ANIM: working title - "CRASH CITY"


[color=white]Crash City sees a seemingly innocent protagonist toy car (Firebird Trans Am) pursued by an antagonist Monster Truck. The Firebird is chased throuhout a toy town, set in a child’s bedroom, which resembles more of a junkyard/obstacle course. The Firebird is quite agile and easily dodges objects in his path; The Monster Truck is considerably larger and somewhat thickset meaning it has to crash through, collide with and ricochet’s off objects around the environment.
The end concludes with a tiwst; everyone likes a twist, but you’ll see what we mean.[/color]

[color=white]Alias Maya 6
Discreet 3ds max
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe AfterEffects 5.5/6
[color=yellow]RENDERED WITH:

Texturing, secondary animation of the vehicles, environmental object placement, some lighting, storyboarder
Michael: Modeling (Monster Truck, environmental objects), Motion Paths, environmental object placement, some lighting
James: Modeling (Firebird Trans Am, environmental objects), vehicle rigger, main lighting of scenes, renderer (working with mentalRay+Dirtmap), storyboarder

Hey guys, 
"Crash city" (working title until we find a better one) is a 3d animation three guys (inc. myself) have been working on for this past semester at university. The end of this week sees us working on this project for thirteen weeks (also the end of the semester)... but that includes four other subjects to deal will.. so time has been harshly divided. 
We're very pleased with what we have achieved in the timeframe — obviously, you'd like to have more to show for, but that's the nature of things.
I came up with the initial concept of for the project, but together with the other guys, the aforementioned blurb is the final revision for the story. 

Ok, so now for some images (after much digression)
I'll post up more of the earlier stuff later on — I've only got more of the recent stuff up on my website. But anyway:

This was a test for me figuring how dirtmap works. Mike signed off on the truck, Derrick put on a basic material (blue with speckle highlights), which we changed later on.

Mike modeled his car using Polys, then converted it into a subD mesh later on 

Originally, I modeled my car in 3ds max because that was what I was comfortable with using; modeling in max was a lot easier bcause I had been using it for much longer. I only started learning maya this year for a couple of weeks, but the guys had been using maya for a year before me. I knew Kaydara's FBX plugin would import my mesh from max, so I went ahead. 

I had modeled the car also using polys to begin with, then I meshsmoothed it with an iteration of 2. For some reason, max doesn't recalculate the number of polys AFTER meshsmooth has been applied and so told me my car was under 20k polys. Importing it into maya showed me my car was WELL OVER 50k.. something I definitely did not want. I begun a laborous process of going between max and maya to cut things out. In the end, I imported my base mesh without meshsmoothing it and fixed it up from there. As I had just started out using Maya this year, I was pretty unfamiliar with how it worked, how it's renderer worked and how the integration between Maya and mentalRay was. Needless to say I had a few altercations with mentalRay :P I after MUCH tidying up, I converted my mesh to subD's as well, to get the smoothness that I wanted. Went to hit the render button and nothing came out.. oh, but an error was prompted.. It was that my base mesh had tri's in it or more than a four sided poly.. so I ever so patiently went through my entire model finding spots in my model that could not render. That took me a good week .. or two.. or more :o In any case, I tracked down MULTIPLE erroneous ways in my model and fixed them up.. plus more. I made every part of my model a quad, else mentalRay wouldn't render it and it turned out fine.. 

Here's the final version of the car after Derrick textured it:

Watch out for this car.. it's red.. it goes faster. You'll see. 

Derrick made some decals for the monster truck, which we were all happy about.. actually Mike keeps saying he wants it blue.. even up to now! :P haha live with it mike :P
Here they are together:

In order for the cars to animate, I had to rig the cars up like you would a character. Only ever doing IK character rigging once and having it stuff up MAJORLY with the arms of my robot having around a gazillion rotations (and seeing the mesh screw up BADLY).. I was a bit aprehensive of rigging up the cars. Thankfully one of the lecturers photocopied a car rigging tutorial written in 3D World mag. Fortunately for me.. the tutorial was MISSING PARTS here and there.. :rollseyes: and me only just starting Maya and knowing NOTHING about Mel or anything else.. I was amply in over my head... inundated infact. BUT, I kept pluggin away.. trying this that and the other.. and posting some stuff here helped me a bit too. Finally I got the rig to work.. and I went about improving it and adding other controls which I thought we'd need.. did we ever!

I'll make up a video displaying what the rigs can do so you can all see :) That took a while. 

Ever since we got the main characters out of the way (cars).. we begun the previz/animatic stages. Currently we're up to animatic number nine! It's been crazy! 

