To Blend, or not to Blend? That is the question...

Discussion in 'Fan Films, Fan Audio & SciFi 3D' started by Saeed, Jun 25, 2000.

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  1. Saeed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2000
    star 3
    Thanks for the tips, Avene! I'm glad to hear that my short film is worth a repeat viewing...

    For doing my special edition, I wanted to give Spidro a more menacing look, which is why I gave him those red eyes - Idid try to make them semi- transparent and see some camera type lenses thru the outer shell, but the thing was already taking too long - both to model and render. Infini-D does have some good options regarding video-safe colours, but I just ignored them due to time constraints.

    Also, one of the main reasons the CG looks sharper than the footage is that the camera I used was a banged up vhs-c camera, which someone passed on to me 'cos it was uneconomical to repair. It didn't have sound, and sometimes the power would fail...its picture quality was fairly poor, but I didn't want that to prevent me from using quality CG. It's a similar thing with the shadows - people have been very complimentary, but actually the shadows are far too sharp and prominent than you would really get indoors - and in such a dull country! I knew this when rendering, but decided to keep them fairly strong - simply because they look great!

    Many of these issues will be adressed when I come to working on TTC2: Rogue Jedi - it's even gonna have dialogue!

    Saeed TTC

    PS Lokmer - I'm not exactly 'enjoying' Blender. It's taken me half a day to do something in Blender that I could do in half an hour in any other package...but, maybe that 'enjoyment' will come in time - here's hoping!
  2. lokmer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 15, 2000
    star 4
    Well, guys, as requested I have made a short StarWars animation, I'll be posting it tomorrow. By the way, where the hell are all the messages? I can't find anything besides one message per thread, and I can't even be sure of when it was posted!
    -Lokmer

    BTW, Saeed: The animation I'll be posting took me about an hour to make and a couple more to tweak the particle explosion and the textures to get the look on the Tie Bomber I wanted. I'm finding Blender easier and easier to use as I get more experience with it. I hope your experience is similar!
    -Lokmer
  3. lokmer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 15, 2000
    star 4
    Ok, here's the link:
    http://artisticwhispers.homestead.com/files/tieawing.avi
    It's compressed with DivX. The textureing on the Tie bomber is a little funky, I think I'm going to have to program a softer texture for the cockpit and do some dirt maps for the Awing. I spent the majority of my time working on the explosion and shrapnel. It's my first attempt at a serious animation, what do you think?
    -Lokmer
  4. lokmer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 15, 2000
    star 4
    FYI I will be posting a newer version of that animation later today. I realized that it looks blocky cause I rendered it without Anti-Aliasing on. Also, I'm working on some dirt maps for the Awing.
    -Lokmer
  5. Saeed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2000
    star 3
    Nooooo!!!!!!

    My Thread!!! My lovingly crafted thread....!!!

    "You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!"

    "My posts, my posts...My kingdom for my posts!!!"

    Saeed TTC :(
  6. Saeed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2000
    star 3
    Well, now that I got that off my chest...

    Lokmer, good work on the animation. here's a recap on the last few day's work...Previously, on 'To Blend, or Not To Blend ? That Is The Question...'

    Saeed continues in his quest for a quality 3D package, while Lokmer tries to lure him to Blender. Tragedy almost struck when Saeed found out that blender doesn't have a proper undo, but when he came to Lokmer tried to console him, with some success. Meanwhile, down under in Australia, Avene, initially impressed with Saeed's film continues to be an powerful adversary for Lokmer, encouraging Saeed to go for Hash Animation master, as well as offering helpful analysis of his work. Having seen the Hash website, and feeling a strong rapport for Avene (who successfully convinced Saeed of the benefits of the DivX CODEC), Saeed very nearly reaches for his credit card, but is brought down to earth when he realises the bills he has to pay...

    Who will eventually win Saeed over? And what of the elusive dark knight himself, Batman - will he join Saeed as his youthful ward? Or is there something more sinister in the fact that someone who owns 3D Studio Max would ever want to learn blender? These and many other questions may or may not be answered in the next exciting episode of 'To Blend, or Not To Blend ? That Is The Question...'

    ...Well, I've just come out of 'cold turkey', away from you guys for a couple of days, and I just about survived... luckily, I had Nathan's 'Second Strike' script to pass the time...

    Anyway, here's my latest update. I've been experimenting with materials a bit, with some success. Basic colouring is easy enough, but I had trouble putting a blender-generated noise bump map on. Then I realised I had to press the 'Nor' button to apply the bump map. Why? I dunno. Just read that you had to - don't even know what it stands for. I know what Superman stands for - truth, justice, and the American way - but I don't know what 'Nor' stands for. Usually, programs apply any effect by default, then you lower the effect right down if you want, or simply deselect a checkmark to hide the layer. Anyway, it worked - but I read a tute for that, and there were no pictures... So I damn near had to ruin my eyesight looking for that tiny little button. I don't know why they couldn't make those things a bit bigger. My eyesight's already gone to the dogs after years in front of a computer screen (am I the only Jedi who wears glasses?).

