Teaser Trailer

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2012 Teaser Trailer

The "Teaser Trailer" is both a promotional video for the Lunatics project and the pilot "No Children in Space" and a simple test of our ability to produce finished animation. It's a "threat of flight" type of test -- you tend to discover all kinds of problems you might not have thought of when you have to actually produce a finished work.

It's designed to be as simple as possible, so that we can do it in a week, even if some things go wrong. It will have a total length of about 45 seconds and will include just 30 seconds of animation. The animation will also be very limited, consisting mainly of path-based camera and lighting moves and some 2D animation in the scene. There will be 10 seconds of facial animation for Georgiana, which we will try with both 2D and 3D techniques for comparison. There is a small physics simulation effect.

Remember: ```this is a test```. I fully expect that stuff will go wrong, and we'll discover stuff I haven't planned properly for. If you're running into trouble, then let us all know so we can fix the problem!



Vignette (about 10 seconds) of the moment of launching from the pad.

We are seeing the Soyuz-SF control panel (right side) from Georgiana's point of view, through her helmet visor). Everything starts out still. Georgiana (the camera) looks down and we see Georgiana lift her feet up -- she's fidgeting while she waits. An LED lights on the panel right in front of Georgiana where (It's labeled "CAPSULE LOOP 3" in Russian or something to that effect). There's another light on for "CONTROL LOOP 1".

(Only slightly filtered - English)
Don't worry, you can always hear me on this channel, and I can hear you. It'll be just like we practiced.

There is a rumbling sound and we hear the launch contoller over the radio:

Пуск. (Launch)
На борту порядок самочувствие хорошее. (Everything on board looks good)

Can hear the engines rumble and rise in sound along with the reports.

Предварительная. (Engine start)
Промежуточная. (Intermediate)
Главная. (Full thrust)
Подъем. (Lift off)

(Thanks to Veronika Kurshinskaya for transcribing this from a real launch! :-) ).

The cabin starts to rock. We can see the BEAR TOY swinging gently from side to side. The display to the left (center console) shows all four pod stages and the core stage are firing. The lighting is still interior artificial lighting throughout this vignette.


INTERTITLE: "A new kind of science-fiction series"


Vignette (about 10 seconds) of the tower eject and shroud separation.

First concept for this shot is to show the same point of view. The Bear is moving around rapidly now in a little circle as the cabin rocks. We can also hear the creaking from the shock-absorber behind Georgiana's head and the viewpoint is rocking foreward and back slightly as well. The middle console shows only the center stage, because the pods are gone now. There is a pop and a very loud metallic sound as the shroud comes off. Blue light streams in from Georgiana's window. This illuminates Georgiana's face, and we see this as a reflection in the visor superimposed over the view of the console. (we'll actually just composite this). Georgiana can be seen turning to look at the light, and then we see the view through the porthole of the limb of the Earth with black sky overhead (we're already high enough that it looks like space).

(slightly filtered - Russian)
Acceleration still feels good. The shroud has ejected normally
(filtered - Russian)
Confirmed. All parameters are normal.

Georgiana looks back at the console and so do we. The natural light from the porthole is shifting still.




Vignette (another 10 seconds) of the moment when the upper stage cuts off. There is a gentle rumbling and the BEAR TOY is moving, but now in a small circle. Suddenly, the sound stops. The BEAR TOY is now in free fall and the tension in the string holding it causes it to recoil up to the ceiling where it then bounces and floats on the tether. The BEAR TOY's legs move around loosely as a result. The middle screen shows the cutoff as well. The left screen (in front of HIROMI) is showing the launch track profile -- it's not clear if GEORGIANA can see this.

After a beat...

Are we in space now, mama?
(slightly filtered)
Yes, honey, we're in orbit...


ON-SCREEN TEXT: "No Children in Space" - Launching 2013

Just long enough to read the text and then...

Can I have the bear now?



As you can see, this is (by design!) pretty conservative on modeling. We need one interior set. We need a backdrop or a model of the Earth view out the porthole (probably just a 2D image, either pre-rendered from a 3D model or maybe even a photograph). Even with this set, we are mostly going to be focused on the right side of the console, the hatch, and other interior details on that side. We'll need the "Sokol" spacesuits for the adults (but probably not the actual character models). We'll need at least a partial model of Georgiana's spacesuit, including the interior. And we'll need models of the acceleration couch, even though they will not be entirely on screen. Most of the animation is just movements of camera and lighting, with the BEAR TOY being the main animated element. We also need 2D animation for the control panel screens and some lighting changes on the console.

But even so, there's enough work here to test out our capabilities as a team.

Set: Soyuz-SF Descent Module Interior

The animation will take place in a single set, which is the interior of the "Soyuz-SF" (science-fiction version of Soyuz-TMA with new console design and other small changes -- this means we can get away with not being perfectly accurate as long as it looks cool enough).

In fact, the original concept is to use a subjective shot from Georgiana's point-of-view (which is the right or "spaceflight participant" seat -- this is the same position that has been used for space tourists like Anousheh Ansari or Mark Shuttleworth going up to the International Space Station.