Want to see our progress?
This is Animatic version 4. Click to see the animatic movie
[[b]Animatic #4 - 1.6mb[/b]]( - same as above ^
[[b]Animatic #6 - 4.2mb[/b]](
[[b]Dollhouse Section - 2.6mb[/b]](
[[b]End Sequence - 4.7mb[/b]](
[[b]Animatc #8 - 6.0mb[/b]](

hopefully you'll notice an improvement throughout :P Animatic 8 though, does NOT give you a good impression of what we've done heheh we've got SO much more rendered stuff now that's way better than what's there. Seeing boxes and what not seems a bit drab, but once you see the environmental objects.. it really lifts it up.
I'll post up animatic version nine soon... I'm not going to upload a 59mb file.. nor would you want to dowload a 59mb file! heh :P

I'll post up more shots later on.. kinda stupid that I haven't posted up while we've been doing it.. and now we're in the last week of doing it an have almost finished! stupid :P In any case.. I'll still upload the old stuff. 


Really cool, it sure looks like this took you a while to make. The modles are great and the animation of the cars is pretty good too! This is a great animation, I can’t wait to see it all done, keep it up! Maby you could add sound to the animation?


oh yeah definitely, we’ve got a sound guy doing the FX and the music for it, so that’s out of our hands and it’s sounding pretty cool.

Basically the subject that we’re doing this animation for is our big 3rd year project… so for my project, I’ve teamed up with two other guys to create this animation. For the guy that’s doing sound… that’s his 3rd year project.

I’ll definitely post up the sound and stuff when it’s done. For now it’ll just be renders and stuff.
thanks for the comments… I should get the tother guys to sign up on here as well, so it’s not only me posting :slight_smile:


I’m totally embarrassed about the truck undercarriage; I never got a chance to fix it before we started rendering.


Yay! More people doing long animation. This looks great. The pacing and editing are top-notch. Love the camera angles and moving/dolly shots.

This is a fun little piece, any chance of an overhead render of the whole ‘city’? Or are they patched together on a shot for shot basis? Id also be interested in the way you rigged the cars, the suspension work is done very subtly but really adds to the realism when you notice it.

The only suggestion I’d make, if you’re still up for some, is that the Trans Am feels just a little small in comparison to the truck (even for RC). Might just be my personal pref. though.

Keep it up!


Hey mate,
yeah it feels good doing a longer animation. To be honest, I wish I had time to make it longer! hehe there’s so much wrong with it - from my point of view (one of the creators) - that i’d LOVE to fix up.
Story-wise, there are a few things that do not make sense like when you first see the monster truck - it’s a bit jarring … we feel so anyway. But that’s for later - at the moment, we’re just getting it done to hand in on Firday (two days away) and get a mark for it. Later on if we want to improve it, heck we’ve got the rest of our lives to do it! haha

kgkraeer: thanks for the comments, I appreciate it (as do the rest of the guys). The way we begun, the animation did start off in one big file, that to scale is about 100m squared! haha talk about a kids bedroom! Then after we got all our sequences done, we split them up into different sections and THEN added background objects. So there really isn’t any topographical view of the ‘room’ per se.

Yeah the car rig is pretty cool. Although now thinking back on it, there’s sooo much I can improve on doing - there always is hey! hehe Basically the suspension on the monster truck was done using set driven keys in Maya. I love the way the driven key’s work… so easy to use. What I did create a controller for the tilting action of the car, then on its most extreme tilt on both the X and Z axis, I keyed the suspension things to go where it’s supposed to go. Then keyed it on the opposite extreme (as in tilting all the way on the bonnet side, then all the way down on it’s trailer area)

We’ve had a couple of problems with the rigged cars… as in for a couple of the scenes, it’s been referencing the wrong (and REALLY old rigged file). We never noticed until we batched rendered and the wheels of the monster truck were disappearing! Yet when you render normally in maya, the wheels turn out fine! :S I have no idea :stuck_out_tongue:

hehe yeah the Trans Am is hella small comparitavely to the truck. I think we wanted to over exaggerate that idea :wink: I mean think about how fast the monster truck would just eat up space contrasted with the Trans Am and YET the Trans Am gets away every time! hehe :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ll be posting up some more renders in the next few days, as well as the final version with everything stitched up + the credits.


Just checked out the movies and i must say wow, what you got so far is great, especially the cinemathograpy is awesome. Must bookmark this thread to check out the progress. Keep up the good work, and the reckless driving :slight_smile:


BiowaX: thanks mate for the comments. It’s good to know that other people think we’ve done alright :slight_smile: For us as a team, there are many times where you’ve seen the same scene over and over and over again and it just doesn’t hold the same appeal that it once had and you tend to doubt things.

