Thursday, 15 December 2011

Reflective View

Overall I am quite pleased with my final animation. At the beginning of the course I didn't feel very confident with 3ds max at all, let alone the daunting thought of having to animate within it too. However, despite the touchy start I got there eventually.

I can now find my way around the program much easier. Creating my spaceships and scenery really helped me to come to terms with program, such as playing around with the different effects such as the 'Noise' and 'Displace' modifiers to create my volcanic scene. Also, the ability to now be able to use the cameras correctly and using paths as a method of filming is really useful to know.

Animating was quite hard to adjust to at first but the more I animated the more confident and adventurous I became. For example, the start of my animation was just simply moving the camera along the setting, which didn't take too much camera skill to be able to do. However, the later shot of my Tie Fighter that shows the ship at lots of different angles with the camera moving constantly, was a bit more advance. This shot was probably my favourite because it's the most exciting one as it has the constant action of the ship and the camera moving at the same time.

I only wish I had more time to spend on this module and further familiarise myself with the program. I eventually learned to like animating and would've like to have gone on to experiment with the camera angles further.

Something I really enjoyed was texturing my models. I spent quite a while on these and created them all myself. I textured everything using Photoshop and was really pleased at how the Tie Fighter came out especially. The wings looked very identical to how they are on the original, which I was very happy with.

If I was to re do my project again there are a few things I'd like to change...

If I had've had more time I would've liked to have played around with using particles. I watched some tutorials on this such as creating fire and smoke. I would've like to have put some smoke into the scene, coming out of the volcanoes to give them a bit of life. I would've also liked to have incorporated some fire around the lava to make it look more dangerous and made it more exciting. Unfortunately though, I just didn't get enough time to spend on playing around on these to make them look good enough to use.

Another thing I would've liked to have changed was my lava. In the animation I would've liked it to have moved slightly instead of being so still and lifeless. To start with I did accidentally put an animation on the noise modifier, which I wasn't aware of until I had animated it. However, this didn't work well at all. Although, if I had've had more time to fiddle with the effects I might've been able to get it to animate at a more appropriate level so that it only moved subtly.

Also, I would've perhaps liked to have incorporated some use of lasers within my scene, but like before I ran out of time to experiment properly with this. I did look up tutorials as to how to do this, which were very helpful. On the other hand, my scene didn't require the use of lasers in the end as I made the animation more of a build up towards a battle between the ships rather than witnessing one.

Lastly, I would've like to have changed some of the camera angles I'd used, looking back. The scene of the still camera shot with the Headhunter flying I would've really liked to have changed. Parts of the ship flying were fine, but the still camera kind of spoils the shot. If I had had've created a path for the camera too, to move with the ship it would've looked much better because the whole scene would've kept in a constant motion and you would've felt the action more. 

Final Video

Here is my completed Star Wars Animation:

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


In order to put my final animation together I decided to use Premiere. 

At first I imported all my clips into Premiere. I then Positioned them in order on the timeline. I went through each clip and on some I decided to cut the end off just to shorten them as the over all timing was over 30 seconds and some parts of the shorts went on for too long and weren't necessary anyway. 

On the moving shot of the Tie Fighter I did cut and make parts slightly longer as some shots happened too quickly and it was easier to stretch them out in Premiere then completely re edit them in 3ds Max.

Also, I went on to import a Star Wars soundtrack I had found when researching (which I posted on my blog previously). I simply dragged the file onto the timeline and it actually went with the video very well. I did have to cut the music slightly though as it went on for far too long. 

Additionally, I imported a file of some ship sounds which I had found on YouTube when researching. I posted this on my blog previously too. I dragged this file onto the timeline and cut it up accordingly so that the sounds were only played on the shots with the ships in. I was also careful to only add certain sounds that fitted with the ships so that they looked realistic when played together.

For the ending of the animation I made one of the engine noises fade out as I didn't want it to end too abruptly when the scene had finished.

Once I had finished, I exported the final video as an AVI file.

Filming - Shot 11 (Ships Meet)

My last shot was of the two ships, the Headhunter and the Tie Fighter, finally coming together in the scene. 

I started by positioning a 'Free' camera just in front of the volcanoes that was looking straight forward  and slightly tilted up. I made sure that both the ships started mostly out of shot so they would both fly into the shot at the same time. 

On the timeline I created some key frames of both the ships gradually flying on to the screen using the 'Move' and 'Rotate' tools once again.

