View Full Version : Outpost - VFX Challenge - Beroc-LOD

03 March 2003, 10:00 AM
Hi all, I guess I am in this one too... I just have visions in my head from reading the rules, and it just started, so I will have a bit of time to acctually accomplish this one... (heh) For software, I am going to do all of this in 3ds Max R3.1, with no post processes(kinda cos I dont know how to do that one yet) I know, I know, it's old by today's standards, but I am quite used to it, and might just pull some cool stuff off in it. My initial BG will come from, waltzed across it while hunting pics on the web.

For starters, this particular thread will contain the current/final image and movie link. So dont fret if the movie link doenst work at first.... Well, here goes.....

Current/Final Pic

Current/Final Movie

Wish me luck!

03 March 2003, 10:13 AM
OK, now for the WIP

As for the concept, I figure I would, well, for lack of a better term, Cheat.... I plan a trip to New Mexico later on this month, where I will find and video tape Actual Aliens Invading Earth.... You will get a glimpse at a master culture hell bent on the downfall of humanity. No, No, don't beg me to stop, I am sure they are there, it is just a matter of catching them at the right time. They may suck my brains out with bendy straws, but that is a fair price to pay for bringing you this footage....

That being said, Here is a pic of the location I am certain they are to be inhabitting....

Taken by a local native, this picture shows a small outcropping that the aliens have landed a small reconosence outpost. Yes, I am sure that thier evil plans are comming to fruition as we speak.

Here, however is what I think that they have built. Kinda my 'Artists' interpretation of the complex....

Notice the two resonating towers... I have it on good scientific analysis that they use these two towers as a homing becon.... Waves are built in the bottom, and resonate between the two, sending communications through space to thier home planet. OH, what evil malevolence abounds in these structures....

A friend visited there the other day, he had one of those cell phones you could take pictures with..... and sent me back this picture.....

Notice the security grid.... they must be hiding something very fiendish, for such protection. Alas, my friend was never heard from again......

03 March 2003, 10:33 AM
hey, looks good... think i will try to follow this VFX challenge.

good luck :thumbsup:

03 March 2003, 12:06 PM
looks like you are off to an awesome start.

good picture and camera angle too.

03 March 2003, 12:39 PM
Sweet, nice start. Finish! :D

03 March 2003, 03:41 AM
How are you recreating the geometry and matching the camera? Did you match the camera vaguely and then start building the environment geometry guessing it from the photo?

Seems to be the way to go without several views or survey data.

A MacVey
03 March 2003, 04:09 AM
same question

03 March 2003, 09:02 AM
Yeah, pretty much guess work, I am sure that the camera and geometry are no where near close, as I keep tweeking it to get a better position on my building... If my geometry is correct, you are looking up at about 45 degrees.... course, I already know it isn't that....

I did however, go through, in the initial build, a phase of stretching polys out to match space, but quickly found out that that wasn't giving me a true perspective. If I had to do it again, I would have used a plane with about 40x100 polys, and matched each vert to my map... that way I could have stayed in my bounds better... Oh well, live an learn.

03 March 2003, 09:09 AM
I was hard at work today, seeing if I could find any information on the Aliens... I know they are there, and I am sure that the government knows it too... If you ask me, the whole thing reaks of conspiricy.

After some time, my computer finally produced some results.... Here is a picture of what I think, are plans for the installation, contained in a highly classified document... we wont of course say how we got it, but here it is....

I can see the towers there, and I am sure the thing at the bottom has something to do with communications... what bugs me more are dual landing platforms... I don't as yet know the size of this thing, but if the pictures show correctly, this base could be used for a more military use..... I fear the worse though... Maybe there was something to the X-Files....

I will make sure to keep everyone posted on the events as they unfold...

03 March 2003, 02:30 AM
OK, I am finished, I think...LOL

Processing was done in 4 steps using this pic as my backplate:

As you can see, compared to the original, I removed some foreground elements. This is so that I could billboard them back in to create effects.....

These elements were taken off into Photoshop, where I produced an alpha channel for each. They were brought back in, and applied to "Billboards" or 2 poly planes which face the camera.... As far as the materials, they were given 100% self-illumination so that they wouldn't be affected by the lights in the scene.