Keep up the reckless driving ey! haha as always :wink: heh nah… no kids… don’t try this on the road… much heh.

Later today, I’ll post up some more pictures from the production phase of the cars (well my car in particular) and lighting tests.

Hopefully Mike will sign up and post some stuff from what he’s done with the monster truck.



Mentioned earlier, I originally made my car in 3ds max, only because I was more familiar with the modeling toolset at the time. I finished modeling the outter shell of the car in max then brought it in to maya and tested some car paints and lighting on it: check out the attachment with four diff coloured cars in it

The car here stood at about 40,000 polys already… that was unacceptable. I wanted detail, yet didn’t want too many polys. I knew about SubD’s in Maya, which Mike told me about so I used it.

Here's the car with doors: check out the attachment with the cars with doors :P

At this stage, the car was still in polys, so there were no rendering glitches at this stage. 

I had heaps of problems with SubD’s and mentalRay though. mentalRay will only render surfaces of quads - not tri’s or any other weird nth sided poly you have. Before I began to convert my max model, which I imported using Kaydara’s FBX plugin, to subD’s, I didn’t know of the stipulations that mentalRay forces upon objects when rendered. This caused many poblems, because of my modeling technique… it was pretty much my first car and I didn’t know what good modeling was :S yes… I’m pretty naive. Anyway, after much deliberation I brought in my base mesh model from max, which looking back now would probably have been much easier to start from scratch in Maya, rather than fiddle around trying to knit and sew tri’s in my mesh together. This took me a good week or more to get rid of most of the erronous parts of my model. I converted it over to subD’s and after much hair pulling, it rendered with mentalRay.

I went to great lengths to make my car as close to my small little Firebird Trans Am toy car that I had as possible. Looking back on it, I shouldn’t have done that because you don’t even see half the detail I put into the car from the camera shots we have :frowning: Disappointing I know … ah well. the clock keeps ticking. I’m happy with what I put into the model though, but if I were to do it again, yeah… I’d do a LOT different the next time.

As I said, my car was based on a small toy car, so I wanted to get it as close as possible to the real toy. I made the wheels but was never satisfied with them… they just never looked good… or right for that matter.

To be honest, the wheels looked really out of place, so over the next couple of weeks I decided to change it. Here’s when procrastination kicks in! I couldn’t be stuffed making new wheels even though I always intended to.
Finally I made some… but I still didn’t make the rims!

Laziness… it’s not good for ya.

Final car with rims for the tyres.

Anyway, it was at this time that my Lecturer for the subject, Brad Floyd, showed me a car rig that would make animating SOOOO much easier! What followered however, were many sleepless nights trying to understand the vernacular of the tutorial. Though the tutorial was great (published in 3D World Mag), it felt as if it were written in a couple of sittings and the author had forgotten what was written in the last sitting. Thankfully the pictures included explained a helluva lot! So for the most part, I was following the screen captures rather than the written text.
It was my first experience at MEL and I posted quite a number of times here trying to figure out what the author was talking about. One thing I did find out on my own - immediately after posting here… how ironic - was that the single quote wasn’t a single quote as we know it… it was the stroke under the ‘~’ sign on the keyboard!

hence not ' but instead `

This makes a whole world of difference in MEL… the difference being an error and no error! Anyway, I finally figured out the rest of the tutorial and begun animating the car with the new rig… STILL without rims! heh

As you can see, though it moves, it’s very rigid in it’s expression. For this animation, I wanted to really exaggerate the car movements… make it believable that it’s being driven… being pushed by the driver.


I went about changing the rig and giving more expressiveness to the car via tilts and other various controllers. But you’ll not see it until you see the actual animation. We did a couple of tests on the monster truck, which turned out great! Derrick, who added all secondary motion to the cars (bar one scene… which looks like crap anyway because I did it:P) really deserves credit for the secondary animation of the cars. My Rig was simply a means for him to really show what he could do with it. I just made it easier for Derrick to animate the car - using the rig that is.

More stuff to come: stay tuned.


Here are some more images to look at. This time it’s for the enviroments for the animation.

Here you can see we’re making objects that we can use to clutter up the room. Obstacles for the vehicles to dodge around and to fill up the screen.

At the moment we’re using boxes to make up most of the “city” as they are easy to make and texture which is good for us becuase we need lots of objects. These will replace the grey and dull yellow boxes which are shown in the animatics (if you have seen them). Those were just markers to show where objects go. Depending on the final look and time constraints we’ll be looking to improve these objects for later versions of the animation.

