Alpine Train Scene

adrian

Audere-Est-Facere
Hi all, I could use some feedback on my latest project which I plan to be one of a sequence of shots. A big thanks to Shabazzy and Gerry for their help when I ran into trouble animating the steam engine bits.

The character animation is totally lame and apart from the guy on the bike which I think has come out pretty well the rest sucks big time. I'm learning as I go though. Walk cycles are still beyond me in that I can't seem to animate a character without it looking as if it's sliding along the ground even when using goal nulls.

I could use some help with the steam. I was going for a white steam look rather than thick dark smoke but parts of it look too blobby and is there too much animation within the texture? I adapted it from the sample smoke scene that comes with LW2018.

Background mountains and clouds were created in Terragen 4.5 Pro, the rest done in LW2018.

 

prometheus

REBORN
Nice.

If I can jump in with some tips, it´s just that the background environment looks bleached out, maybe due to the colorspace, it lacks that deeper crisp shadow where it should be, on the other hand the characters in the scene is in darkness where they should receive environment lighting or GI, so I guess it lack a GI model or environment light, I think I would try with environment lights to adress that.

Can´t say anything about the figure walk, not my area of expertis.
Smoke from the train isn´t bad..but could be improved if you work on that, not sure if it was hv´s or the newer system, but you would have to work a bit with that and it would not look as good as fluids.

So I would recommend using fluids instead, I suspect you do not have TurbulenceFD, so that leaves you with messing with the gas solver fluid smoke ..which may be difficult if you do not know how to use it, but the results should be decent..but my best bet would be to simulate an emitter or fluid from mesh with fluids smoke in blender, which of course may sound easy to me, but if you do not know your way around that...it´s gonna take some time to learn as well.
The simplest advice would be to use quic smoke on a sphere emitter parenten on a dummy train and its exhaust pipe and move the train, whilec caching the smoke to VDB format, then simply load that in to lightwave´s vdb and match that train and exhaust pipe.

otherwise quite a bit of work to have texture strength increase and density dissolve over time, particle age to avoid the blobby look, I would also increase particle size in the particle age so the blobs are bigger and blends more with an expansion, and at the same time fade off in density.
The actual lighting in the volume isn´t good though, it´s too uneven ..spotlike in terms of light and whiteness.
 

prometheus

REBORN
Initial tests of suggested workflow of using blender fluids for the steam train works.
Some things to keep track on.
I made a disc in the opening of a train exhaust pipe and put it in a second layer, that was calle fluid emitter, once in layout parented to the train, then moving the train.
Save out as fbx, scale I need to research better though, for this case I set it to 1 and exported out with animation, camera isn´t really needed or something to be concerned about since we will not mix renders.

Important is to use 2.79 blender and the older fluid system ..and not mantaflow ( it sucks in my opinion and will not update properly when fiddling with forces etc)
Once in blender, played timeline to make sure it moves, and it does, You have to parent the the fluid emitter layer to the main train though
after that select that fluid emitter layer and hit spacebara for quick smoke, that´s it and you now have the basics, this fluid domain container needs to be parented to the fluid emitter or train as well.
Then you would need to increase to high resolution and increas main resolution and possibly high res divisions as well, increas vorticy, add a wind which you should parent as well to the emitter and place it in front of that fluid emitter, rotate the wind so it´s angle is opposite to the trains moving direction, set a falloff to it as well.

By default it caches the vdb file to point cache which is faster to simulate so you need to switch that to VDB of course, and set a directory.
Once that is done, you should just add a null to lightwave and import the vdb file, the sequence order should work as it is.
What you do have to correct though ..that is changing pitch of the vdb null to -90 and the heading -180 degree, do not parent that vdb to the train, just let it sit where it is created.

Quite a nasty flickering and not proper in speed or dynamic showcase, just to show that it can be done, but more work has to be done to get it look much better, I would need to adress the dynamics, the speed and increase density in the smoke sim in blender, it´s not a good advice to try and correct it with scattering increasement, so much fixing would be needed, but you learn during the process I guess, the smoke also dissolved too much when I was just testing the stuff, so I would need to pull that back as well..so much you can adress to get it look better though, but for me...not sure that´s a project I will continue with right now..depends on time.

rendered out in Lightwave with one envirolight so a bit noisy, and also..it was just straight from vpr so nevermind the general quality,..and I would also change the disc I used to another mesh type, probably a halph sphere and move it up to the top of the pipe, the disc here is too roughly placed and too low so the smoke is kind of coming out a bit wrong.

Even the particle smoke in your scene may to some degree look better, but this is one technique you could go for and improve and avoid the ball puffs..this is just a crude sample to make sure everything is following properly, all the rest I have described needs a lot more work.

 

wingzeta

Member
Love the models. Would like to see some camera movement, even just a slow subtle crane move or something.