These elements are later animated to look like they are affected by the CG jet bike I put in. There is also a background billboard that covers the base of the tower, this was done cos I didnt feel like creating a billion and one polys to match the lay of the land... Cheating, I know... :D

Stage 1 saw the initial model of the Resonator... Not very complex, and wasnt really that poly heavy(24562) It could have been much worse... Since this was a background element, I didnt do any mesh smoothing, and most of the polys came from 4 Lofts which made the tubes under the platforms... The rest is pretty much hand polied game stuff, with smoothed surfaces.

Notice in this pic that the tower has a cut away from the arch.... it was nessecary to make the entire arch, for the CG jet bike to pass under. If not, I would have just done either a simple flat plane cut, or a billboard overlay.

Combined elements...

This is the basic scene as it is set with all the elements put in place. If the background was also applied to this image it would look like the tower is sitting in a hole.

What isnt visible in this particular scene is the arch, which is a matte object and the ground plane, (which really isnt a plane) These objects knock out things in the scene. The only real evidence of the ground plane is in the back billboard, which covers the base of the tower.

Stage 2 is where, after doing a 58 mb uncompressed animation of all the Stage 1 elements, I put the Jet Bike in.

Objects in this scene include the jet bike, which is given a motion blur to simulate fast movment (Trust me, it looked alot better with then without), the core of the flames in the jet bikes engines(forgot to include it on this image), the ground plane and the middle and left bushes....

The bushes were kept in the scene because the shadow passes behind them, hence one of the reasons for billboarding them in the first place.

It was kinda before the first stage when I decided that the bike would have presence in the scene, and be able to affect objects that were in it... since I billboarded the plants, I could make them shake... In all the plants, each has 2-5 billboards. The right bush is linked and animated as one group, so when the base shakes, the rest shake with it.

Stage 3 was simple.... When the bike passes under the arch, it must recieve a shadow... So... I made a Ghost bike... That only recieved shadow, and turned that bike on only when it passed under the arch, as not to add those shadows during the rest of the animation.

You can see by this pic, (taken at frame 59 I think) that the shadows are there... All this occours between frames 57 and 60. The geometry used i this scene are a ghost bike, with a matte material and a ghost Arch... The arch cast shadows in this case, the bike recieved em.

Stage 4, or the final stage, I put the glow in back of the bike for each engine, and applied a sound to the animation....

The only true geometry in this pic is of the platform. Which was turned off till near the end cos it interfeared with the combustion effect for the engines....

03 March 2003, 02:31 AM
Other then the billboarding and background images, there are no other bitmaps in this animation... The bike and tower have the exact same material applied to them, roughly a bluish Max standard metal. Nothing special at all... The engine glow is produced by a very light yellow with a 100% self illumination.

I could have spent many many hours producing a fantastic bitmap texture for the bike and tower... but I had this envisionment of something simple, and I didn't want to spend all of my alloted time doing paintings of things that would never really be seen.

About the Jetbike: OK, the most interesting piece of the puzzle is the Jetbike... It has 25350 polys but was never given any type of mesh smooth... most of the polys come from Lofted wires on the side, though the engines do take up a few. You will also notice that the bike doens't have a rider... Course, I dont think anyone would notice it through the motion blur. Here is a pic of the bike, way more polys then it needs, but I was having fun doing it...

The Passes:
I started the whole process with a stock backplane, with the elements geared in photoshop for the final animation. Each pass is a final 58 mb Uncompressed AVI at 500x270. After the first pass, each background used the final AVI from the previous pass, like a layering effect and, only the geometry for that particular pass was used to create the scene... Each pass took about 5 mins to render, so time really wasnt an issue... Messing up was of course, and I did some screwups which cost me some extra time, but all in all not bad for my first final comp in a VFX.

Total time spent: Roughly a weekend... That is about all the time I needed to put into it, with keeping up wiith a web page and other things. As well I wanted to keep it all fresh in my mind.

Final Comps:

Here is the required image at 1000x540:

And a Final animation at 5 seconds in lenght: (

Note: this animation is an AVI in CinePAK compression, which can be played by almost any player made by Microsoft.. It requires no special codecs. If I can find a way to make a Sorenson Compressed MOV file, then I will set the final up for that.

Wow, all that in one weekend... Thanks guys for your comments, now give me some more...

