Alien-style movie trailer development thread

Thanks! The goal is to figure out how to do it without overburdening myself. I had a movie in the works, but due to some fallout from the Covid situation, I have been scaling down over and over, so now I refine the process and tools by doing trailers. Yes, trailers, plural. More are to come :slight_smile:

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I just had to work on the face. I need it to be better, even if it is still jut a temporary stand in. So I got this far in a few hours today:

It is still far, far from a finished product, and the usability for broader use is still not in any way there. But it looks a bit nicer.

Well, it’s still a dead-eyed, lifeless husk of a mannequin, but it’s an improvement! The next version should, as always, be better.
And yes, I know it lacks brows and lashes. Sadly, time constraints (that I put on myself for rather complicated reasons) do not allow me to delve into that, yet…

You have done much in the way of hours. Your learning curve must be extra-ordinary. What you have posted as the end-result is amazing.

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Thanks, but it’s really just the start of the learning curve. The trick is to never do a scene without learning something new, and never learning something new without doing a scene. That’s the very short version of the concept, but it has served me wel in other things, and now I hope to push it hard in animation! If I can get decent human models/rigs going, it’s going to shift into a completely different gear, believe you me…

Slightly better, but the texture is still aaaaweful… Gotta get that on a future version, me thinks!

I gotta stop this head madness and move on. I’m breaking my production method (basically “once you improve something, use it in scenes”) by obsessing about this old nemesis of mine, realistic human animation. But for now, a few improvements were made. Tell me that this does not look like the illegitimate lovechild of Brendan Fraser and Eminem! The hair was a quick experiment to make something that renders faster than actual hair-hair, for multiperson wideshots. It looks plastic, but for now, it’ll do.

DANGIT!! I’m starting to obsess about details! This is THE BAD PLACE, I need to stop and get out of that path! I need to just make the stuff and then use it, that’s the whole point. This drives me nuts, cuckoo, wacko, dingdong. WHY MUST I MANICALLY FINETUNE AN ARTIFICIAL MAN’S WRINKLES AND HAIR?!?!?!
Taking my pills, taking my pills, make the voices go away…

Finally back to making the scenes. Got a short one made, cyborg punching through a wall. All animation continues to be stiff and clunky, but it is about improving the process, so it just means a long way to go. I forbade myself from using the new head to keep me from going detail crazy. It’ll be used later on, with special focus on improving the core character.

Did some fiddling with the face. I have no idea if it will ever see use, or if I will use it to build a better one. I can’t seem to find much to progress on, but the methods gained can be of use. I really need to find sources on good but computationally cheap skin…

Also got the flamethrower scene upgraded to version 4. Looks kinda silly, mostly when animated, but I had to accept simple particle system design, or I would be transgressing greatly against my already tense method of development. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone… probably not :smiley: Anyway, frameshot!


Using stuff learned to improve the face, but it will be a while before it gets used…

Set up the stage for scene 18. It’s a bit dark, but that is by intent…

I am, however, spending waaay too much time on the face. I did a complete overhaul, and it now reminds me a bit of Faye Dunaway in the 1973 Musketeers movie, not sure why…

I have been experimenting for TWO DAYS with some procedural generation ideas, and the basics seem to just have fallen (kinda) into place. This image rendered in 6 seconds:

True, it needs a lot of work on complexty, but that is on top of the ‘mechanics’ of the thing. With some fidgitting, it should be able to create entire cities for me to place events in!

On a separate note, I have moved the head work to another thread, expecting it to get a bit out of control. I did a test of it, just for fun, replacing Strickland in Back to the Future II with my bald guy model. I thought it was kinda fun:

After going a bit nut for a few days doing the new digital actor which won’t even be used in this verion of the trailer, I have finally gone back to doing the last few scenes. Which means procedurally generating citiess. Which means torturing my poor, poor computer with massive workloads. I am currently trying to make it add a single level of detail more before rendering for real, but before that hopefully succeeds, this is the test of the initial city shoot:

The city generation tricks don’t seem to work all that well, so the renders show some problems. But it is enough of a dead end that it will have to be redone from scratch in a future version. I need to really figure out something clever for those city shots, it seems. Anyway, the initial shot is as above, and a later one is a color swap and different angle. I’m not satisfied, which likely shines through my words here, but it is what it is, and will have to be done differently next time over… grrr…

I’m in no way happy with how anything related to buildings turned out in version 4 so far, but the idea is to make stuff to pinpoint problems to work on, so I guess in that respect, it works. Anyway, the alien drop pod is currently landing in the rendrer, got a quick shot from it:

In spite of the “failure” of the city generator, I am now rounding out version 4 of the trailer with the last scene. Apart from the constant problems with big city scenes, I think most of the trailer is a huge leap forward. I may even shelf it for a bit to do another trailer, which can present problems in a new light and maybe new solutions. Right now, my poor machine is rendering… I feel sorry for it, the load I put on it. But it looks nice:

Holy fartmonger, Batman! I actually managed to get version 4 done!

To put things in perspective, the entirety of version 1-4 have taken about 100 full work hours (I am excluding the work on the next digital actor, since it is not yet in use in these version). The goal now is to take everything learned here and condense the process, allowing me to make a full trailer in half that time or less, at this level of quality or better (preferably better; the trailer can be seen and understood, even enjoyed, but it is not yet ‘pretty’). To that end, I will jump to another trailer to tet out that, and push the quality there. I will later return and use what I learn and make to further improve this trailer. Rinse, repeat, again and again.
Anyways, the version 4 trailer:

I have moved the version 4 files into backup storage, and begun setting up operations for version 5. My plan is to gather everything I feel I have learned and developed into this version, and once it is done, put the Alien-style trailer on hiatus. I will then work on another trailer, learn new things, and return to this one to implement them. This is part of my master plan (and was all along, muahaha), and hopefully this will make me advance faster.
The character model (and nacent rig) are being carried over, as was always intended. It has its own thread here. The city generation project is also being continued, although in new ways. Here is a quick test of a method using drivers for variation by location: