Stonehenge! - On UK TV tonight

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Old 03 March 2013   #1
Stonehenge! - On UK TV tonight

Hi there,

My latest work is on tv tonight here in the UK. The Show is called Secrets of the Stonehenge Skeletons. (Not to be confused with Scooby and the Stone Age Skeletons.) It's on Channel 4 tonight (Sun 10th) at 20.00. I'll post a reel of the work in the next few days.

This was a challenging, and at times frustrating, job. I was originally asked to create a version of Stonehenge which could be used in various ways: as a standalone aerial map, an interactive model to be used on set, and a VFX element to be comped into live action. In fact I did produce all of these, but the broadcaster took an axe to nearly all of it. I also produced several sequences of frozen moments to depict life on the ground, which involved creating 3D models of actors and animating camera moves around them. These were looking great when the broadcaster pulled the plug. You can see some tests of these here: Frozen Moments These have been replaced with some 2.5D work which went elsewhere.

What did survive are quite a few of the Stonehenge Aerials, showing the monument at different stages of development. For these I used a 5m elevation model of the Salisbury Plane. I modified this in World Machine and also generated a ground colour texture using different tileable ground materials mixed by elevation. I also built a completely procedural UK map. Well, the elevation was a data source, but everything else was computed from that. The Stonehenge model itself was built in C4D with details added in zBrush.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg SH03a.jpg (64.3 KB, 127 views)
File Type: jpg SH01a.jpg (21.2 KB, 103 views)
File Type: jpg SH02a.jpg (37.7 KB, 110 views)
My portfolio site

Old 03 March 2013   #2
This looks very impressive - I'd love to see the actual program with your work in it. I do hope they air it on one of the local BBC satelite channels at some point. Let us know when you've got that reel up.
Software Used:
3D: Cinema 4D, MotionBuilder
Finished Work:
Old 03 March 2013   #3
Thanks Uncle-Ox! The show should be hitting international markets soon. We're just finishing up that version.

I've just added a bit more about the project to my blog here:Stonehenge Blog

Thanks for checking it out,

My portfolio site

Old 03 March 2013   #4
Originally Posted by Kokosing: Thanks Uncle-Ox! The show should be hitting international markets soon. We're just finishing up that version.

I've just added a bit more about the project to my blog here:Stonehenge Blog

Thanks for checking it out,


Watched last night.. interesting stuff... and good work. Graphics looked great..

Old 03 March 2013   #5
Looks great Will, caught the tail end of this last night - what I saw looked impressive. And congrats on making it through what sounds like a gritty project! It's always surprising what gets chopped - especially with the long, lingering shots they left in of a pile of old bones and a small mound of grassy earth Luckily, there's no such thing as wasted work, so sit tight and I'm sure all the techniques you learned will get their moment soon enough.

Can you expand a bit on the procedural UK by the way - do you mean things like terrain colour - sandy beaches, green meadows etc, or is there more to it than that?

Cheers - C
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Old 03 March 2013   #6
Thanks Lee and Chris,

Chris, about the maps. These started as 30m Aster files which I downloaded via Global Mapper and exported as heightfields into World Machine. In World Machine I worked in 10 meter resolution (I think, it's been a while!) I added some erosion and noise to the terrain. World Machine can then generate textures using parameters such as height and slope, much like the terrain mask shader in C4D, but it can also pipe the erosion maps and convexivity into this shader. So this creates the ground colour. Then I output the height as a displacement map and the colour as a texture map. I had to tile these to render the full resolution in World Machine. Then I combined the tiles in Photoshop. By the way, does anyone know of a tile combiner within C4D? This would have saved a lot of time and headaches.

Here's a sample image showing the texture and elevation rendered in Vray. Sorry about the compressed jpeg. That's all CGTalk allows me!?


Attached Images
File Type: jpg Stonehenge_03.jpg (79.0 KB, 35 views)
My portfolio site

Old 03 March 2013   #7
All impressive stuff. Unfortunately I cannot watch Channel 4 online outside the UK? There is a link for missed broadcasts but that also works only if you live in the UK.

About all your mapping work: wouldn't Pauls gigashader been the tool of choice here? If I get it right you can also use your own tiles? And the new World-Dem app that Paul is cooking seems to be also very usefull for this.

Anyways, thanks for sharing and keep us posted if there is more to see.

Old 03 March 2013   #8
Great work Will!!

12 core Mac Pro / 2x Mac Pro 8-core ATI5770 / ATI4870
MacBookPro i7 2.66Ghz

Old 03 March 2013   #9
Great job--I've been a big fan of your environmental landscape and "Earth from orbit" renders.

Not sure if you've seen any of Paul Everett's tools--not sure what the release status is on them but look well suited to the work you do

Dem Earth

and the collage shader
Old 03 March 2013   #10
Thanks guys!

I've been meaning to try those two plugins. I think they were announced after I started on Stonehenge. But I'd certainly look at them for the next job.

My portfolio site

Old 03 March 2013   #11
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