We’ve also got some large objects which we’ll use to give more of a sense of proportion for the toy cars. Tables, chairs and drawers. These objects will probably need to be re-textured unless of course we do not see them a great deal. We are hoping that people’s attention will be on the cars of course.

I should also mention, that none of these scenes have been lit properly and do not represent the final look of the animation in any way. Still a lot of work to go.

More to come soon.


You only realise at the end - or maybe you don’t realise - that these cars are remote controlled… but at the end they’ve a mind of their own… hrrmm… so that goes to nothing :o hahah anyway! I modeled the remotes on what I had handy

Here’s the 3d versions

Modeled the remote with poly’s then SubD’s… actually I probably didn’t need to. Heck you don’t even see this close enough for me to put all this deail in it! ah well…

There’s heaps more to post up…
Comments are welcome peoples :wink:


Here are some more images for scene environments. I made these buildings with cars, truck and helicopter one day - and never continued with it. But it shows what I was hoping to do for this project. I wanted to actually create a proper model city out of cardboard, paper mache or lego that the cars could race around in. However, due to time constraints and the fact the cars are the real focus we will probably have to make do with using less poly intensive paper and cardboard boxes (as shown in an earlier post) which are easier to replicate everywhere.

When doing an animation so much of the time you can use to make things look better needs to be allocated to actual animating and you have to monitor your poly count because of rendering time. For the two and a half minutes we have planned we will have to render around 3750 images from almost 45 seperate camera shots.

Other than modelling the monster truck and some simple objects my time has been taken up by editing pre-visualisation clips and animating the cars.


Here’s the very first render that of the monster truck, in its inital blue stage :stuck_out_tongue: It seems like we’re going backwards showing this while you’ve seen the fully textured model hey!

We didn’t know what look we were going for at this stage… so to see this image, we were all pretty happy - even though it looks HEAPS dodge now :slight_smile:

when I told the guys about the idea… initially it was going to be like the monster truck would be running rampant throughout the city, crushing things as he went… monster trucks are always guy persona’s ey… hrrmm…
ANYWAY… I started working with dynamics in maya and it was pretty easy… unless I was doing it wrong :o heh


There’s a couple of scenes where dynamics can really help, one is really crucial, the others not so much. There’s one of a house of cards and it’ll be an absolute pain to keyframe them all… so dyanamics will come into play.

Here you can see the end sequence basically in all of its entirety. The final thing has actually been rendered and I’ll post it up later on.

I’ve attached some screenshots of me working on the vehicle rigs. This was working off the tutorial that my lecturer gave to me. I’ll post more stuff up about it later on


Take a look, our original storyboards have really ended up matching the pre-vis renders we have done.


Heh this looks pretty cool I have to say.

Should look awesome was the whole thing is complete.

I have only one comment and that is to slow the speed and extend the part when the car is airbourne. I hope you know what I mean. It should give it a more dynamic feel to it.

I was kind of hoping that on the end when they’re about to crash it would have a complete stop while the camera zoomed around matrix style and then black screen after time starts off again and the connect.

Keep it up!


Thank you for your comments Xero, we’ve found any feedback and ideas always improve the finished results. We’ve been getting opinions from our lecturers throughout and everytime they’ve suggested something new and better.

Yes, the ending has always been a problem for us. Two of us have never animated a thing in Maya before this project so we didn’t know what we could pull off. We were never happy with the stop-gap ending, but it was the best we could come up with on short notice. Our fellow students have always complained that the ending should be a bigger build up to something and we’ll defninitely look into that now that we have more experience.

There are also other areas that we are not happy with the animation and we’re trying to fix that when time permits. Changing major things are a bit difficult because we have another student who has written an original soundtrack for us. Right now though he is busy with other work so if we make any huge alterations in the timing - our audio no longer matches and he doesn’t have time to fix things.

It’s not the best situation, with us still working on it and the music already mostly completed, but that’s how it is. We’ll definitely keep working away at it.


Hey James, if you read this, do you have any rendered stills that are appropriate to show?
Or is there more work to be done on the lighting yet? Let me know.


More storyboard / pre-vis comparisons, at this stage the toy hero car is being followed by a rather large bowling ball that was set in motion. To escape he ducks into a side tunnel. The idea is from a combination of the Indiana Jones and James Bond movies. Any opinions?



900+ views an we’re only replying :o mmm… anyway

Here’s one scene from dirtmap test to textures test



Here’s some renders before we changed the backgrounds; it was just a test to see how the environments looked like