View Full Version : Environment: Aerial Race Scene

07 July 2003, 08:23 PM
I built this floating/flying "checkpoint" for an aerial race between a GeeBee Racer ( and another plane which I haven't modeled yet.

The checkpoint is going to be floating in the air, high between the clouds, and gently bobbng up and down (each side moves independently of the other, and the sign itself stays centered).

Anyway, I don't have much experience in compositing a picture from many different elements and I was wondering if anyone can give me some tips on how to make the checkpoint look like it actually is flying in the sky. Right now it feels like I just glued two seperate images on top of each other (which is what I did).

I am guessing I need to maybe play with the color of the shadows on the checkpoint, and try different lights, but I really don't know where to begin... :shrug: I am sure someone with more experience in this area can really point me in the right way.

Any other suggestions would also be appreciated, including suggestions for an alternate color scheme for the checkpoint (I don't like this 1 so much).

P.S. I am aware that there is too much black in the blurred propellor, I am trying to solve that already.


07 July 2003, 09:45 PM
well, Im not an expert but, the light of the signal is blue, and the sky is blue too, maybe with orange or red so the airplane pilots can read better the signal, also maybe a little smoke particles under de turbines can help.


07 July 2003, 09:44 PM
:shame: Shame! Shame on me, for not updating for so long!

I changed the clouds, played around with the color of the lights and also went with a classic key/fill/back light setting. I think it looks much better now, but I would love to hear some opinions!

plaguelord - I took your advice to heart and changed the color of the neon, I hope it looks better now.

07 July 2003, 10:02 PM
Honestly, the previous lighting setup looked better for me..... where is the faint smoke of the turbines?

07 July 2003, 10:34 PM
Apollux - Is it the new colors of the checkpoints that you don't like, or the way they are lit?
As for the smoke... I am going to add some smoke or perhaps a heat haze there in post.

07 July 2003, 11:28 PM
The color of the sign is better right now, but the color of the turbines was better before

.... what I am complaining about is that the prevous lighting setup casted more hard shadows... the current cast very soft and 'filled' shadows... on a day light (and open sky) scene that is unlikely to happend, don't you think?

However, on the first setup one can nothic on shadow form a helix..... never never never on the real life one could cacht the shadow of something that is spinning so fast :shrug:

07 July 2003, 06:18 PM
My thinking is that something which is above the clouds, would have a more diffused look... Because bounced light from the blanket of clouds under it is serving as a big fill light which will diffuse the shadows, no?
It isn't very clear in this picture, but the next shots will show that the entire scene is over a blanket of clouds.

As for the color of what I call the 2 "lifters" on the sides, I am considering changing them back to their original color like you said... It seems like I am the only one who likes the new colors...

And as for the shadows from the propellor, I removed them... It was just an oversight on my part in the original render.

07 July 2003, 06:23 PM
looks better now, but I think the red light are too strong, look the two A letters on the signal. look a little burned. but this is going good, I hope to see some animation test soon!

07 July 2003, 02:37 AM
I did upload a short clip showing this in action for a friend of mine to download... I didn't think anyone else would be interested in seeing it, but if you have the bandwidth to spare you can download it here ( It's 7.3 Mb. for a 3 second clip with too few colors, but it's a start. Unfortunately 3 seconds is too few to really get a feel for the "floaters" motion... this was mostly done to test the plane's motion. In the final version there will be two planes racing and going through the checkpoint neck to neck. As always, I'd appreciate any feedback.
As for the neon's glow... I like the burned out feeling it has, beeing so bright... It should contrast nicely with the way it is when it is off (at the start of the animation).
Edit - Clip removed because I maxed my bandwidth at my host. (not because of this clip)

07 July 2003, 11:48 AM

You were asking for some compositing tips, and I can give you a few:

You'd think that compositing against the sky would be easy, in fact it's quite difficult, you can't play a lot of the tricks you normally do to fool the eye into thinking it's one picture.

But things you should be looking at:

Colour/ Gamma: It's important that both layers have the same colour palette (yours do) and the same gamma range- basically how 'intense' the black and white values are.

In your first post, the signpost has a broader gamma range than the sky (look at the whitest and blackest pixels in the signpost, and the whitest and blackest pixels in the sky.) This is pushing the signpost away from the background. In your second picture you've adjusted the gamma and that's why it sits better.

This is probably the most important point, everything else is refinement, but if your underlying gamma is out it will *always* look somehow wrong.

Interaction: Shadows and focus are geat tools: but with sky backgrounds, shadows aren't much good. However, you can give the signpost a bit if depth with 'fog' or a shallow depth of feild, basically throwing the far post into a soft edge and suggesting 3d depth: you can cheat this to a degree, but you have to take the entire shot into account: you can't have an approaching aircraft being sharper than the post in front of it.

Distraction: Movement and noise: Adding a foreground always helps, because the eye reads the f/g and accepts the midplane/ background. Adding overall camera movement locks the two plates together and gives the eye less to focus on, and judge.

These last two are where you could really sell the composite: add a nice bit of foreground cloud (the wispy cloud will help sell any DoF effect you've cheated in) and move through the cloud to see your finishing post. The distracting foreground action, and the unified camera movement, will glue the composite.

This last point is why you see a lot of rain/smoke/fog/'handheld' camera on tricky composits- artistic value, yes, but serving a technical purpose too.


PS I was suprised not to see a little bit of 'bounce' from the neon in the inner part of the far propellor, especially given the extreme colour of the light.

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