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WOOOHHOOOOO!!!! The first set for Red Squad is complete!!!!!

 

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Im impressed. Looks high dollar. My only note would be to make the glowing blue areas smaller. I think less is more with that feature.It has a great look but almost looks like a swimming pool. I think thin pin stripping of the blue light would look cleaner and make more sense.

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Thanks everyone! I've started modeling the bridge to the Enterprise, so hopefully that won't take as long as Pegasus did!

 

And Jason, how's this?

 

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That looks really nice!

The ambiance/lighting is definitely more important than the glow.

I'd say as much as possible to reserve glow for times when you need to heighten the mood or present changes in the atmospherics.

It may help to think of that as real lighting from the perspective of the crew and someone has turned the dimmer switch down a notch or two. Something that is really important, such as a blinking light, might then be better able to brighten/glow larger to temporarily draw attention to it.

 

My thought when comparing the two images (higher glow versus lower) is that in the darker one things are going smoothly but in the brightened one all hands are on deck and at high alert! (Probably need some more red in there for the latter though)

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That looks really nice!

The ambiance/lighting is definitely more important than the glow.

I'd say as much as possible to reserve glow for times when you need to heighten the mood or present changes in the atmospherics.

It may help to think of that as real lighting from the perspective of the crew and someone has turned the dimmer switch down a notch or two. Something that is really important, such as a blinking light, might then be better able to brighten/glow larger to temporarily draw attention to it.

 

My thought when comparing the two images (higher glow versus lower) is that in the darker one things are going smoothly but in the brightened one all hands are on deck and at high alert! (Probably need some more red in there for the latter though)

 

Edit: In looking more... I'm not convinced that you need much of any glow. That may be Jason's point.

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Well in the first one, the whole thing is lit up, whereas in the second, it's only a small strip that's at about the middle of the platform. The strip of light I guess is decoration more than anything as I pulled it from the design of the sovereign class bridge in order to make the galaxy class be more up to date with Trek design ;) Personally I like the second better. I'll throw together a red alert image tomorrow :)

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It looks really good. However The bright yellow and blue, being so bright and saturated gives a video game look. But don't get me wrong it looks like the best quality video game out there.

 

In my opinion if you want to get a more photo realistic look make the bright blue on the floor even thinner. Maybe even dim it a bit and desaturate just a hair.

 

Same for the yellow dim and desaturate.

 

Although bright saturated color are initially very appealing, its the flaws of real life that give it its photo real quality.

 

other than that this is an awesome bridge. Now that you have these peaces you can do what they did on the real show and movies. Just swap set peaces to make new stages.

 

Great work seriously.

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And that's where it becomes decision time. If the sets become "too realistic," then the characters might seem out of place as they're borderline CG/realistic looking so maintaining and element of non-realism to the sets might be beneficial. I dunno, just thinking out loud.

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It's hard to find good pics, but here's where I loosely pulled the design of the light rims from:

 

Enterprise-E_bridge.jpg

portbridge.jpg

portbridge2.jpg

Picard_and_crew_depart.jpg

 

On that note, what I think I'll do is make them more of a gradient fill. Which I'll play with later today. For now, a quick red alert render

 

post-9859-1324656829_thumb.png

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Looks great. But I think less is more. The floor lights distract from the more detailed architecture and decals.

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The metal poles the chairs are on top of are a bit shiny ... might want to turn that down a little, as well. But other than that, it's quite an impressive set. I can't wait to see what you guys do with it!

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Thanks. The chairs may or may not get tweaked, depends on the time. Meanwhile, here's the beginnings of the Enterprise's bridge. Already things are going much quicker than Pegasus so let's hope this modeling spree keeps up!

 

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Here's the result of a 3 day render! There's still more to this shot to actually be rendered, but I got impatient :D

 

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Thanks everyone! I've started modeling the bridge to the Enterprise, so hopefully that won't take as long as Pegasus did!

 

And Jason, how's this?

 

newrims0.png

 

That does look better.

