Star Wars space battle scene in Hitfilm?

I was wondering if there is a way to make a huge space battle scene in Hitfilm as seen in Star Wars. With x-wings and TIE fighters chasing each other around, lasers flying everywhere, explosions, etc.

I know you can use 3D models as textures in a particle simulator to make a fleet, but can you use this to make ships flying in different directions, chasing, turning etc?

Also, what are the best free x-wing and tie fighter 3d models for Hitfilm?

 

Comments

  • AxelWilkinson
    AxelWilkinson Posts: 5,252 Staff

    For a space battle, you wouldn't use the ships as particle textures most of the time, you would animate each one, so you have full control over where it each individual ship is going.

  • RaghavBhat
    RaghavBhat Posts: 28
    edited December 2016

    If you want some 3d models for star wars, there are some very good ones on video copilot. the link is below.

    http://www.videocopilot.net/blog/2016...

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,065 Ambassador
    edited December 2016

    Let me say this about that.

    This particular (HF4P)  animation is using a single particle simulation layer layer to drive the movement and weapons fire of an entire Cylon fleet. 

    This animation (HF3P) is using the particle sim to generate the fighters, their thrusters and weapons fire, the explosions, and that ring around the shattered moon. 

    And this animation (HF3P)  is using the particle sim to generate the ships, asteroids and weapons fire. (This one is actually my initial test to develop the techniques used in the other two.) 

    And it's more-or-less the same techniques Simon uses in this tutorial (but I beat him to it by over a year ;-) ). 

    @AxelWilkinson is generally correct. For a large battle, one would want to hand-animate the "featured/hero" ships in the shots, but the particle sim can certainly be used to fill in mid/background with more ships.

    Considerations: note how Simon animated the wings of the X-Wings, and changes propagate through all the particle clones. This is one of the four things to understand for attempting to make a particle battle: you can animate one space ship and its clones follow the action. You can even rig a ship up to points, animate the points, and each clone will follow the original. For the Cylon shot one ship was animated to fly forward, flip, and dive. 

    The second key thing is getting variation in the fleet so everything doesn't happen in exact sync. You have two ways to do this: first by letting the fleet take a couple of seconds to spawn. Offset in spawn time offsets the action. Second, when you set up a model as a particle source you'll see controls for start frame and frame range. Yes, this effects timing. For the Cylon shot I keyframed the "Start Frame." The fleet spawns over two seconds, but the Start Frame is keyed from five seconds in to frame zero. The original ship was animated to fly forward for ten seconds before flipping. By keyframing the Start Frame in the particle sim the Cylons are spaced so some start flipping about five seconds into the shot, some flipping fifteen seconds into the shot. However, each individual ship is repeating the same action. The spawn offset adds variety. 

    Third: the Lifetime panel and particle physics can add some variation to movement. For the Cylon fleet, particles have a velocity of about 25 in the direction of initial flight (forward on Z-axis) . Movement variation was set to 25 as well. The Lifetime panel was used to animate Z rotation a degree or two. By making the life of the particles longer than the shot and setting some lifetime variation the little bit of Z-wobble happens at different speeds for each particle for some more variation. Be aware that in this animation that once the ships start diving they are off axis and the Z-wobble started pulling particles "out of position." This is why some of the diving Cylons seem to be coming at different angles and directions. 

    Fourth: weapons fire. For the Cylon shot weapons fire is actually 3D models. The Cylon model was duplicated and its materials set to all black. A 3D cylinder was imported and its material set to all white. The cylinders were loaded into the same model layer as the black Cylon and positioned inside it. The cylinders were animated to move forward a few thousand units, then snap back inside the Cylon. Repeat. This rig was then parented to the original Cylon so everything synched up. The particle layer creating the cylon was duplicated, the particle source changed to the weapons layer, and the particle blend mode set to ADD. This removes the black fighter leaving only white lasers--add some glows to taste.

    Another way for weapons is layered emitters. For Strike Wing and the Klingon shot the emitters for the ships was duplicated and changed to a cone emitter, radius 0, with trajectory adjusted to fire "forward." The particle type changed (the photon torpedos are video textures, the Strike Wing missles are mobile emitters being pulled by forces to hit their target). The weapons emitter in offset in space so weapons spawn at the "cannon" of the ships. I did this by centering a ship in 3D space, parenting a point to it, then moving the point into position so I could copy the offest values.   The weapons emitter is offset in time but has the same seed and spawn time as for the ships. This means the weapons emitter spawns one weapons particle for each ship, then shuts off. Additional volleys would require additional emitters. 

    Now... These are fairly complex setups, but you can use the particle sim to generate some complex fleet actions, but here's the downside... Model particles use a fair amount of overhead. Ofsetting the start times of the original animation adds more overhead. Strike Wing took over 24 hours to render on my old i7-2760qm, Nvidia GTX580m(2GB) with 16 GB RAM. The Cylon fleet took over 12 hours to render on an i7-6700HQ, Nvidia 980m (8GB) with 64 GB RAM. Complex actions like this make your computer work for it!

