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Virtual Star Wars Set?

Posted: Wed, 17th Feb 2010, 11:33pm

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pinkyandthesheep

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Okay...

Since 7th grade, my cousin and I have been trying to make Star Wars films. They have been so completely amateurish, and have had no effects. Nothing but me, him, toy guns/lightsabers, and a camera. We honestly used to believe it was impossible to EVER have lightsaber effects and clone effects, and now it seems so easy.
One thing I have really wanted to do, was use some kind of outer space, and scifi set, like the one in the 'SciFi Movie Kit' promo movie for this website.
I've also wanted to have a Star Wars space ship and placed my self inside of it and make the illusion of me flying of space, or something like that.
The problem is, I have NO idea how to come about these, at all.
Could someone point me in the right direction.
I know this isn't entirely clear, and I don't really have any specific design that I would like for a set, but I just really would like to know how, and how difficult it may be.
Thank's so much if you can help..
[EDIT] The short film on the site I was talking about is called 'Assault on Igneos'
Posted: Thu, 18th Feb 2010, 12:27am

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Axeman

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Rating: +1

Firstly, I assume you are thinking of using digital sets, not actually constructing a sci-fi set to shoot on? If you want tips on actually building a set, then the answer I am about to give is totally irrelevant.

For digital sets, there are essentially two ways they can be handled. First, you could use images of the set or location you want, film your actors on greenscreen and composite them over the top. Second, you could use a 3D model of the set in some proper 3D software, and composite your greenscreened actors into the 3D environment. The first method is vastly simpler, though the results won't always be as good.

Even when working with 2D renders of the sets, you will need a source for these images. This could be a 3D application, from which you render images or video clips to be composited later with your actors. They could be digital matte paintings, built in Photoshop or GIMP, either from scratch or by piecing together elements of other pictures to create a new environment, which is a bit easier.

To put yourself into a spaceship, you will need to film yourself on greenscreen, so you can be composited in. Ideally, you build the cockpit, sit in it, and film the ship and you at the same time, with a greenscreen background, and then just add in the space elements via the greenscreen key. Alternately, you could use digital renders of the ship, and layer yourself in the composite so you appear to be inside the ship.

There are a number of places online where you can access free models of various ships and sets and so forth. You will still need a 3D application to make use of these, and any 3D app comes with a significant learning curve. So expect to have several months of learning before you can effectively make basic use of 3D models.

www.scifi3d.com (this is a partner site to theforce.net)
www.archive3d.net
www.turbosquid.com

Hopefully this points you in the right direction, and gives you an idea of the basic processes involved. If so, ask more specific questions regarding any parts you want to know more about.
Posted: Thu, 18th Feb 2010, 1:16am

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pinkyandthesheep

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That was a perfect explanation of what I was looking for!
Thanks so much.
Posted: Thu, 18th Feb 2010, 5:19am

Post 4 of 7

pinkyandthesheep

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I'm not entirely sure what a 3D application is, nor do I know how to use one.
I downloaded one called Blender, and started watching tutorials, but got very confused.
The main thing I don't understand is, what is it used for?
There is just so much that goes into it, that I get lost as to why I'm learning how to use this.
I don't know if that makes sense.
What I really would like, is how I can use a 3D software for my movies. Another thing I was wondering, I don't quite understand what GIMP is used for, and how I can incorporate the products of that into my movies.
If you can help me understand all of these new, and confusing things, that would be INCREDIBLY helpful. I really do want to learn.
Thanks.
Posted: Thu, 18th Feb 2010, 6:35pm

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Frederick

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As Axeman was explaining, the digital set involves greenscreen(or blue) footage of your actors then composited over a virtual set (be it 2D or 3D). A 2D set would be your basic still photo (jpg or whatever) or a 2D video clip you shot earlier of a backround you like. To answer your question about how you would use the 3D software for your films involves quite a bit of instruction. To put it simply: you would use Blender to design a 3D model of your set and then render that to a still image (for easy static shots) or a more complicated video clip if you need motion (or moving 3D elements in the background). This is in no way the same as doing 3D like in Avatar. The render will then become your background that you will composite over using Visionlab or Compositelab. The end result is a 2D still or video clip with your actors seemingly located at your virtual set.
This is not a forum for Blender and I recommend going to the Blender tutorials to get started with that software. Lastly, GIMP is a 2D graphics software that is functionally similar to Photoshop. You can take various 2D elements like drawings, photos, etc. and then layer them together to get a final image you could use for a background. I saw someone on the forums here post a nifty bit about using Photoshop and the mirror tools to create some rather inventive space sets. I would suggest this method first as it involves less time to learn the software and would yield quick improvements in your movies with your friends. Try taking some photos of organic and mechanical things about you that seem interesting. Import them into GIMP or Photoshop and then cut and arrange them to make something interesting. I would even try cutting interesting photos of buildings from magazines and such and scanning them in. Cut them and arrange them with the software. I bet you can come up with something pretty cool! Of course, when you are done with the background you could use one of the FX Home products to grade your final composite and that would help hide any imperfections in your GIMP backgrounds.

Wow-I guess I'm kinda long winded. I just think that you can come up with something incredible if you just use the things already available around you.
Posted: Thu, 18th Feb 2010, 9:35pm

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Axeman

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3D software is used to create a model on the computer which can be turned in any direction, and you can see all sides of it. As opposed to an image on a piece of paper, which is flat and 2D (height and width). 3D is what is used to animate the effects you see in movies every day, such as the robots in Transformers, Gollum in Lord of the Rings, and everything in any Pixar film. It is also used in more subtle ways, such as to extend large sets in films, where you may not notice that the sets are digital. Often, sets will be entirely digital as well, such as in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, where the entire film was shot on greenscreen, and all of the sets and backdrops were digital.

There is no way to avoid very complex and confusing when working with 3D. If you are on Windows, I'd recommend looking at a program called Anim8or, which is one of the simplest 3D apps I'm familiar with, and has a fair amount of learning resources available. Plus its free.

GIMP is an image editor, which can be used to edit photographs in an infinite variety of ways. This tutorial illustrates how a 2D image editor such as GIMP could be used to create a background, a technique called Digital Matte Painting. Traditionally, backgrounds like this would have been painted by hand on a large canvas. Doing them digitally is much easier for most small-budget or no-budget filmmakers. Photoshop is the de facto standard for image editing, but GIMP is a similar program, very powerful, but it is free, whereas Photoshop is not.

This thread and this thread from the forums also discuss digital matte paintings.
Posted: Thu, 18th Feb 2010, 11:55pm

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pinkyandthesheep

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Thanks, to both of you guys.
It helped me understand it ALOT better.