A Star Wars dogfight. (Everything is UP In The Air... hahaha)

Tie-fighter pursuit


This10 second clip took nearly 3 days to do... I can see why Post production in big Hollywood productions takes so long and by armies of people!!!





  • Everything done inside of Hitfilm, except for the models naturally.  but even the explosions (except the last one which was generated) were from the free Christmas download pack in December.  Thanks Hitfilm you guys are a real "blast" haha

  •  I like it. I like the exhaust of the X-wing.

    You might try changing the frame rate of the stock media explosions. Speed them up a bit. 

  • That is amazing! Might suggest changing the camera keyframe from linear to curve Bezier and applying some motion blur. Really impressive though.

  • I don't think Hitfilm 3 has Bezier curves, I wish it did.  I tried softening the cameras moves by smoothing it on the key frames, but it's not as good as being able to control it better.  I'll try speeding up the explosions more than i already did and see how it looks.  Thanks guys for the input!

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Wow, that's fantastic! Triflix and Norman have good notes, but that's already a great shot. 

    Ok, Hitfilm 3 Pro doesn't have bezier curves. There are also new material options in HF4/2017 that can improve the look of the models, but the HF3 materials do well enough for these ships. Hitfilm 4 and 2017 also have auto align functions that can make it a lot easier and faster to align your ships on their flight paths (seriously, auto align tricks can reduce hours of keyframing to minutes of keyframing). Just something to consider if your budget might allow you to upgrade. 

    Since you're in HFP3 something to try with the camera is a multi point rig. So the main point just does the Z-move (flying forward over the Star Destroyer). Parent this to another point. This second point only does X-moves (side to side). Parent this to a third point which only does Y-moves (up and down). You won't have all the control of a manual bezier but you can use different interpolation curves on different axes and stagger the keyframing so X/Y/Z changes of direction aren't always on the same frame. More work to setup, but can yield much better motion. 

    This type of rig can also be used on the fighters and can still be used with manual beziers. 

  • Wow so cool, 10 sec in 3 days I can dig that, this takes time but it shows when you apply that time and effort as in this clip. I so wanted that Tie to explode.. ;)

  • @Triem23 Three point camera rigging is next on my list of things to play with in my free time. I think a more natural, fluid camera movement would be ridiculously easy by using this idea.

    ArtMitchell Triem23 talks about using the align functions in Pro 4 and 2017 to save time. He told me this a year ago when Pro 4 first came out and boy did it save me time. Duplicating the ship's path and staggering the timelines so you can point it at its future position means that you do not have to adjust at least two of the rotation keyframes at all... just let the software do the work! I did this while also using the particle simulator to create a fleet of ships flying around, and it looks great.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited January 2017

     Art, I typed up a brief summary of how auto-aligning spaceships in HF4 and 2017 is set up. Here's a copy/paste and a few extra notes.  

    Ok I'll back up. The point that the 3D model is rigged to is its ">plane< Move Point."

    So, my suggestion was to bookend the start and end of the shot with a few frames, so the shot is a few frames longer than you actually want. Animate movement without worrying about orientation at all. You want to make sure the model is where you want it on the "real" last frame (where you want the shot to end. Then extend the movement out for the extra frames. 

    Once movement is good, duplicate the Move Point. Rename the duplicate to "model<Facing Point." Move Facing Point backwards two frames in time--i.e. Facing Point now starts two frames before the beginning of the shot. 

    In the layer properties for the  Model look for an "Alignment" or "Align to" property. Set this to it's corresponding Facing Point. 

    This will make the model point itself at where it will be two frames. This should automatically take care of Pitch and Yaw rotation, leaving only roll to keyframe. 

    Change duration of the shot to chop the extra frames.

    @HitfilmSensei mlst of the tricks and tips I share are adapted from something I learned from someone else or other software. I'm proud of this one cuz it's one of the ones I came up with on my own. :-) 

  • @Triem23 It's a good one, that's for sure!

  • Thanks Triem for the info, as soon as my brain digests it, I'll give it a whirl.  Thats one thing I wished I had more control of, models positioning and movement to make it seem more natural.... ok maybe two things. Haha!  Maybe in a few months I'll have the money to upgrade, but then they'll have 2018 on its way... I guess you cant look at it that way though, or you'd never get started with anything.


    Like I originally posted, this is only one clip in a body of storyboards for my dog fight, I chose to do this one first because it seemed like it would be one of the most challenging ones and I wanted to know if I could do it justice with hitfilm.  Its an amazing program! I have no real world experience, only my eyes, watching tons of movies and disecting them in my head trying to figure out how they "did it" and then taking hundreds of baby steps and hundreds of practice and experimental renders of this and that until now...  I think that's why visual effects will never stop advancing, because there will always be room for improvement, always be something else to learn.  I love the community here, as everyone is non judgemental and helpful and encouraging.  Well I better wrap my head around your posts, everyones, and give it a go. Thanks!

  • @ArtMitchell - Great job! I would not have guessed this was done in HF3. And I can relate to the hundreds of baby steps approach. We all can. Sometimes trying to figure out something can be a daunting task but once you get it down it's like second nature.

    Hope to see more in the future!

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited January 2017

    Oops, I should have said a multi point movement rig like described for the camera works for models, too. Also (sorry, another head-scratcher ahead) Hitfilm always performs rotations in the order XYZ (X first, then Y, then Z), but an aircraft rotates in order ZXY. 

    So, on the model, you only rotate on why.

    Create a point for each model (centered on model) called ">model<X-tilt" and parent model to X-tilt. This point only rotates on X.