Overall Style Considerations

1) We are pretty much building everything to "true scale" -- i.e. as if the characters were exactly human-proportioned. They are in fact awfully close, partly because I wanted to be able to use true-scale.

2) We are planning to render this scene in the trailer and in the final film using some Freestyle settings. So it is probably not going to be necessary to create extremely fine texturing like you would use for photoreal modeling. My ideal for these backgrounds is that they look "painted" or "sketched" -- a bit like the (usually watercolored) background cels in Japanese anime (not like the spot-colored foreground cels -- that's for the characters). But we might want to err a little bit on the more realistic side of this. Some shots, such as spacecraft exteriors and the Earth outside the porthole will be nearly or entirely photoreal. I fully expect to have to do some experimenting on these settings, and this teaser will give us some test material to try that with.

3) There is quite a bit of technical detail in the consoles and other elements. We may need to do more realistic rendering to include details like button labels and video screens. If necessary, we can render twice and do some compositing.

4) Try not to waste lots of polygons on detail, but this shouldn't be a "low-poly" model. Although I appreciate the need to think some about resource-intensive rendering, I also think that "CPU-time" is very cheap compared to "human-time". It's far better to create a model that saves us some design and modeling time than to produce one that is extraordinarily optimized. We can always throw some more hardware at it -- but there's only so many modelers on this project!


The following is broken down into components with assignments to team members. If this breakdown is a problem, we may be able to swap some tasks or re-balance. But this is based on the expertise you've shown in your portfolios. In the diagram below, I've color coded the assignments: GREEN is Andrew Pray, RED is Gorka Mendieta, BLUE is Cosmin Planchon, BLACK is Guillaume Cote, PURPLE is Sathish Kumar. The parts in light gray can probably be omitted.

We might adjust this breakdown if it looks like it's imbalanced.

Guillaume Cote

Set walls, detailing, integration

Guillaume has done a lot of detailed mech modeling and finely detailed models. By comparison this one is pretty simple. This is also a test of putting together components created by other modelers into the result.

Details to include: the hatchway (leads into the "Orbital Module" -- above the commander seat in the middle and over the console). Portholes. Air controls near the window. Lighting fixture (but these can be different style than the real Soyuz-TMA lights -- by the 2040s, high-intensity LED lighting have become the norm for most interior lights). Fans. Parachute chambers. Other wall details. See the photo references below.

Also, I already started on this -- I just got the plan views into Blender and started modeling the envelope. You might find this a useful start:


(Plan views)


Cross-section showing the parachute compartment:

Soyuz parachute compartment.jpg

Soyuz plans w scale.jpg

Cosmin Planchon

Main console, periscope, controllers

Cosmin has done a lot detailed mech including control panels and even designed some for toon-rendering, so I think this will fall well into his scope.

The control panel is based on my Inkscape drawing below, though you might want to look at some of the control detail photos below for ideas on modeling the individual elements. We'll need to be able to control the LED lights on the communications blocks.

The SF console differs from the TMA mainly in that the displays are simplified and larger. They are now touch-screen panels, so there is no need for the cursor and display setting buttons. They are therefore somewhat larger. The content for the screens will be a video animation created by Timothee.

First, here is my SVG plan drawing for the Soyuz-SF console. As you can see, it has been simplified a bit from the Soyuz-TMA "Neptun" console. You still may want to look at the photo references for the "Neptun".


Photos: Main Soyuz-TMA "Neptun" console

Photos: Periscope

Close-ups of some similar control hardware -- these are mostly from airplanes, but they could be used as guides for individual controls:

Gorka Mendieta

Kazbek acceleration couches, physics on bear and rigging couches

I'm asking Gorka to concentrate on the things that need the most attention to rigging (things that have to move)

The standard acceleration couches for Soyuz-TMA are called "Kazbek", and the adult's couches in the "Soyuz-SF" will be very similar if not identical to these (you have a little bit of license in the design, because we could just say these are a later model). They may not get that much screen time in the teaser trailer, although they will clearly be important during the actual launch scene.

These will need to be rigged to bounce on the shock absorbers.

Gorka will also have the problem of rigging the BEAR TOY to go through its animations. It should have a "ragdoll" armature that allows it to reflect the changing gravity and to move naturally. The string will of course need to have tension and be able to recoil when we get into freefall. So there's a little bit of a physics simulation problem to solve.

Photo references for Kazbek couches:

Andrew Pray

Spacesuits, BEAR TOY

As character modeler, Andrew will be working on the humanoid stuff. We need an adult spacesuit model based on the current "Sokol" spacesuits as used with Soyuz. The Sokol is a pure "Intra-vehicular activity" (IVA) spacesuit worn for safety during launch. The visor is part of the suit and there is no separate helmet (you actually get into the suit through the chest). I have a beautiful set of photos taken by ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti during her training, which illustrates this.