Towards the end of the shot I also made some key frames of the ships wobbling slightly by using the 'Rotate' tool. This was just to make them look like they were hovering rather than coming to a completely stand still.

Here is what the clip looks like:

I was reasonably happy with this shot. I felt it did go on too much towards the end though so it became quite boring. I decided I would just cut it slightly in Premiere though just to save a bit of time re-rendering the shot. 

Additionally, if I had've shot the scene again I would've added extra lighting. The sides of the Tie Fighter are completely black due to no light shining on them. This is because I had only used omni light on the bottom and top of the sky dome, so no light was coming from the sides. I could've added a spotlight perhaps just to the sides of the Fighter so you could see the detail of the side wings rather than them being completely black. A spotlight would've been good here because I only wanted it to focus on the fighter and not anywhere else on the scene as it would've looked strange. 

Filming - Shot 10 (View of TIe Fighter)

The next shot I wanted to create was to show off the detail on the Tie Fighter. For this scene I decided to use a new timeline as it was going to be a completely different shot.

For the first part of my animation, I just wanted the Tie Fighter to continue to move straight forward. So, I set up the camera and the ship in the right starting position at the beginning of the timeline. I then just had to create another key frame at the end of the timeline of where I wanted the last position of the ship to be. This created a basic shot of the ship moving forward, moving away from the camera. 

However, this time I wanted the shot to be moving and more immersive. In order to achieve this, I thought I would create another line to use as a path. Only this time, I would have the camera moving along it rather than the ship to create a more interesting shot. 

To carry out this shot, I create a line first by going to the 'Create' menu at the top, then 'Shapes' and 'Line'.

 With the line now selected, I drew a rough line of the camera path I wanted in the viewport away from the sky dome area, so that I could see it clearer. Once I had my line drawn, I then repositioned it using the 'Move' and 'Rotate' tools, so that it was correctly positioned on the scene. I had to rescale it slightly too as it was a bit too big.

I made sure that the beginning of the line was where I had the camera already positioned. This meant that when I turned the line into a path the camera wouldn't move out of place.
Now that my line was in the correct place, I wanted to change it slightly so that the camera would move in the exact line I wanted. With the camera selected, I went to the 'Modifier Panel' and clicked on the 'Line' level. 

I then clicked on the 'Vertex' option so I could see all the vertex's on the line to change them. Using the 'Move' tool, I moved some of the points slightly so they where where I wanted them and were at the right angel to get a good shot of the Fighter. 

Once I had my line looking how I wanted, I now wanted to make it into the camera path. To do this, I went to the 'Motion' Panel on the right.

Under the 'Assign Controller' section, I selected 'Position' and clicked on the small icon above the panel to bring up the 'Assign Position Controller' window.

In the new window I selected 'Path Constraint' and 'OK'. I was now able to select 'Add Path' under the 'Path Parameters' section. 

Once clicked, I selected the line and this now linked the camera to the path. Now when I moved the bar across my timeline, not only would my Tie Fighter move forwards, but my camera followed the path of the line too.

However, because I had used a 'Free' camera rather than a 'Target' camera, my camera did not have a fix focus on the ship. So, the camera would start out my targeting the ship but then it would move completely out of shot. This wasn't too much of a problem as I thought I would just move the camera manually myself instead.

I started at the beginning of my timeline and gradually worked my way through the shot, making sure that the camera was focused on the ship. I used the 'Rotate' tool to adjust the camera. The positive of using a free camera is that I got to completely choose the shots I wanted of the fighter, so I made sure that you could see each aspect of the fighter in detail. 

Also, I'd already created many frames in my timeline, and changing the camera angle continuously was quite time consuming so I only changed about half of the timeline. I thought the part I'd changed would be long enough anyway as it showed all angles of the Tie Fighter already, so it wasn't necessary to show it from anymore angles.

Once I had finished animating and changing the camera angles, I rendered the clip. I made sure not to render my entire timeline this time because the last few frames weren't needed as I didn't want to use them. 

Here is what the clip looks like:

As you can see, the clip is not perfect. I wasn't completely happy with it but at the same time I really liked some of the camera angles. Because of this I wanted to keep and use this clip. 

The whole shot happened far too quick, however. This wasn't too much of a problem though. I thought I would just import it into Premiere and stretch out the duration of the clip slightly so you got more of a chance to see the ship. I could've stretched the clip out in 3ds Max by adding more frames, but I decided this would be too time consuming as I would have to reposition the angles of my camera all over again. 

