Star Wars 9 VFX (Zach Alan's Productions: Nov/17/2019)



  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Gotta talk to @spydurhank about that. I'm barely Blender-literate enough to make a UV sphere.

    Although for lots of materials I do find it helpful in Hitfilm to use the search filtering. So, if I put in Diffuse in the filter bar I just see all the diffuse colors. For materials with the same color I can set one then quickly use the eyedropper to set the rest. While Hitfilm can't copy materials it can copy individual settings, so filter for, say, "Roughness", set one, copy that value and it's really quick to paste into the rest.

    Assembly line it. One material property at a time. Most of the hull stuff will be identical, so will anything like a light glow or engine glow. Also, it's undocumented, but, if you right click a Material's name you can rename it. Taking the time to rename "bm material 32" to something sane like "Lower Hull" can help.

  • edited June 2018

    EDIT In Blender.

    Delete the materials that you don't want.

    The First Material in your material stack will automatically fill the faces of the deleted materials. It should?

    Test it first before exporting. 

  • edited June 2018

    I'm fixed the main issue with the mesh now. However, I am trying to get the model to perform better in HitFilm. Whenever I set the normals to any of the smoothing types, it causes a lot of lag and runs very slowly. 

    I'll try with some other models and see what happens.

    EDIT: It seems that this is the best model I could find. Leaving the normals as "from file" seems to look just fine and render reasonable fast. No smoothing required. Now for materials...

  • Did you export to .obj or .fbx?

    HitFilm doesn't read sharp edges/hard edges/smoothing groups in a .fbx file but it does for .obj

    And as you now know HitFilm lags whenever you change the smoothing angle that is why it is best to export to .obj for better performance plus the Blender .fbx exporter doesn't work all the time. This makes it tough to work on someone else's 3D mesh, you never know if they marked the edges as Sharp/Hard/Smoothing Group.

    Having to mark those edges by hand is a pain but you need to do it in order for your model to look good in HitFilm. HF is very particular on how it expects to read 3D files and asking HF to display a mesh's Normals other than what it originally read in the default import, is an intensive calculation depending on several factors of how the mesh was built. Give the software what it wants and things will be a breeze.       

  • @spydurhank I'll keep this in mind. At the moment I think the model looks and works okay. I'll do a test render video later and see what you all think. 

    Trying to do the smoothing in Blender creates some weird looking issues.  Not sure how else to explain it. For now the default settings for the 3ds version I exported seems to work. I'll try other formats like obj as well.

    I can't figure out how to delete materials. There are a bunch that are the same or very close in color. I wish there was a way to select all the same color materials in Blender and merge them into one.

  • Here's a quick shot with the model so far.

    I just reused the environment I created for the x-wing.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Looking credible already. Once you dial it in with the materials you'll be able to do a fabulous flyby. 

  • Nice Indeed!

  •  Agree.  I do like that reflection!

  • Thanks everyone!

    The materials are going to be tricky. I can't really tell what all the little bits are supposed to look like from the intro on YouTube. The main hull appears to be just a very rough grey metal. That's all I can really see besides the glowing lights...

  • I'm on my phone and not sure how big this image is but it shows multiple views so it might help

  • @tddavis the image is pretty small but has some good angles. I'll look at other reference images as well.

    Here's a quick test of one of the intro shots so far. I've paused adjusting the voyager materials to work on this.

  • Yup, Like. :)

  • Here's the next version of that shot:

    I'm not really happy with the brighter particles' physics. Any ideas on how to set that up?

  • @ZachAlan_Productions ; I think the physics look okay but I think it needs to have the lifetime decreased so it doesn't wrap around the ship so much and is more like foam in front of ship on the ocean, but that's just an opinion.  Also, here is the link I meant to give you on that photo it's 4000x2500:

  • @ZachAlan_Productions ;  You will have to bring in the model to a bona fide 3D package and reassign materials.  So Blender (free) may be your friend - assuming you know how to use it.

    On another note, HF is certainly capable of pushing the nebula/cloud particles out of the way in front of the ship.  U will want to use multiple sphere deflectors placed around the outside of the model.

  • @Stargazer54 I thought HitFilm only has cube deflectors? Sphere deflectors would make this look a lot better...

  • @Stargazer54 What!? I did not know that.

    Wow that is super awesome to know, thanks for that! Now... tell me more secrets please.  

  • edited June 2018

    @spydurhank I thought maybe 3D models could be used as deflectors, but nope. Not yet anyway. I think it's only planes.

