"2001" Revisited: Pod EVA

My homage to the greatest film ever made, created entirely in Blender 3D, rendered in Blender Internal.
What started out as a test of the Pod flight control system I created turned into the longest short I’ve ever made. I created standard “flight sim”-style system to control the Pod in Blender Game Engine, used “record animation” to record my flying, and flew it using the joystick while staring out the Pod’s window. Spaceflight is FUN! So I’m probably not the sanest pilot around…
Discovery and Pod models from CelestiaMotherload by Frank Gregorio.
(And yes, Dave Bowman needs to fix that cockeyed headlight…)

By the way, how do you put a picture on the thread, so that it isn’t just text in the index?

Oh, okay. I think I figured it out.
I’m starting to think that I just talk to myself on this site…

A few threads happen to go unnoticed or uncommented, that happens. Its not a sign of bad work or lack of interest, but it is bad luck.
Asking for critique or feedback can help motivating people to comment, so this is what im doing now.
Overall i like it, but it lacks some detail. Also i have problems following the video, the red-string is kinda missing, i have no clue whats going on (maybe because i dont know the movie?). Last i want to say that i miss some stars or so in the background.
Technically you did a good job, but there is room for improvement.

Keep blending :slight_smile:

You still have problems with lighting. You always seem to try to illuminate every square inch of your ships/planets. Turn off the Environment lighting, use the Approximate-Bounce instead. And I see composited glow, which is good.
Stars are too big and too bright. They shouldn’t occupy more than one pixel.
-Also, spaceships are rarely that shiny. Get rid of the spec.

OL, there’s no Environment Lighting in this. I just faked it -with sunlamps set at .01. I was actually worried that it was darker than it should have been.
Stars. Ugg. Don’t get me started. In the beginning, I was going to use Cycles, and I was using your World from the Planets .blend, because I liked the stars. However, those stars were adding time to the renders. I played with the nodes for hours and hours. Then I tried doing BiCycles, but was having all kind of problems with getting the background to match, and problems with AlphaOver mixing… It took up days. And rendering the first 300 frames of this in Cycles took eight hours.

Those ARE actually your stars from that Cycles stars node. I just used them the old fashioned way in BI, with an old universe sphere.

Thanks for the critique, JimmyOn.
The only thing I can say is, if you’ve never seen “2001: A Space Odyssey,” you HAVE to. It’s essential viewing. I bet you’ll love it.
However, that film was shot before men landed on the moon. After finishing this, I went back and watched it again. I noticed several major flaws in the film that I’d never noticed before, especially concerning the stars and the lighting on this ship Discovery. If I hadn’t been putting the shots together on this model myself, I never would have noticed those problems.
Suffice to say, space art has changed a great deal since that film was shot. However, I still think it’s the best movie ever made.
Seriously, a must.

OL, there’s no Environment Lighting in this. I just faked it -with sunlamps set at .01. I was actually worried that it was darker than it should have been.
Space is a very dark place. You should have a single sun lamp with a high brightness and very small size. I’ve set a few of them like that in my newer theplanets.blend on BSwap. Everything else is bounce lighting from planets. Starlight is very minimal.

Stars. Ugg. Don’t get me started. In the beginning, I was going to use Cycles, and I was using your World from the Planets .blend, because I liked the stars. However, those stars were adding time to the renders. I played with the nodes for hours and hours. Then I tried doing BiCycles, but was having all kind of problems with getting the background to match, and problems with AlphaOver mixing… It took up days. And rendering the first 300 frames of this in Cycles took eight hours.
Sounds like Premultiply/Anti-Aliasing issues. Alpha is always a pain in the butt. In your cycles render, make sure the world is set to pitch black.(Did you set the film to Transparent first and leave the World Background as gray?)

Yeah, the world was pitch black. The big trouble I had with the BiCycles was with the ImageStrip node. Either it was playing only the first png in the lot or something, but I couldn’t make that work. I still am not sure why. I think that, instead of using png sequences, you have to use the MovieClip node and then select a png sequence. But I’ll have to experiment more with that…
I really did want to use Cycles. In the end, after days of hair pulling, I was on the verge of giving up animation altogether forever and just finding work on a shrimpin’ trawler (which I’m sure I would have been perfectly cut out for…)
So, this project was less about technical perfection than it was about me learning how to use BI again. I literally haven’t bothered for the past, oh six months or so?, while I gushed about Cycles.

