Hey, it’s been a while. I realize now that I took too long to update this because I was always in the state of “one more render and I’ll write this” and “this could be written, but I want to finish this render sequence first so it’s included”. Time passed while I was waiting for said render sequence to finish in my good ol’ laptop. So apologies for the long wait. It wasn’t a hiatus, because I’ve been putting time and energy into this, but more like a Lack of Update Frequency Management. I’ll call it LUFM.
To fix my LUFM, I’m thinking I’ll do things differently from now on in this blog, because it’s nice to have things updating more frequently, even if they’re smaller things. Part of the process of learning and improving relies on perceiving progress. So from now on I’ll update more regularly, even if it’s just a simple test render or a short written update on what I’m up to. Even with all the time spent rendering I can always find something fun to share here.
The first turntable animation I started rendering – aaaaaaaaaaages ago – finished and I made it into a quick animated gif to show here. The idea of the turntable was to show the cockpit and the exterior of the plane as the table rotates, and to animate the start-up sequence, using the different sets of controls I created for it. It didn’t work out perfectly, but I learned how to set up lights and HDRI environments, so that was good.
To make this cockpit animation, for example, I had to render what the Virtual Environment Cockpit was looking at first. Once that sequence was rendered, I applied it as a texture to the bottom of the cockpit and re-rendered the thing with the HUDs and graphics over it.
The rear view mirror shows what’s behind the plane so I also had to render that sequence:
Then the exterior shot was simpler and with less passes.
My plan for the turntable is to blend this one with a “night” version so I could have the thrusters on, stroboscopic lights, landing lights and the formation fluorescent ones that you see in military planes. During the time I was planning it out, I realized I had to learn some composition, because I also wanted the heat effect using particles. So I set to do a couple of tutorials, from a great Blender Guru free video on Youtube, and in the meantime learn a bit more about array modifiers and hard surface modelling.
I learned a big deal out of this tutorial, including how to make convincing lights and to use the different render layers to make a good outcome. I started planning out the environment, the background and amount of darkness I wanted for the second turntable.
I added a cable on the floor so the VEC would have something interesting to track around while doing the rotation.
I did a few test renders where I would use composition to add the shadows and reflections and get rid of the polygon floor, leaving the HDRI map underneath. This would make it more realistic and nicer to watch.
The afterburners had their own pass so I could add glow and glare effects in Comp.
Pretty much there. But the background was a bit dull now. So I tried different things until I found one I liked, which also has a bit of sunlight coming on a low angle, so that will give the whole shot a much better feel.
For the cockpit sequence, I had to do the whole thing again with the projection texture, so I started doing those long renders while I kept tuning the composition and lighting.
Yeah, there’s some sliding happening here. Apparently, the HDRI map is not quite exact on the floor level, so the geometry floor was not really matching the HDRI, and sliding is small but noticeable. Oh well.
I comped the background from the pilot’s perspective and made it into a separate render. I wanted to render the cockpit in a separate pass so I could comp the HUD correctly with the window reflections and stuff. There was a slight issue with the shadows because there was an issue when comping (but I learned something new!)
Done. The HUD behaves weird but I think it was my fault while trying out different stuff while rendering, and the HSI does a weird thing I’m not sure why. Maybe it was my constraint? No time to figure this out, because it’s time to render the many many passes for the exterior shots!
I still need the smoke pass so I can add the heat effect, but this one is pretty much done. The lights were comp’d and they look great. I’m also very glad I didn’t screw the stroboscopic navigation lights up.
Man, this only took forever!