    Last thing to cover. Weapons impacts. In Strike Wing the missles are TWO layers of emitters--the first rig is a series of mobile emitter dropping smoke trail particles. The second rig is a duplicate of the first, but fires mobile emitters at size 0 set to activate on Death. These emitters spawn an explosion video. A deflector plane was set up at the target location and set to kill mobile emitters. When the "smoke trail" mobile emitters hit it, they die and stop spawning smoke. When the "explosion" mobile emitters hit it, they die and spawn their explosions. Here's a couple more examples of this behavior. 

    In the Dalek shot (HFP3), two emitters are used for each Dalek beam. The first is firing mobile emitters of the beam texture, the second fires size zero mobile emitters set to size zero, spawning the "shield hit" animation on death. Deflector planes surrounding the TARDIS kill mobile emitters. This stops the beams and triggers shield impacts.

    For the Star Trek shot (HF2U)  it's different. The mobile emitters have the photon texture, but are set to spawn shield hit animations on death. Again, a deflector plane kills mobile emitters. What I always liked in this shot is that I didn't intend for half the Federation photons to miss! The particle physics just worked out that way, and it was cooler than my initial plan.

    Anyways long post, lots to think about here. Hitfilm's particle sim is easily its most advanced feature, but the complexity comes with a hefty learning curve. Combining these notes with Simon's tutorial should get you started, but, as always, toss more questions here. 

    To procedurally have ships shooting other ships while moving is an order of complexity beyond anything here. Probably requiring a few more emitters and possibly needing to drag ships A and B into the same model layer to do the base animation. You'll need multiple animated model layer sources (A kills B,  B kills A,  A and B miss each other). Probably better to use particles for ships that don't hit each other, while hand-animating the kill-shots.

    Fortunately its procedual 3D, so once you have a fleet set up once you can reuse it. Change up the seeds or numbers of particles spawned, or emitter size/shape and you can get different looks from your initial animation settings. 

  • ZachAlan
    ZachAlan Posts: 452 Enthusiast

    Okay thanks for all the tips guys...

    AxelWilkinson I kind of figured some manual animation was required....

    RaghavBhat I already knew of the Video Co-pilot models, but some of them don't work in Hitfilm as there isn't the proper texture groups. Does anyone know how to fix that or have a fixed version of the models?

    @Triem23 these are some good tips! I will try it sometime soon and see how it goes... 

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,065 Ambassador

    Right. The VCP models, you should see a download for "JPEG Maps (textures?)" You'll need those. You might want to save smaller versions of the textures since they are all 4096x4096.

    For the X-wing you'll need to use either the Flip Normals or Unify Normals features in the advanced tab of the model import dialog. 

    Having tried every free TIE Fighter I could find, my favorite is this one:  http://scifi3d.com/details.asp?intGenreID=10&intCatID=8&key=161

    Once you dial in the textures it looks fantastic (my little Merry VFX-MAS animation is using this TIE and the VCP X-wing*), and the same site has a TIE Interceptor by the same modeller that's also fantastic. 

    *The VCP X-wing doesn't have an R2 unit plugged in. I downsized the textures to 1024x1024, loaded up the VCP R2-D2, put him in the same model layer as the X-Wing and slotted him into position. 

  • ZachAlan
    ZachAlan Posts: 452 Enthusiast

    @Triem23

    For the TIE, which format did you download? The 3DS, MAX, or LW?

    Also, what did you use to downsize the textures? 

    Thanks!

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,065 Ambassador
    edited December 2016

    I don't remember which format I used, so I'll tell you next time I am on my PC. Probably the 3DS. EDIT: Yup, it's the 3DS.

    To resize textures, I used Photoshop. GIMP (free and fantastic), PDHowler (cheap at twice the price) or any photo editor should work, but you're in HF Pro, so you can always just use Hitfilm! Create a Composite Shot of the desired size, load in the texture and scale it down! Going to 2048x2048 or 1024x1024 are easy 50% or 25% ratios. Then  the Export Frame to save out the new texture. 

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,081 Enthusiast

    You should be able to just change the project setting for the max 3D model texture size to use something smaller/faster. Hitfilm should resize oversize textures dynamically/automatically to conform to that max. Nice thing about this is that you can change the value at will.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,065 Ambassador

    @NormanPCN true, but my anal retentive mind would rather prep a scaled version. Why add a processor cycle or two on a real-time scale?

    Although using Hitfilm scaling  does have the advantage of changes on the fly--using a low res texture to animate, high res texture to render. 

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,081 Enthusiast

    Speaking of on the fly, just changing the viewer to Half will have Hitfilm use automagically use smaller dimension textures to improve performance.

    I only wish we could enable AA at half viewer res. I know AA is contrary to performance but half res is pretty small and AA should be fast on that lower res scale. Video media does fine at half res but models can get pretty jaggy at half res of 1080.

    I doubt this texture size conformance is done per frame rendered, but rather once on initialization.

  • ZachAlan
    ZachAlan Posts: 452 Enthusiast

    @Triem23

    Could you please list/explain the materials properties of the TIE Fighter?  The diffuse, specular, ambient, emissive, colors etc. Also what kind of lighting setup do you recommend?

    Thanks!