    What I'm trying to figure out is how to get that cool wavy turbulence effect on the bright green particles as they pass the back of the ship. I tried different forces in the particle sim, but nothing really worked out for me. Maybe @Triem23 can share his particle system wisdom? :)

    EDIT: Here's a link to the real intro in case you need a reference to what I'm attempting to create:

  • @ZachAlan_Productions Yup @Triem23 has particles down really good but damn dude, you've got an excellent start there. 

  • @tddavis thank you for that image! That should definitely help.

    I understand your point, but I'm going for accuracy to the original I just linked to. The particles wrap around the ship and then twist. The extended portion of the particle streams will look better when I get that look down...

  • @spydurhank ; Well color me a dumb arse.  You only have planes or a cube to use as deflectors still in HF.   But several small cubes can stand in for spheres so still the concept applies.  I think I was remembering an original break down of the effect where they used spheres for the deflectors.  Arranging planes or cuboids will get you close.

    The trick is to create a plane layer, position it and then use that as Source Layer for the Deflector on the Particle Simulator.  Lots of layers to keep track of but doable.

  • edited June 2018

    "On another note, HF is certainly capable of pushing the nebula/cloud particles out of the way in front of the ship.  U will want to use multiple sphere deflectors placed around the outside of the model."

    Now you got me side tracked @Stargazer54. I've been working on a shot of an SLS breaking the cloud deck into the stratosphere for months....guess I'm revisiting that project. Thanks.

    @ZachAlan_Productions Yep. You got some sweet 3D workings going on here. Very good work. Kudos!


  • Man, this is looking really sweet! :D

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    I'm at work now so I'll come back later, but, for now here's someone's test in Hitfilm Ultimate 2

    If I can find the thread mark_e had some discussion there on his workflow. He's not been active in the forum for years or I'd tag him directly. 

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

     Btw,  artist Neon Visual did a 4K version of the Voyager intro last year in Lightwave and After Effects. I showed this version to "Mojo" Lebowitz (Emmy winning VFX artist who worked on Babylon 5, BSG and Voyager) said it was note perfect. So it's good reference.

  • @ZachAlan_Productions ;  yep, my old memory totally got me.  I watched the reference vids and sure didn't recall the bright foam light particles stretching back  behind that much.  I'm not sure what that might be called in Hitfilm but in Blender Smoke sim that would be a vorticity or turbulence setting, I believe...again, old memory :)

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Ok, some thoughts from memory:

    Mark had the main particle cloud and a second emitter right in front of the ship. There's a third emitter as well spewing mobile emitters. The mobile emitters have a smoke texture then spawn small cloud textures at death--those are the clouds that break apart into smaller clouds. 

    I think he combined two plane small deflectors at the front with two on the sides. There are multiple forces involved. There's cubic detraction centered on the ship and two cubic attraction forces behind the ship. I think there's a turbulence force trailing as well. The detraction pushes particles out, the attraction sucks them into the wake. 

    Deflectors should have very low bounce. >5%. Friction at 0.

    Because cubic particle forces can't be parented to points for the main cloud you turn emitter attachment up to 100% and move the cloud past the ship. You can do this by parenting the emitter to a point and moving the point.

    Voyager and the deflector/forces rigs are static. The second and third emitters (green particles and mobile emitters "breakup") are also static. 

    Consider creating a video texture. You can use a hanging smoke puff element from production crate or ActionVFX or create one with Fractal Noise or Atomic Particles or something. Just make sure to Demult to get a transparent background. Adding animation to the actual smoke textures can really help sell this kind of effect. The disadvantage is thousands of animated textures will slow things down. If you go this route get the particle sim set up first THEN animate the textures. If it looks good with the built-in textures, it will just look better with animated textures. 

    If you dig around the Hitfilm file structure you can find the source folder for built-in particle textures (no adding yours doesn't make them show up in the list - I've tried). This will let you check the dimensions of whatever built in texture you used as a draft. I think they're all 128x128 or 256x256. Let's say 128x128 for now... Build your animated texture at 128x128 and you won't have to adjust particle scale when you swap textures. Oh, proxy the comp shot with the animated texture. 

    Ok, Mark did this in Hitfilm 2. That's pre 3D-Unrolled particles/textures, but, starting with HF2017 we have even better options. Look in the Layer Properties of the particle sim (btw all particle emitters should be on the same particle layer. It renders faster for one thing.) for "Depth Layer." for the Particles this is set to Voyager and for Voyager to the particles. This should give proper occlusion when both layers are set to 2D compositing, and THAT means you can add effects directly to your particle and Voyager layers. 


  • @Triem23 I remember reading articles by "Mojo" in old Lightwave magazines back in the day.  Good times. :)

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