View Full Version : WIP : 4th moon of xyth - sci-fi anim

01 January 2005, 11:14 AM
First post!

4th Moon Of Xyth is a series of stories i started working on quite recently, tho the backbone for most of the stories was already written some 8 years ago when i was stil drawing comics. It's placed in the very distant future. Humans send out a ship to set up a base near Xyth, an uninhabited planet with similar living-conditions as on earth. While the ship was on it's way over there, mankind back on earth got involved in a big war, mostly fighting to gain control over the last sources of clean water, mineral sources and energy sources. When some of the parties involved in the war decided to use nukes, it resulted in the almost immediate and total extinction of mankind. Those on their way to Xyth were in stasis sleep and only heard the news upon arrival, some 120.000 years later...

That's were the actual series start, on Xyth. The ship in which they arrived was transformed into a base in permanent orbit around planet Xyth, several engineers were setting up a base on the surface of the planet while others scout the system or were setting up miner routes to nearby asteroid fields to find ore and minerals for ship-plating, fuel and ammo.

They're not alone, several small alien species are found and some are quite hostile, as they venture deeper into space they run into dangerous, fearsome beasts, abandoned bases filled with ancient horrors trying to eat away the fabric of space-time...

Dark Sci-fi with a little 'gothic horror' touch...the main characters won't be visible in their human form, they're always presented by the space ships, most scenes are in outer space or in bases, only very few scenes are on the surface of a planet. I won't use any voices, except some effected/distorted voices for some alien critters, soundtrack will be limited to a mix of sound-design, music and some sound-effects.

So far i've been working on the script/story and making the 3D models and doing some animation tests, i've added a link to one of those tests (without sound or postwork - only the 3Ds max 6 render), but as you can see there's some odd random flickering. I don't have a clue how it got there or how to solve it. Seeing it appears on quite some frames, manual editing of the affected frames will take to long. It's a 3Ds max problem, but i don't know what i've done to get this problem. This particular scene shows 3 vector-fighters leaving the fighter-bay of the base (simple models, i know - these are older models for testing purposes). The lightning of the entire scene is what i had in mind, i used some 40 might sources, 6 for each of the fighters, all others are part of the base and 1 scene-light : a target spot (no shadow map) to make things a bit more visible.
I think the problem is due to the lightning, perhaps some reflections of a light source that creates the flickering or maybe it's due to the render settings? I've used scanline rendered with all basic settings, maybe scanline is not ment to render so many lights, but then again the original version of the base had 80+ lights and no problems with stills, this flickering only occurs if i animate the models.

Does anyone have an idea what might cause these flickerings, or how to solve it. I can fix it afterwards by replacing the frames with crossfades of the previous and next frame, but this will lower the quality and will still take quite some time. I rather see this fixed from within 3Ds Max 6 than having to waste so much time afterwards.

Download the divx-coded avi file (9.6 megs, 25fps, 800*400 pixels) :
Or download the mov file (4.1 megs, 25fps, 800*400 pixels) : (the mov is a bit darker than the original uncompressed video).

Thanx for looking, any comments/tips on how to solve the problem are greatly appreciated.

01 January 2005, 05:19 AM
The flickering might have something to do with Motion blur try turning it off.

01 January 2005, 08:47 AM
Motion blur should be off, unless i missed it, but i'll try turning it on and off to see if it makes a difference.

When i render the frames seperately (one by one), the problem is still there. It happens before rendering effects are applied (turning those of makes no difference), so i think it's something that happens during the rendering...

01 January 2005, 09:15 AM
Looks like i found the solution, and it's quite obvious. I used mapped shadows and when i use raytraced shadows on all lights, the flickering is gone. I didn't think about it ar first cos i never used raytraced shadows before...the only drawback is that the render time is about 4 to 5 times as long, but the result is worth it.

here's a comparison between the two : upper image is raytraced, the lower is mapped shadows. Now i'm also rid of all the bias problems with mapped shadows.

01 January 2005, 11:19 PM
Mapped shadows shouldn't flicker if the settings are set appropriately. I use Maya so I don't know exactly where the attributes are kept in 3D studio max or if they use the same terms, but you want to increase the dmap (depth map) resolution to make sure there isn't any blockiness in the lighting and increase the dmap filter size to get rid of flickering. Increasing these things increases render time, but if you use them responsibly should get nice results with much less render time than raytracing.

Also, if you have geometry really far away from the lights, and haven't set the light's clipping settings to ignore objects that far away it eats up the resolution that is used for the shadows so you might want to make sure you don't have stray geometry way off in the distance of your scene.

01 January 2005, 08:54 AM
Thanx, that makes sense, i'll have to read a bit more in-depth info on shadow mapping and try a few things out as i've never really changed much of the options but there's indeed a size and depth of the shadow map.

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