The brick textures on some of the buildings across the street are too large. If you look at the person leaning on the brick wall, with her foot on the wall, the bricks are as tall as her head. That building and the barclays building both look like the bricks are too big. I think a standard brick is about 3 inches tall.

I also notice a texture issue on the green engine housing dome just behind the smoke stack, and the top of the engineer compartment. There is a too sharp change from rough to smooth, which looks like the upper polys are a different surface. A different surface for the top is fine, but the seam needs to be more realistic. You might need to UV it to paint the transition.

Lighting wise, there is something missing in the dynamic range, like the brights should be brighter to look like real daylight, while keeping shadows.

That said, it is a great looking scene. Can't wait to see more.
 

adrian

Audere-Est-Facere
Thanks for all the comments which are very helpful. For the smoke I don't have Blender let alone know how to use it but your smoke example is much better than mine :) I was using the new volumetric system in 2018 rather than HVs. I do have TurbulenceFD so this is probably a good time to crack on and really get to grips learning it, maybe it'll give me better results. It just seems so..... slow which makes it frustrating to learn because it seems like I'm forever waiting and therefore I can't get any impetus as it were. I do have Kat's excellently detailed course which I started a while back but then got sidetracked.

Thanks also for the tips on the texturing and lighting. Lighting wise I was trying to go for that look you get in the Alps where the sun is shining on the mountain sides but in the valley there is no sun due to the early evening time of day. Will need to work more on that. I'm currently using an evvironment light and an HDR image for the main source of light.
 

prometheus

REBORN
Thanks for all the comments which are very helpful. For the smoke I don't have Blender let alone know how to use it but your smoke example is much better than mine :) I was using the new volumetric system in 2018 rather than HVs. I do have TurbulenceFD so this is probably a good time to crack on and really get to grips learning it, maybe it'll give me better results. It just seems so..... slow which makes it frustrating to learn because it seems like I'm forever waiting and therefore I can't get any impetus as it were. I do have Kat's excellently detailed course which I started a while back but then got sidetracked.

Thanks also for the tips on the texturing and lighting. Lighting wise I was trying to go for that look you get in the Alps where the sun is shining on the mountain sides but in the valley there is no sun due to the early evening time of day. Will need to work more on that. I'm currently using an evvironment light and an HDR image for the main source of light.

My smoke sample was actually horrible...but was to be expected for just slamming in a test without any major adjustments and tweakings.
Don´t have blender? it´s free of cost...except for learning, so just get it ..both 2.79 and 2.92...the reason I say get both, is because of the older fluid system is easier to work with, but can be exported as vdb to lightwave or the newer 2.92...you probably need to bach convert the vdb sequences with a tool like bulk rename utility..because 2.92 doesn´t
recognize it´s own older sequence prefix, while Lightwave actually Can.

Just takes time to learn it but it has many features you don´t have in Lightwave and use it to complement Lightwave.
Then again it could be distractive from your time and projects..it´s all about you.

But that said, if you got TurbulenceFD, what are you Waiting for?
Start with that and use that before going to blender... I suppose the render time for it will be slow if you use full GI and multiple scattering, unless you have octane though

the multiple scattering (in TFD without Octane) is however horribly slow compared to for instance just use blenders multiple volume bounce, to note is that you have to change lightwave itself to use the older legacy volumetrics, so you can´t have any other global volumetric light, unless converting the smoke to VDB and reload..but then you will not have multiple bounces properly within native lightwave..it´s native GI for that is either just horrible or absent.
Without multiple scattering, any volume tend to look a bit dull..even if you try and use indirect samples for GI and environment light.
 
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Shloime

Intermediate User
I love all the action in the scene, the car back on the mountain, the measuring guy....
<nitpicking mode> But I do find it strange in this totally british setting (stores, mind the gap, cars...) to find the announcements on the lightboard to be in german, or should I say, austrian. Innsbruck, Graz, Rauchen verboten... ? :)
 

Shabazzy

LightWave Fan Boi
You're very welcome sir, I can see that you have put that help to good use and put in a LOT of work on this and it shows. I'd say that you are pretty much 95% there and have achieved quite an accomplishment. Very inspirational. Very inspirational indeed.

For the remaining 5%, in addition to the above contributions, I'd add that the mountain on the right hand side of the shot is spoiling the composition and perspective of the town. It confuses the viewer as to the altitude of the town. It's like there are two horizon lines; one for the town and one for the mountain range. They just don't line up.

I can see that the shot is a composite and that the camera for the mountain shot is not using the same camera position and orientation as the camera for the town.

Other than that, it's very promising work. I can't wait to see how she turns out.
 

