Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The opening sunrise

One of the last scenes that I textured/lighted for the project actually belongs at the beginning of the piece; the first sunrise.  According to the blockout and storyboard that we made, this would last around 250 frames (10 seconds).  We made a few creative changes before I started to make the sunrise; these included changing the opening so instead of the eagle flying past the camera shot, the scene opens with two wildebeest.  The eagle is now introduced in the following scene.

Another change to this shot was that instead of the camera shot panning around at the end, it remains static, meaning that it was no longer necessary to keyframe the azimuth.

I started by creating the sky with the sunrise and I used this tutorial to guide me.
From frames 1-180, I set the Sky Brightness colour to red, to create the red texture of a sky before the sun has fully risen.
This is how it would look around frame 100.
At the first frame, I turned the total brightness of the sky to 0.  I wanted the light to emerge fairly slowly so I keyframed the elevation of the sun and brightness of the sky so that it would only start to rise at around frame 60, as we figured out in our blockout.

In this shot, we also witness the transition from pitch darkness to daylight; however, it is still early morning in this shot so I made sure that the total brightness was kept to a minimum and that there was a fairly high density of clouds.  From frame 200 onwards, keyframed the sky brightness colour so it moved from red to blue and I also increased the density of the clouds.  I kept the elevation fairly low.

This is the outcome of the rendered sunrise.

I now had to create the sense of sunrise in the wilderness scene itself and the sense of light filling the scene.  This shot takes place within the same scene file as the eagle scene, but in a different area.
As the wildebeest were shaded with Shaded Brightness Two Tones, this meant that regardless of whether there was darkness in the scene, they would be visible in the rendered scene.  In order to resolve this, I converted the wildebeest's texture to a Light Angle Two Tone; a texture that is dependant on the angle of a directional light.  In other words, if a light is pointed at it, it is visible; but if the light is turned away, it becomes less visible.
I set the rotation of the light to begin at around frame 70, a few frames after the sun begins to rise. By the 250th frame, I set the directional light to point straight at the wildebeest, meaning that the wildebeest would slowly come into view, along with the rest of the scene.

As for the ground texture, that did not seem to respond to the lighting, so I came up with another method of making the texture transfer from dark to light. I selected the texture in Hypershade and in the attributes editor, I set the density to 0 and set a keyframe at around frame 60. I then set a keyframe at frame 250 and increased the diffuse. This now created the sense of light filling a dark scene, when I rendered it.
I composited the sunrise and the wildebeest scene together in AfterEffects and put it in to the final film. If you want to see the final piece, it is available on my website, under the Collaborations section on the Animation page. It is entitled "Cradle of Civilisation"

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