    Duplicate X-tilt. Rename to ">model<Z-roll." Parent X-tilt to Z-roll.

    Parent Z-roll to ">Model<Move Point" 

    Animate Model move point. I suggest doing start and end frames first, then work backwards with banks and turns. Don't worry about orientation, just get the move.

    Then animate Z-roll. Then X-tilt. I bet you'll never need Y.

    It's more complex to set up, but actually faster to animate across multiple layers. You'll be able to stagger parts of the move, and you won't end up fighting against the XYZ order. 

     It's the most efficient workflow I had in HF3. Auto-aligning makes it largely obsolete. 


  •  Haha, scratching my head again... oh no, I'm going bald! Haha, just kidding, thanks.  That auto alignment sounds really awesome too.... might have to bite the upgrade bullet earlier than I can afford... but I'm married so there's no chance of that happening, haha

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited January 2017

    You know, I don't ALWAYS say "upgrade, upgrade, upgrade,"  and for a lot of the 2D/mograph guys I said maybe they could skip Hitfilm 4 (but Hitfilm 2017 has excellent new features perfect for mograph), but Hitfilm 4 added material options that give results literally impossible in HF3.

    The auto-align feature saves hours of keyframing and the grid emitters in the particle system also allows things impossible in HF3 (look at the recent FxHome tutorial on the Stormtrooper army. You can do an army in HF3 but it takes HF4 to get the regimented rows, not random placement). HF 2017 adds new depth mapping functions that allow you to place effects directly on models with 2D compositing while still having automated occlusion like 3D Unrolled. 

    If feasible it really is a great upgrade for the specific project you're doing. 

    If not HF3 is more than capable fantastic results (seriously, damn, dude, look at what you already built!) , just with more effort. 

    BTW, the speed of the stock explosions doesn't bother me. 

  •  Thanks Triem, I tried speeding up the explosions, it didnt look natural given the size of the imperial stardestroyer... so I think I'll leave them be as they are... but I do appreciate your input Norman

  • @ArtMitchell I agree that this shot looks really good so far, and I like the current speed of the explosions. Simply adding motion blur and re-rendering would go a long way to selling the realism of the shot for sure. Unfortunately, it would also go a long way to make the render time much more time consuming, so that should probably be left to an overnight render. The good news is that if you were to get HFPro2017, it allows for multiple renders to be accomplished with one keystroke.

  • I just realized, that if I go back and start messing with the motion paths and orientation/positioning of my models, it will completely mess up the layer I made with the rotoscoped lasers, and if redo that, then I have to redo the explosions on the hull because they will be some place else, (another day on 10 seconds...??? I guess I dont have the blood of George Lucas in my veins) But I can still add some more motion blur and raise the shutter angle to 240 or 220, that should give it some nice blur all around.  It will take about 1. 5 hours to render it tells me, so I'll post it, if it looks decent, might still need more or less shutter angle, thanks for the input Sensei

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Oh, no don't rejigger all the keys on the current shot! That'll be a pain!

    Take the keyframe notes into the next shots. 

    Roto for lasers? How classic!

    Ok, copy this existing shot. Delete all movement keys, camera keys, lasers, explosions and backgrounds. Return all models to position and rotation 0,0,0. Build the previously discussed motion/rotation rigs. Create and Parent some points to the cannon/blasters of your ships. Attach particle emitters (points) to these cannon points. Set them to Cone trajectories, radius zero. Set particles per second to about 3-5. Try using the built-in Spark Streak texture for now (you may decide to make a custom texture.). Set the particles to "Align to motion."  For particle speed you'll have to play until it looks right.  

    Export this Composite Shot. 

    By keyframing the "Active" properties of these emitters, you can control when the blasters fire. By rotating the relevant point, you can "aim the cannon"  (great for the Star Destroyer).

    Procedural blasters! By saving a Composite Shot with these particle sims rigged and all three models at correct scale you never have to set that up again. It's ready to be imported!

    It's near identical to the type of rig shown here. 


  • I did that on a Star trek shot with the Enterprise, but that was a few years ago.... so I'm way rusty with it.  But it would save a lot of time.   Will that interact properly with the 3d models or  will i need to mask portions out if they cross over each other... or do they interact on the same plane with one another


    Oh, and Triem, I'll still work on the techniques you wrote about before, I'll probably be able to use them in the other scenes like you said!

  • Ok Sensei, here is the reworked scene with more motion blur added, I don't know how well you can see it though, with all the compression Youtube uses.


  • @ArtMitchell I think it looks great. You can really tell the difference when the X-Wing first comes onto the screen. I will see if I can post a couple of my own shots for you to take a look at. Nice job!

  • Yep.  Looking good!

  • Nice work, Art!

    Really impressed with how much you achieved in a short period of time. I've shared it round the office here too.

  • Thats Sick! (in a good way not the messey kind)

  • @ArtMitchell  Very nice!  To me, you can definitely see a difference in the motion.  It's something you can't quite name but the eye picks up.  Congrats.  You are much quicker at this than I.

  • Great stuff bud, really nice work looks awesome.

    I haven't tried making a slice of real film yet, maybe my next project but again well done.

    Some great stuff being made with Hitfilms, so many talented people.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Ok, that shot's done. Put it to bed and you're ready to move on with the rest of the battle. 

  • I agree with @Triem23. It's time to start working on another shot in this battle.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Btw, Art, if you ever go back to a classic BSG battle, I can show you how to rig up particle turbos to particle Vipers if you want to get a massive squadron going. 


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