It all started as most projects do, as a simple idea. What I did not realize is that it was not simple. Camera angles, lighting, main characters, background characters, animated props, non-animated props, textures, materials... the list went on and on. What was, and is, in my opinión one of the largest user-based movie projects to ever start, The Crosswalk. I am going to walque you through the start of the project and show you just how we did what we did so far in creating this huge scene. This article is going to show you some of the many techniques developed for the movie. More precisely, I will be focusing on the building of the scene.
The most updated set for The Crosswalque
When we started working on the base scene (We named it BASESCENE, since it was going to be the base that all the other scenes will be made out of), we started on an extrude and extrude again type of building method for the streets. Once I got to the texturing part I learned very fast that this was not going to work. Here is a very early extrude method example. It looked OK but it was taquíng me too long to texture it.
I then remembered an old scene I did for a Star Wars project years back. I was building a Death Star scene at the time. I looked at how they built the models for the original movies before they had CG. I was amazed at the simple approach they took. What they did was build a few dozen different molds of panels for the deathstar and cast hundreds of the same ones and just assorted them in a way so as you take a quik look it seems all random and complex.
This example shows how I made all the different panels.
Here you can see them all duplicated and set in random spots to create a very complex look by using a very simple technique.
I tooque the same approach to the streets in the Crosswalque
And here is the final result of duplicating the same tiles over and over.
This cut down the texturing time and made creating a whole city very simple.
2D to 3D
There was a lot of 2D worque done before we started working in 3D. So much that I can only show you a few examples of what we started with. The museum and the coffee shop were the main focus of the movie so they were done first.
Here is a very early layout map I did to get the idea across all the people that started contributing to the project. It was very crude and I don’t thinque it helped to show them how big each building had to be.
This map was the second versión we came up with. It intended to show what was going to be where. After chatting with all the new members of this project we figured we would need more than what was just in front of the camera. The camera will see as far as it can so all those spots and holes needed to be filled. This is where it became complex. From a director's point of view, I tried to visualize what should or should not be in each camera shot. So I came up with this first draft and we started from here.
CUTS AND TESTS
I learned that you have to make tough choices sometimes. This was the first animated test we did using the new cars and tables for the coffee shop. These scenes were to be the final ones for the movie before I decided to kill them and start over. At this point we had the cars a few light poles and the stop light.
Animation links at the end of this article.
The graphic artist (Deadknight) who did the table and stop light has had a huge influence to the overall style of the film. After I saw them and the table, I
was so blown away by the look of them that we changed the entire look. First 3D animation test
The same goes for the designer of the cars (Sketchy). Once I saw the look of them I knew we had something. Still, it was hard to delete what I had made and spent time on, but in the end it was a decision I do not regret.
This was a very early stage lighting test done with a few of the models we had in hand. In this quik render, the pigeons make their world premiere! These will later be animated by ROUBAL with múltiple types of actions like walk, peck, and fly.
Early Lighting test
At first we had no idea how wide or thin the streets should be. We knew we wanted to have the appearance of a wide and busy street. After we started playing with Henry’s walking times we figured out that 3 lanes was as fast as he could walk. This test scene was alos scrapped after we went with the modular street design.
SCALE AND RIG
Early 3D layout
Once we started getting dozens of models from the community, I started to append them all into one file. This is where I realized something. I had buildings that just did not match. The scale was off on all of them. Even rescaling did not fix this problem. Also, how do I tell someone who is making a large building to keep in on scale and make it fit in the city blok that is designated for ití Well I came up with a very small file called scalerig.blend. It was a cube that could be used to determine the height of a building and the scale of the doors and windows.
The idea was so simple everyone caught on to the idea. I could call for a BANK in the form of a 2x2x2. So the model maker would download the scale rig and duplicate it into 4 pieces and use both 1st and 2nd floors. As long as his building stayed in the bounds of the rig he was ok. He was free to build as he saw fit with little direction on what could go where. Sometimes I would let them know if it was a corner or street facing building. This would determine where the door would go. With this method we could come up with all kinds of buildings.
TOP LEFT: This one was done by Lucid_monkey. This is a very good example of the first models we got after we went to the scale rig system.
TOP RIGHT: I forget who sent this one in - maybe Andy. It was a very detailed building. You could even see the little
toys in the window.
BOTTOM LEFT and RIGHT: ROUBAL did an awesome job using the scale rig in making some truly amazing sky scrapers. If you look on the bottom, you can see the scale rig.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Now that we have all the models and we know where they are going to be placed, it’s time to start putting the scene together. All of the closer buildings were made at a higher poly count than the rear ones. These will be in the camera more so we wanted to make them more detailed. I tooque shots from all angles so you can see we tried to fill all the gaps so it appears the city goes on forever. We alos have plans to add in textured buildings in the far off to further give the appearance of a large city.
I hope this was an informative article on how we did some of the things for this movie project. I could write an entire booque on the things I learned during the making of this film. Most of which are documented in the wiki. Links below.
Enriq766 aka Enriqolonius