    I then experimented a bit with adjusting the lights, which was a lot more straightforward. I swapped between lamp, spot and 'sun' (direct, with no fall off I presume...), with easily noticable effects. My next main step is to refine the model more carefully - as well as being more true to the picture provided, I need to soften the edges by bevelling. Also, the ridges I put on the hilt at present (although children of the hilt itself) do not share the same material. There's probably another tiny button I forgot to press... I'll get out my magnifying glass, and see you all in the next episode...

    Saeed TTC

    PS I emailed a guy at Hash to see if there was a demo available...it's not over yet...

  7. Nobody Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2000
    star 1
    *After reading Saeed's summary of the past couple days. Nobody reaches for pop and popcorn and watches thread intently.*

    Ooo....excitement! :-D

    Oops...I forgot this isn't the UBB! It tried UBB code. :)
  8. Melvil Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 13, 2000
    star 2
    I am hoping to someday learn to use blender, but not anytime soon. I have messed around with it, but MAN is it complicated.

    -Melvil
  9. Melvil Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 13, 2000
    star 2
    Hey Lokmer, I just took a look at that animation. It looks pretty cool, how long did it take you to make? The ships look like they are a little too perfect in the flying, and the A-wing looks like it just "shrinks", but at least I know that it can do stuff for SW Fan Films.

    -Melvil
  10. lokmer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 15, 2000
    star 4
    Oh crap! I just resized my browser window and it ruined my beautiful reply!

    Ok, here's the short of it for both Saeed and Melvil.
    The animation: Check it again tomorrow, there will be a new (and much better) version posted. I fixed the motion problem, made the lighting a little more dramatic, and made some nicer textures for the TieBomber and some dirt maps for the Awind (I may have overdone that one, though, thing looks like it had a mudbath). I did that animation (not counting render time) in about two hours over the course of a day or two (tinkering with it here and there in between renders and chapters in the book I'm proofing). You can realistically add another hour to that for the new version I'll have out tomorrow, as I actually made one of the new texture maps myself and that took a while. The explosion was the hardest part, and I'm still not *quite* satisfied with it. There's a feature where you can apply multiple materials to a single object that would make the explosion look a lot cooler, butI haven't figured out how to do it yet. Good eye on spotting the ship shrink! I messed up on the timing of the particles/shrink, it's fixed in the new version (all the shrappnel was done with Particles as well, programmed one particle emitter to spew little meshes everywhere).

    Ok, Saeed, here's a bit more info. To get the proper material on the rings, select one ring (or all of them at the same time if you want to do it the quick way), go to materials screen, Add new, and make it black.

    As far as the NOR thing goes, I can only assume since the company who makes Blender is dutch that it's one of those things that got lost in the translation. BTW, to save your eyesight, remember that you can zoom in on those buttons screens and move them aroung using the +/- and G keys. I often use them blown up big when my eyes are tired.

    Happy Blendering!
    -Lokmer


  11. Melvil Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 13, 2000
    star 2
    Could you post to tell us when the new version is up? Even if it is a short clip, I want to see what you can come up with. It already looks pretty good. With a little more work, it could look great.

    -Melvil
  12. Batman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 19, 2000
    star 1
    I guess you didnt read my long post. I found the old thread, and posted on it. I have no Idea where it is now.

    Anyways, it went on to say that at work i have Lightwave 5.6, and that I find it a bit easier then both Blender and MAX.

    Anyways, I'll still Blend, once I get some more time. These 10 hr work days are killin' me.

    I ain't nobodys ward. :) (cheap attempt at a smilie)

    Batman
  13. Saeed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2000
    star 3
    I may as well put up this backdated post now...

    "Captain's log Stardate 27.2.2000.... Mr Spock has provided me with the location of various SW models in blender native format. Scotty assures me they were not actually modelled in blender, cut converted from another package. Checkov reminds us all that what is termed a battle droid is actually a destroyer droid, or droideka, and what is termed a destroyer droid is actually a probe droid. We will beam down to the website location just to check for the prescence of Klingons in the quadrant. Dr Macoy, Spock and myself will be accompanied by an insignificant member of the crew, should any hostiles encountered feel the need to kill anyone..."

    All that unnecessary intro was just to say that I am pretty comfortable with navigating views, so I thought I'd import some meshes. It worked well, but I was surprised how slow my system was just to manipulate wireframe models without textures...

    While the forum's been down, I took the time to look at the online maual. It was brief but fairly clear... until I started reading the 'block oriented system' thing. I think I got the basic idea, but why they can't just have libraries like every other package I don't know... I thought that I could use these blocks to give the ridges on the sabre hilt the same material as the hilt, but I hadn't a clue how to do it that way. So I just went through them one by one manually.

