What i’m working on – 2012 – Week 25

I’d love to use my Digital Lode website as a way of sharing the projects i’m currently working on. Starting with this post, I will be aiming to create a quick, weekly blog about whatever project i’m currently working on.

This has been my first year out of uni and I have been working as a contract 3D generalist & Motion Graphics artist. So far, i’ve worked on jobs that last a couple of days and a few that have lasted weeks. I thought i’d make my first ‘What i’m working on’ (WIWO) post about a job i’ve been working on for around 6 weeks now; A stereoscopic 3D animation for the ‘Mission to Mars’ space experience at the Victorian Space Science Education Centre.

The Mission to Mars program allows secondary school students to spend a day simulating a trip to Mars. At the start of the journey, the crew watches a 12 minute briefing video which was shot, edited & produced by Chris Joiner and The Pod. I have been contracted by Alf @ Reel Pictures to help convert parts of this briefing video into Stereoscopic 3D. This has been a challenging, but really fun job!

The briefing video contains a lot of 3D animated content; showing the Ares space rocket launching from Earth and hooking up with the Mars Explorer spaceship. The Mars Explorer travels to Mars and the Mars Lander makes touches down on the red planet. There is about 6 minutes of content that needs to be re-animated and composited in Stereo3D.

At this stage in the project a lot of the animation is complete and I am now rendering & Compositing many of the scenes. I have included a couple of preview photos of how it’s looking so far – to view these images, you’ll need a pair of red/cyan 3D glasses like these.

Ares1 Spacecraft - Orion Crew vessel detaching International Space Station in Earth's orbit

These are just the first preview shots, but I am pretty happy with the results! I have learnt more about the art/science of Stereoscopic 3D on this job then ever. The briefing video will be projected onto a 5 metre-wide screen, and will be viewed from a distance of 6.5 metres. With this information, we are creating the Stereo3D content to match that screen, which means, if you view these 3D images on a 5 metre screen and stand far back, it’ll look perfect! on a tiny screen, the 3D effect can ‘hurt’ a bit, or you may see some ‘ghosting’ around the edges of objects. The animation will be projected using a special projection technology from Germany. The VSSEC is one of the few places that are using, it’s not ‘active’ (most 3D TVs) or ‘passive’ (RealD at the movies) glasses, it’s something else, but it apparently looks awesome!

I’ve been using 3DS Max and Vray to create the 3D animation. It took about a week to setup a very solid 3DSmax -> Vray -> After Effects Stereo pipeline but it is now working well. I’m using a few Stereoscopic tools that ship with Vray to create the Stereo images. There are a few features that I think are missing from the Vray stereoscopic toolset and I have made a few feature requests on the Chaos Group forums. Vlado, the creator of Vray has replied and said he aims to add these features, though they might not be finished before my project’s done. Still, that’s what I call insanely awesome customer service! You can try and make a feature request for Max or After Effects, but the chances of getting a response, let alone getting your feature even half the way you want it, are very thin.

So this is the project i’ve been working on this week. I’ll still be working on it over the next few weeks amongst some other jobs that may need quicker attention. I hope I can post some new and improved Renders as I get seriously deep in 3D compositing!

I try to create a quick journal entry at the end of each week that covers the projects, events and highlights of the past 7 days. These weekly blog posts are known as the ‘WIWO’ Series
(What I’m Working On).


About the author

Michael Wentworth-Bell is a Melbourne-based 3D generalist and Motion Graphics artist. Michael started the Lode in 2012 as an online Portfolio and blog.

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