My Drone (Animation WIP)

NEW UPDATES — Scroll down to watch new updates
4-08-13 IT’S NO LONGER A WIP! … “Unmanned Vengeance” is now playing
4-04-13 Progress update 2 / movie poster
4-01-13 A Glimpse Behind the Scenes / Progress Update
3-25-13 Landing Back at Blender HQ
3-17-13 Finalized Drone Blowup sequence
3-13-13 Fire When Ready!
3-11-13 Targeting practice with Sintel
2-28-13 Controls operational / taste of editing style
2-27-13 Control Room Stills / storyline intro
2-21-13 Taxi / Takeoff
2-18-13 City Flight
2-17-13 Maiden Voyage

I see a lot of modeling WIP here, but not much animation so I thought I would give it a go. Animation sequences are going to be posted below so you will have to use your scroll wheel to see them all. They are all less than 10 seconds each. My plan is to render a number of sequences and then edit them together, perhaps with a storyline.

I’ve modeled what is my first vehicle, a drone loosely based on the MQ1 Predator, but please note it was not my intention to model an exact replica. In fact I took a lot of liberties in changing some things.

I’m using HDRI backplates for the background and lighting, Also have a sunlamp in the scenes. Everything is rendered in cycles.

I sure would welcome any comments, suggestions & critiques on the different sequences.

So I now introduce you to my drone…and her first maiden flight.

Maiden Flight

Drone flys through the city doing what drones do :slight_smile:

That kind of weapon use the AMERICAN TERRORIST to kill CHILDREN IN OTHER COUNTRIES .

This is a takeoff sequence, from the mythical US headquarters of Blender, Don’t know how they managed to secure such a lovely view atop one of our nations landmarks. The building is from Blendswap and was courtesy of Seavenois. But I did a lot stripping down of the model to reduce polycount.

Starting to cut some of the sequences together and they are looking good so far. Also working on a little storyline.

Great taxi animation. Slap LAPD on the building and drone and your done. Grab a beer and enjoy the applause.

Haven’t been doing to much animation with the Drone this week, but have been spending time modeling/texturing a control room to operate the drone. I started to do some animating of the controls for various scenes but still tweeking those. Also worked on the start of a storyline… here is a few stills for now…

The start of a storyline…

I like all of it, but I have a question about the drone’s wings - are there supposed to be flaps or something to guide the lift, rotation of the vehicle? Looks like a solid wing without flaps.

Hey Craig, I can’t be 100% sure about flaps… if you want check out this vid of a real MQ1, at around 1:22 -1:30 and at 3:50 it does a landing. I havent seen them used on the videos I’ve watched of MQ1. I know other drones definitely have them. One thing I know for sure is the wings on this model should be kind of pitched upwards and they are not, I took a bunch of liberties with the overall design for sure.

The other thing that I may change if time allows is how fast the landing gear retracts in and out, mine is going way too fast based on watching the video above.

Appreciate you checking my progress, and if I do find out they have them I may add them

Controls For Drone Are Now Operational

Finally got my controls working, I’ll be adding a couple additional controls as I progress. This will also give a flavor for how the video will be edited. Thanks a bunch to Dennis Haupt for the rigged hands which came from Blendswap.

I’ve been busy with a lot of behind the scenes stuff and most importantly bringing the star of the show, Sintel, into the mix. I haven’t animated characters before so it’s been a great learning lesson for me.

This clip also features some targeting practice, the final movie will definitely feature some destruction from the drone, so I wanted to test out some display targeting.

Sintel was modeled, rigged by Ben Dansie and the model was updated by Greg Zaal on Blendswap. I made a change to the clothing materials. Unfortunately CPU rendering is not possible so I wasn’t able to use the model that Andrew Price has with the new hair… Thanks again to those who are following my progress.

These are great, the flight sequences especially. Very convincing. Agree with kreiger that you should swap out the blender logos for your own, but’s that’s simple. This is impressive work. My only critique is something I see a lot with models: it’s too perfect. Lately I’ve been trying to subscribe to the “fly in the ointment” philosophy. Which basically translates into this for this type of model. Add just a tiny, almost subliminal, level of asymmetry. And again a barely perceivable coating of dust or grime that all airplanes develop.
The control room sequences are coming along nicely too. I realize how incredibly difficult it is to do convincing human animation without mocap, and you’re well on your way. I just feel that the drone scenes are SO realistic, that stylistically they clash with sintel. And the control room looks a bit like a suburban home office. It may be cliched but I’d go darker on the materials and lighting for the floor/wall/chairs. Or somehow change the ambiance. It just feels like mom is about the burst into the room with a plate of oatmeal cookies.

But overall it’s excellent. Keep sharing, love looking at it. I’ve been tinkering away with a 747 animation here and there, but it’s not quite here yet.

Hey Blenderallday, thank you very much for your comments and thoughts on ways I can improve, let me address a couple of your comments

  1. The whole story now is based around Blender, not sure if you had a chance to read the newspaper still I posted above but the whole storyline is going to be basically this… large 3d software company attempts to takeover open source Blender upon worries that this free program is overtaking their outrageously priced software :slight_smile: Mayhem occurs when Sintel goes rogue and decides to take matters in her own hands.

I’m about 1/2 way thru so there is no going back on the Blender theme, so decals and such won’t be changing.

  1. I totally agree with you on the dust and grime is needed, not just on the model, but in many other places… what might not be so apparent is the amount of time that has gone into this already, both in editing, additional amounts of composting in Aftereffects and the render times are just ferocious on my machine. Just some of the little 3-5 second clips you see above, many have taken over 8 hrs to render… and that’s with me doing it only at 720p. The backplates are taking about 15 -30 minutes just to do that 1 frame… everything I have been doing so far has to use backplates in leau of rendering it the way I would really like to, because it causes so many other issues. So truth be told I haven’t concerned myself as much as I should with the subtle, but important points, you mentioned.

  2. I can kick myself for not adding a little more to the control room… but I’ve rendered out so much of it so far, I may be locked in. But I may be able to tweek down the lighting in some way in AE and add some sort of different overall ambience in post.

  3. I wish I had a character that is more photorealistic, just like you mentioned… but I know right now I could never model anything half as realistic as her, and I’m blessed that Ben was nice enough to share her rigged and all. But in my movie…shes gonna be a badass…bad hair or not :slight_smile:

I know I didn’t address everything you mentioned, but I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to comment with your thoughts. I hope more people will as well. Would you mind if I sent you a PM, I’d like to send you a link on something…let me know if it is OK- Carl (harleynut97)

Sure thing, pm me. I was surprised more people didn’t comment on this one.

Fire When Ready!

A test of one of the 2 missile firing sequences that will be included. Using a place holder for the scene where the drone gets blown up. That will be a big task to try and get it right with the new Rigid Body Physics. I’ll be rerendering this whole sequence again,so propellers rotate and to finalize other parts. the explosions and SFX are also just placeholders right now. Targeting at the drone council will also be worked in.

Yep, it’s always fun to blow stuff up, but this sequence gave me a few more grey hairs on the way. The video is finalized but the audio will have a number of tweeks during final editing. Many thanks to Stormswirl who helped me out with lots of advice and recommendations on this sequence. Be sure to check out his numerous Blender tutorials here

Well I had to get the Drone back to headquarters after it’s adventure. This landing sequence is pretty much finalized except for audio.

I won’t be posting a whole lot more animation in this WIP because I want to leave a few surprises for the final edited movie. But I will post a couple more things here and there, and keep you updated.

I now have a title…“Unmanned Vengeance”. As always, thanks for watching.

Coming along great. The cuts between control room and drone seem a lot more natural in this one, and great explosion ! Can’t wait to see the final cut.

It’s coming home - mission completed - nearly :slight_smile: I like it and I’m waiting for the final audio. May I propose a slow and detailed “beauty pass” of the drone as it comes home and glides in?

Thanks for suggestion minoribus, I’ll tell you what I have been facing. My first dillema is that I am using hdri backplates for the flight scenes.(and most others) Unfortunately it prevents me from zooming or panning the cameras while its flying. The camera will zoom in on or track the drone, but the background never changes like it should. That’s the biggest reason I have to use so many camera angles in many of the scenes. That damn drone flies by so quick it’s hard to see it for more than a second or 2 as it’s flying by.

My other dilemma is just render times when I’m really close up to the drone… if most of my frame is covered by foreground objects the render times go thru the roof. The control room (which is really all foreground, takes over 15 min per frame)… the worst part is I’m having to do this all in 720 p because of render times (really wanted to do in in 1080p)

But I am going to try and sneak one really closeup beauty shot like you mentioned if I can edit out some things. I’m at the point now where I am concerned if I am going to have enough remaining space to finish the story… but I’ll make that happen. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and watch the videos, I’ve posted.

My other dilemma is just render times when I’m really close up to the drone… if most of my frame is covered by foreground objects the render times go thru the roof. The control room (which is really all foreground, takes over 15 min per frame)… the worst part is I’m having to do this all in 720 p because of render times (really wanted to do in in 1080p)

Yes, that’s something we are all suffering from: render times :(. I think you know that there are free crowd render farms like vSwarm? They work like seti@home does. Perhaps that could be an option. I don’t use that because my computer seldom has spare time.

The camera will zoom in on or track the drone, but the background never changes like it should

Yes, difficult, but you may look at this example ( There is nearly nothing moving in the background. That’s because fast distant things - like the clouds - move much slower than something in the foreground.