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So I've decided to remodel the bodies as the old ones are kind of over muscular and don't move around well. So here's what I have so far! I grabbed the hands off of the extras CD (they're better hands than my previous ones I was using) and everything else is all modeled by me! I've also employed a very basic rig around the major joints so I can move them around in an action and make the modeling corrections as needed. So far it's working beautifully and the character can have considerably better poses and contortions without the mesh distorting, specifically around the shoulder which was a trouble spot on the previous body model.

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I followed the rotoscopes almost to a tee, but I'll do some measuring for good sport and see if they are small

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The new bodies are complete and look much much better than their predecessor! So here's a new wallpaper showing three of the Red Fleet team!

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Figured it was time for a good pic of Deitrix, the primary antagonist for Red Squad, so here's a new wallpaper featuring him! And yes, the explosion and everything was done with AM! Well, not the words, blurring and sparks, that post work was done in PS, but the primary render was done in AM :)

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A query to anyone who knows where Mac software exists. Is there first of all free SWF to any known form of video type converter out there? I recorded this video basically a behind the scenes on setting up that explosion wallpaper, except it seems that the only free mac screencap software is Jing, which records to SWF only. So that brings me to my second point, if anyone knows of any free screencap software other than Jing, please let me know. It kind of sucks cause this type of software exists freely for windows users but once again, mac's exclusivity has struck again (can you believe some SWF to MOV conversion software charge 99 dollars?! I can't believe any of those folks are in business, who would buy such software at that cost?!)

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It kind of sucks cause this type of software exists freely for windows users but once again, mac's exclusivity has struck again

 

Well, it's probably because Windows users need the software and it's built into Quicktime X for Mac users. :-)

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Hi Darkwing, yes if you have QuickTime X, which I think came in with Leopard, it can do pretty good screen recordings. I found the best results from setting the quality to "high" and afterwards compressing it down with HandBrake which is free! from here (Note; HandBrake may want to save the new file with extension .m4v but just change it by hand to .mp4 for ease of posting.)

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Nope, looks like it comes with Snow Leopard, so I'm once again an OS behind :P At a glance I can't find a download for it, but like I said, it's only at a glance

 

EDIT: After more digging it's definitely not something I'm going to be able to get on my little old Leopard. It follows this newer platform of apps and stuff the Snow Leopard and Lion have utilized so I'm still in the ditch :|

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(can you believe some SWF to MOV conversion software charge 99 dollars?! I can't believe any of those folks are in business, who would buy such software at that cost?!)

 

In the olden days people actually got paid to write software programs. :)

In 'time is money' measuring it's not unreasonable to expect that people to spend $200-$500 on average searching for a given solution when they could have just paid the $99 and got the solution they needed. This tends to be the difference between the Pro and hobbyist groups too (although certainly not always). The Pros know that any delay incurred can severely effect their pay while the hobbyist can usually put off til tomorrow what should have been done today.

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Oh don't get me wrong, I purchase almost every piece of software I own and if I go free, I try to make sure it's legal. Of course I do have one exception, except I intend to pay for it as soon as I apply for a credit card...

 

I just can't see why someone would pay a hundred dollars to convert an SWF to MOV is all. It's just like at that price it better make breakfast too or something :P

 

On that note, I intend to go to Futureshop and see about purchasing the upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard (assuming they still have it.) I'm getting tired anyways of all the glitches of Leopard and I hear that AM runs smoother on Snow Leopard, so that in and of itself would be a bonus!

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Definitely make the upgrade to Snow Leopard if you can.

There's not much by way of eye candy in it thankfully but a lot of tweaks under the hood as it were, which is just what an OS upgrade should be.

I had a quick look around on Google and it seems like lots of copies still out there to be had for a good price.

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Mm, unfortunately I just came back from Futureshop and they don't have it. So guess it's don't get it, actually apply for that credit card, or somehow get to the city. Probably just gonna end up being the first option. I suppose if anyone really wanted to see it, I could upload all three 20 some odd MB SWF files which isn't preferable.

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I just can't see why someone would pay a hundred dollars to convert an SWF to MOV is all.

 

Well, the general idea is that it's not a one time thing. (Perhaps that is why people balk at paying for software... they think only in terms of immediate usage... hmmm.... thanks for that thought!). After converting 5427 SWFs to MOVs in a short amount of time that investment in SWF conversion should (theoretically) pay off. We might just have converted 5427 lousy looking shots. Garbage in. Garbage out.

