Entry #: 8
Entry Title: Door to the Twilght Zone
Artist Name: Kixum
The making of the Twilight Zone door on the road image was done by taking the following steps.
The atmosphere was done using a trick that I developed for a different scene. First, I rendered a single sphere with the Aura turned on. This produced a nice haloed sphere. Then I replicated several small squares on a sphere surrounding a camera and textured the squares with this glowing sphere in the glow channel (makes little stars!). This created a starfield. If you would like to learn more, the model is available for free at Renderosity in the Carrara free stuff. This method for starfields is something I have used for other projects. I rendered the starfield and put it into the backdrop (on a side note, several starfield combinations are possible with this technique which can produce a wide array of star mixes, sizes, and even colors depending on what you’re up to!).
To get the gradient with the color in the sky, I added a plane to the scene which has a gradient in the glow and a gradient in the transparency. The gradient for the transparency blocks the stars at the horizon but shows the stars at the top of the sky. The glow provides the atmospheric horizon we see in the image. The plane has a modifier to point at the camera and the center of the plane is aligned with the center of the scene. I lined up the hotpoint with the center of the production frame and scaled it to cover the entire rendering field. This produced a nice horizon glow while blocking out the stars in a manner I liked. It is a trick I have used on other projects but was reproduced here. On another side note, a skydome with the appropriate transparency gradients and glow could also be used here but I chose the single plane approach just to make dialing it easier. If the skydome approach is used, it could be setup once and then it would always render correctly even when I moved the camera. In the setup I’m using here, I have to fuss with that atomspheric glow plane every time I move the camera. In addition, the setup I’m using here gets goofed up if the camera looks upwards (off the horizon). A skydome of the stars I describe above with an additional skydome for the transparency and glowing atmosphere would be pretty dang spiff (a good project for later).
The terrain was created in the spline modeler. There is a single spline model for the hills with no mesh in between the side parts to make space for the road. This was my simple method of having no grass in the road. It would have been fine to do this using a map for the distribution but I didn’t want to fool with it. A separate road object was built in the spline modeler. Anything goos was used in the road texture to blend two global shaders (a general road texture you see in the middle and the dirt texture used for the hills). This produced something which blends both textures appropriately along the road edge.
Another separate duplicated road object is set just beneath the road which is used for the replicator for the road edge grass bunches. Using the same anything goos mixture but mixing black and white was applied to create a mapping domain to add grass onto the roadside and break up the edge.
Two separate blades of grass were created in the spline modeler, moved into the vertex modeler and re-oriented. These two grass blades were then replicated onto the hills twice with a million replications each resulting in 4 million grass blades. A separate and more simplified “grass bunch” was created in the vertex modeler and this was also replicated 100,000 times onto the hillsides. These grass objects were actually created for different projects but I modified them a little bit for this project.
I built the telephone poles and wires brand new. They aren’t as detailed as I like. Since these poles are in the dark and I already went to all the trouble to get the wires setup, I didn’t want to fuss with replacing the poles with more detailed versions to get details you couldn’t see anyway.
The flying saucer is a modified version of a saucer I built for a different project.
The door is another object I built a long time ago (I actually built it in Raydream about a million years ago, yeehaw!). It has a full set of hinges, screws, doorknob, and latch but you can’t see all that junk from this angle.
I put a single spot light behind the door and added another spline object with a rectangular hole to block the light with the exception of it making its way through the open door. Then I turned on the light cone for the spot. This provides the light rays coming from the door.
There is a single distant light behind the camera shining down on the scene (you can look at the shadows and figure how it sits). There is an additional spot light behind the door spreading more light out on the road behind it. The angle of the spot is 90 degrees creating a half spherical light spread out behind the door.
No GI is used for this scene as I wanted the shadows to be harsh and the contrast to be significant. Hey, it’s twilight! It’s supposed to be sorta dark outside after all!
All of this stuff was then rendered in one single pass. A new scene was then created for the text.
Each letter of the text was individually created in the spline modeler to match the text of the show title I found on the internet. Each spline letter was then converted to a vertex object and the back cut off to produce letters which are single plane structures. The letters are textured with white in the glow channel. The alpha channel is mixed black and white using turbulence as the mixer. The turbulence function utilized the threshhold setting and is stretched in one dimension to get the result of the torn/aged letters. The scene with the road/door/saucer/hills was put into the backdrop of the scene with the letters and rendered. This concluded the Carrara rendering part.
As an overview,
First scene for a single star (had already made it).
Second scene for the starfield (had already made it).
Third scene for major bulk of the image (grass, road, door, saucer, poles, etc.).
Fourth scene for the text.
Then came the post processing.
I doubled the size of the final render, added noise, blurred it, then resized it back to the normal size. Then I turned it black and white and pumped up the contrast a little bit. I think this produces a result which looks similar to the show in a lot of ways. I fooled with this a few times to get the final result I liked. The amount of noise and the amount of blurring took me a little bit to dial.
All in all, a fun little project!
Everything you see in the scene was made by me in Carrara with Post work in Paint Shop Pro. The pieces in the telephone poles alone qualify me for the unique object count for this contest.
What did I learn? I think the thing I learned the most was with the grass and screwing around with the road a little bit. I tried several combinations of replicated grass formats to get the coverage that I wanted without killing my computer. I also had to play around with the hotpoints of the grass some to get them to align with the ground the way I wanted them too. It is impressive what Carrara has done in this image. To compute the shadows is an impressive feat on its own.
I thought about making the grass a planted wheat field instead but I didn’t have the time to figure out the mapping process for the replicator to know where to put the wheat. The road curves in multiple dimensions and the wheat should follow that pattern. I just didn’t have time to fool with it.
I tried putting in ruts in the road but it messed up the interface with the bottom of the door. I REALLY liked the telephone poles and the wires in the scene and I had a hard time getting them into the scene in a way that I thought balanced it out. The wires and the poles are the only thing which really provides a sense of depth in the image.
I stared at this thing every day at work for several weeks trying to figure out what to do with it. I added the saucer at the last minute. I can give or take the saucer. What I wanted to do was represent just the door as the opening into the twilight zone in the spirit of the show without too much distraction. For me, I got what I wanted and that’s cool. I wanted something that old school Twilight Zone fans would see and instantly identify with the actual old show and I’m feeling the zen happening with that (just my whacko interpretation of the theme).
This wasn’t particularly difficult but I did a lot of dialing to get this result. It looks simple but it took me some time to get it to balance out for my eye.
Link to at least one WIP Posting: http://www.daz3d.com/forums/viewthread/29066/P240
List of all created or significantly enhanced objects:
See Summary Description.
Content credit list:
Kixum did it all.