Also, the camera is slightly shakey in some places, especially towards the end. I'd already decided I didn't want the very end of the clip because the Fighter goes out of scene for most of it. But again, I could just cut this out in Premiere to save much time re-rendering the clip.

Filming - Shot 9 (Tie Fighter Enters)

The next shot I wanted was of the Tie Fighter entering the scene. I decided to continue using the same timeline because I wanted to keep my camera and ship in exactly the same position as where I had left the end of my last shot.

All I wanted to do for this shot was simply move my Tie Fighter forward so that it flew past my Headhunter. So I moved my timeline along and used the 'Move' tool to move the Fighter forward.

When I rendered the clip I wasn't completely happy with it. The Tie Fighter moved in fine but I thought the body of the Headhunter was too still considering it was supposed to be hovering in the scene.

Because of this, I decided I would use the curve editor to adjust the position of the ship throughout the clip to try and get it to look like it was shaking slightly. To do this, I went to the 'Curve Editor' icon along the top first to bring up the editor window.

When the window appeared it showed me a graph of how each axis moved throughout the timeline. I wanted to draw in points to create a shaking effect so I went to the pencil tool icon along the top. 

On the graph I then drew in a steady line of points across the 'X' and 'Y' axis's. Although I was changing an already straight line, and replacing it with a reasonably straight drawn line instead, this still had a subtle effect to the ship.  

I had previously experimented with the curve editor to see what effectit had on the ship. At first I tried drawing small wavy lines along each axis on the graph. but when I rendered the clip The ship moved to violently and didn't look realistic at all. This is why i chose to draw a reasonably straight line because it still has an effect on the ship only slightly more subtly, which is what I was after. 
The reason why I chose to only alter the 'X' and 'Y' axis's and not the 'Z' as well was because I found that changing the Z axis had too much of an impact on the ship still. When I changed the X and Y axis's this gave enough of a change in the ship.

After I had adjusted the curve editor accordingly, my timeline changed too and now had lots of small key points in it throught the clip where I had changed the axis's positioning.


I had now finished animating the clip so I then went on to render it.

Here is what the clip looks like:

I was pretty happy with this clip. I really liked the way the Tie Fighter flew in across the Headhunter, and the lower angle looking up really shows a sense of power over the ships. I was reasonable happy with the way the shake came out on the Headhunter too as it was quite hard to create a subtle shake without it looking too dramatic.

Filming - Shot 8 (Headhunter Move & Viewpoint)

For my next shot I continued to use the same timeline as I had to create the previous shot. I wanted to create a shot of the Headhutner turning with the camera positioned on top of it so you got a view of how things looked from the ship.

I did try to create the shot by grouping the ship and the camera together but I had trouble doing this without selecting the sky dome as well. However, I managed to create a better shot by doing it a different way anyway. 

I started by moving the camera, at the right point on the timeline, so that it was positioned on top of the Headhunter so you could see the front body and the tips of the engine cylinders. I thought this gave quite a good shot of the ship as well as a good point of view angle.

For the beginning of the shot, the ship and the camera were positioned forwards. I then moved the timeline and used the 'Rotate' tools to move them both. I wanted them to turn because for my next shot I wanted the Tie Fighter to then make an entrance, so this was to help build up the suspense .

When I first rendered the clip, the shot happened way too quickly so it didn't really have the effect I wanted. Because of this, I decided I would re-render the clip, but after I had done a Time Configuration to stretch out my timeline to make it longer.

After I had added more frames in, I had to redo my animation so that things happened at exactly the right time otherwise the shot wouldn't work. 

Also, I decided to cut out the first few frames by not rendering this part of the timeline. This was the part where the camera started out positioned on top of the ship. I decided to cut this bit out due to the way I had filmed the rest of my clip. Because the camera wasn't positioned on top of the ship for the entire clip, it looked strange when the camera followed the ship when it came to them both turning. Instead, the shot looked better from the point of the camera following the ship just going into the turn as it looked like they were both in constant motion.

Once I'd done all this, I then render my clip again.

Here is what the clip looks like:

After I had re-render the clip, I was definitely more happy with it. This wasn't exactly the shot I was going for to begin with as I originally wanted the camera to be constantly on the ship when it turned to get a full point of view shot. However, the way I have done it, so the camera follows the ship into the turn, I actually quite like. It makes the shot more interesting instead of being constantly on the ship. Plus, I still got the point of view shot towards the end of the scene anyway.