 

The investment of $99 in a SWF to MOV converter is not a trivial matter and I don't mean to imply that it is. IF YOU REALLY NEED IT, then it is investing in yourself. If you buy something but never use it you are just spending money. It's silly to suggest this but perhaps you know people who seem to always be wasting money? The rule is pretty simple. Don't buy want you don't need or don't want.

 

Consider well how people tend to put off such things (investing in themselves). This is not just about purchased products... it's about freeware as well. What we get out of any product mostly depends on what we've put into that product. The bottom line: We have to be as committed after the buy in as we were when we still only just wanted to buy in or we won't be able to realize and maximize the return on our investment in that product. If we know what is going in, we can project what will come out.

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Figured I'd post this here as well. Here is the first of three short stories that serve as prequels to Red Squad and between the three, will set up the events that unfold in Red Squad and fill in a lot of the gaps and blanks and knowledge to help make episode 4 make sense when it comes out ;)

 

Beginnings: Mysteries, Crimes and the Dark Hidden Shadow

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Hey Chris, not to interrupt this thread but could you shoot me an email at gerry at mooneyart dot com. Thanks!

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So, I have a request which is probably gonna get more reluctant answers, but I'm gonna shoot it out anyways. I'm finally on the third last character model (which is exciting in and of itself) but the main issue is that these are the main characters with dialogue bits. Now where this is Star Trek and it takes place on starships, there kind of needs to be background characters who are just sitting around, using computer consoles, walking by and that sort of thing. My request is actually two-fold, first up is the one that would make my life considerably easier but might be something people are reluctant to give up. If anybody has some heads that are at more or less of photorealistic nature (like mine) and would be willing to donate them to be placed on some bodies just to fill in these background roles of populating the bridges and stuff, that would for one be fantastic and I would be ever so grateful. Of course you would be fully credited. They could be guy or girl (or alien even) and as long as they look old enough to be on the bridge of starship then that would be about it for requirements. I am not asking for you to build new models or anything, but if you have any that you had previously built and textured and are just collecting dust on the old HDD that would be amazing!

 

The second portion of the request is if you don't have any or are really unwilling to part with any, lend me your face by taking high res rotoscope images and letting me build and texture it. That's obviously the one I'm less inclined to as it's more work overall, but it might end up being the only option depending on if people are willing or not with the first request. Again you'd be credited as an "extra" if we went that route.

 

So yeah, if you're willing for (hopefully) option A or B, I guess just post here or email me at chrisadcameron(at)gmail(dot)com

 

Again, it's really appreciated if you do :D

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Here's a super awesome test render the other Chris put together! It's pretty awesome as he'll soon be working on the actual VFX and I'm about a month or two away (I hope) from starting actual character animation!

 

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Le gasp! My sub is up. Probably gonna be a bit before it gets renewed

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After suffering severe withdrawal symptoms, I finally have AM back and to show off that I do, I've done a bunch of modeling on the bridge of the Enterprise so here it is!!!

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You've got some great stuff on display here.

Love the other Chris's battle scene. (intense!)

 

Your request for assistance with secondary models/facial photos may get lost there in the middle of this topic. You might post that as a separate WIP and track progress on that there.

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Thanks! Fortunately once this set is built, there won't be much more along the lines of sets/set pieces to build. Still will be a handful of characters, but after that, it's animating time!

 

And yeah, Chris K is getting pretty amazing at those special effects shots!

 

Regarding the extras, that's a good idea, I just might set up another thread for it cause it'll be a huge timesaver if others around have some background extras that can populate the scenes some!

 

And here's another render of the bridge, have been throwing down some basic colours and have been trying to follow the texturing scheme as much as possible. One thing though is that I really need to look into cutting back the render time somehow has it takes 45 minutes to render a single frame, and that's without characters that take at least another 10 minutes depending on the shot. I'm thinking it's the reflections though, which puts me at a crossroads as the consoles very much rely on the reflections for their semi-realistic look. You don't necessarily see it yet in these renders, but once more texturing and the LCARS are in place it becomes very noticeable.

