Cinematic Animation of Saturn

in #film2 years ago

I created this video for my youtube channel, "Providence FX". It was entirely modeled and animated in Lightwave 3D - my favorite animation package aside from 3dsmax.

Unfortunately, it's low res. At the time of rendering it, the computer I used was an old laptop, which boasted a humble (by today's standard) Pentium M CPU with a speed of 1.6GHz(!), and 2GB of RAM. Your smartphone, and possibly your smartwatch have probably double the processing power of that computer. It was so slow, that it took two days to render that scene. Heck, I think my microwave would have finished off the animation much faster than that laptop. That's the reason why I use microwaves to do animations these days. I prefer LG models by the way.

But anyways, I'm not here to talk about the benefits of using microwaves as rendering nodes, but about the animation.

More on on this animation. When I created the camera motion, I was inspired by the shooting style of old space opera movies, such as 2001 Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Star Trek - all that crap. In CGI, one of your goals is to create realistic camera motions. You want your camera to act as a real camera handled by a real camera operator. Otherwise your animation is "kaput" (toast), no matter how good your CGI may be.

The 3D model of Saturn in this animation was made using NASA photo references. I put emphasis on getting the atmospheric look on the model to look like in real life. The model consists of three geometrical spheres, of different sizes, merged into one. Where the first sphere has the color of Saturn applied to it, the second sphere is the atmosphere (a transparent blueish layer), and the third sphere blends the atmosphere edges to make them look gaseous such as in the real saturn planet. It's a digital optical trick, for lack of a better explanation. This is very hard to look right, but I was satisfied after tweaking the scene a thousand times. I'm not too happy with the size of the rings though, I think I messed them up.

Maybe one day I'll re-do it, and render it in HD.

The score I used for the animation is from the original Ben Hur film, and the song goes by the same name, by Miklós Rózsa.