But keep in mind: in sci-fi, we are allowed the artistic liberty of the convention that there is a certain slight amount of Global Illumination in space sequences. For example, I just watched “2010” (the “2001” sequel) today. I adore that movie too. However, when it came to lighting the ships, they stuck so close to “realism” in lighting, that the ships were literally little bits of lit object ruled by GIANT INVISIBLY BLACK SHAPES. I hated it. Those were lovely ships. There’s no reason to hide them in shadow so completely.
And besides: we are filmmakers, not NASA employees. No offense to any NASA employees. There’s nothing wrong with technical accuracy and as much “realism” as possible. At the same time, a film is a story, not real life. Real life and movies are two very different things, in many ways. Sometimes the pursuit of absolute realism can get in the way of telling a visual story. And sometimes it can help it. And realism can be boring.
Also, some of the greatest stories were less about realism as about the storyteller’s emotion and imagination. There’s something to be said for a slightly romanticized interpretation…
But, note to self, I’ll make the stars a little smaller in future space work. It just means clicking the texture repeat on your stars up from xy 5 to xy6 or 7. I probably would have. Except my eyes were firmly stuck on certain rather obvious other problems that I still haven’t completely figured out, and which no one else has yet even mentioned… (the ones that almost had me throwing the computer out the window and looking for Bubba Gump…)

There is a known issue with movie clip and image sequences. Something to do with name and numerals, sorry dont recall exactly which. If long renders are an issue I wonder if you could stretch frames with an optical flow retimer?

Really great job with the model too. Nice details in there. But the flying seemed to not exhibit any mass. I know that zero G means effortless flying, but astronauts refer to having difficulty manipulating satelites due to mass. That is there would be some deceleration/acceleration when moving in any direction.

But this is way cooler than anything I have ever tried.

AdamEtheredge, You certainly know what the best science fiction movie is. 2001: A Space Odyssey was quite a great movie. I’m glad to see some one create something like this.

2010’s space lighting was quite realistic, as you said. I’ve always wanted to create an animation with realistic lighting, but I’m afraid it would be just too bland…

Gotta love YouTube’s rapid downward spiral. If I had EVER made a SINGLE PENNY off of any video I’d ever posted on YouTube, I’d probably be pretty upset about this… As it is, it’s just more grist for my mill to make me wonder why I continue to bother with animation at all anymore…

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Update: Actually, I was wrong. I HAVE made money off my YouTube videos. After carefully roaming around in my AdSense information, I found out that I’ve made a wopping $5.25 so far from people clicking on the little ads that pop up on my vids. Now, that isn’t a lot of money. But it is something. You just have to pass their 10 dollar threshhold before they send you a check.
So, at least it’s enough to show me that it is actually possible to get paid making animation. So there’s hope. And a reason to make a lot more animation. Which means, I’m going to make my series. If it’s good, and people get interested in the story, maybe I can make a little money doing what I love.
The trick is, you have to make the story interesting, you have to make it look good, and you have to make bulk. And that means BI. :smiley:

@3Point: Thanks for the nice comment and compliment. Honestly, don’t sell yourself short. I’ve always enjoyed the animation I’ve seen you do, and going through the bughunt with you on that Tomato tracking vid was fun stuff. You do good work.
As far as the Pod’s mass, yeah, you got me there. A long time ago, when I first started building flightsims in the Game Engine, I realized that I was having a very hard time with the mass of the ships and controlling them. Once they got going, it was very difficult to control the flying. So I started setting the mass to 1, or at least very low. So you caught me. That Pod has a mass of 1. If you have an object, even in 0g, that has a “realistic” mass, it can get out of control very quickly, and you spend most of your time trying to guess which way it’s inertia is pointing. When in the cockpit, with no instruments to tell you these things, just flying by dead reckoning, that can be a killer. Of course there’s no up or down in space, so you only have other objects to tell you about your orientation and vector and speed. It can get confusing very quick. But by setting mass to 1, it’s a lot easier, essentially all you have to do is provide retrothrust to whatever previous thrust you’ve given it.
Yes, maybe it doesn’t look particularly realistic doing it the way I’m doing right now. However, that’s why I’ve been thinking about designing some rudimentary HUD instruments for my little ships. At least enough to tell me what direction my momentum is in and how fast. Then I could bring the mass up on my ships and not pay for it by spending most of my time guessing which way I’m falling. Unfortunately, I’m obviously NOT the greatest game designer who ever lived…
At any rate, good eye. And thanks again for watching and writing. Good to hear from you again. I hope you’re well.

