View Full Version : Outpost - VFX Challenge - Bischofftep

04 April 2003, 02:10 AM
Greetings, all:

My first CGChallenge entry. Fortunately, I recently returned from a trip to the Grand Canyon with some self-made photographs. This one seemed a good candidate, so here my foray into CGChallenges begins.

Taken with a Nikon CoolPix 900 that sadly didn't survive the trip down the Colorado. No modifications to the picture done but cropping to 1.85 aspec ratio.

More to come, of course!


04 April 2003, 03:19 AM
First steps done, the Backplate is ready pretty much as-is.

Next was to create geometry. Starting easy, I decided to check my techniques and the capabilities of my modeling program (Blender) to see how it'd handle what I wanted to do.

Here is a screen shot of a test shadow with some mist added to match the backplate:

Here's a link to a short movie ( showing how the perspective and shadow works.

Feedback appreciated!


04 April 2003, 01:43 PM
it looks good, what are you going to do about the water?

2 weeks to go.....


04 April 2003, 01:47 PM
Originally posted by Nando3D
it looks good, what are you going to do about the water?

2 weeks to go.....


You're telling ME! :rolleyes:

I'm honestly not sure what to do about the water, but I have a few ideas to play with. None of them will likely look very realistic, unfortunately, which will seriously detract from the scene.

Ideas welcome!

04 April 2003, 01:54 PM
the aesy thing to do (cheat) is to change the water for ground, sand, grass, a road, motorway......I think...
Or do a new layer and animate in after effets......

good luck


04 April 2003, 11:59 PM
Progress Update, 18 April 1900 EST

I've masked out the sky and the river, figuring that if these two items are totally static then the whole animation will fall flat.

That done, it was time to animate some clouds moving. This is a still showing the perspective of a flat clouds shot from a textures collection projected onto a plane in Blender. This will be composited into the sky of the Backplate, as an animation of course.

Lots more to be done, of course, but we're getting there!


04 April 2003, 10:33 AM
Looks good so far, I'm curious how the base will look?

04 April 2003, 02:34 AM
Hey ya Bischofftep!!!

I have a suggestion regarding the water. If you use Maya, and have the 4.5 version well then you might want to use the Ocean Shader ( i used the 'calm sea' setting and tweaked it a little).

...that's it, good luck dude!

04 April 2003, 03:35 PM
Hello, again:

This weekend's work consisted mostly of doing water & sky work to prepare the Backplate for animation. The last step of that was finished this past weekend as well, and that was to create a mesh to duplicate the geometry of the canyon. This was a bit of a challenge in that I hadn't had to match a reference picture for mesh geometry this precisely before. I'm sure it will need some tweaking as I discover some shadows that don't match later, but that won't pose much of a problem I hope...

CobraX: I'm using Blender 2.26, but thanks for the thought!

Azazel: I'm curious to know what the base looks like, too. ;) My initial sketch of that should go up tonight.

Here's a wireframe superimposed on the backplate to show probable geometry.

Getting to the "fun" stuff soon! Thanks for the encouragement, folks!

04 April 2003, 02:34 AM
Here it is:

Please forgive my rough drawing skils... this is why I chose 3D as my medium of choice. :rolleyes:

I realized that the biggest challenge her was to overcome the fact that my backplate is so.... huge... that any Outpost here would have to appear fairly substantial or it would be swallowed by the background.

The "dock" in the foreground is the focal point, and the "landing bay" in the background will serve as a secondary focus. If I have time, a craft will come in from offscreen left and zoom towards the landing bay. A small robot will be patrolling the shoreline, also time permitting.

Watch for more later this week!

04 April 2003, 01:24 PM

Someone asked me a question about camera mapping, and I responded privately to them on how I did it in Blender. It occured to me that other programs and other users might have better or other techniques. Here's what I used to achieve the camera matching. Anyone have thoughts on how to do this better?

There are two big steps: matching the 3D program's "camera" to the position of the real camera that took the picture. The second is to build geometry that matches the features of the landscape while still in perspective mode.

Matching the camera is deceptively simple, but takes some time experimenting.

1) Map your backplane to a simple "plane" facing the camera. Try to make the plane have the same size in units as the pixel dimensions of your backplate. If you can't do that, at least make it have the same Height/Width ratio.

2) Lock the position of the plane to follow the camera. If you rotate the camera, the plane should always stay perpendicular to the view. If you move the camera, the plane should move, too. Give yourself lots of room between camera and plane, try to simulate the distance from the farthest point in your picture to the camera in units of your 3D program.

3) Place a second plane at "ground" level on your 3D program. This one should be flat when viewed from the camera. Leave that plane where it is, and make it large enough to be about as wide as the backplate plane.

4) Now, move the camera around until you get the plane you just drew to be the "ground" to match the perspective of the ground (in my case, river) of your backplate picture. When they match, your camera is positioned properly! If you don't have a flat "ground" reference, find any flat plane and put the 2nd "reference plane" either straight vertical or flat horizontal, whichever seems appropriate for the pic. If you were mapping to a scene with a desk, use a flat plane to match the desk. If mapping to a TV screen, use a vertical plane to match the TV screen.

Now don't touch the camera! All your other work should be done in other viewports, usually a Plan view (top) and a side view. View the results of your movements in the window showing the camera view, but don't ever move vertices there! Always move them in the other two viewports. You'll quickly see how moving something on the "plan" view causes the vertex to appear to be moving towards or away from the camera in proper perspective.

Here's a screenshot from Blender on my Outpost Challenge:

Thanks for any input!

04 April 2003, 02:17 PM
Impressive :thumbsup: If I'm not mistaken, You should have very fast rendering...will have to look closer at Blender's fx capabilites ;)

04 April 2003, 03:25 AM
Well, it appears that this will be an exercise with lots of learning going on... but not a very good product. Ah, well.

Here's a bit of an update, though, showing where I've gotten. The reflection channel isn't set up properly yet, so I am aware that there is no reflection in the river yet. :cry:

04 April 2003, 11:37 AM

Here we are. This has been quite the learning experience in a lot of ways. I am grateful for those comments posted, and very much would appreciate any feedback.

I really think the choice of scene hamstrung me from the start: the perspective does not lend itself well to this sort of shot, and the distance makes everything look so small that the CG elements are just plain lost.

Here is the final picture:

And the final movie link can be viewed here. (

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