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Posts Tagged ‘spaceships’

It’s been a little over three years since I finished work on the first “episode” of my Fallen Star film series, which was, at the time, only to be a one-off (although initially planned as a series). Those three years have been spent working on another five episodes simultaneously, but the last year has seen the final push to get Episode 2 out the door, and now it’s finally available to watch online. Check it out below:

We learned a lot on episode 1, felt what our limitations were, and decided to push against them here. With a better camera and improved image clarity, I was able to make more extensive use of our greenscreen background to put our characters into a wider variety of locations, most of which did not physically exist. I’d also improved upon my animation and rendering, and with a faster PC, was able to create longer and more dynamic space sequences.

We paid closer attention to our camera work and editing for this one, and more time was spent on the scripts and trying to flesh the characters out a little more. The practicalities of working on scenes from five episodes at once were difficult but we got everything we absolutely needed in time for this one, and more episodes are still being worked on now.

I personally think what we all, as amateurs, have achieved here, on practically no budget, is something to be proud of. However, I want to keep this blog focused on my technical skills, which I will get to in a later article, accompanied by a visual effects breakdown video. Thanks for watching!

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Here is a collection of visual effects sequences from my Fallen Star project, concentrating on the 3D modelling that was used for the space scenes.

This is noteworthy for being my first attempt at 3D modelling. The Britannic was made over a period of a few months, adding bits of detail gradually, as I got more used to using the software. I do wish I could have added more to it now. The underside looks too smooth. If I had the time and ability, I would have made detailed shapes on the hull, rivets, panels, screws, dents and so forth. This simply used a generic metal material, which looks fine from a distance, though perhaps the close-up shots suffered.

Space scenes were reused as often as I could get away with, so some shots were repeated or reversed. The renders were output with ‘transparent’ backgrounds. That meant I could put anything I liked behind them, be it a planet or just stars or another ship or whatever.

On the subject of stars, for the vast majority of space shots, the background is just a static picture of a starfield. If the camera needed to move, I would just slide the background around accordingly. The one exception is the opening shot (seen at the end of the showreel above) in which the camera takes quite a complex course over the hull of the ship, spinning around and so forth. To get the background right for this, I had to apply the picture of the starfield to an environment map – effectively the inside a huge sphere – so that, as the camera moved within it, the stars stayed in the right place.

You’ll also notice from the showreel that the pink nebula was not part of the 3D model. This was added afterwards as layers in the background and foreground (the foreground layers are partially tranparent, so they look like nearby clouds or mist). Additionally, the pink-ish hue on all the ships was purely colour grading after the rendering was done. I had thought about doing some advanced lighting within the model itself, maybe having swirling patterns of light hitting the hull of the ships, but in the end I didn’t have time to learn how to do this. Additionally, doing it this way allowed me to reuse space shots and just change them to pink!

So, there was a lot of corner-cutting, but frankly, “spaceships in space” are the EASIEST thing you could possibly model. It’s just static objects with limited lighting and no backgrounds. I like to think that I’m good at making the most of a limited skill-set and finding creative solutions, but I’m also eager to pick up new skills that will let me do more ambitious things. In future, I hope to do just that!

Part 2 of the Fallen Star showreel will be focusing on green screen (chromakey) effects. Keep an eye out for that.

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