Cinematic : The Tram.

As many of you have seen from the Trailer I released a few days ago, STASIS will have full CG Cinematic sequences.
One of the reasons I wanted to become a 3D artist was watching the incredible animations that Blizzard did on StarCraft, and WarCraft. Honestly, I think that cinematics have been my favourite aspect of games for a VERY long time! I remember watching the Syndicate intro over and over, and even the ‘stills’ from the intro to STAR CONTROL. So having full cinematic sequences is a must for me!
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When modelling all the assets in STASIS, I tend to go overboard with the detail. While working on the sequences for the ‘Tram Rides’, I had to do no extra detailing on the models to get them to hold up for the closer views.
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For the Tram sequences, they all take place in the same environment. I constructed a long piece of track, and placed ‘mirrors’ on the ends of the tracks to allow them to stretch into infinity. Then the tram was added in, with a few tweaks to get it to ‘fit’ on the top and bottom tracks. After it was all placed, I simply animated it along the straight line. The rest of the cinematic will be made up of placing in different camera’s to essentially ‘reshoot’ the same sequence from different angles. When I put all of these together, it will appear that the tram is moving along a few MASSIVE areas of track.

Using tricks like these are REALLY important to me. Because I’m a one man team, I need to try and get the most not only out of my time, but also of my assets. By reusing the same shot from different angles, I don’t have to relight anything. I can also set everything up, put it onto my spare computer, hit render, and let the computer chug away. Computing power is MUCH cheaper than man power!
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At my company, we try to get as much done ‘in render’ as possible. That is, the final output file should be as close as possible to what the final image is. You must ALWAYS post process your images, to give it that extra sense of realism-but the ideal is that the amount of post processing is as minimal as possible. Again, man power is more expensive than computing power. If there is a massive compositing job to get the sequence’s to ‘work’, and its things that could have been fixed in render, then I’m wasting time that I could be spending doing something more pivotal. Even if it increases your render times, the extra few hours of computer rendering is a small price to pay for a extra few hours of your time.

Often Ill render out a few frames from the sequence, and do some really quick colour correction, motion blur, and lighting effects (flares in this case) to make sure everything ‘works’. In the final shot, I may add some things like steam, sparks coming off the track, etc-but as it sits, this is a sequence that could quite easily be rendered and fit right into the game.

For another tram sequence, I have some rather complex animation happening ON THE TRAM itself. Instead of key framing all of that, and then animating the tram along the path, I’m going to treat it as tho the tram is stationary. Then, I will take a few pieces of the track, and animate them moving past the tram. With a stationery camera, it will appear that the tram is moving at breakneck speed through the rail system, but will allow me to make changes on the tram VERY quickly.

OTHER NEWS UPDATES

I have gotten a really amazing copywriter to go over the script and text for the game. As my friends and family can attest to, my spelling is generally horrific! I tend to type things ‘on the fly’, without double checking! I know that spelling errors have the power to annoy the crap out of adventure players, but fear not! They wont be plaguing STASIS. 🙂

I also really want to give a heartfelt thanks to everybody who has taken the time to either email me, or just taken an interest in STASIS. The fact that there are so many people out there who are as excited about this story, and this world as I am is a great comfort!

-Chris