View Full Version : SciFi City Opening Shot

11 November 2008, 05:53 PM
Here is the opening shot of my next short. Need some help making this better.

It is at HD resolution (720P) and was rendered in Max 2009 with MR. I used MR Proxies to keep from crashing too much (32-bit / memory). The models are mainly from the Dystopia ( collection.

This is a comp image from After Effects. I have a slight f-depth blur. Space ships are on two layers. The distant ships are all controlled via PFLOW.

Here is the sample animation.

11 November 2008, 03:43 AM
I like the busyness of it.

I think the DoF may be creating the sense that these are miniatures.

Distance haze might help you more to sell the bigness.

Is that the Eiffel Tower in the background? I was just thinking that the buildings we see look much taller than the real Eiffel Tower so we couldn't see the Eiffel Tower poking above the skyline.

Couldn't get the animation to play so I couldn't check that out.

11 November 2008, 04:52 AM
I have added a few things.

Replaced the sky - it is now much easier to see all the little ships flying.
I added several layers of haze and color / blurred the layers to add more depth.
I add heat distortion behind the front ships.
It is the Eiffel tower in the background. It is too tall and I am also thinking of dumping it. Did you get an error message when you tried to play it? It is a standard quicktime movie - no special compression.

Thanks for the feedback.

11 November 2008, 08:03 PM
I thinkthe HD animation is just too big for my 1024x768 screen.

But I think the distance blur is working against you. Depth of field effects are really only present when the camera is close to something. When everything is far away (more than 20 feet), like in your shot, a real camera lens wont have any trouble keeping it all in focus.

The blurry background is making it look like this is a close-up of a miniature, which you dont' want. Haze yes, blur no.

11 November 2008, 08:27 PM
Thanks - that is a really good point. I'll do a little more tweaking. I think I have seen too many movies with miniatures - it has distorted my reality.

11 November 2008, 08:43 PM
I odn't know what app you're using but in A:M we have a "fog" setting that progressively blends in the "background color" (sky blue for example) as objects recede from a "near" distance to a "far" distance. It works great.

Absent a convenience like that, a depth map of the scene could be used in compositing to get the same effect.

11 November 2008, 09:58 AM
I've done a couple of similar things in the past where I also sat there thinking "What's missing?" The answer to be blunt is everything. These shots are hard to pull off imo. The buildings themselves look fine if a bit bland. The DOF needs to go, yes, but also the cleanliness and emptiness of everything is really killing any sense of scale.
eg street furniture, advertising hoardings, rubbish on the street, trees at the edge of the roads (I would guess no world with a sky that blue has no trees ;)). Ideally... people too, even ones cut out from greenscreen and comped in.
There is a mental ray fog thing afaik. I've used something similar in xsi. Also, in xsi (dunno about max, but maybe it does this too), there's an in viewport fog you can use to fake depth passes etc. It would be a handy way to fake fog in that it paints near objects black and far white. Something like that comped over your shot may be easier to tweak than full on 3d fog.

11 November 2008, 05:02 PM
Good points. I could add some details to the main street that is clearly empty. There is a corner that is missing too. (bottom left).

I have played with the mist shaded in MR - it is part of the lume shaders. There is also the haze control inside the sky system. However, I just could not get the look I wanted. I will probably stick with the comp method. I have had to juggle things around because this scene crashes a lot on a 32-bit system.

11 November 2008, 06:31 AM
It seems to me that the ships in the foreground are moving very slowly compared to those in the background. I think I'd slow down the PFLOW ships a bit so they match those in the foreground - this should also make the city feel larger.

11 November 2008, 10:58 PM
The thing that struck me first was the heat contrail of the near ships. It's too uniform, a bit of noise to the effect would make it seem more real. Right now it just looks like a lens has been placed behind the ship.

Perhaps some non linear motion for the ships might help. Right now they're all moving either across the screen horizontally or vertically. Maybe some could turn on the side streets?

11 November 2008, 11:09 PM
Here is version 3. I have updated the animation link to have all three versions.

* I have removed the blur.
* I added more background ships and slowed them down (a lot).
* Added missing forground building (left corner).

Things I tried but am not happy with yet.

* I added some trees down the main road. At this scale, it was hard to see anything there. I thought about adding a park - but I can barely get this scene to render as it is. The simple ships have caused many crashes.
* Have not messed with haze effect. I feel like it is barely noticable on the animation.

Animation Link:[/url]
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11 November 2008, 11:12 PM
Since my image is being updated - it has wiped out the original version. Here is what it looked liked on version 1.0. With your help - it is getting better and better:)

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11 November 2008, 11:12 PM
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