Video Intro with animated logo in Blender

This is a picture from a video intro I created for a friend’s marketing agency to enable him to use this for Youtube online videos.

Slipstreamer Logo 3D versionThe video was entirely done in Blender (except for the audio in post-production).

Breakdown:

(1) The 3D version of the logo (font and glow-line element) was modeled after the 2D illustrator version of the logo (which is shown in the last part of the video as a blend over into a still image). As the special font was not available, I used simple mesh build (2D, then extruding into 3D and edge beveling) which was actually pretty fast. If you want to see a tutorial on how this is done, check Andrew Price’s old tut on recreating the Starcraft 2 logo. Continue reading

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Simulating realistic flags in Blender

My project on rendering feasible flags for real use is progressing towards something more realistic.

Also, simple pinning is not giving a nice result (I had a former poor version created). But as I tried cloth interaction (to go for ropes and flags) this was much to complicated for Blender to handle. So I tried a fake with a pin and a graphical version of a ribbon. The material is now a mix of glossy, translucent and transparent shaders allowing the flag just slightly have environment lighting and objects behind shine through. In my mind this is not ideal, because the ropes are heavily stretched and they also have no thickness.

I would be very interested in knowing who overcomes this with a neat idea. Maybe you can apply a different cloth material to the parts you design to be the rope. Still it is pretty much 2D and does look a bit weird. Continue reading

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Notebook (inspired by Samsung S9 series)

My last finished project was to create another key asset for business video – a notebook you could use (rigged with constraints for animating the opening and folding) – with advanced materials, details and textures. After some initial issues with the topology – the samsung s9 uses special forms and material combinations to give the notebook a slick look, I also created a keyboard with texture (and a material you could use to simulate keyboard back lighting).

s9notebook_datastreamFullHDI already used it to illustrate big data and cloud as a topic (with a bitstream coming out of the screen of the device). This uses some chromatic aberration to give it a more realistic look.

s9firstresult_001kThis scene uses only one light (and the backplane for presentation is partly reflective to add ambient lighting in a natural feeling – rather than using 3-point lighting set up and AO from the render). Obviously the materials react strongly to differences in light (as they are metallic); moving light across the device should give a really nice effect. Part of this is achieved through a layer weight input node in the material changing it with a facing value. The same approach is used for the LEDs. The lower image was done without any compositing for glow and/or blur.

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Stylish Earth for various different uses

I now finished my project on creating a 3d rendering of a stylish earth both for animation and still images. This was inspired by a major German broadcast network using such graphics in a similar fashion.

stylish earth newk

A short intro video on a potential use case can be found on vimeo:

The set up of the blend file is quite simple. I use an equidistant cylindrical projection texture of the earth taken from a spec map and transformed into a black and white high resolution texture to control the materials. In the material setting I use this to mix a transparent shader with a diffuse/glossy shader to get the oceans transparent and the continents visible. I also use info nodes to control the material setting of the backfacing of the sphere the earth map is projected on. Initially I used a copy of the sphere with normals facing the inside, but the new set up is much cleaner and easier to control. The rest is simply keying a 360 degree rotation and exporting the images for the animation with alpha channels to use them. Of course the set up can be used for non-transparent oceans as well (giving you a stylish earth in a simple setting).

I also created a number of textures which enable me to control the material setting for separate continents. I am including some examples here:

As those texture influences are controlled through mix shaders, these can be keyframed, so you can change the colours fluently in an animation to e.g. highlight certain areas. The control through the textures is a bit cumbersome, as you have to create new textures for each of these effects, but you have almost 100% control – which is rewarding.

Here you can see the node set up.

node setup texture control

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Business graphics – 3d chart approach

Business graphics - 3d chart approach

This is an attempt to represent 3-dimensional elements in a digestible way. The interesting discovery is that the true 3D view makes it actually harder to digest, as you cannot simplify the perspective for the text. But this should work nicely in animations. This is what I will try next.

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Business graphics icon

I started to create a number of business graphics and icons, please find an example here:

circled@

I also saw on some blog a nice play on annual numbers which I replicated for adding in some blog posts and presentations. As this one is using shadows, it is quite hard to render in Cycles with “shadow only” to a shadowless plane (in Blender internal this is easy with one click, in Cycles you have to composit it out and use different scenes to do that – using the Cycles shadow pass also gives you the full AO shadows which you need to tune down – this is diluting the image). I found at least 4 different approaches, but last used the AO and shadow pass compositing.

annual_numbers_AOshadowPass

The issue you have with this is, that you get an Alpha overlay which shows (very subtly) if you use this in presentations against pure white background, because all the ambient occlusion against the initial plane is used as well. What you can do is to use an image program to cut the picture around the edges of the intended visible shadows. Also, the shadows are pretty grainy. The reason I assume is that what you get in the real picture is a mixture of reflections, especially in colours, even for diffuse materials. I will try tone the reflection down to zero on the ground plane. Maybe that helps.

This is the node set up in the Blender compositor:

annual_numbers_compisiting_AOshadow

You will note that the first mix node is using a factor of 1.2 to mix the AO over the shadow pass. The reason for this are artifacts from the plane edges you would also be able to get out by using an erode node, but this set up is easier (alternative you can make the plane very large, but then you have AO all over the picture to the borders).

Another method to get a shadowless plane is to render one scene of the same objects with shadow casting from the object to the plane and one w/o shadow casting from the plane. Then you can divide the two renders to get the difference and use invert node and set alpha node to composit this over. This was introduced on the blenderartists.org community.

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Hyperspace jumping space craft – only a first test

In this render I created a small spacecraft (looks like the blue version of a rubber duck due to very fast modelling with sub surface and no real finishing up – but I did not want to space-jump a cube ;-)). I rendered this in blender internal for using the motion blur (full motion blur activated) instead of cycles, as my CPU is not that fast and you cannot render Cycles motion blur on the GPU yet in Blender 2.65.5. As I am not at all experienced with BI materials, this is all very basic.

For some reason the compositor jumped at me trying to add a blur to the hyperspace window, hence you only see the glare effect and for that reason it is to geometrical in the centre and looks artificial. Also, the glare streaks should rotate, this has to be animated in the compositor, so up for refinement. I will have another look at some footage from Star Trek and Star Wars to see how they time their jumps (mine seems to be a bit short and not too impactful on the arrival). I used a basic sound effect background to illustrate the jump, but I think this is especially important to refine to make the jump experience compelling.

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