A Couple of Rendering Questions

From someone who already searched the forums 😃

Those of you with longer memories will remember last year I began working on a plugin that would expand on the Fed storyline, picking up where it left off. (It's the one that has missions to allocate Bureau spending, if that rings any bells). I put the project on hold during school and now that that's done for the summer, I'm getting back to work on it. I recently got a more powerful computer and decided to re-render my graphics since I had to tone them way down originally, and figured this would be a good opportunity to sort a few things out. So, here are my questions, to which I could not find answers using Search.

  1. How far do I need to pitch my ships in the 36-frame renders to have their shäns fit in with the existing ones?

  2. How far in which directions do I need to pitch my ships to make their shipyard purchase image identical in style to the existing ones?
    2a) Is there any way I could get my hands on a "blank" Federation background, i.e. the fade-to-blue backdrop behind all Fed ships?

I can't give much of an ETA on this plug because I work very irregular hours over summer and truly have no idea how large it will end up being. It started out as a plug adding one new weapon and two new outfits, then eventually added a new ship, then missions, persons, chrons, dudes… the whole works. But hopefully I'll be able to chug along on it over summer and have something worth posting by the time school starts back up.

I'll also give you a few renders to a ) give an idea of my limited Strata capabilities and B ) maybe get a few tips nudge nudge.

Demon-class Interceptor
Sentinel Missile Frigate

Anyhow, happy developing to you all!

Archon

This post has been edited by Archon : 18 June 2007 - 09:33 PM

@archon, on Jun 19 2007, 02:32 AM, said in A Couple of Rendering Questions:

  1. How far do I need to pitch my ships in the 36-frame renders to have their shäns fit in with the existing ones?

Ship needs to rotate 360 degrees. That is 36 images ranging from 0 degrees-350 degrees.
The camera needs to look at the ship from a 45° angle.

@archon, on Jun 19 2007, 02:32 AM, said in A Couple of Rendering Questions:

  1. How far in which directions do I need to pitch my ships to make their shipyard purchase image identical in style to the existing ones?

I think that is around frame 23 in the typical render explained above. It might also be something else. For Arpia 2 I used a modified frame 23.

@archon, on Jun 19 2007, 02:32 AM, said in A Couple of Rendering Questions:

2a) Is there any way I could get my hands on a "blank" Federation background, i.e. the fade-to-blue backdrop behind all Fed ships?

Can't you just get the colors and make the gradient yourself?
A very easy PS job.

There are also things like lighting, and some issues with rendering with perspective or not.
You should be able to find information about this and the other issues at:
http://www.ambrosias...showtopic=60350

Some relevant stuff from the above link:
http://home.comcast....n/tutorial.html
http://www.ambrosiasw.com/forums/index.php...t&p=1457986

This post has been edited by Modesty Blaise : 19 June 2007 - 05:08 AM

Here's an almost-identical shipyard background for ya:

Posted Image

URL is http://orange.quicks...ardpicd9a83.gif

It's not quite the same, the original one has some more blue up in the top corner, but that should work well enough. I could try again if you want, of course.

Pi

This post has been edited by PiSketch : 19 June 2007 - 12:14 PM

Thanks for the pointers! I neglected to look at the stickied topics which, of course, I should have gone to first.

And as long as I'm re-rendering, I have one more question. My original spins were done with 144 frames rather than 36. This makes them look very, very smooth, but do you think this would make it prohibitively large? My plug contains 4 or possibly 5 new ships each with its own 144-frame pic and mask, so I'm worried that it may strain older computers.

–Edit–

OK, one more dumb question. (At least I assume it's dumb, because there seems to be nothing on the forums on it so the answer is most likely self-evident).

How on earth do I get the shipyard render image on top of that bloody background gradient? I tried rendering it on a white background and using the Magic Wand in GraphicConverter but that gave me unseemly white lines all around the ship even after getting the tolerance set. Trying different colored backgrounds gave the same results. I also tried rendering it in Strata 3D CX with that image as a background, but due to the camera tilt the background tiled slightly across the screen.

I'm obviously missing something here, the question is: what?

–2nd Edit–

I also tried placing the background in a GC file and then overlaying the render with the white background on top with transparency set to pure white. That didn't work either; the "transparent" white overwrote the background.

This post has been edited by Archon : 19 June 2007 - 10:34 PM

I'm short on time or else I'd write a more detailed reply: what you're missing is antialiasing. See if GC can do it.

@archon, on Jun 20 2007, 01:28 AM, said in A Couple of Rendering Questions:

And as long as I'm re-rendering, I have one more question. My original spins were done with 144 frames rather than 36. This makes them look very, very smooth, but do you think this would make it prohibitively large? My plug contains 4 or possibly 5 new ships each with its own 144-frame pic and mask, so I'm worried that it may strain older computers.

144 can be a bit much. I think 60 is normal for larger ships. It's not really necessary for smaller ships. If there are supposed to be many of these on the screen at the same time, they might cause issues.

@archon, on Jun 20 2007, 01:28 AM, said in A Couple of Rendering Questions:

How on earth do I get the shipyard render image on top of that bloody background gradient? I tried rendering it on a white background and using the Magic Wand in GraphicConverter but that gave me unseemly white lines all around the ship even after getting the tolerance set. Trying different colored backgrounds gave the same results. I also tried rendering it in Strata 3D CX with that image as a background, but due to the camera tilt the background tiled slightly across the screen.

