First completely digital animation!

  • ATNO/TW
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Woohoo! I'm pretty excited about this. This was actually my second rendition of it because the first attempt I managed to plunge the camera into the water, but I'm really excited to share my first attempt at digital animation.

Here's the link to the file:
http://www.boastingrights.com/images/RiverFlight.avi

Before you click it be aware that it's currently about 13MB so it's going to take a few moments to load. Might want to right click and save it first and open it with Media Player (Seems to work best).

Nothing in that animation is real. The landscape was generated with Terragen, the animation script with Terranim, and the AVI created with VirtualDub.

I need to fine tune a lot of things. I need to smooth out the turns and learn to use the banking options available, reduce the file size (the original images were 1023 frames of bitmap files that took about 36 hours to render, but I see where I can probably convert them to lower file size jpg's and still use them for the movie and hopefully get the final product under a meg. Anyway, I hope you like it.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • UPSGuy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thats great! Being a fairly new member, it's pretty easy to categorize ozzu posters here by their interests, according to the nature of their posts, showing their expertise areas with answers. I really didn't have you pinned down to any one thing & kinda wondered what your 'category' would be...and now I see. :) I've messed with computers for a long time now, & not very often do I see things which make me sit back and think 'I have no idea how that was done'. Congrats, you got me! :) I wouldn't even know where to start to do something like that. I haven't dabbled in 3D or serious imagery computations...mind tellin me what your creation process was & about how long it takes to make something like that? Ahhh, it feels good to feel that adrenaline-like curiosity come back that got me started with comps in the first place. Thank you! :D
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Well, to set the record straight, I'm actually a network admin, which permits me to do a variety of odds and ends projects, since I am the sole IT person in my company. Although, I've done a few professional website designs and co-own a sports forum with a friend, primarily web design has in truth been pretty much a hobby. Likewise, I have been using Terragen (a landscape generating program) for several years now to simply play around with generating landscape images. The program is free for personal use, and can be downloaded at the linked site. It's easy enough to use, but difficult to really master. Mostly it takes patience, particularly when rendering large images, the renders can take several hours to complete. Basically you start by generating a terrain. Basically, a press of a button will randomly generate one for you, although you can (with practice) actually "sculpt" the terrain to your liking.

Initially, the terrain is bare rock. You overlay that with a surface map, which can consist of anything from grass or sand to snow and ice. The program comes with a few sample surface maps, but you can also customize your own as well. You also have options to adjust water levels, color, waves, foam, etc. Lighting, sun position, color, atmospheric conditions can also be adjusted, so in essense, you can literally play god with your "world" and make it into anything you want. A simple Google search of Terragen will lead you to multiple galleries of individuals with some serious skills and talent with this program. I've seen images that look so real it makes you want to cry. Basically, the images are captured from a virtual "camera" which can be positioned anywhere on your terrain and targeted anywhere you'd like. Although, the images you render are two dimensional, you are in essense creating a 3 dimensional "world" with this program which is measured in latitude (x) longitude (y) and altitude (z). This is what allows for animation.

To aid in the animation I use a sister program

Terranim In terragen you save the terrain file as a separate file and then open the terrain file in Terranim. With Terranim you map out your camera's path through the terrain adjusting for height from surface, turns, banking (angle), zoom etc., and generate a script which will be used in the animation portion of the Terragen program. The script is along the lines of this:

Code: [ Select ]
initanim, "C:\pathToDirectoryForSavingBitmapFrames\",1
;framenum,1
campos, 240.000000000000,86.000000000000,1.969970703125
tarpos,239.980000000000,86.003999999833,1.969519397495
camb,-0.000000000000
frend
;
  1. initanim, "C:\pathToDirectoryForSavingBitmapFrames\",1
  2. ;framenum,1
  3. campos, 240.000000000000,86.000000000000,1.969970703125
  4. tarpos,239.980000000000,86.003999999833,1.969519397495
  5. camb,-0.000000000000
  6. frend
  7. ;


Basically the script is the same for all the frames needed for your animation. In my example , it generated 1032 frames for that animation. I chose 400x300 for the dimension of the movie and when the scipt runs, it basically takes the camera position (campos), the target position (tarpos) and any camera banking details (camb), causes the Terragen program to position the camera based on those numbers (latitude, longitude, altitude and camera angle), and then renders the image and autosaves it into the directory path you've created to store the images, and numbers them sequentially.