We also need a spacesuit for Georgiana, which will be an American design which looks a little more like an Apollo moon spacesuit or like a Shuttle spacesuit. In fact, it's a combination "Intra-vehicular activity" (IVA) and "Extra-vehicular activity" (EVA) suit with a separate helmet. Some imagination can be used here, or I can provide some more drawings and photo references.

He's already got a model for Georgiana, which we can try using to animate the expressions and head moves that she needs to make. I'm also looking into trying a 2D animation of this to see how the two compare.

And hopefully, it won't be too hard to model the teddy bear plushie, too.

Photo references - "Sokol" spacesuits (adults):

Photo Reference - Samantha Cristoforetti's complete Sokol donning sequence (actually, there's a couple of stray photos in here from her depressurized re-entry exercise, but they're still good Sokol photos).

Apollo Moonsuit reference photos (EVA suit for Lunar Surface). Apollo suits came apart into a lot of pieces and served as both IVA and EVA suits with different accessories. I think they would probably have done something like that with Georgiana's spacesuit, because otherwise they would've had to design TWO children's spacesuits instead of one.

Shuttle EVA suit (Shuttle EVA suit was much simpler and optimized for EVA)

Shuttle IVA "pumpkin" suit (Solely an IVA suit, like the Russian "Sokol" suits above)

There's a few more photos on the Character Art Commission page which I prepared for Daniel Fu.

IVA = "intra-vehicular activity" suits. These are worn during launch and re-entry to protect the crew in case there is a loss of pressure inside the spacecraft (in fact one of the exercised Cristoforetti is documenting above is the emergency return procedure if a leak is discovered on Soyuz). These tend to be optimized more for comfort when unpressurized.

EVA = "extra-vehicular activity" suits (also called "EMU" - "Extravehicular Mobility Unit") is a suit designed for "spacewalking" outside the spacecraft. These are carefully balanced with constant-volume joints to allow free movement when pressurized.

Sathish Kumar

Modified acceleration couch for Georgiana

Sathish will be working on another project as well (lander), but I'd like him to model Georgiana's acceleration couch. We want it to look noticeably different from the adults' acceleration couches.

Because a conventional Soyuz "Kazbek" acceleration couch has a minimum height requirement, Georgiana is too small to ride in the convention couch. So the right seat has been removed and replaced with a custom couch built by the International Space Foundation which fits on the same mounting points (a hinge at the foot and a shock-absorber fork-mount at the head). This seat can be of a rather different design, and it would probably make sense to allow Georgiana to sit in a more comfortable position: adults have their legs retracted in a knees-up position in Soyuz to conserve space, but Georgiana will have plenty of room. On the other hand, her spacesuit is different and may require some adapter equipment which could be in a storage compartment at her feet (see the diagram below).

Of course, you should also look at the "Kazbek" photos up above.

Vyacheslav Yastrebtsev

Texturing and freestyle rendering tests

Vyacheslav will be mostly working on another project (lander). For the teaser trailer, though, I'd like some help with creating textures for Freestyle rendering and with the rendering itself. I'd also like to ask him to check that the console labels make some sense. I copied most of these from real Soyuz panels and some of them I understand. Others are pretty cryptic. And the original labels where right at the limits of the images, so they were hard (or impossible!) to read.

Timothee Giet

Console graphical display, Earth

Timothee will be mostly working on animatics and some other material.

For teaser trailer, I'd like him to make some simple animated display graphics to put on the touch panel displays on the console. I have some examples of the current display graphics below, but I have the idea of going with a bit more of a graphical interface with a stylized diagram of the launch vehicle used to display status information on the stages and rocket engines (I'll be adding some additional graphics as well). These only need to be a few frames, with limited animation.

Also, I'm hoping Timothee can create the limb of the Earth that will be visible through the porthole -- this is just a backdrop, and can probably be created from a photo or painted. At this altitude, the curvature of the Earth would be barely visible -- it's nearly going to be a straight horizon.

Photo references -- Here's some images of the existing Soyuz-TMA panel displays. We can use elements of this in the design for Soyuz-SF:

Here's a (very rough) sketch of what I was thinking might be on the displays. The idea is that this is a graphically-organized info display for spacecraft status (right) and altitude-downrange during launch (left). These would be two of the options for displaying information (the real displays do have a display selection option, but it's controlled by actual buttons instead of a touch-panel):

Soyuz-SF-graphical organizer display concept sketch.jpg

Of course, the labels would actually be in Russian. And this is just an idea, if you have a different/better concept, then give a go. I'd like to be able to tell what stages are firing at a glance. But otherwise, it's just "pretty shiny lights" for the console.

Terry Hancock

Camera and lighting movement

As director, I will be working on the camera movement and lighting to get the shots for the vignettes. And of course, I'll also be creating the soundtrack that goes with it -- directing the voice acting, creating the effects sound, and foley sound. I don't think I'm going to use music on this trailer -- I think it'll be more powerful without it, although that will make the sound production a little harder.

Of course, I'm also going to be doing a lot of other stuff for the Kickstarter during this time. I have a number of incidental videos that I have to get finished this week.