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Thread: Rim of the World - Lightwave VFX

  1. #1
    Profesor Pixel Poo Mr Rid's Avatar
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    Rim of the World - Lightwave VFX



    I started experimenting with Octane at the beginning of this project, but never had time to return to learning it well enough to commit to using it for this shot. So I stuck with rendering in Lightwave 2018. Drastic changes were made late in the schedule, and we began running out of time to complete render at 4k in Lightwave. I also had trouble getting rid of reflection noise in Lightwave, without renders taking way too long. So Pixel Magic hired an experienced Lightwave/Octane artist, Billy Brooks to render the Space Station much faster with Octane GPU rendering.

    The Lightwave version is shown first, that I comped in Fusion, followed by the final version as it appears in the movie, comped by Brad Moylan, who also created the Earth in ORB for After Effects.

    I don't know who modeled the mother ship, which was provided to us. Chase Champagne added much more modeling detail to the ship, and to the ISS window area for closeup. I textured the ship and space station, and did lighting. I started animation, but had to move on to other shots, so Juan Vargas did final animation, and added the gore-hole in the astronaut.

    The CG shot had to smoothly transition into the practical footage inside the window, where the live camera corkscrews thru the window, and whirls around to see a CG exterior outside the window. It was tricky getting the camera to fly smoothly thru the head-hole, and the center of the window on the model which is rotating on all axis, and to line up with the moving plate inside the window, while also having control to make variations for the client. I came up with a pseudo dynamic parenting workaround, and Juan wound up doing a different trick that is hard to explain. But this is where I needed to be able to envelope dynamic parenting. Or, I needed to use a spline for the camera motion, and have a few control points parented to the station at one end. But I could find no tool for the job.

    The Space Station (ISS) and astronaut were stock models. The station had over 900 surfaces. Patrick Trahan used Substance Painter to detail the astronaut, and I did final texturing, and shattered the visor. There were about 20 million polys in the final render.

    When the camera is inside, looking out the window, I had to manually track that part, which was difficult with the semi-handheld camera, and a background that is mostly out of focus and partly obscured by the actor moving around.
    Last edited by Mr Rid; 11-22-2019 at 12:08 AM.
    "O K, so what's the speed of dark?"

    Demo reel 2017
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOOixvRhcs4

  2. #2
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    Outstanding work! A real pleasure to watch!

  3. #3
    Registered User gdkeast's Avatar
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    Thanks posting this and it is so awesome to know all the backstory on this.

    I love the fact that you are so straight up honest about all the things that can happen on a project, and how fugly it can all get. But you are a true problem solver at heart, and that's why I'm guessing you still like using LW.

    If you ever offer a class in LW, on your workflow for productions, I would definitely sign up. I'm not trying to change the world with CGI, but I have a few key effects I'd like to add to my own film projects.

    Thanks again for sharing all this.

  4. #4
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    wow, thatīs really cool, i also love the sound effects.
    My Portfolio - http://alexs3d.blogspot.com - Now with Photography

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    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Yes, David has a good eye for tracking and introducing CGI in to live photage or mixing it in.
    The soundtrack in this sequence reminds me of predator though, and also the spaceship seemingly capturing the spacestation.

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    Excellent work Mr Rod and thanks for sharing this.

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    Thank you very much for sharing this and for the behind-the-scenes information... that was invaluable!

    That was an excellent piece of work, truly... I really enjoyed the final piece, because it showed the follow-on live action compositing.

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    LightWave documentation BeeVee's Avatar
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    Very nice stuff, Mr. Rid, as usual!

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    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hail View Post
    Excellent work Mr Rod and thanks for sharing this.
    I suspect David could be proud of that name, if he takes it the right way
    I expect you to return the favour on me when I someday donīt have my fingers dancing correctly on the keyboard.

  10. #10
    Super Member Qexit's Avatar
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    Wonderful work by Mr Rid as usual along with more fascinating behind the scenes information

    I hope he doesn't mind that I've posted a link to this thread and the associated YouTube video on the Lightwave3D Support Group over on Facebook .
    Kevin F Stubbs

    Remember...one size does NOT fit all

  11. #11
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    Great work
    This message does not reflect the opinions of the US Government, CG Networks or CGTALK.com. The opinions expressed on this posting are on my own volition.