@Jocob Holt: Thanks for the comment. Yeah, those are certainly fantastic films. I’m hoping someone will make “2061” and “3001.” Both of those were pretty fantastic books. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get to see some good animated versions of them…
But, as far as doing it yourself, the best way to learn is to just jump in with both feet and experiment and see what you can do. And, of course, comments from your peers (like on here) can be quiet helpful.
If it’s something you’ve been wanting to do, give it a shot. You might surprise yourself. And again, the point is to learn. Bring those images you have in your head to life on the screen. You’ll learn a great deal just by making the attempt. And you might make something great. Let me know when you post something, I’d love to look. :slight_smile:

First you said this:

And then you said this:

I hope you will take your own advice. Let me know if you need any modelling help… :slight_smile:

BTW: I loved the video. I hate animation and you have inspired me to get back on the horse again!

@MikeJ: Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I just might start asking for a little help with models. There are a lot of different ships and things in my upcoming series. Modelling used to be something I was afraid of and hated doing. But I started keeping up with Dan Brown’s fantastic work on “The Giant Spaceship Thread” and watched one of his modelling tutorials, and now I’ve started really enjoying modelling. I used to build model rockets when I was a teen, and plastic models of planes and ships, and I really enjoyed doing that for hours. Modelling in Blender reminds me a great deal of those days of my childhood.
But yeah, there’s no reason I wouldn’t enjoy having models made by other Blenderheads in that. So, I’ll think about it and let you know.
However, the models in this short weren’t ones that I made. As I said in the OP, those were models I found in the Celestia Motherload. I love those ships and always loved Kubrick’s Pods. So, when I found them I downloaded them. They came as 3DS things, in hundreds of pieces.

As far as my quotes, what I meant was that the A. Clarke novels “2001” and “2010” were already made into (fantastic) films. The other two books in the series are great reads too, so read them if you can find them.
As far as the rest, the poster had said that he’d wanted to try doing some scenes with “realistic” lighting. And, as I said, I’ve always learned the most by starting with a tutorial or something else, and just jumping in, getting my hands dirty, going off the beaten path, and seeing what I can do. Experimentation. Plus it’s fun.

But yeah, if animation is something you want to get back to, then hop back and that horsey and ride! We need more animation here. Cycles is great and fun. But I think people have been focusing a lot on stills while they learn Cycles. There’s nothing wrong with stills. But I’ll be happy when people get back to animation. There are a lot of skills involved in making animation that don’t always get utilized when making a still. Yes “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But a good story is worth thousands of stills, and that’s what it takes to make one. So I’ll be glad when people start threads on this site asking “What would be a cool story?” or something like that, as much as people post Cycles stills.
I think it would be neat to see the site start to resemble something more like an English class. There are some budding writers on the site dying to come out…

Well off I go to make money then… I wonder if anyone is stupid to watch ads in a wip?

Hove you are great too!

Cycles: I don’t think many will animate with it until NR is a reality. Takes to long to get noise free at 25 fps.

Wow, 3point. You must be a mindreader or something. I haven’t even visited BlenderArtists in over a month, and now I find your note. Everything you said is everything I’ve busied myself with over the past month.
Figuring “clever” ways (maybe “gimmiky” is a better word, but there’s no reason not to try to add value to what otherwise could be a purely money-making endevour…) of getting people to do more than just watch a short YouTube video. It can be done, I’m convinced, and I think there is a way to get paid for it, even if just a little at a time…

As for Cycles, I think I’ve just about swore myself off it, at least for the time being. And for exactly the reasons you stated. It’s perfect for stills, it really is. But for animation, life is too short. Now, everytime I crank up a 600 frame BI render, I just get this weird, gooey, happy feeling inside, especially when I come back in from a smoke break to find that it’s already plowed through 100 frames. And BI can still do PLENTY of things Cycles can’t.
Plus there’s always RenderFarm.fi. A single animator really can make a whole feature-length film these days.
Someday, somehow, Cycles will have become very fast, and will be able to do smoke and fire and particles and all kinds of things. Eventually it will grow up out of this puberty phase and be useful for more than just the in-crowd with twin GPUs who make still shots.
Until then, I keep falling in love with BI. Over and over and over again.

Nice to see a note from you. Good to come back after a month and find that. :slight_smile: Good luck. (I’m always on YouTube!)