Haven Launch Video

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Haven Launch Video

Postby b-guy » Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:09 pm

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwJCZcweNIQ

With Star Traks: Machinima finished and Season 4 of Silverado underway, I decided I wanted to work on another animation project, something that would suppliment a story without having to stand on it's own. When I started thinking about Haven and the role it might play in a Matrian story arc, the Lost City idea became increasingly attractive, especially if the characters didn't actually know what they'd found. I don't know why, I just really liked the idea of the characters spending months wandering around this giant place without making the connection until somebody turns on all the lights.

Anyway.

I did originally consider putting Haven underwater. A few problems came up with this. First, I was doubtful of my ability to animate water. Second, who the hell builds a space station underwater? I mean, really. It made no sense. A construction site in a crater, on the other hand, fit better.

Music: The song used is the Civilizations IV theme, Baba Yetu. Aside from really liking the song, it had a structure that would fit really well with what I wanted to know. You've got an opening sequence, a stretch of music, one hell of a climax, then another stretch of music and finally a climax. This was perfect, as I wanted to have the city launch halfway through the video.

I actually only used the second half of the full Civilization theme. There is a very nice opening, and I had this idea that I could fill that section of the video with scenes depicting either the Matrian Gender Wars or the Qu'Eh invasion, but there were two problems with this: First, the amount of work that woudl take, and second that the song is really a very cheerful, optimistic one. I didn't think war footage would realy fit.

Here's a link to the full version of the song (slightly different, as it has a duet instead of a solo). This video will be appearing in the Videogames Live PBS broadcase and Blu-ray release.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u_EWzmvI8E


Video

I broke the video up as follows:

Interior Tour: The first section of the video is, clearly, a tour of some of the major interior areas used in Season 5. Haven, instead of being revealed after 3 stories, was becoming increasingly important to the storyline as I was writing the tail end of Season 4, and so I really wanted to show readers how I envisioned it. The Transit Hub and the Command Complex were my biggest priorities, but I started with the transit station and the hanger bay as a way to practice, and to get some ideas about the overall design. Everything was originally very metallic, which worked in the hanger but felt very wrong for the Transit Hub and Command Complex. This is where the stone architecture came in.

I originally had another video sequence as part of the tour, showing the team walking down a corridor lined with pillars and into the central lobby of the command tower, where they stepped into a turbolift and ascended. I cut this scene in order to give more attention to the Transit Hub, and looking back that was a good call. I hadn't finished modeling the city exterior at this point, and I wound up deciding that the corridors to the command tower were actually on the roof of the Transit Hub and lined with windows. I'd also decided that there should be windows in the tower lobby.

The remaining sections of the video are the Power-Up, the Launch and the Exterior Tour. I'll comment more on these later to avoid information overload. :P
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Re: Haven Launch Video

Postby Ruler J » Tue Oct 05, 2010 2:26 pm

I'm scared I might actually wear out the Haven video youtube page if I watch it any more. Absolutely fantastic work. Outstanding work. I feel like Misrek in the Machimina looking into the funky lights room- I'm running out of superlatives.
So when are you building the Haven city in real life? I'd like to reserve a flat please!
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Re: Haven Launch Video

Postby b-guy » Wed Oct 13, 2010 2:15 am

Power Up: This is probably my favorite part of the video. It was also the easiest...at least once all the modeling was done. This section starts with Stafford's hand (yes, I know, he wasn't actually in the video...but I used his hand anyway) hitting the handscan, causing the complex to come to life. It ends with the full view of the lit city, right before it begins rising out of the sand.

Basically, there are two sets of interior textures for Haven. They both share the same details when it comes to walls, glass, concrete, or whatever. The daytime textures,seen towards the end of the video, have reflective, dark blue windows. The night textures of course have the lit window details that took me ages to figure out. I made a 'blend' material, which allows me to select two materials, then merge them together. I assigned the blend with 100% daytime textures to the city in a pitch-black scene. I then animated it, with different groups of buildings going from 100% daytime to 100% nightime. Since the transition took a few frames, it looked like the lights were coming normally, not just snapped in. Reflections in the lake water and in building windows added to the effect, in my mind. So did having all the streetlights come on as the camera panned over the bridge. (That was accidental, the first time it happened, btw.)

The command pod power up was more complex, mostly because I used advanced lighting. Basically, the software analyzes your lighting sources, in this case the actual light panels designed into the ceiling, and calculates how the light rays reflect around the scene based on the objects and textures there. But it takes a while to calculate, and when animation it has to be recaluclated for each frame. This is why you see reflections appearing in the windows as the display screens came on. I already talked about the contole consoles...I learned how to add videos as textures, so it wound up as a video-in-a-video-in-a-video.

Phew. Next up, the launch sequence.
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Re: Haven Launch Video

Postby Meneks » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:13 pm

Kudos! 8-)

Maybe, one fine day in a future yet to be written, I'll actually finish my project. Until then, I can always watch your videos.
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Re: Haven Launch Video

Postby b-guy » Fri Nov 26, 2010 3:35 pm

The Launch

If there was one portion of the Haven video I would re-do, it would be the launch sequence. I'm happy with the idea, the shots, and the general organization of what happens, but I'm not entirely pleased with the overall quality.

One major component of the launch sequence is the desert itself. This was actually really hard to try to model, and is one of my biggest dissapointments. The texure of the sand, the contours of the ground and especially the horizon were very, very hard and turned out less realistic than I had hoped. I was pleased with the look of the sand pouring off the city along the outer rim, but unfortunately using that method (thousands of particles) wasn't practical for the whole scene, given the power of my desktop computer.

Another factor was the issue of time. I was creating this video in time with a song, and so I had a fixed time length between the start of the launch and the ending shot of the city soaring into the sky. I think this fairly quick transition took away from the feeling of size that the city should have had...there should have been several moments of very slow movement as this huge object slowly began to accelerate upward. This may have shown somewhat when the city was being pushed out of the sand, but vanished after the beam activitated.

The energy beam that powers Haven's engines for the launch was originally intended to be a giant anti-gravity beam that propelled the city. I would say there's still an anti-gravity field involved, but as the ideas for Haven stirred around, I realized I wanted the city itself to have some means of propulsion. So the anti-gravity beam was changed into an energy transfer beam to power the city. I really didn't want an Atlantis-style super-ship that could just hop from planet to planet...after all, moving a 3km diameter city should be, in my mind, very hard.

This scene is the first time we see the city in full sunlights, with daytime illumination. This led to a few changes in the building textures. Originally, they had fairly flad textures except for the windows. But for this scene I changed the textures to use more patterns, to look like the buildings were constructed of stone or concrete.

That's all that comes to mind for the moment...
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