View Full Version : American Idol

01-26-2005, 06:47 PM
Hi all,

Just wanted to post the most recent job the company I work for just finished. It's the new open/package for American Idol.

Here's a link where you can see a quicktime. We never update our own website, so it's an external site. Click the "36mb" link to see the animaton.


We created the entire 30 second open and some miscillaneous show graphics entirely in Lighwave 8 - except for compositing. Rendering was 90% fprime and 10% LW renderer. 3d streaks are Hypervoxels.

Just wanted to post it here so that Lightwave can get a little credit.

-Steve F.

01-26-2005, 07:09 PM
Awesome job! Shame it's for such a crappy show though! :)

01-29-2005, 12:12 PM
That looks great, but I have one question; how do you do those 3d streaks? I have been wanting to use that effect recently, but I don't know how.

01-29-2005, 02:55 PM
Super job....!!,
Thanks for showing and unleashing the power of LW 8.
I can only imagine the computer power your animation house has... :)

01-31-2005, 04:34 PM
thanks for the compliments (harlan ;) )

Those streaks are done with HV emitters emitting sprites. just make the emitter emit a VERY dense trail and it will render as a solid line. It's fast, too. Almost 100% realtime with very quick renders, too. Make sure the particles don't scatter. they have to emit in place.

jbr3d - we actually don't have a lot of computing power here, just a small Mac G5 farm and a PC. Modeling and rendering were done on the macs. Lighting and Animation were done on the PC because it's MUCH more responsive for previews. The environment used about 1k point lights and a bunch of spotlights, so fprime was key for seeing our lighting fairly quickly.

We rendered to Cineon and found the extra bit depth in the frames to be essential for controlling exposure and adding glows.


02-01-2005, 07:31 AM
are the streaks random or do the follow a path

02-01-2005, 11:04 AM
In this case they are attatched to a rig that spins and makes them semi-random. It's like if you ran down the street twirling a yo-yo and the yo-yo was an emitter. it's an inexact science.

it could follow a path just as easily.


02-01-2005, 03:07 PM
so is the waves going through the ship or is there box around the ship to bounce off

02-01-2005, 03:27 PM
Excellent work, thanks for sharing the inside info.
Did you find you had any issues with AA using FPrime?

02-01-2005, 04:58 PM
brap - fprime did well. after you adjust working styles to avoid crashes (pausing fprime during major changes, etc.) it's fairly happy. We didn't really have problems with AA. The environment ended up being so complex and distracting that it's tough to pick out individual rendering glitches if there are any. Early on we saw some, but as we built more and more complex, they sort of "went away". We found that we refined most shots between 2 and 4 and with post processing it was refined enough.

shaol - We didn't want any swirls/waves/tracers to go through the ship (elevator, actually :) ), so we played with collision objects to kill or bounce the particles if they hit the ship, but that looked funky. We ended up tweaking each shot to eliminate or minimize colisions. By keyframing the position of the emitters that were parented to the spinning rig, we were able to avoid most. The same goes for when they were swirling around the idol. If they were unsightly or obvious collisions, we tried to tweak the emitter paths.


02-02-2005, 08:32 AM
thanks so much for the info and I look forward to see future works :D

02-04-2005, 02:21 AM
Excellent opening sequence created using LW!!!

Do you LW guys have a link to other great opening sequences created using LW???


02-04-2005, 06:35 AM
beautiful animation.

Is the American Idol logo an object or image mapped? I work for a FOX affiliate and have done some animations for the show, locally promoting it. To create the logo I imported the eps and Lightwave (especially bevel++) was a little grumpy about working with such a complex vector file.

02-05-2005, 09:59 PM
The logo is geometry, not an image map. We also started with an eps, but either hand-beveled or used Router on it. I don't think I remember us having much trouble with it, but it did get troublesome when we bent it on an arch and all the polygons went non-planar, that had to be hand-patched. not fun.

As for other opens we've done with LW, there have been quite a few pieces, but not many are available online because we don't update our website much. An updated website will be up within a few weeks that will have more clips.

thanks again.


02-10-2005, 01:18 PM
If anyone is interested, we're going to give a little talk about the project on the 15th at MGLA.

link with info: