Monthly Archives: October 2012

Looking Back

I have been rewatching
“Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles” and “Babylon 5”.

I always loved “Roughnecks”  and was impressed by the quality and quantity of the animation.    Just was a well done fun show.  I pretty much don’t complain about anything in it.  Because after all it was a weekly tevlevision series for lack of a better word a cartoon.  Well thats how it was viewed.   And being a  Lightwave user at that time I knew what went into the show.  Although people through around the words dated alot now days I think it holds up well.  

“Babylon 5” which also gets battered with harsh critisms of bad or wooden soap opera acting,. cheap set, make up  and dated CG.  All reasons I couldn’t get into the show at the time.  Even though I loved the ship designs.  The Starfury being one of my favorite all time ships.   The show just didn’t work for me.  I wanted it too sense it was done with lightwave. 

As far as the CG with the show I think people don’t get that it was 1993.  Lightwave was on 3.0 and 3.1 and still on Videotoaster.     Lightwave made its first official pc version in 1995 Lightwave 4.0.   So in 1993 program and computer memory issues limited what could be done.  There were so many features that had not been introduced yet.  No UV mapping.   Image maps had to be small.   No radiosity.  Render times were crippling.   We could go on and on. 

I’m watching  it now and plan on watching the whole series and the movies.   I’m enjoying the show.  Yes it’s dated.  Yes the CG is overlit.   There is plenty wrong with the CG.  Looking at it through the eyes of 1993 it was impressive.    I still love the watching the CG space scenes.   

It does inspire me to play with the Babylon 5 universe in Lightwave.    Babylon 5     Roughnecks

Focal Length

One thing I struggle with and is not used enough.  Is changing the default  focal length of the Lightwave camera. 

This is important in Sci-Fi Space shots to give your ships a sense of scale.  If  there is a 5000 ft long battleship it should look like it.  

 Wide angle lenses are going to make your ship look bigger and show more of the surrounding space i.e. your pretty nebula.  They give your shot more depth.   As you move into normal and telephoto lenses from a wide angle lens your field of view becomes smaller and the subject appear more shallow.  Bringing the objects in the scene closer together.

I have some images I did today of the Rodger Young to illustrate this and some  long time ago when I was testing focal lengths.

The Babylon 5 shots really illustrate the importance of using different lenses. 

The Rodger Young images you can see how the length of the ship becomes squished as I moved to telephoto lenses whereas the wide angle shots make the ship look much longer.  The nebula also goes from being a sprawling nebula to a blue blob.

They all have there place in your space battles.

Space Lighting

First I want to say I don’t claim to be an expert on lighting space scenes.  Far from it.  I have a love hate relationship with it. 

Lighting CG space is a daunting task.   It’s overlooked or done poorly alot.   Personally I like a less is more attitude.  Although I believe in a real world approach I can’t just stick one light in and say its a sun or nearby star and call it a day. 

My lighting usually depends on what I’m doing.  Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5 and so on.  I use techniques from all those as well.  Often I use a nebula’s to silhouette the ships as they did on Babylon 5.   Which  also gives u a secondary light source to give shape to your ship and mood to the scene.  

Star Trek lighting evolved over the years.  First with studio models and blue screens.   Which is why they were so brightly lit and lit from the front.  Eventually the Key light made its way to the other side of the model and much more pleasing and dramatic lighting scheme began. 

The Voyager model above is lit by four lights.  A key, fill, kick and a copy of the key light with everything off but Specular the original Key has affect spec off.   Although I have known about this for ever I didn’t bother doing fo the longest time, but now that I have  started doing it I have found it works great.

On Voyager they would put a Spotlight under the ship aimed directly up at it with using  shadow map with a fuzzy edge around 10-20 which is what I did here.  It fills in the crooks and gives it a pleasant look.

Okay so I hope none of that sounded pretentious.   I usually don’t write these kinds of posts.  I been thinking about writing a Space Lighting Tutorial, but I probably won’t Kier Darby did some brillant ones.  And I learned most of what I know from him.  Also from “Mojo” and John Gross and others through Keyframe or Newtechniques magazine way back and “The Lightwave 3D Book”.

P.S.  I know there is a hole in the Sarod Voyager mesh.  And my title “Error of the Gods” is referencing an error with Lightwave not Sarods model.  His model is beautiful.

Giger Update 2

Still pushing and pulling points.  I’m close to getting the body right although it doesn’t look like it.   Need to taper the horns more and put a more of a twist to them.  Smooth out an area or two.  Trying to figure out the shape I want to go with.  All the reference materials look different. 

The starboard horn gave me trouble the oval shaped bit on the top of it is tricky.  Almost started from scratch.  

I’m going to try and do as much modeling as possible instead of faking what I can with texturing.   We will see.  I might end up with two versions.