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Thread: Flight 1549 Hudson River, 3D Reconstruction

  1. #1

    Flight 1549 Hudson River, 3D Reconstruction

    while this is definitely not photo-real work, i wanted to share my lightwave project because it shows another application of the software: engineering-based animation. all rendering is done in LW9.6, compositing of layers in adobe premiere.

    project homepage

    youtube vid

    youtube radar animation

    here are a few of the highlights regarding equipment, files, etc:
    hardware: 8 core xeon 5410, 32Gb RAM
    total render time: 175+ hrs for the 6 minute animation
    memory used while rendering: 21 Gb RAM (obviously using LW64 bit)
    polygons: 15 million
    largest single texture image: 20,523 x 15,242 pixels (312 megapixels)
    size of LW working content folder: 10 Gb
    geographic extent of terrain/textures: 100,000 km^2 (230 x 170 miles)
    detailed area with vegetation and buildings: 800 km^2 (21 x 15 miles)

    my overall technique is to create what i call "sub-scenes" to make working easier. for example, i have the following scenes (which i may refer to as a "rig", even though it's not what lightwave calls a "rig"):

    atmosphere and sky
    building rig
    datum references
    fire, smoke, splash
    flightpath reconstruction
    radar data
    rigged aircraft with dfdr
    sticky surface rig
    terrain rig
    vegetation rig
    master scene

    by working in sub-scenes, i have a quicker workflow and it's easier to load and unload. i create a master scene when all the foundation work is completed and use the "load items from scene" technique to bring everything in. needless to say, i wish there was a way to work with scene files by reference and wouldn't be surprised if there is a plugin for it that i maybe don't know about.

    my master scene takes about 10 minutes to load, mostly becuase of the buildings and trees. without global illumination turned on, i can render a full HD 1080 frame in about 1 minute. with radiosity (GI), the time starts out at 1.5 minutes and cranks up to 6 minutes once the radiosity cache builds up. i did not render the entire movie with radiosity, only portions of it. my machine is fairly fast but by no means a supercomputer.

    most views are rendered at 1280x720 and upscaled in the final compositing. i rendered everything at 15fps and composited at 30fps in adobe premiere, allowing it to handle frame blending. this was the best compromise of quality and speed. some views are rendered with motion blur which helps a bit and by far the most popular effect is the depth of field. luckily it give a nice look to the movie, because it does cost about 15% on render times for this particular animation.

    i used skytracer2 for the atmosphere, hypervoxel sprites for the fire and smoke effect (very quick render times compared to volume HVs!) and i utilize the built-in ground fog plugin to create a distance effect. i was using a 32bit image file for terrain displacement, but that was taking 30 seconds per frame to freeze the mesh, so i *baked* a polygonal terrain object and sacraficed some accuracy in exchange for speed. i used pawel olas' random cloner to create distributions for my vegetation, as well as some other tricks, but that is the only purchased plugin i used.

    all of the control surfaces are bone-animated and really don't show up in the camera views selected. they are all driven with data from the flight data recorder; the ailerons, elevators, horizontal stabilizer, slats, flaps, spoilers and rudder each move according to the actual accident data. one problem with using bones for animating the control surfaces is that you can't use mesh deformations and, for example, make the wings flex at the same time. however my focus here wasn't on details quite that small so i sacrificed in the area of rigging and did what was relatively quick and painless.

    the radar data movie is my favorite animation but is definitely less spectacular to the casual observer. i used hypervoxels to display temporal data from two radar facilites. i utilized equations to create numeric displays that show the altitude of each aircraft. it's challenging to rig the textures and objects to render in the appropriate manner. with the radar data animation, i rendered out tiff's with an alpha channel so that i could overlay the data onto a basemap. the quicktime movie with alpha for that animation is 21 gigabytes! it is really cool to watch it in 10x timelapse, because you can see the flock of birds intersect with 1549, then you can see them disperse, re-form and then continue on their way.

    you can see the birds in the animation, at time ~2027:11. i made some very simplified objects of the appropriate size, but they are definitely not geese if you looked at them close. for all the work it took to figure out exactly where they were and at what time, they only flash across the screen for a few frames.

    lightwave really helps bring thigs together and serves as a great visualization tool. i am always amazed at how much you can see when you take a bunch of "random" information and put it together in space and time.
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    Last edited by Exosphere3D; 11-03-2009 at 04:41 PM. Reason: typo in link

  2. #2
    Super Member H_Molla's Avatar
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    Feb 2003
    Cairo, Egypt
    well done...

  3. #3
    Registered User CGI Addict's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Absolutely incredible work Exo and thanks for the info.
    Michael Borjon

  4. #4
    Pixel and Poly Pusher JeffrySG's Avatar
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    Dec 2006
    Philadelphia, PA
    Quote Originally Posted by CGI Addict View Post
    Absolutely incredible work Exo and thanks for the info.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. #5
    Registered User ivanze's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    South America
    Excellent work!!

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Super Work

    nice day

  7. #7
    The guru of the marketing flashover's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    Ehi very cool
    Lightwave is my Kung Fu!

  8. #8
    Dreamer MooseDog's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
    Mount Whoville, VT
    amazing!! very cool "rig"
    We are pirates, we are artists...


  9. #9
    Super Member sublimationman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Carlsbad, CA
    It's been said already but... Excellent!!

  10. #10
    Really good job and hard work

  11. #11
    Super Member Hieron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    "It should be called "engine suck", the birds aren't striking.."
    - Eddie Izzard

    Couldn't resist

    Nice work, great looks on the ground detail and sky too.

  12. #12
    Lost in 3D Space robster's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    New Jersey
    Cool reenactment and great work on an event that happened within a few miles from where I live.
    "Think of the solution, not the problem." - Terry Goodkind

  13. #13
    i have recently uploaded a couple videos that show (in limited detail), the wireframes, textures, lighting effects, etc. that comprised the final animation. i thought the LW community would enjoy some alternative looks at this project.

    this first vid shows some close-ups of the aircraft controls in motion and the texturing. don't be fooled by the title of the video, it's definitely not a tutorial on rigging, it just shows the end-result of making things move:

    this video shows the wireframes, texturing and lighting effects at various points along the timeline of the original animaiton. i've always enjoyed seeing the layer breakdown of how things become finished.

    i hope these prove to be insightful for other artists!

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    very impressive stuff, thanks for sharing

  15. #15
    That's very good usage of LW, great work man.
    WS - Dual Xeon E5-2698v4/128GB/Win10x64/4xRTX 2080Ti
    My LWM Video Car Modeling Tutorial

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