View Full Version : "A Great Sadness" - BSG Animation WIP

07 July 2008, 03:58 AM
Greetings all, I am working on a BSG short film/animation, and started a WIP thread on another site, but havnt been receiving too much feedback, so I thought I'd post here too. So I'm gonna copy/paste a bunch of my WIP updates from that thread to this one. Here it goes :) I hope to get feedback and comments :)

Project Status: (green means completed, yellow means WIP)
Pre-Animation Stage:
Ideas Brainstorming
Music Selection
Coxxon Low Poly Fleet import
Engine Light Rig Modifications
Nuclear blast light rig
Nuclear missile smoke effects
Ship nav lights
RCS thruster light rig
Jump Light Rig
Coxxon Galactica w/ ribs and plates import and texturing
Galactica Flight Pod Lighting
Battle Damage Modifications to Models
Animation, Editing and Testing:
Act 1 Previz Shots matched to Act 1 music
Act 2 Previz Shots matched to Act 2 music
Act 3 Previz Shots matched to Act 3 music
Low Res Editing, Test Animations and Revisions
Renders, Credits and Final Editing
Opening and Closing Credits
Standard Resolution Final Product
720p HD Renders and Final Product
Selected still image renders
YouTube upload upload
SFM post
Kobol Studios detailed blog post

Greetings all, since I'm new to 3D and learning a lot of things by trial and error, I decided to create one thread to combine all these little works in progress, so I wouldnt flood the WIP forum with all my threads. A lot of it will be "tests" as I learn new techniques and what not. Anyways, enough blabbering.
For the record my other 2 WIP threads are My first 12 second Viper animation ( and my pitiful attempt at doing my first model (, a Viper Mark 2. I'm done working on that first animation, but I'll keep updating my Viper modeling WIP thread if I ever get to it. I seem to produce work more easily in animation than modeling.
For the heck of it, I decided to create a blog and website where I'll be posting all my CG work, and called it Kobol Studios, and signed up on to post my animations, as well as on youtube.
My Kobol Studios blog site (
My Kobol Studios videos (
Since modeling the Viper is taking forever and I dont seem to be very good at modeling, I decided to take a break and go back to animation. My first animation was a 12 second one that was my first ever 3D work. And I had more text and credits than actual animation lol. That wont happen again. And I was following a BSG tutorial word for word, and I think it limited me in many ways.
This time, I'm going to make a longer animation, it'll actually have somewhat of a story, and I'll be doing my own thing.
The animation will be called "A Great Sadness", and it'll be featuring a Colonial Recon Raptor jumping into low orbit above one of the Colonial planets that is being nuked by the Cylons. I will be trying to have nukes go off on the surface. And the rest, you'll just have to find out when you watch it :)
I'll be featuring Coxxon's low poly fleet. And if I can manage to import Hobbes high poly raptor into Lightwave and manage to texture it, I will use it for close up shots. Otherwise I'm going to have to settle for the low poly, and probably avoid close shots.
I have successfully importanted Coxxon's recon raptor, and after a little problem with it being too bright regardless of lightning, I managed to fix that and allow dark renders.
Here is a test shot I did to play aroudn with the lighting. I'll probably have less lighting than BSG, i.e no or very little fill lighting, because they are low poly models and well...we dont want to see the lack of detail ;)
Anyways here's the shot.

First render (

That's not part of the animation, it's just a test render while I was playing around with lighting. I'm going to do a few other test renders as I go along, and then the next thing you'll probably see is the final product all done.
Doing animation WIPs is a bit different than the modeling wips done here, cant really show much "progress" as renders take time, plus, it's meant to be seen all in one go :)
Anyways, I talk too much I know. Stay tuned for those test renders.

07 July 2008, 03:59 AM
Well, I have selected the score for the animation. See, on BSG Bear McCreary writes the score for the scenes after they are done. At least that's my understanding as I read his blog. On the other hand, I have to work the other way around, since nobody is composing music for my animations ;)

So basically I have selected the pieces that I'll use, and I'll be effectively creating shots FOR the music, rather than how the show does it, which creates music for the shots. It'll be an interesting approach, because I'll basically have to time the shots so that it goes well with the music, that means when there is a change in the music, there has to be a change in the shots to reflect that.

I could simply not use music at all, but I have found that animations without music are just not the same. In fact I'll try to have a few sound effects in there too, just a couple.

Anyways, I have divided the the animation into 3 Acts.

Prologue - Will have the main Title theme and a couple intro credits.
Act 1 - "A Great Sadness" which will feature "A Distant Sadness" piece from Season 3 of the BSG soundtrack.
Act 2 - "Escape" will feature re-arrangements of "Storming New Caprica" also from Season 3 to fit my animation.
Act 3 "No Surrender" will feature "One Year Later" from BSG soundtrack season 2.

I will be re-arranging bits and pieces of the tracks as I build the shots and try to match and fit them so it flows nicely. I have a felling it's going to be a tough challenge. I have tried to fit video to music in the past in some youtube trailers I made...and it's some work.

Anyways, next step will be to build myself a planet, and I think I'm going to redo my stars, and add more of them, as in my last animation I had too few.

I'll be posting renders of the stars and planet soon :)

My plan is something like this:

Model planet
Make stars
Construct nuclear blast light packages
Construct engine light packages
Do Battlestar flightpod lighting
Start animating :)

Wish me luck :)

07 July 2008, 04:01 AM
Thanx m8, I just gotta get over a few challenges, cause a lot of this stuff I have never done before. Like I've never created a planet, and so it's no surprise that I'm having some issues.

I was able to get a decent shot from this angle:

click (

And these are two images that show that when I change the camera angle things dont work out.

click (

If I lower the intensity of the sun, I get this:

click (

My atmosphere is too dense. Either way, I found a tut which I'm gonna follow, and apparently you need like 10K resolution to have a good looking low orbit my 4K res is not gonna be enough. My clouds in fact are like 2K.'s back to the drawing board...but that first shot of the sunrise in orbit aint too bad ;)

And my stars are fine I think. I might add a few more and tweak some to make em brighter than others, but for now it'll do.

I'll post test renders of my new planet when I get through the new tut. Stay tuned :)

07 July 2008, 04:03 AM
I'm using 8K resolution maps now. Still gotta deal with the atmosphere, and I'll do that tomorrow :)

click (

Also notice the stars dont show up in this shot. That's because they dont catch the sunlight. Yeah I know, stars are supposed to emit light right? Yeah...this just means I gotta render out the stars on a seperate pass with some sort of fill light, and composite the stars with the rest of the animation for the end fact I might have to do a fill pass for the ships too...bah, was hoping not to do many passes this time. Each additional pass ads a ton of render time...oh well...worth it if it's gonna look decent in the end.

07 July 2008, 04:03 AM
Fixed the planet. Now moving onto engine light rigs, jump light rigs, battlestar flight pod light rigs, and then onto the animation :)

Render (

As you can see the stars are not bright enough...I'll have to render them out seperately with a fill light and composite it in, otherwise they'll be dark at times like in the above render.

07 July 2008, 04:05 AM
Test render on what is actually a Viper engine light rig which I've attached to the Raptor for now to test it.

click (

And right now I gotta fix the problem on the image below:

click (

As you can see something that shouldnt be happening is happening around the engine exhaust. If anyone knows what it is, let me know pls :)

07 July 2008, 04:14 AM
Thanx m8. Though I dont think that's the problem. I've been trying to figure this out for...well longer than it's good for me lol and I think the problem is the interaction between the exhaust lights and the spill light.

Here is a shot with the lights seperated, and you can see the left exhaust is fine, the right exhaust has issues when it interacts with the spill light.

When I remove the spill light, it looks better, though you can still see some of the light's countour.

If anyone has any idea how to fix this (again, this is Lightwave) let me know pls :)

07 July 2008, 04:15 AM
Well, it seems like things are not going smoothly for me with this project. Everytime I solve one problem, 2 other new ones pop up.

Still have not fixed the engine light issue, though I discovered that it has problems interacting with the spill light.

Here is a shot with spill light (

And here is one without spill light (

As you can observe, the left exhaust light has no issues. The right exhaust has severe issues with the spill light, but it's ok without it (though still not perfect).

So I gotta figure that out.

