Monday, November 14, 2011

Busy, busy...

Productive period!

First up, a revamped version of the TOS shuttle. A chance to get my head around Modo's new Pixar subdivision surfaces - a surprisingly excellent new way of trying to model smooth surfaces. Have finally managed to make headway on capturing the curving lines of the original. Corrected some detail errors from the first version into the bargain.

Also went back to the K7 model and started adding some more detail. Had made a couple of attempts to get the windows looking right, finally twigged a better way after re-doing the primary hull windows on the new Ajax. One step seems to lead to another!

Finally, had a chance to help Neo-fx with some work for 'Starship Farragut'. They needed a digital set for a Romulan viewscreen to go with the live action TOS Romulan bridge featured in the episode currently filming.

Will be intrigued to see how it looks in the final production.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Variations On A Theme...

More work on the remastered Ajax. Finished off the majority of the re-detailing. Played around with a few ideas for the shuttle bays but eventually came back to having them at the rear of the saucer - I have made the doors a little more obvious and detailed them as well.

Over at TrekBBS there has been a discussion with regards to the deflector dish placement on the Saladin class. Some argue that the protruding dish is unsightly while others point out that it blocks the bussard collector on the warp nacelle which could impair its efficiency. One other writer pointed out that when viewing the orbital test of the Ajax posted earlier, the way the dish obscured the nacelle made it look as if the Ajax consisted of only a primary hull. Some of the classic viewing angles for the Enterprise may prove problematic when applied to the Ajax, it seems.
Checking through my reference library I came across a variant for the Saladin which relocates the dish to a mini deflector assembly on the neck.

I thought it might be interesting to see how this version panned out when modeled...

It certainly looks a bit sleeker and less ungainly compared to the original - could be interesting to see if this version does look better in that orbital test shot. Will be intrigued to see what the producers and potential viewers think of this version...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ajax - Remastered...

You may be experiencing a sense of 'deja vu' - hasn't H already built this model? Yes I have, but now I am rebuilding it. Truth be told, the original version of the Ajax had a number of inaccuracies - well, at least a few details that did not tally up with my references of the 11 foot TOS miniature, which was driving my inner geek batty - as well as a few problems with the 3D mesh itself, which was irritating my inner modeler. So, it was a case of back to Modo to start again. OK maybe not entirely again - I have been able to re-use some parts of the original but at least 75% of this model is new.
The saucer outline has been tweaked to accurise it, all the windows are slightly smaller to match the photo reference I have, the inset hatches on the top of the saucer have been corrected, the connecting dorsal is a more accurate shape, details on the warp nacelle have been corrected... I think you begin to get the picture.
Click on the images for higher rez pixel candy.

I have stripped off all the textures and markings for the moment - I originally had the markings as 3D elements cut in to the geometry but I'm looking at incorporating them in to the texture maps for maximum tweakability.
More to follow...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gamers' Challenge Book Trailer


As mentioned previously, my latest project has been a book trailer for George Ivanoff's 'Gamers' Challenge', sequel to 'Gamers' Quest' which I also did the trailer for.
The visual style reflects that of the original trailer with an updated look and a bit more 'polish', and was also prompted by George's wish to replicate the text code opening of the original. The array of processors forming the outline of the 'Designers' Paradise' logo was my attempt to convey the book's concept of multiple game worlds and the synthetic nature of the characters' lives.
More fun/frustration with the Poser/Daz3D/Vue pipeline then ensues. Trying to get character clothing to move properly with the underlying figure can lead to marked premature hair loss and certainly limits animation possibilities. I was hoping to have the characters move more, but ended up using more 2D/3D moves on static characters to get what I wanted. More R&D is required on my part, methinks - need to take a closer look at 'Star Trek: Aurora' and see how its creator manages to coach his excellent results out of Poser - I suspect he avoids long flowing coats like the plague. At least the 'man de-rezzed by viral interface' proved a fun trick to pull off.
Hopefully the trailer serves its purpose and gets lots of people to buy George's book - then he can get to write the third part of his story and I have another trailer to do!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

From The Depths Of The Backup Drive...

Was checking out some Trek models over at Starship Modeler - tracking down some reference on the Baton Rouge class - when I came across a request for references of the GSS Lee - one of the ships from Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. A bit of a delve through the backup drive and I was able to find the Lightwave version of the model.
It was originally built by Wil Jaspers in 3DS Max, then ported over to Lightwave by yours truly.

It is based off the Franz Jospeh Dreadnaught as seen in the Star Trek Technical Manual. Excuse the basic lighting - they were just rendered out as reference images for the model aficionados.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Con 9 Trailer

Latest addition - trailer for 'Con 9 From Outer Space' - a 'Golden Age' science fiction convention to be held in Melbourne in 2012.

This is a motion graphics only project - apologies to those hoping to see some new 3D output. To save time I have based it on a pre-made After Effects project available from VideoHive - a site where people with far more motion graphics mojo than yours truly sell projects for others to adapt and use for their own needs.
The idea of Con 9 is to have a convention focusing on pre-1965 film and television science fiction. I was initially going to link together a series of video clips but this seemed rather bland and too suggestive of the TV trope of the budget conscious 'clip show'. I spotted the 'Transporter' project over on VideoHive and thought it might be interesting use a word cloud/still image approach. Would have liked to have incorporated a few 3D elements trying to re-create FX scenes from 'This Island Earth', 'War of The Worlds' and "When Worlds Collide' but time was not on my side as I have to move rather quickly on to the book trailer  for 'Gamers' Challenge'

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mole Hunt Trailer

Here's the final version of the trailer for Mole Hunt - the book was officially launched at Convention 7, here in Melbourne, yesterday. I recommend switching to the HD version on YouTube - shows off the motion graphic goodness with a bit more clarity.