    Quickly running out of tutorial material, I tried to go through my last one regarding bevelling. This resulted in yet another frantic search for another couple of tiny buttons. Then I realise (I may be wrong on this) that bevels only apply to 'bezier (short for 'should be easier'?) circles'. Not knowing any way to convert the extruded circle, I had to create a fresh circle. If there is indeed no way to add bevels to all objects, that is definitely a major oversight....

    "Captain's log Stardate 27.2.2000B...we were en route to bevel tutorial when suddenly - CRASH! fatal exception error occured....everyone on the bridge ran from side to side, holding on to the nearest item of furniture, but still the problem remained... "

    "Scotty, damage report.."

    "One of the programs is not responding! It's the AMD processor, sir - she cannae take it!"

    "Have you tried pressing 'escape'?"

    "Aye, Captain, but she's locked up good..."

    "Can you reboot without losing my unsaved file...?"

    "Dammit, sir! I'm an engineer, not a Windoze technician!"

    "Might I suggest, Captain" added Spock,"that you try ALT-CONTROL-DELETE?"

    "Mr. Spock, you're a genius!"

    "Captain's log Stardate 27.2.2000C...After safely rebooting out of the fatal exception error system, I ponder the thought of leaving the Blender quadrant entirely..."

    Sulu breaks my train of thought. "Destination, Sir?"

    "...The Hash system, Mr Sulu...Out there, thataway!"

  14. lokmer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 15, 2000
    star 4
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Don't do that! Don't even think that way!!!! :)

    You CAN bevel both Berziers and Nurbs. Furthermore, to convert to a mesh, use ALT-C.
    If your system is running ridiculously slow in wireframe, there are two possibilities: 1) Your system has not enough RAM or processor Bandwidth to handle the high-poly models (incedentally, I once had this problem, and fixed it by expurgating my system of all extraneous programs - particularly Netscape and anything by Adaptec), 2) Your card is not a bona-fide openGL card, or may need updated drivers, or 3) (Okay, I lied, there are three possibilities) your hard disk could use a defrag.
    BTW, what video card are you using? I AM a windoze tech, so I might be able to help...your unsaved file will be in a funky numbered .blend file, or if had been saved earlier, look for the saved filename with a .blend1 extension.

    :)
    -Lokmer

    BTW, don't be shy about posting questions or searching the newsgroups over at http://www.blender.nl/news-blender . It's the first place I go when I can't figure something out, and I often find the answer there very quickly - the guys who program blender frequent the site, as do several professional animators who use Blender.
  15. Saeed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2000
    star 3
    Okay, Lokmer, everyone - this is the last of my backdated posts...

    ... I'm at the end of my tether with my PC. I've had a PC in the past, then sold it and got a mac, then I was given this PC (built by my brother-in-law) - but it just isn't reliable enough. My feeling is that it is more than software problems. Perhaps it's a faulty motherboard or RAM. In any case, I'm fed up...

    Blender also refuses to extrude - I have no idea why, it used to be simple enough. The consequence of all this? Well, firstly Avene scores another point - Hash has the mac version on the same disc, and even if/when the mac version of blender comes out, I only have system 8, let alone system X. And no, Lokmer, I'm not even about to consider learning a new OS like Linux - I've got enough problems as it is!

    Half time score (that's second quarter to you US folk)..... Lokmer 2 Avene 2

    I've been going back (on the rebound, as it were) to some of the other packages on my machine like Strata, and although nice, it seems to me that none of these programs are as easy and inviting to use as Infini-D. I checked out it's replacement package from metacreations - Carrara. Looks nice (and sounds like a model of Porsche car), but slightly more expensive than Hash and not nearly so many animation features. BTW still no response from the man at Hash regarding any demo....

    And another thing that just occurred to me. If Hash does indeed have both versions of the package on one disc, I can set up different scenes/renders on both machines to double my workflow output!

    TOUCHDOWN! .........Lokmer 2 Avene 3

    See ya later sports fans!

    PS I just cancelled my order for the Blender manual... :(

    --------------------------

    Footnote: Lokmer, in response to your last post, I think it's a more serious hardware problem, but I'll think it over before I do anything Hash, er, I mean rash...
  16. Saeed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2000
    star 3
    ...Oddly enough, I just got an e-mail from NAN saying they're despatching the manual today. I reckon they're conveniently ignoring my recent mail....

    No matter. with the favourable exchange rate, It's not too much of an investment, plus I'll probably come back to Blender at some point anyway...

    Saeed TTC
  17. Melvil Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 13, 2000
    star 2
    Ok. Now I am startingto want to learn Blender. Of course I will probably take about 2 years to get a hang of it. =P Are there any tutorials on specificly, animating, helping you with what does what, or anything I might need in a SWFF? Thanks.