Also, I had just noticed my clouds were not showing up in my planet renders. I fixed that now, though as I said, new problems always pop up, and now I have random black circles appear on the render, like in the image below:

clicky (

So this project is going to take longer than anticipate to complete...which is not cool, as I'd like to get on with it and deliver at least some sort of results soon.

No pain no gain I guess...

Edit: Crap forgot to credit. Credits are same as all the other images posted so far.

07 July 2008, 04:16 AM
Ok, after the pain came the gain. I finally fixed the problems I was having, or went around them.

Basically, the spill and flame lights of the engine exhaust dont like each other. They were designed to be well, I'm gonna have to composite, even though I was trying to avoid compositing.

Here is a shot of a 1 pass render (

And here is a 5 pass render composited (stars, planet, raptor key, raptor spill, raptor flame). As you can see, problem solved :P

Five pass render (

Notice the stars are brighter in the composited shot. That's cause I turned ambient light to 100% so they actually shone independently of the sun light bouncing off of them. After all...they are supposed to emit light. This simulated that well.

Last but not least, my planet is finally fixed.

fixed planet (

Now I can actually move on with new content, rather than trying to fix old content.

Next, I'll be constructing nuclear blast light rigs...


07 July 2008, 04:18 AM
Well, a little update on my nuclear light rig work. I pretty much decided to do a shot from far enough so that I wont have to have anything detailed. Much like the nukes on Firefly's opening shot. Though it's still a WIP and things can change.

So here is a test render of me playing around with things.

Nuke Test (

Ignore the line that shows up, these will be composited and I wont have to deal with that problem. So as you can see, very simple rigs, after all you cant have much detail from that orbit. Of course, to have to make it look all right I'll have to place them in a bit of a cloudless area, cause otherwise it wont be realistic to have clouds unaffected by nuclear blasts. So that'll have to determine where these nukes go off.

I have been using 3 main references. Nuke shots from low earth orbit on Battlestar Galactica (Caprica nuking), Firefly opening scene and Terminator 3. Firefly has the least detail, and furthest away shot, like I'm planning on. Terminator 3 has a medium detail setup. They have basic particle FX like smoke, but nothing like the Caprica being nuked shot on BSG. That, I couldnt possible create right now, that's insane, once again Zoic made BSG go above and beyond anyone else, though I really like Terminator 3's shot too.

Anyways, here are images so you can see for yourself.

Firefly Opening shot - far away, like I'm planning to do, simple

Terminator 3 shot - closer up to the surface, medium smoke/particle FX, with missile contrails though which is nice

And finally the crazy BSG shot with particle FX all over the place.

I'll mention the credits right now, for my render (first image) textures by NASA the rest by me.

The others are screenshots from Firefly, BSG and Terminator 3...and of course not my work :P

I'm using those as guidelines, but of course I wont be able to do anything like T3 or BSG, maybe something close to T3 shot, but that's why I'm gonna avoid it alltogether by doing a far out shot, far enough that I can do away without particle FX, cause I am not good at it yet.

I'd like to do missiles, but I in order to see missile contrails you'd have to be close enough to see the smoke from the nuke it's a catch 22...maybe I'll just do the nuke as a light...we'll see I guess.

See, I have the "get things done before I lose motivation" syndome, and yet I also have the philosophy of "quality over quantity and speed"...

I guess my particle FX skills will determine the shot...we'll see what i can do.

07 July 2008, 04:19 AM
Okies, well they say when you just lose some motivation for something, or get tired of doing something, they say to work on something else for a little bit and come back to it. So I'm giving a little break from the nuke and engine lighting rigs, and I went ahead and imported Coxxon's Galactica into LW.
It was a little bit of a challenge for me, as I had to take the 4 layers (base, ribs, armor, guns) (which were all one layer when imported from 3DS) seperate them and recombine them. That took some work, but I think I got it.
Now I'm working at lighting the galactica, and it's a bit of a challenge because Coxxon's low poly only has 3 surfaces for the entire galactica. So when you increase specularity on one thing, you end up getting specularity on other things you didnt want.
Plus, I'm still pretty new to all the surfacing and lighting stuff.
Anyways, here is a test render and the reference image.
My Galactica test render (
Zoic Image (
The Zoic model has about 2,920,000 more polys and more than 3 surfaces :P So cant really compare ;) But I'm trying my best.
I'll be tweaking the surface settings a bit more, and then proceed to lighting the ship.

