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Old 26-02-2004, 02:23 AM   #1
Brian820
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Default 3D Background for Space Scene

Hi everyone, thanks for reading.

I'm doing a space scene with some ships, asteroids, maybe a planet or two - and I need a background.

From the book Learning Maya 5 - Foundation (a pretty good read if I may recommend) I've learned how to paint scenes with the great cosmos, galaxy, and star brushes Maya has.

So I started by painting a background, saving as an image, then mapping onto a plane to use as my background.

This looks great for rendering, but since I plan to have some dynamic camera movements, a flat 2D backdrop is not sufficient.

So I tried placing my 2D painted image on the inside of a Sphere, which looks a little better. It has a couple problems though, such as the top and bottom (north and south poles) being pinched.

Namely though, the whole thing seems to have lost its sense of depth. Since the image has been so stretched to cover the sphere surface, it's sharpness and artistic appeal is lost. And, as the camera moves, all the stars/planets move against it at the same pace. Maybe this is right, but somehow as an old Star Trek and Wing Commander fan, I feel the stars shouldn't be moving all together.

Any ideas on how I could make this look more correct/beautiful?
Maybe if I used a combination of the backdrop and some "real" sphere stars/planets?

Thanks in advance everyone - you're the best.
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Old 26-02-2004, 02:28 AM   #2
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Use multiple planes with transparancy maps to achieve a parallax affect.
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Old 26-02-2004, 02:59 AM   #3
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Default clarification?

Thanks Mike, but, just to make sure I understand what you mean... that I should create multiple space images, and then map them onto multiple layered semi-transparent spheres? This would give my background some depth for moving camera shots.

I think I'll still run into problems with planets though. As in, they should be entirely non-transparent, with no stars in front of them, and nothing viewable through them of course.
If I put them on the backmost layer with no transparency, there's still a problem that a star could end up in front.
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Old 26-02-2004, 03:27 AM   #4
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You don't even have to do that. Just use paintFX to paint a starfield directly in the perspective view and make sure you paint them at depth. I've done this and animated flythroughs before. Works great.

If you want to map your background on a sphere, just scale your sphere larger so you never encounter the areas that are pinched. Think about where your cameras are going to be placed and focus on those areas.
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Old 26-02-2004, 02:44 PM   #5
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Nitro:

Just start painting with no planes just on the grid?
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Old 26-02-2004, 10:01 PM   #6
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Default Paint on Sphere?

Mike,

I tried your suggestion, and if I use 3-4 layered spheres I get enough variation in the star movement so that it looks very cool.

Granted I'm not sure if it's 100% realistic, but hopefully the foreground action will be distraction enough.

I still have to figure out some way to do planets so that stars aren't seen in front of or behind them. I apologize that I'm pretty uninformed when it comes to this painting and texturing stuff, but any ideas would help. Maybe a planet-only layer, where the rest is transparent? If that would work...how do I do it?

Here's my big problem though...my painted 2D space background image is 640 x 480. The spheres that I map that on to are quite huge, as they need to be large enough so that the universe looks infinite. My issue is that, this 640x480 image is stretched to cover the large sphere, and is by far no longer crisp or even remotely attractive. The stars begin to look like marshmallows or cotton rather than sharp points of light.
So, I need a way to get around this image-stretching. My best guess for how to handle this is by painting directly onto the universe sphere. This means, I have to paint a lot more obviously, but then there would be no stretching.

Maybe I should just stick with 2d planes and restrict my shots to pan/dolly without rotations?
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Old 27-02-2004, 12:19 AM   #7
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Yes, just paint in the perspective view without any planes. If you do a search in the help docs for "star" there's a small "how-to" on animating a starfield.

There are other ways of making starfields and if you search the forum for things like stars, starfield, or space, you'll find some methods (i.e., using/freezing particles to create the initial starfield or creating a shader using the leather material (edited).
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Old 27-02-2004, 12:30 AM   #8
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well I'll be, there it was right in the Maya help docs all along.

Good to see some of the other ways people have tackled this type of animation as well.

Thanks Nitro, very solid.
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Old 27-02-2004, 01:06 AM   #9
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Another thing you might consider, although a bit of a hard way to do it, I suppose, is to create stars using particles. I've seen it done before. lol
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