    -Melvil
  18. Batman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 19, 2000
    star 1
    did you guys know that you can request a demo of 3d Studio MAX?

    the address is www.discreet.com

    Batman
  19. Melvil Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 13, 2000
    star 2
    Let me put it this way, I want to learn how to use Blender. Could anyone help me get started, and tell me what I should do first? Thanks.

    -Melvil
  20. Saeed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2000
    star 3
    Melvil - if the rest of my original thread was here it would help you a great deal. This was my original intention, so that people like us could learn from each other.

    Lokmer is the best person to help you get started...Lokmer! Where are you?
  21. Melvil Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 13, 2000
    star 2
    hmm. If only the move didn't mess the old threads up so much. Lokmer, You've already helped me plenty (reffering to Axogon), so I'm not presuring you to help me with this...But I would like to learn. =)

    -Melvil
  22. Melvil Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 13, 2000
    star 2
    Oh, And lokmer, I took a look at the new Animation. It looks good. The ships look pretty real. I had to turn my head sideways to see it better though.=) It still kind of looked like the A-wing sort of just shrinks, but it's better now.

    -Melvil
  23. UPAJay76 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 1
    Melvil,

    For simplicity's sake, start at the tutorial in our very own vaults on doing the main title. It did wonders for me, just as a quick introduction. The real winning thing in that tutorial is that lokmer linked in a "Familiarize yourself with Blender" URL that gives you some basic ideas of what you're looking at. You can easily follow his tutorial from there (I'll add this much.. "camera view" = hit keypad 0) and viola... its not all in the dark anymore.

    Similarly, he's linked some good one's in my thread... the one where he talks about the mineshaft is great, there's one in there about doing a dolphin that helped me a lot too.

    Unless you wanna buy the manual so you can RTFM, (and I suspect, its not that helpful...) you're better off identifying exactly what it is you want to do to start, finding tutorials which give you key insights into those processes, and going from there. You won't find an exact "This is how to do this" tutorial for what you want (example... I'm still searching for one which will show me how to add engines to a starship model I'm building... like the engine glow and effects, etc) but you will find things which, when understood with other concepts, will answer your question.

    Its time consuming.. but easier than anything after you've gotten over that hump.

    *S* and regards,

    Jay
  24. lokmer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 15, 2000
    star 4
    Sorry I was away for a couple hours :=) It's nice to know I'm needed.

    There are dozens of places you can go to get started, here are some of my favorites:
    1) The Blender Homepage at www.blender.nl. There are tuts there ( a great one on lighting in the free tutor guide in pdf format) as well as truncated version of the manual. (BTW, the manual IS helpful, but it is most useful for the advanced stuff since the tuts give you a real handle on the basics).

    2) Keystroke catalog and interface intro. http://www.blendermania.com/tutbook/interface.php3 for a brief tour of the interface
    http://home.swipnet.se/glow3d/hotkey.html explains what all the buttons do
    http://home.iae.nl/users/exwhale/blender/main/hot.html this gives a fairly current index of ALL keystrokes in Blender

    3) Tutorials: The most complete index can be found here http://redrival.com/rash/links.htm B@rt's tutorials are among the best for beginners.
    And you can always check out mine at TFN Theater (BTW, there is a NEW and IMPROVED version coming soon, as soon as Azeem gets back from the convention and catches up on his email...on second thought it IS coming, and SOON - as any dispensationalist will tell you is a very flexible term) :)

    4) The single greatest resource is the Blender News Server at www.blender.nl/news-blender . You can search the archives and find answers to almost any question (I am still happy to help all I can, too!).

    To do an engine glow, there are a couple of approaches possible:
    1) Use moving particles (this will give a "Flame" effect) with a halo material

    2) Use static particles and a cloud-textured halo using the two colors (Red/white, blue/white, etc). (The static particles are a little difficult to shape properly and take practice, but they give the nicest results).

    3) Assign a semi-transparent Halo material to a mesh (With VERY high poly count) that you've modeled into the shape of the glow you want, and attatch it to your engine. This one is nice too. (This is how I did the laser blast in my animation).

    Seya round!
    -Lokmer
  25. Saeed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2000
    star 3
    ...I almost feel left out in my own thread...

    Oh well - I'm just in one of my lows... Next week, hopefully, Premiere will have arrived, and possibly so will the Blender manual, and I'll have one of my highs again!

    I'm a manual kind of guy - I like to get absorbed into something totally, like I did when we bought Infini-D at work. Anyway, when the manual arrives I'll try to get back into the swing of things. I've designed my first droid for TTC2, and I would love to model it in Blender - once I sort this damn PC out...GRRR...

    Besides, I NEED these chats with Lokmer - this forum just wouldn't be the same without him!
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