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One thing though is that I really need to look into cutting back the render time somehow has it takes 45 minutes to render a single frame, and that's without characters that take at least another 10 minutes depending on the shot. I'm thinking it's the reflections though, which puts me at a crossroads as the consoles very much rely on the reflections for their semi-realistic look. You don't necessarily see it yet in these renders, but once more texturing and the LCARS are in place it becomes very noticeable.

 

What are all your render settings (eg passes, AO?, SSS?, etc). What kind of lighting are you using (bulbs, shadows?). How many rays in reflectivity (1-2 is no big deal)? Any rendering done at 1920 x 980 is going to take a longer time than most. You sure you need to render that large?

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That shot was rendered with 9x multipass, reflections 2, and at 1920x1080. When there's characters, SSS and Hair will also be rendered I prefer 16x multi-pass, but will have to skimp on that one for final renders I think. The lights are bulb lights (not a final lighting rig) with shadows and whatever the default shadow type is with bulbs. Now it doesn't have to be rendered at 1080 and could maybe be reduced to 720, but the final product we would ideally want in HD, though my poor little laptop probably isn't going to want that. I should also mention that my laptop isn't a great rendering machine to begin with, basic materials take longer on this thing than most computers I find, but it renders hair rather quickly which is nice.

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I would recommend klieg lights with Z-buffer shadows. I would try reflections set to 1 or turning it off altogether and using environment maps for the reflections. If you can get away with turning shadows off in the hair material, I'd recommend that as well. A combination of SSS, hair and reflections is a tall order to render if you don't have a high end machine. Also, hooks and the porcelain material have issues in reflections. (thought it was SSS)

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That shot was rendered with 9x multipass, reflections 2, and at 1920x1080. When there's characters, SSS and Hair will also be rendered I prefer 16x multi-pass, but will have to skimp on that one for final renders I think. The lights are bulb lights (not a final lighting rig) with shadows and whatever the default shadow type is with bulbs. Now it doesn't have to be rendered at 1080 and could maybe be reduced to 720, but the final product we would ideally want in HD, though my poor little laptop probably isn't going to want that. I should also mention that my laptop isn't a great rendering machine to begin with, basic materials take longer on this thing than most computers I find, but it renders hair rather quickly which is nice.

 

The biggest way to save on rendering time is to use klieg lights with z-buffered shadows, instead of ray traced shadows with bulbs. Reflections really aren't all that big a deal if you keep it down to 1 ray. Real fine, dense hair close up will be a hog. Not so much if in the distance.Your other rendering hog is the frame size. If you halve it to 980 x 540, you could cut your render time in half or more (maybe even by 75%). If you're doing 9 pass - then turn off soften (just ups render time for no good reason that I can see). Obviously a faster computer, and many many computers will cut the overall render time for an entire movie. Each shot could be analyzed as to what is really needed - some shots could probably get away with using rotoscopes for backgrounds, ie render background once. Upgrade to version 17 and 64 bit OS

 

 

But I'm a realist. Do the math. You may or may not have to compromise, depending on your pain/patience tolerance threshold. (Me? I aim for 30 secs a frame)

 

For fun, lets say each frame will take average 45 minutes. For a 10 minute clip - thats 14400 frames x 45 minutes = 10800 hours = 450 days for 1 cpu/core running 24/7, no glitches (ha ha ha ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo). Lawd knows how many times you'll be re-rendering each frame (2-3 times at least).

 

divide 450 days by # cores you'll have available for rendering and that's how long it will take. Or if you got a new 4 times faster core/desktop - it will be 112 days.

 

Figure out how long you're willing to wait for final render, and what resources you'll need...see if it's reasonable. And then get real, and start compromising. Each shot will be different.

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First of all, thanks for the suggestions! I'm going to admit I've never had to render more than a still frame or a few seconds of footage and so I'm actually not all that well versed in the best rendering techniques.

 

@Mark, I'm not entirely sure how environment maps work. Will they translate movement, because the reflections have quite a bit of variation when the camera or character moves around. And I'll be sure to try out Klieg lights as an alternative to bulb lights. I know again that when there gets to be a combination of lights or a fair bit of intensity between each of them, that my laptop doesn't handle them well.