Now on to another book trailer - 'Gamers' Challenge' - George's sequel to the previously mentioned 'Gamers' Quest'. Have learned a few new tricks doing 'Mole Hunt' that should prove handy for this new one.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Trailers and Comfort Zones...

Break from Starship Ajax for a while to work on a couple of other projects. First up is a book trailer for 'Mole Hunt' by Paul Collins at Ford Street Publishing.
There seems to be some debate as to whether book trailers are a worthwhile marketing tool for the publishing industry see and
I have already done one book trailer about eighteen months ago for 'Gamers' Quest', a novel aimed at young teens written by local author and friend of mine, George Ivanoff.

Although by no means a 'massive' YouTube hit, the trailer gave George an added marketing tool and considering  the onus of promoting a book often falls on the shoulder of the author rather than the publisher these days, every little bit helps. There are a number of things that I would do differently if I were doing the trailer now, but I am pleased with what I produced at the time.
'Mole Hunt' is a young adult science fiction novel - puts me in my comfort zone for a start. However, seems I am not going to be allowed to stay there for too long. The initial plan was to animate pre-drawn artwork in After Effects, but the artwork ended up falling through. Foolish me suggested that it might be possible to produce the characters as 3D artwork using Poser - I was careful to stipulate using stills rather than full animation, but I had still set myself something of a uphill battle.
I'll be perfectly honest - character work in 3D has always been a black art to me. I am quite comfortable modeling and animating hardware - happy to do that until the cows come home - but character work is not my forte. 'Star Trek: Aurora' - an animated Star Trek series had shown me that Poser might be the way to go.  Poser ( and its rival Daz3D Studio) provide you with a library of 3D figures, clothing and props which you can mix, match, tweak and animate to your hearts content. 'Aurora' demonstrated that it is capable of some very good results - in the right hands.
Now I just need to find out if my hands are the 'right' hands.

Still some texture tweaks and adjustments needed but not looking too bad so far. It has proved to be another one of those infamous multiple pipelines jobs though. The figures are set up and posed in Poser, then ported over to Vue Xstream for rendering - the native render output from Poser is a little lacking for me. Vue is meant to be able to handle Poser files natively, but I was finding that they were not always translating properly. In the end, I am saving the files out in Collada format which seems to transfer over without glitches.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ajax - Work Continues...

All those plans of getting much CG work done over Easter proved to be a little over enthusiastic. That being said , a number of things did get done, mostly 'under the hood' so to speak. An excellent article over on about optimising Cinema 4D renders had me tinkering with the Ajax scenes and achieving marked improvements in the render times - this will prove invaluable when it comes to getting the animation rendering out of the door. I also managed to track down a few render errors that were giving me the irrits and get those corrected as well.
Robert asked for a set of high res orthos for publicity material - so here they are for all to see. Click to embiggen.

Also been playing with getting Bill 'Tallguy' Thomas' excellent D5 mesh out of Blender and over in to Cinema 4D. Memories of 'Star Trek: Of Gods and Men' - read the previous article to see what I mean. After finally getting my head around Blender's modifier stack and how it handles exporting sub-D models, I now have a working D5 in Cinema 4D, and very nice it looks too!

Friday, April 8, 2011

While I'm at it...

To stay focussed, I decided to take a break... and build another model. Apparently, there is some sense in that - time usage gurus say focusing on smaller projects aids work on the main project - I think it just reflects an inability to stop when the momentum gets going.
Strictly speaking, the Ajax production has not asked for this model, but I thought that it would be fun to build and that they will probably end up using it anyway. So, I present the K-7 Space Station.
This model originally appeared in the TOS classic, 'The Trouble With Tribbles' and was then recreated by model maker extraordinaire, Greg Jein, for the DS9/TOS mash up, 'Trials and Tribble-ations'. I have one of the original AMT kits for this one, but like the previously mentioned shuttle model, it is rather inaccurate. From Memory Alpha - 'The K-7 was based on a model for a real-life space station/moon base proposed by Douglas Aircraft as early as 1960. Intended to be housed in the top stage of the Saturn 1B or Saturn V rocket, it was designed to deploy like an inflatable balloon'.

So armed with the model, the original concept, shots of Greg Jein's re-creation and Prologic's excellent model work on Foundation3D, I have made a start on my own model.

More to come...

Ajax Update...

Spent my annual couple of weeks in purgatory getting all the paperwork ready for the Australian Tax Office and the mental marathon that is my yearly tax return. That is now out of the way, so back to the work at hand...
Quite a few updates to post.
Firstly, the shuttle...

Modeling complete. Markings and livery added. Looking pretty good at this point. I am in two minds as to whether to texture it or not - the original miniature does not appear to be significantly weathered, so it may well do as it is.

The Ajax... Quite a bit of work done here. Textures tweaked, details added, extra lighting and glowing phaser emitters. Word from on high is that 'they' would not change a thing. Looks like it is pretty much ready to rock and roll. Will need to apply the changes from this version to the Pilot versions as well.