3D Models in a Space Scene (Star Wars)

I'm hoping to sometime do a Star Wars fan film, and of course, what would a Star Wars film be without spaceships?

I'm wondering if anyone has any tips about creating space scenes in Hitfilm Pro. There are several tutorials on stars, planets, and nebulae, but I'm wondering more about lighting, 3D model materials, and grading.

I'm using the TIE Fighter and X-Wing from Video Co-Pilot. How can I achieve a realistic, Star Wars - style look, that looks almost as if it were from the movies?

I know it's probably a complicated request but any help is greatly appreciated as always!



  • GrayMotion
    GrayMotion Posts: 1,660 Enthusiast
    edited November 2017

    Sounds easier than it is but...

    First off cook-torrance is whats going to take your model from the plastic look to nice shinny metals.

    There is a lot to it...but once you finger it out you be smiling. :-)

    These are for previous version but all are relevant. I know there is more but check these (if you haven't) to start.





  • Stargazer54
    Stargazer54 Posts: 3,977 Ambassador

    Make sure your model and textures are contained in the same folder.  Then import.

    My suggestion is to start with a simple object like a single object.  Get the feel for adding lights and adjusting the camera.

    Parenting your object to a point and then moving the point to position your object will result in better control for scale and positioning. 

    But again, start with something simple and then build from there.

  • DataDesign
    DataDesign Posts: 684 Enthusiast
    edited November 2017

    See the latest tutorial from HitFilm Sensei for a look at setting up an X-wing fighter. I have only watched the first half so far. It looks good.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,415 Power User

    Still don't have internet bandwidth for YouTube, but there is a Hitfilm 4 tutorial series setting up a Star Wars shot. There are some interesting tips in one on setting up planets and stars, and on setting up the particle sim to make an entire squadron.

    Doesn't help now, but, eventually, once I get past Essential Hitfilm, I'll have a masterclass on setting up complex space battles in the particle sim where you'll be able to set up an entire fleet, including thrusters, weapons fire and explosions. Of course the new Behaviors are very useful for this kind of thing. 

  • ZachAlan
    ZachAlan Posts: 450 Enthusiast

    Thanks you everyone for the responses. I have been learning a lot about the cook-torrance shading recently and generally know how to use it now.

    What I'm wondering is what kinds of lighting setups and materials work well for realistic space shots? When compositing models into live action footage, there is a visual reference for where the light is coming from, what the shadows look like, colors, etc.

    The tutorial for setting up the X-Wing was very helpful and I figured out how to use the new behaviors to simplify the wing opening process.

    @Triem23 I'm definitely looking forward to that series!


  • GrayMotion
    GrayMotion Posts: 1,660 Enthusiast
    edited November 2017

    Not understanding your live footage reference but "realistic" space lighting I can help with a bit.

    Not sure this is really "realistic" as I've never actually been in space but as close as I could get based on a dark images of the ISS I've referenced......in these last few shots of my little ISS left overs. (See last 4 or five shots.. mark 0:53)

    I used 3 lights. Point lights...Key light in front (70 %) , below a blue fill light (25%) to reflect the planet colors and an ambient light at 9%. Ambient color in the model is almost black...(very very dark "gray" really) The key light was about  900-1000 units away from the model. The fill light was below/back about 600-800 units

    As always lighting is subjective...what looks good to me might look terrible to you. 

    (sorry for double sharing for those who have seen this already)


  • tddavis
    tddavis Posts: 5,256 Expert
    edited November 2017

    @GrayMotion I'm not certain, but I thought he was meaning compositing like an actor into a cockpit or suit helmet and making it have the same overall contrast.  Something that SyFy originals get wrong 99.999999999999% of the time.   The model there always looks washed out to me.  I could have misunderstood completely though. 

    @ZachAlan_Productions from a purely physics standpoint shadows in space will be hard, sharp-defined due to the absence of atmosphere if I'm not mistaken here too.  You have to fix in your mind where your light sources are coming from i.e. sun, planets, moon and other ships and adjust accordingly.  For instance, the ISS in the above video is getting lots of light from being near the planet so it's pretty evenly lit at the moment.  Out away from Earth, on it's way to Mars (for instance) the side toward the sun would be all lit but there would be heavy shadows on the other side (if not completely black.)  Now, I know this gets cheated a lot in motion pictures to spice up the imagery, so it doesn't have to be really true-to-life.  Just tell your story and make it look how you think it looks great with a few of the rules in mind as you go would be the only thing I can suggest. To paraphrase GrayMotion above, no one watching will have been in space to say it's wrong.

  • GrayMotion
    GrayMotion Posts: 1,660 Enthusiast
    edited November 2017

    Ah ok, my bad........ +1 @ttdavis

  • ZachAlan
    ZachAlan Posts: 450 Enthusiast

    @tddavis @GrayMotion

    Thank you, I'll keep these in mind. Movies do tend to cheat this stuff quite a bit...

    When  I was referring to compositing live action I meant that I have done some projects where I have composited a 3D model into a scene with a video background, like the Dalek, BB-8, or AT-AT you may have seen me do.

    In those scenarios the video background footage helped me match the model to the scene. For example, I could see the angle of the shadows in the scene and match the shadows coming from the 3D model.

    I wasn't sure what kind of lighting, shadows, etc should be present in space so thank you for clarifying that. :)

  • GrayMotion
    GrayMotion Posts: 1,660 Enthusiast
    edited November 2017

    Man...you want real space shots on a "dumbed down" camera.


    payload camera:


    Had to throw the dumbed down part in there because the images "should be" much clearer consider its a million dollar camera :-)

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,415 Power User

    Unless there is a planet nearby, "realistic" space lighting is one Directional Light for the sun at about 92% intensity , and an Ambient light of white at, maybe, 8% intensity. ;)

    Space lighting in movies is never realistic. It's plausible and actually is lit like anything else. Think about how we discussed lighting on your AT-AT test. Key, fill/rim, bounce, ambient.

    Key is your sun. Fill/rim would be any nebula, bounce would be from your planet, and ambient is if you DON'T want shadows falling to pure black. @GrayMotion gives a good example with his shot. 

  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Posts: 2,466 Enthusiast

     Dumbed down million dollar camera? I think they call that a GoPro these days..........


  • GrayMotion
    GrayMotion Posts: 1,660 Enthusiast

    Copy...good burn! Awesome dude +1 that!

  • BobDiMarzio
    BobDiMarzio Posts: 624 Just Starting Out

    It's been a pet peeve of mine, that in most of the current space movies, the helmets have those light tubes inside the helmets so the audience can see the actor(s) emote.  We all know that lights in the helmets,  directly shining in the person's eyes, and reflecting off the inside of the visor will insure that the person will not able to see anything.     

  • The light should be a composite of what's in the scene.  Orange planet to the left? Set up an orange light on the left.  Size and intensity according to the "brightness" of the planet. 

    Sun on the right.  do the same with a light for the sun.  Then additional lights for ambient and effectsfrom the other ships in the scene, such as a laser flare near the hull.  Green flare, green light, low intensity and scale, heavy blurring.

    Does Hitfilm have light falloff?  If so, set that so it falls off towards the end of the object opposite from the main light source in the scene.

  • FilmSensei
    FilmSensei Posts: 3,209 Expert

    HitFilm does have Light Falloff. Twirl open the Light Properties and adjust from there. The default is set to None.