Hello and welcome.
Yeah, this is actually very easy. You can render frames or animations from the command line, saving the output to the (appropriate) format of choice. Navigating to the blender folder in a command prompt and typing blender /? will show you the options you have available.
As for changing the colour, license plate and a decal - I’d just have these three objects texture mapped, using files such as car_colour.tga license_plate.tga and decal_tex.tga
You just run a script that copied the appropriate files from your library of colours and license plates and decals into the path specified in the blend file.
So, if for example I wanted a green car with the numberplate spi-434 and a donut king sticker on it that was to be rendered to a MOV for frames 1 to 500,
I would write either a batch file or a shell script that took the basic form:
copy colours\green.tga car_colour.tga
copy plates\spi_434.tga license_plate.tga
copy decals\donut_king.tga decal_tex.tga
\path_to_blender.exe_file\blender -b -o RenderedMovies\GreenSPI434DonKin.mov -f QUICKTIME
cp colours/green.tga car_colour.tga
cp plates/spi_434.tga license_plate.tga
copy decals/donut_king.tga decal_tex.tga
/path_to_blender_executable_file/blender -b -o RenderedMovies/GreenSPI434DonKin.avi -f AVI
(I’d also make sure that the timeline went from 1 to 500
With a mac, quicktime’s obviously include, xp can have it added but I don’t think the linux versions of blender will output to quicktime, so you’d have to dump it then convert.
of course, you could just write three scripts allowing you to change the colour, decal or plates independently. It would just be a matter of writing something that would check the 3 library folders and give you a menu that allowed selection from the files found, doing away with the need to hard-code a script for every combination and permutation.
It would be great to have the numberplate created from ascii text in either a file or a command line parameter, though I’m afraid that’s beyond me my friend. Perhaps you could add a python script that was executed every frame, that read the contents of a text file, emptied the text-object used for the plate and then set it to whatever was read from the text file. You can possibly set a script up to only be called on the first frame, though if not, I’d make the script check which frame it was on first thing, and if the frame was not frame 1, I’d know the plate’s text had been set and that I could return from my function without going through the rigmarole of reading the plate data from the text file.
Oh wait! I just re-read your post and saw you mention PHP. Cool - you could create an image file for the number plate and the colour using PHP. You could allow the plate’s text to be typed into an input box and allow the colour to be chosen from a colour palette, ala gimp, PS or anything else of the sort.
I’d be interested to see how this turns out. Nice idea.