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July 8, 2007

lsgl: stampede choreography

by sven at 11:59 pm

Woo-hoo! I've just finished the most complex shot of the film!

click on image to play clip (297 KB)

I think I like it. ...But then, it's been more than 2 weeks since I last completed a shot -- so a lot of that emotion might just be relief.

The final render for the stampeding Elder Things took more than 13 hours. Due to how I've chosen to deal with colors, rendering shadows would have to be done in a second pass. I'm hoping that for just this one scene I can cheat the shot and omit shadows. I want to believe that the chaos of motion will distract folks from looking at the ground too closely.

click on image to play clip (1.34 MB)

Here's the final galloping Elder Thing animation. It's not perfect -- but ought to be plenty good enough. It looks best from the side; I'm less happy with the front view, which seems a bit flat and mechanical. There's also a little a little a little stutter, which seems to only be visible from the front. I'll cope. :-)

click on image to play clip (278 KB)

With 15 fully-animated Elder Things, the stampede shot is krazee complicated. The stats:

If I tried to animate all that at once, the computer would totally bog down and give me killer lag times... So to get around that, I did all the choreography using lo-poly stand-ins.

The green objects in the clip above simulate the Elder Things' silhouettes. The clapping pink bars on top represent the rhythm of the 25 frame run cycle. It would look ridiculous if all of the Elders were running in lock-step -- so I had to put a good deal of thought into how to stagger the cycles, trying to make them look naturalistic.

stampede choreography

Here's what the stand-in Elders look like from above. I color-coded them into groups, so I could plan out sending them toward the camera in waves.

happy accident: a scarlet star

When I select all of the objects, bones and controllers that collectively make up a single Elder Thing, the highlighted bits create a baffling tangle of indicator lines. In this case, however, I was delighted to see that that the indicator lines happen to create a scarlet star. Smile.

pre-stampede establishing shot

In the stampede shot, the Shoggoth is supposed to be oozing in through the hive's only exit. Since I decided to make the Shoggoth opaque, I'm not sure that the concept "reads" anymore.

To rectify the situation, I put together a "before" shot, so we can get a good look at the exit. ...After all the agony involved in getting the stampede assembled, arranging and rendering a simple still shot was bliss!

posted by sven | July 8, 2007 11:59 PM | categories: let sleeping gods lie