Shabazzy

LightWave Fan Boi
<nitpicking mode> But I do find it strange in this totally british setting (stores, mind the gap, cars...) to find the announcements on the lightboard to be in german, or should I say, austrian. Innsbruck, Graz, Rauchen verboten... ? :)
Artistic licence?
 

adrian

Audere-Est-Facere
Good eye! Yes I used artistic licence.... I wanted a mixture of cultures and places so people would be guessing "so where is this supposed to be?" Some in Emglish, some (Austrian) German, the steam train is loosely based on the Flying Scotsman, a very famous UK steam train but it's not exactly like it.

Thanks for the extra feedback regarding the mountain and perspective, this is all very helpful. I won't be posting an immediate update as it takes literally days (5-10) to re-render parts of this scene as it's so poly-heavy and I really do need to upgrade my machine. And as for Terragen render times......
 

adrian

Audere-Est-Facere
An update:

Brick size reduced on background buildings to real world size and also on the signal box they needed reducing in size just a bit
Wooden planks at top of signal box re-modelled and re-textured
Modelled actual tiles on signal box roof rather than relying on just a texture
More grass and daises added to land around signal box

I'm working on the steam now, will post an update in a few days time.

Still to do:

The lighting
Background mountain perspective

TestRender.jpg
 

prometheus

REBORN
Adrian,
Still legacy hypervoxels but volume now right?
I think you need to dissolve the hv particles by particle age gradients, and increase their size to expand by particle age as well, this will help reduce the puff syndrome, alternatively use a huge amount of particles, but for this you shouldn´t have to.

I think you could probably ge more realistic volume lighting with the newer volumetrics, and to get it to look steamy white, use emission channel properly.

I still think the overall lighting isn´t good, with mountains suffering from colorspace choice that isn´t tonemapped properly, thus washed out, generally you should have darker inside to avoid the flatness in parts of the mountain where light isn´t bouncing, and other areas should be brighter due to GI, if not using GI, use environment light to give a sense of ambient occlusion.
That´s just for the mountains, the characters however is suffering from very dark parts where they should receive quite a lot of light according to how much light globably that seems to be penetrating towards any item.

The bicycle dude needs to go a bit faster ..seems like his leg cycle movement isn´t naturally translating to the speed he should have :)
 

adrian

Audere-Est-Facere
Yeah still legacy HV's. For the additional dissove at the moment that's beyond my capabilities with nodes sadly. I just don't underatand them enough to even know the first next steps to take so more study required.

Lighting and mountain composition still to be worked on but thanks for the pointers. For the mountain "washed out" look it seems I went too heavy on the atmospheric fog in Terragen Pro, which I wanted to convey a sense of distance. Will need to work on that too.
 

prometheus

REBORN
Yeah still legacy HV's. For the additional dissove at the moment that's beyond my capabilities with nodes sadly. I just don't underatand them enough to even know the first next steps to take so more study required.

Lighting and mountain composition still to be worked on but thanks for the pointers. For the mountain "washed out" look it seems I went too heavy on the atmospheric fog in Terragen Pro, which I wanted to convey a sense of distance. Will need to work on that too.

Yes, use fog sparsely, I know it can be exxagerated, most vue renders are like that, just too much fog and haze in a bluish tone to give the impression of atmosphere, when the fog or mist doesn´t have reference objects in the scene that marks the distance of the fog, it all becomes very flat.

As for the newer volumetric system, yes..a bit unfortunate that the easy setup (trademark with hv´s legacy) was discarded when implemented the newer volumetrics.
In the newer system there is no dissolve, the closest thin you have is density, and that is the channel you would need to adress in nodal editor of the newer volumetrics,
you just need to add a particle age gradient or relative age node, and feed that in to the density channel, so it´s not that complex, add a multiply node inbetween to control it a bit more.
 

Shabazzy

LightWave Fan Boi
I just watched the new version on my TV and have to say it looks splendiferous. You can really see the attention to detail put in. Everytime I watch it, I notice something new.

And that's what keeps it so more-ish.

Great work.
 

adrian

Audere-Est-Facere
Thanks for the nice comments Shabazzy. Hmm, splendiferous, that sounds like something Anne of Green Gables would say :) I'm really really glad you said you notice new things each time you watch it - exactly the effect I wanted to achieve.

Not sure about the fog pass - quite possiblly but I'm by no means an expert at Terraagen either! As it happens I've now realised that not only did I render with fog in TG but I also rendered with MORE fog in LW. Now I can see why it's overcooked and washed out. I'll post another update once I've played around and re-rendered. It's a good lesson learned though - use fog sparingly (in most cases).

Oh and the bike - yes, needs to go faster. I tried convincing myself that maybe he's going uphill or it's a bad bike or he's in the wrong gear, ie excuses that would let me get away with it but you guys are calling me out on everything which is great!!
 
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adrian

Audere-Est-Facere
Is the background moving in the right direction with this? I've only been working on the background hills and mountains so the foreground light is still off.

StillFrame.jpg
 
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