07 July 2008, 04:23 AM
Here's another test render after tweaking surface settings some more. Not sure if I can make it look much better than that with those textures and only 3 surfaces. I not terribly fond of the texturing between the ribs, maybe I'm doing something wrong. Oh well, gotta move on. This will do for now.

Galactica lighting test (

Here is a test render of the lighting on Galactica. No where near done, but a start.
Galactica Flight Pod Lighting test (

07 July 2008, 04:26 AM
Ok, I'm done transfering the WIP posts. I apologize to the moderators for posting all in one go. But I really wanted to transfer the WIP thread and continue it here too, so I can get feedback from this community also.

Currently I'm continuing to light the Galactica, and I'm new to lighting (and pretty much all of this work) so feedback, comments, suggestions are all welcome :)

12 December 2008, 03:37 AM
Greetings folks.

After a pretty long break from CG work, I'm getting back to it in full force. Basically, my main hobbies are web development and more recently CG work. Lately I have been focused more on web development and administration, so I had little time for CG. Also, when I tried to model a Mark II Viper (first ever modeling attempt) it didnt go so hot. Basically I was getting nowhere. I am thinking perhaps I have more talent for animation, or it comes easier to me, I dont know. But basically that kindo made me take a break from CG.

But lately I came across some new models that look great, so I decided to go back and work on my A Great Sadness project.

I am starting over on a few things. For example, with a new high poly battlestar mesh, I feel I need to do a better job with lighting, so I'm starting over with that. I should probably update the project progress thing on the first post.

Anyways, the deal is that since I run a single core Pentium M 1.5 Ghz and 1.25 gigs of ram, it takes forever to render anything and a lot of work takes longer than it should. So progress is very slow, not only because I'm new to CG (and try different things) but also cause of my slow arse pc.

As things stand right now, my focus at the moment is to light the battlestar, and figure out the best way to light and render. Basically, I'm trying to figure out if I will be comping or not, and I think I will.

Here is today's lighting test. I used 11% global illumination and I'll be replacing this effect with a fill light and comping it when I do it properly.

It was 720p HD with Enhanced Medium (2 x 9 passes) of AA. This frame took 10 minutes. This is pretty concerning of course, as it translates into 4 hours to render 1 second of animation. Or 40 hours for 10 seconds.

Considering A Great Sadness is to be between 3 and 5 minutes, this is of course not acceptable with my current PC. If I end up doing multi-ple passes and comping, this render time will increase even more.

So I am thinking I'll be doing a 640 x 480 Enhanced Medium AA render with multi-passes until I get me my workstation. I'm waiting for dual socket Core i7 "Nahelem" systems to come out in Q1 of 2009. That will provide me with 8 cores and 16 threads to render, and at that point I'll render at 720p. If they launch the octo-cores in Q1 also, then that'll be 16 cores and 32 threads in one machine...heck I might even be able to render full 1080 HD :P That's of course if the thing dont cost 7 grand.

Anyways, here's the render and comparison with Zoic. As you can see, Zoic's is brighter. But that's what these test are for...a work in progress to get better.

Lighting Test Render (

Zoic image (

P.S. It seems that this forum doesnt resize images, so I went ahead and converted all embedded images to links in my previous posts because they were messing up the width of the post.

It's kind of a bummer, cause this means I either have to shrink images specifically for CGtalk (I have like 3 other WIP threads on 3 other sites) so that's not gonna happen. Or, I upload as attachments, which isnt really different from URL linking. So I guess this thread will be eyecandy free at first impression, people will just have to click the links to see the images.

12 December 2008, 08:09 PM
Did some comp tests. And I dont get it. The grain look all right, but when I resize from 720p to 1080p it becomes all a bit blurry. I dont recall BSG shots ever looking blurry, and yet apparently they use this technique. They render at 720p and then size up to full 1080. They say so that it looks less "CG like". But I mean if you dont zoom it looks all right I guess, but if you zoom in on the image it looks all blurry.

Anyone know if I'm doing something wrong? Here are the renders.

720p no grain (

720p w/ grain (

sized up to 1080p (not rendered at 1080p) with grain (

Zoic ref image (

For example that Zoic render I think it's a beauty render without grain etc.

Any thoughts?

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