 

@Nancy, Hair is actually somewhat simplistic for my characters. I use thicker hairs at a lower density which seems to work well and save a little time on the rendering front. Fortunately like I said, my laptop seems to have no problem rendering hair and zips through that very quickly. I never thought to turn off soften, I always thought it helped shadows and stuff not just look like overlapped layers, but I'll give it a try. If I could aim for 30 seconds a frame, I would wonder what on earth ever let me spend that much money on a mega-computer! If I could ideally cut it back from 45 minutes to 10 minutes though, I would equally be impressed. Again, the one thing I don't want to compromise on is the HD factor. If everyone still used little CRT monitors with horrible web connections, sure, I could easily get away with an SD resolution, but this is the age of speed and bigger screens (or smaller screens too I guess, thinking of ipds and the like). I would like for this to look good. BUt I'm gonna play around with some settings today and see what I can come up with!

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Update:

 

Changes made, all Klieg lights with Z-Buffered Shadows (I just chucked three lights in, not the actual final rig!). Soften turned to off in multipass. Reflections set to 1. Render time at 1920x1080...3 minutes. That's kind of a huge improvement from 45 minutes.

 

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Update:

Changes made, all Klieg lights with Z-Buffered Shadows (I just chucked three lights in, not the actual final rig!). Soften turned to off in multipass. Reflections set to 1. Render time at 1920x1080...3 minutes. That's kind of a huge improvement from 45 minutes.

 

Wow, yes, indeedy. BIG improvement in time. Now it's only 30 days (24/7 - each frame rendered only once) rendering with 1 core for 10 minutes of animation. Much, much more reasonable.

 

If you get into Global ambiant illumination, or IBL, you can fake more interesting lighting easily, and with practically no cost in render time. (don't use Ambiant occlusion of course)

 

and don't forget: bigger frame size also means more oodlebytes of hard drive storage, for rendering, NLEditing, back up, etc.

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Storage space fortunately isn't a concern, I've close to a couple TB to play with between my external drives :) And what is this global ambient? Is it like going halfway for AO, but not doing the actual Occlusion bit?

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Storage space fortunately isn't a concern, I've close to a couple TB to play with between my external drives :) And what is this global ambient? Is it like going halfway for AO, but not doing the actual Occlusion bit?

 

Yes sorta. It's using an image for additional illumination applied globally to all models, instead of lights -

 

In my example, I'm using a different image for the background, ie Camera rotoscope (Antennae galaxy) than I am using for the envronment map (orion nebula), for image based lighting or IBL, There is only 1 white klieg light (about 75%). Interesting things happen when combining different images.

 

For simplicity sake, try it to see the effect with different images just for the environment image - some dark blue tones, some light red, etc.

 

However note that there is a bug in A:M that when switches images for the environment map, it doesn't always take effect (PC, 16b 32 bit), and so you MUST do something like toggle Ambiance Occlusion to 1 % and then back to 0% in order to see the difference. It's a pain. Toggling the global Ambiance type from color back to image based also works I believe.

 

EDIT: 2nd image I switched the environment map to a light tan leather image

 

3rd image is same image used for both camera rotoscope and IBL environment map

IBLandCameraRoto.jpg

ibl2.jpg

sameBackgroundIBL.jpg

Edited by NancyGormezano

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No, environment maps won't show movement.

 

The klieg lights look much better. Don't forget that you can make the cone angle larger on the klieg lights, to try to minimize the amount of lights needed for the set.

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No, environment maps won't show movement.

 

Not sure I understand ? Why would you want the IBL images to show movement? As the models move thru space, the lighting will change on them, due to IBL image used (see first screen capture - no lights or rotoscope used, just IBL image). It's just a more interesting look to me. It's a matter of taste. A way to get easily creative lighting. If one is a stickler for accuracy, then no.

 

Did you mean the camera rotoscopes? - yes they won't show movement - mainly good only to use for background when the camera doesn't move. Also I'm not talking about using environment map for reflections either.

onlyIBL.jpg

RotoShadowsIBL.jpg

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