03 March 2003, 09:49 AM
looking good so far.. dig the interaction with the bushes and stuff a lot.

one thing you should fix is the roto on that arch thingy.. the tower is going into it and its rather noticeable.. but well.. its all WIP anyway so maybe i am making redundant points. :)

good stuff so far.. and good job on the sound too

03 March 2003, 09:54 AM
looks nice and all but doesnt it also look messy? Unless there is more yet to come...

03 March 2003, 10:22 PM
OK, a little corrective surgery was done.... and I made it a much smaller Divx format to save on bandwidth for the time being....

Corrections: I fixed the section at the top where the tower was going into the arch, didnt notice that before. I fixed the path of the Jetbike to be a little smoother on final approach. I fixed most of the ground plain to show shadows better... I put more detail into the ground plain to better show surfaces as the ship passes over. I increased the shadow buffer to get more detail out of the ship in the shadow on the ground. And, I fixed the right bush so that it wasnt so shakey.... it was giving me a headache... ;)

get the new file here: (

Stimpy/derelict: Can you be a little more specific, is there any one thing that is wrong, or is the whole thing wrong? As far as a roto... well roto would mean, I guess something that turns... but I am not getting what you mean.

All in all, I am more enamored that the whole thing looks as good as it does. After all this is the first time I have ever done anything like this.

Thanks guys for the crits... More please....

03 March 2003, 10:33 PM
with roto i meant rotoscoping.. the tower kind of reached into the stone arc thing, kind of ruining the whole integration a bit but it looks like you fixed it in the newer version.

i would shift the animation of the air craft a bit further to the end, because it kind of ends on a dead picture, which is a bit weird. also try to liven up the background a bit, like by animating the clouds a tiny bit, or simply adding some grain on the whole thingy.

03 March 2003, 12:06 AM
yeah, I may add movement in the clouds, as far as grain, I think that would make it look a little less attractive, or maybe I am not seein what you are thinkin... ;)

I will try that soon, and get back on it

03 March 2003, 12:15 AM
grain adds a bit of life to your plate, considering its a still image in an animation. it just looks to clean without it and hence looks a bit dead.

03 March 2003, 12:34 AM
Nice transmission/landing tower you have there, and the angle of the photo is very cool.
Just a couple of sugestions to your work.
I think that your animation needs a little more life into it, as stimpy said, the clouds moving is a good idea, smoke and dust from air revolving from the speed of the jetbike are other ideas, and you could try shaking the camera a bit when the jet passes by, im not sure. The animation is a little to much centered in the passage of the jetbike, the surroundings are a little two quiet...
You made the lights too white and in the wrong direction ( instead pointing left, it should point slighty to the right) IMO
Still, very nice work, youre in fast forward in this challenge compared to me (drawing the spaceships and structures yet):surprised

My thread on Outpost - VFX Challenge (

03 March 2003, 08:27 AM
Finally, some time to work on this...

So here is what I decided to do.....

I decided to rebuild all the geometry, save the tower and vehicle, and resetup the scene a completely different way.

I found a tutorial for camera mapping, which I didnt know previously existed, so I am having a bit of fun with it. I gave the camera movement, so I can do a little more with it.

I also made a test movie

Test movie (

Of course it isnt finished, no where near it for the moment. I have to add all the bushes and stuff back in, cept this time in 3d, and animate them. I am sure I am going to redo the anim path for the camera and bike, just havent had much time as of late to do these things.

Tell me what you guys think of it...

03 March 2003, 08:53 AM
You know umm there's no rush, you have like some 38 days left to work on your entry. There's still TONS of work needed here. For instance textures on the alien buildings, and more alien structures and such, cause as of right now its very hard to make out where that landing pad starts and ends, and honestly if I didn't look thru your thread I wouldn't have known that was a building behind the over hang there.

The interaction with the bushes is cool, but again you can spend more time tweaking to fluidity of those bushes.

Finally you didn't even enter your entry here ;) please do so unless you don't want to be included in the voting..

keep going you still have plenty of time


03 March 2003, 06:16 PM
OK, posted this up on CGChallenge... And, I know you guys arent gonna wanna here this, but.... I picked up some side work, so this project is officially closed for me. At least I did a final and final movie.

Thanks everyone for your crits and suggestions.

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