a flat edge (the ‘back’ of the ship). The upper half was then ‘cloned’ and the clone pulled upwards. I then ‘cut’ curved shapes into the copied upper half so that only a thin section of it remained.

Finally, I made a couple of half-cylinders into the engines and nested them under the curviature of the ship.

You can see the result in the picture above. From there I added more detail, texture and lights. I’m not ready to reveal the final thing yet, not before the project is finished and out in the open, but stay tuned for some more behind-the-scenes features soon.

[To be continued…]

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