Graymotion's Production Zone



  • Another former Amiga owner here, though my high school budget back in the day only got me an Amiga 500.  Never got to mess with 3D at home because of that, so I leaned toward music production.  After HS I got into a video production course at the local community college, where I got my hands on a Toaster system and taught myself how to use Lightwave.  I won't 'jack this thread any further, but in a nutshell it's been a roller-coaster ride of animation software and platforms since then.

  • I've been working on my Dropship adventure and tweaked a little bit on the landing. My crazy workflow scares me to nail the touchdown (yet). Shadows, deflectors , dust..etc. all being ejected properly in relation to the thrust port(s) angle of attack to ground level. I dropped the mountain models and just worked with 360 viewer for the scene. (In the back of my mind I'm thinking I need to learn a bit of matte painting skills.) 

    Pick me apart please...ton of stuff I've missed for overall scene symbiotic's and need a critic overall.....and would someone please tell me where, how, who, what is a person who makes soundfx called. Can I use Garage band to make sound fx,? Where you buy good ones for mechanical and engine /thrust/rocket sounds?? SFX suck!

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    We'll talk audio for now, and Ill talk the visuals later. 

    First, an artist creating sound effects is a "sound designer" or "audio designer."

    GarageBand is more a DAW--designed to mix and edit multiple audio tracks--than an audio editor, where one is mangling single sounds. GarageBand is still useful as one can layer, pan and mix elements together and apply audio effects/filters. 

    A dedicated sound editor should have more powerful effects/filters options. Audacity is a good and free choice.

    Don't overlook Hitfilm. It's got a limited effects selection, but the Doppler Shift effect is gold. 

    To locate sound effects in 2018 you have tons of options ranging from YouTube (requires a downloader) through tons of sound effects sites offering free downloads through commercial libraries costing hundreds to thousands of dollars. You can also browse Amazon for sound fx cd's. That said the golden age of the SFX CD is done. CD's I got for a buck at Tower Records in the 90's going for over $10 on Amazon...

    With GarageBand, Audacity and a microphone (even a phone!) you can create your own. As an example, take a mic and hold it next to the body of a simple Dustbuster. Turn it on. Once the motor has powered up, slide the mic down and stick it in the suction tip. Let that go for a bit, then power down. Start a new recording, but this time touch the surface of the Dustbuster with the mic. Power it up, run for a while, power down. Take these into Audacity and drop them by two octaves (let the duration stretch). Layer both sounds in Hitfilm or GarageBand. You will have a nasty, rumbling engine sound and a harsh, low thruster woosh.

    This type of thing is how many classic sounds are made. In Star Wars the engine of a Star Destroyer is a slowed recording of the air conditioner at the hotel Ben Burrtt was at when he went to record an air show. The blasters are based off hitting a high tension wire with a hammer. Star Trek? The classic Enterprise door is a dry-fired torpedo tube reversed and slowed. A surprising amount of spaceships and explosions started off by blowing into a mic!

    Don't overlook the power of mangling audio with simple pitch shifting and reversing before adding effects. 


     Trivia: back around 1999-2001 I did several sound libraries for Dinamation, a company that built anamatronic dinosaurs for museums and theme parks. When Dinamation went under those libraries got split between the company that  took over the assets (Dino-Mae, later Dinomation) and Universal. Now, Dinamation had been contracted to do some work on the Jurassic Park rides at Universal Studios and Jurassic Park 3. Anyways, where I'm going with this is the Spinosaurus in JP3 is using my Spinosaurus elements for Dinamation after another round of editing. Stupid work-for-hire contracts! But you'll be amused to know a primary element of the Spinosaurus growls is me with a cold, snorting back my own nasal snot then nearly retching because a booger bounced off the back of my throat and hit my uvula. True story! 

    Anyways, here's a couple of sites to start you off. Soniss makes high-quality commercial sounds and gives away monthly freebies


  • I think Mike has you covered on the SFX.  My visual comments would be.  Wow!  Looks awesome.

    Just maybe an editing note: You start out with what appears to be an interior hanger deck view, cut to an exterior shot of the flyby that appears at the end to be back in the hanger deck again?  Maybe the stuff on the left is a satellite as part of the exterior?  In any case, it is visually confusing.

    I want to see that baby land!!!!  Very nice on the thrusters and heat displacement.  Maybe kick up a little more dust?  And soften the shadow on the roadway just a tad.  The sun angle for the shadow looks to be directly overhead, too.  Is that where it is in the background plate?   Maybe shift the shadow to the side slightly?   

  • edited February 1


    I'm a noobie that only got into video compositing several years ago.   for me it's been a long journey and often my stuff  does not look they way I want and I blame myself when  more than not the ingredients are sometimes responsible. 

    For me the spacecraft is well lit, and the texture resolution is high enough that the hero shot fly by looks great.  The camera of the fly by is also good.

    Areas that drew me out of the illusion  were three things:

    1) The ship with the launch bay bay would have sold me more if there were emission light in the ceiling of the launch lights pared with hanger bay lighting on the launch ship.  Lighting between the outside and inside were too similar

    2) The view of the exterior of the ship that you are launching from, apparently suffers from a low res texture , looking to the right outside of the launch bay.   Maybe darken it to avoid having the eyes being drawn to it.

    3) The Still plate of the desert road  where the ship lands is seriously low res with harsh balanced midday light.   As the eye wanders it feels wrong.  

    If you had planned to correct these things in the future, my apologies. 

    Also, If the more experienced folks on this forum thinks that my observations  are incorrect, please note it since I am still learning.


