How to make the Starcruiser animation in Lightwave

This was one of the first animations I did when I got my hands on a 64 bit PC.

One of the things to understand when doing animations with large objects, is that they move slower. The bigger the mass, the slower the movements. Compare this to an elephant. And then take a look at a mouse. So, the first thing I wanted to do, was to get a really slow and steady movement for the ship.

The starfield is a simple noise map done in Photoshop and then reworked with contrast / brighntess a few times. An additional glow effect using gaussial blur gave it the final touch I was after.

Lighting wise, the sun is the hero in this one. I´ve got a sun light hitting the moon only to get the angle I wanted. Then another sun hitting just the ship. Then a few fill lights, underneath, from behind and from the front. And that´s it! No radiosity here, just fill lights filling in the blanks.

I wanted part of the scene to be dark. Almost pitch dark. So I kept the lighting sparse. I did this on purpose to create an effect of mystery when the ships heads for the moon. In the start, we see the ship brightly lit. And as the camera pans for the moon, we get a darker and darker ship – to create tention and that spooky effect. This also helps to not overpower the moon.

I spent a great deal of time doing audio editing on this one. I had several tracks with ship engines going on, with various pitches and slow mo effects in Vegas Pro 8. When I got the engines right, I felt the animation got alive. Finally, I just accented the full view of the rear of the ship with the music and this piece was done.

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