I then opened the sequential frames in VirtualDub, an open source program for creating AVI files. Since I had never used that proggie prior to Friday, I just left all the settings at their defaults except I added MPEG4 Video Codec2 compression, and saved the file. The program did all the work.

I've probably oversimplifed the process quite a bit, but those are the essential steps in the creation process. I started this little exercise about 2PM on Friday and completed it about 6PM Sunday. Now the hard part comes in. Creating an animation loop so that the flight path ends where it begins, converting how ever many thousands of bitmap frames to jpg's to lower the file size, and smoothing out all the turns and banks, adding more 3D depth to the clouds and resizing it to the dimensions needed for my real work project, get it imported into a Flash movie, and then get it inserted into our existing website. Should be a lot of fun. I'm estimating another week or so to work out all the details and wait for the renders.

Rather lengthy description, but I hope it helps.

//Oh -the renders, btw, are CPU intensive. During the rendering process, I'm usually looking at about 90-95% CPU utilization, so it essentially ties up my computer so I can do nothing else with it during rendering time. Fortunately I have several others I can work with in the interum. I'm running on an Intel P4 1.3 Ghz, with 512MB RAM. I don't really think I could do this well, with anything less than that.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

:shock:

That is incredible! i am completely dumbstruck by that, i just don't know what to say. What i will say is i am incredibly envious of you for doing that and putting something as realistic as that on the net for us all to share.

Wow! Thats incredible ATNO! :shock:

Well done!!
  • ATNO/TW
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks. When I get finished with what I intend for a final product, I'll post that too. This one was just a warm up *smiles
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Post 3+ Months Ago

All right! Just solved the problem of converting the bitmap files to lower file sized jpgs. I forgot you could create actions in Photoshop. I created a save for web action and ran a batch processing operation on it and it only took about 10 minutes to convert 1032 files! Sweet!
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hey ATNO, that's amazing. Great work! :thumbsup:
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks labrego, but my biggest problem still remains and that is compressing the bmp frames to a "movie" file size that is within reasonable download limitations. In the above example, the file size of the individual generated bmp frames are roughly 343KB and when converted to jpg I can get them down to about 23KB (using about 80% high quality compression - I can get them down to around 13KB if I go around 30%), but the movie still ends up being over 10 MB after creating an AVI with MPEG4 at 80% and about 6MB at 30%. That isn't acceptable. That experiment was only a little over 1000 frames and I need to do about 8000 frames at 624x220 and have the end product embeded into a flash file and be a relativley quick load for both broadband and dial-up users (and under 1 MB). I've tried skipping every other frame, and every third frame and can get the file size under 5 megs, but the quality quickly deteriorates.

I've spent the whole day working on this problem. If anyone has tips on compression methods, they would be much appreciated.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I have a friend who is into all this things about multimedia and AVI movies, I can ask him if he knows something. Unfortunately I can't see him until tomorrow afternoon, if no one helps you by then I may be able to come out with something.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

The problem starts with Terragen. It only renders the images in Bitmaps and the resulting file size is dictated by the landscape and the level of quality I dictate for the renders. I can't convert to gifs because I have a 256 color limitation and they look like crap. I could use png and maintain the exact quality of the bitmaps but the file size is about double that of equivalent jpg's (even at 8 bits). So at the moment, I have to assume jpg's are my best choice for converting the frames, but when importing them into the movie file, no matter what I do, I can't seem to get the finished product to an acceptable size.

I appreciate you looking into it.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

As an aside, I don't have to go with an AVI format. If there is a better compression format for movies, I'm all for it. The only reason I chose this at the moment was because VirtualDub is open source and easy to use. I am open to alternatives if they can satisfy the requirements (Primarily the end result needs to be easily imported into Flash and a reasonably low file size).
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Found even faster way to convert BMPs to JPEGs. Yesterday downloaded VideoMach proggie. It can open BMPs and save them to JPEG, PNG and lots of stuff including AVI. Music too, so my Terragen animations are going to rock! :)
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Post 3+ Months Ago

BRAVO! ENCORE!

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