  12. #12
    Registered User ianr's Avatar
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    Always delivers that Mr R. !!!

  13. #13

    Awesome as always!  

    there are ways to cut render time in LightWave, but not to an Octane level.
    - bake Gi
    - render separate passes (Gi in one, reflection in another) seen here > https://tinyurl.com/Blurred-Reflections-v4
    - use DPont denoise > https://forums.newtek.com/showthread.php/146003
    - use DPont intel denoise

    but yeah, it can't reach Octane speeds.  

    LightForge is active these days, might be worth a look.
    https://render.lightforge.cc
    LW vidz   DPont donate   LightWiki   RHiggit   IKBooster   My vidz

  14. #14
    Profesor Pixel Poo Mr Rid's Avatar
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    I had to optimize anywhere I could to speed up the process. As shadows moved over the rotating ISS, some rendering artifacts popped up in different places, requiring higher sampling for lights or reflection on some ranges. I attempted to bake GI, but it was taking way too long with such a complex model, for about 900 frames, and kept flickering in places.

    So I rendered separate passes of GI and reflection as erikals mentioned, which saves a lot of time over rendering them together, although the result was not quite as good. I only rendered GI after the second shadow passes over the ISS, where it made a more appreciable difference when closer to the ISS.

    Another trick I use often is to render at half res when possible, which can reduce render time to as much as 1/4. A CG element rendered 4k will look too sharp when placed over a 4k plate because the plate is always a bit soft. So I usually have to blur the CG by about .3. But if I render at 2k and scale up to 4k, that introduces about the same amount of blur, in much less time. Fine details may alias, and require 4k render. I wound up rendering about the first half of the ISS frames at 4k, and the last half at 2k. Smoke and fire FX can sometimes be rendered at 1/4 res.

    At first, soft reflection noise seemed impossible to eliminate without prohibitively high render times. All denoise tricks at the time only made the noise blotchy. I started to switch back to LW2015, where the old soft reflections rendered faster without noise. But then I discovered that much of the noise was the result of a black background. Noise was greatly reduced by adding a gray environment light, and a gray sphere for reflections. That made the ISS mids too bright, but was easy to compensate by lowering gamma in comp, which brought the look back to normal.

    We had no direction on the look of the Alien Mothership, other than "dark," so I was free to have fun texturing that. The Mothership did not require trace reflections, and could be rendered at 2k without aliasing. When the Mothership first enters frame you dont know if it is 20 feet wide or a mile since there are no visual cues for scale. The only way to convey scale was to add thousands of tiny lights, which I did with textures. But the client did not want lights.

    Here is an early test with texture lights
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The astronaut tether was animated with just one bone in the middle, with a low falloff type. One end was parented to the ISS, and the other end had a bone constrained to a null on the astronaut.

    Earth in the Lightwave render is a 3D model, but only rendered for one frame, then mapped on a card. I experimented with a volumetric Earth, but in order to have the right perspective, it had to be rendered with a very large scale in relation to distance. But the large scale caused wonky renders.

    gdkeast, I am not really an expert at any aspect of CG, except maybe lighting, and manual tracking where software wont work. Although I do think I have a knack for creative problem solving with what might be called diagonal thinking, and lug around a very large back of tricks.

    "Mr Rod" is under consideration ;-)

    Btw, there is a free Lightwave model of the ISS available on NASA site- https://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/detail/iss-hi-res

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Mr Rid; 11-23-2019 at 03:24 AM.
    "O K, so what's the speed of dark?"

    Demo reel 2017
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOOixvRhcs4

  15. #15
    Super Member Qexit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Rid View Post
    Btw, there is a free Lightwave model of the ISS available on NASA site- https://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/detail/iss-hi-res

    Click image for larger version. 

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    That's a very useful link, especially if people step back a level to see all of the other models that are available:

    https://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/models

    They probably aren't all Lightwave models...but what a treasure trove...er useful resource
    Kevin F Stubbs

    Remember...one size does NOT fit all

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