Isn't there a way to render with that image as the background(not part of the 3d scene, but as the background for the render/camera) in Strata?
If not, you could add that texture to a plane, group the plane with the camera. Now you can move it around and the camera will always have the same background. This might mess up the lighting, so be careful.

You can also render with an alpha mask(what I did for Arpia 2), then apply that mask in Photoshop.

This post has been edited by Modesty Blaise : 20 June 2007 - 05:21 AM

@modesty-blaise, on Jun 20 2007, 10:18 PM, said in A Couple of Rendering Questions:

I think 60 is normal for larger ships.

144 is a lot for a single rotation but I think it's probably more an issue of download size rather than resource requirements. If the ships are really large then I say go for it 🙂

OK, looks like I've got it working. Adding a texture plane didn't even occur to me. I just made a square, rotated it until the vertical lines were entirely straight from the camera's perspective, and then scaled it until it took up exactly the camera view. Because the spotlights didn't illuminate the backdrop 100%, I added a glow of .4 as well. I knew it was going to be something simple like that! :rolleyes:

The ship's I've added are 72, 96, 96, and 200 pixels, but one of the 96s and the 200 both have very low turn rates, so I may end up with high counts on those and just 64 on the other two.

Thanks again for the help with that! I should be set for graphics now, so the only things I'll need to ask are "hey, do you think this would be cool?" Much more entertaining!

@archon, on Jun 20 2007, 09:01 PM, said in A Couple of Rendering Questions:

OK, looks like I've got it working. Adding a texture plane didn't even occur to me. I just made a square, rotated it until the vertical lines were entirely straight from the camera's perspective, and then scaled it until it took up exactly the camera view. Because the spotlights didn't illuminate the backdrop 100%, I added a glow of .4 as well. I knew it was going to be something simple like that! :rolleyes:

There probably is a simpler and better way, I just don't know Strata that well.
Good for you that it worked without lighting complications.

Looking forward to see some of your ships in game. 🙂

Heck, I didn't even know you could go up to 144 frames! I always though it was 36 or 64.

===story time===
You probably already know this, but here's a little fun fact from uncle snaily. When I used to develop plugs for ares, I tried making a ship similar to the what's teir name.. Catheran or sumpin, schooner? Dispite my memory to names, I got a ship to spin at the same speed as the schooner thingie, but it didn't look it. why? I used less frames.
So here's the bottom line (sorry if this doesn't completely relate to your situation). Using more frames will make a ship appear to turn faster, even if it's not, and vice versa. Sorry you had to read all that.

There's nothing to say how many frames you can/should have. You can have a ships with one frame and a ship with one thousand frames. (I'm sure there'll be some upper limit though.)

If Strata is anything like any other 3D program I've used, it's got material shaders called "constants." This might be a little much, but it looks professional. It also helps if your ship has any holes or black parts in it that might take more effort to effectively select with a magic wand. Render the spins for your ship, then put each picture on an individual layer in Photoshop (if you have Photoshop). Re-render your ship spinning, only this time, MAKE SURE the background is black, and apply a white constant shader to ALL of your ship. If your background isn't automatically black, make a sphere around your ship and your camera and apply a black constant material.
Use the black and white pictures as layer masks for each corresponding picture in Photoshop. Remember, white on a layer mask is 100% visible, whereas black is 0% visible, with 254 steps in between to account for the other 99 percentage points...I'll let you do the math.
If you come out with chunky little black outlines around your ships, make an action in Photoshop that selects the white in the layer mask, contracts the selection by 1-3 pixels (depends on the size of your rendered pix), then feathers the selection by 1-2 pixels, inverts the selection, and fills that black. That should shrink and smooth the layer masks slightly. Repeat this action across all the layer masks and you'll be fine. Alternately, you can do a slight gaussian blur, and then use Edit > Fade Gaussian Blur... and set it to a Multiply or Linear Burn fade mode.
From here, you can scale the document, resize all your images, and move them around on a larger canvas with a grid set up and have your spin in around half an hour.
And not to upstage anyone, but I created a Federation shipyard picture background, it's double the size you need (400x400) and extremely close to identical. See attachment.

Attached File(s)

This post has been edited by DNC2112 : 10 July 2007 - 06:04 AM

nvm

This post has been edited by Guy : 10 July 2007 - 05:22 PM

OK, so I noticed that nifty little "invert selection" button on GC just a few hours ago. Damn, if I would have noticed that, it would have been a sinch from the beginning! Render w/ an alpha channel, magic want tolerance = 1, click, invert, copy, paste.

DNC, thanks for that gradient! It's nearly identical; the only time you can see a difference is if you swap back and forth between pictures. One thing though, you may want to make that in 32k colors since Nova only supports 16bit. It makes weird-looking rainbowish stripes once in game otherwise. But I suppose I'm not telling you anything new. 😉

Anyways, here's what the buy pic for the Excalibur Class Star-Cruiser looks. Sorry I didn't give you the whole screen, but the ship dësc gives away some of the storyline. 😛

Attached File(s)

@archon, on Jul 11 2007, 02:53 PM, said in A Couple of Rendering Questions:

One thing though, you may want to make that in 32k colors since Nova only supports 16bit. It makes weird-looking rainbowish stripes once in game otherwise. But I suppose I'm not telling you anything new. 😉

Ah, that's a simple matter of checking the dither bit. In GC go Picture>Colors>Dither. Then when you paste the 24-bit pic into your plug Nova will dither it down nicely to 16-bit.

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