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    At 2:25 in this video is Simon Jones' take on landing the same ship model (it was easier for me to find this compilation than the HF4P launch video).

    Not to discourage, Greg, just to show you can totally get the look you're after--and with Pro 2017 or later, more easily than what Simon had with HF4P. 

    So, just looking at the landing... 

    How have you set up your environment? You said you'd cut 3D model of mountains. Is this all a single environment wrap? You'll need a large white plane to be your ground (put a grid on it to align with the apparent ground, then turn off the grid). 

    Material properties for the plane should be set to NOT illuminated but with Receive Shadows and both Ambient Occlusion options on. Set its blend to Multiply. Now the plane should catch your shadow. This same plane is also going to be your particle deflector. 

    Now you'll need to make certain you have points rigged at the engine nozzles of the Dropship. This Simon Jones tutorial as some useful techniques to review. This was Hitfilm 2, so you have more options. Link emitters to the engine points. Both emitters in one layer.  Pay attention to the particle/set matte portion. Otherwise instead of Displacement you could use the particles to choke Heat Distortion. Make sure you assign the shadow catcher layer as a deflector and check "Infinite Plane." In movement properties turn down bounce and friction. Air displacement doesn't bounce much and tends to "slide" along a surface. You can use the Lifetime controls to add a deceleration curve to particle speed. This will simulate air resistance. Take some time with this, because you're going to reuse this sim again after you've finished the distortion matte.

    For dust you'll need another layer for a particle sim. You can start with a duplicate of your above sim. Raise the bounce a bit, use the Lifetime panel to get the particles to start transparent then fade in--you want the fade to happen after the particles hit the deflector and start to bounce. Change the texture to your favorite cloud and sample a few colors from your bg image. Set up a Random Gradient in the Lifetime panel for these dirt colors. Also in Lifetime have the scale increase as the particles fade out. This should help simulate the dust dispersion. 

    Add another particle emitter (same layer as your existing dust). This is a circle emitter with a cone trajectory pointing up from the ground. I'd probably use one roughly surrounding the ship, but, if you want to be really precise you'll want two--one under each engine. Set the circle emitters to Boundary, so everything spawns at the edge. You'll want a wide cone, throwing more sideways than up. Try a radius of 150 to start. Again you want particles to fade in, increase scale and fade out, slowing as they fade. 

    Once these are done, consider duplicates of the circle emitter. Change trajectory to circle so particles go straight out at ground level. 

    So, now you have four basic particle systems--a matte for distortion, dust taking bounce/thrust from the engines, a cone kicking dust up into the air, and more dust skidding at ground level. Make certain to change the seeds for each emitter for variety, and probably some rotation in Movement variation. 

    Now... Consider adding more circle emitters. These will be small rocks kicked up. Duplicate a cone emitter, drop the particles per second and use either a concrete/stone texture, or import a 3D rock model. You'll need to add a force for gravity and turn gravity strength down to, say 5%. Turn up bounce and friction for the rocks, so they bounce a couple of times then stop. 

    Once you add the Force you'll need to turn off "Affected by Forces" in your dust emitters. 

    Finally, look in Layer Properties for your model. Set Depth Layer to the dust particle layer. For dust, set Depth Layer to the ship. This should let you keep both layers in 2D compositing with correct occlusion letting you add effects to the ship. 


  • Nothing to add aside from the awesome tips offered above.  It's looking really nice so far!

  • Awesome response folks!  I really do appreciate the look..

    First the sound...I have a lot to learn for sure.  I'm not even going to make any comments at this time about the AWESOME juice @Treim23 dropped other than to say I'll be firing up all my applications (SonicFire Pro, Audacity) and give SFX a whirl...and Amazon will get my 10 bucks :-) More on this later.

    @Stargazer54 -  you know how you get that tunnel vision and you only see one thing only to realize later you missed everything else. Thats me in this case. I watched this after I uploaded and ask myself, where the drop ship was coming from and what did it just pass? Trust me I have the scene in my head now!?!?!???? (Carrier needs to be in the first shot, second shot needs to be a LEO approach passing a satellite.) I be working that.

    @BobDiMarzio - I to am a noobie. You should have seen my attempts from a few years ago...terrible! I mainly just mess around with video for the challenge and satisfaction of actually making something! ........1)The panorama I used is of serious low quality as you pointed out. That needs to go away......  2) Yep..putting the camera inside the hangers wasn't the greatest move. The textures inside just don't match up to whats outside. I'm thinking of putting a drop ship on one side of the bay and light the ceiling lights as you suggested. Maybe cover up some of the low texture quality.

    Now - the landing. I'm still missing the whole concept of action shots I'm sure - as things still look to crisp to me. With that said  I took the shadows suggestions and the particle systems ideas  that Mike suggested to heart and went back and worked everything. BTW - I had forgotten about Simons tut on jet engine trust and displacement.  Awesome juice there too! ( I used that technique with my Flat side flame out I did a few years ago).

    On a side note: The multiple particle simulators really played havoc on my GTX 1070. I have 8-9 instance of the project backed up due to OPEN GL crashes/recovers. That's a first for me.??? I'd like to send one of the files to support ....but almost 3 gig! The geometry for the models must be stored in the project file???

    Anywhooo.. far from finished but this is what I got with the landing...and THANK YOU all for the assitance. 

  • Stargazer54Stargazer54 Moderator
    edited February 6

    @GrayMotion ;  Man you got that sucker looking pretty tasty now!  Subtle camera shake, a little dust and distortion.  (I would personally want to soften the shadow a little more but that's just me.)

    Very nice!!!!

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