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Fly Thru Animation Advice


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I have an opportunity to do a flythru animation of a mixed use outdoor retail/community center/town home/condos site and have not done this before. I usually do still images and have only done a couple simple animations, nothing even close to this amount of work.







(I am working in 3DMax 6 on one PC with Adobe Premier for post work.)


I have not worked with RPC content before, is it difficult or is there a better product or solution out there?


The customer wants animated cars and people so my first thought was the RPC 2.5 people and RPC parking lot cars. The 2.5 people move but don't walk, is there a similar product that has walking people?


If my camera is 15 feet off the ground do the 2.5 people look funny?


I was planning on animating the RPC cars, I assume they are simple poly models with the car image mapped on.


There is a central water fountain in the scene and is there an animated RPC water fountain product?


Do the RPC's add much rendering time?


I was going to keep the lighting simple, one main sun light with shadows and some fill and ambient light without shadows. No reflections on anything to cut the rendering time down. The question is what shortcuts to take and not to take for an animation?


What about the sky and background landscape, the sky I can put a dome in the scene but do I don't know what to do about the surrounding hills/landscape?


The turnaround for this is the first or second week in November, approx. how much time can I assume to put in? I know this is very dependant on many things so I am only looking for a general estimate. My concern is that I am getting in over my head.


I have not priced out something like this either so what is a fair price? It will be somewhere around 60 seconds long. Again I am only looking for a general estimate, I was thinking $6000 to $10,000.


Is there any advice you can give me from your experiances?


Thank you all for your input.


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RPC is extremely simple to use, and you probably know this already, but the plugin ships with Max6 on the (I believe) second CD. You just have to purchase the content. I've not personally come across a better solution for 2.5 animated people, without going full animated 3D, which typically doesn't look very realistic up close. You could perhaps mix the 2.5 and the full 3D people, using the 3D people further away from the camera. www.renderings.com has a good animated example using both libraries, as well as the vehicles.


15 feet off the ground, yes the people will look funny if you are close to them. They are just flat planes.


For animating the vehicles, you simply place the vehicle, and then it prompts you for a path. I've never actually animated a RPC car, so I can't help you beyond that point. It allows you to adjust the steering, but I'm not sure how the steering ties in with the animation controls.


For the fountain, I'd suggest a simple particle fountain. Don't know about the RPC libraries for that.


I have not done a comparison, but I have not found RPCs to add much to the rendering time. I think that's one of their benefits actually.


If you are going to have 3D trees, I'd suggest maybe 2 direct lights in the exact same location. For the raytraced light, exclude your trees and, if you use it, your particle fountain. For the second light, make it a shadow map, and exclude everything but your trees and fountain. Using relatively small shadow map sizes as well might help with speed, maybe 128?


For a project I just finished, I found a nice city skyline photograph and edited it in photoshop with a simple blue gradient for the sky (no clouds) and made it so my buildings would wrap seamlessly. I then mapped that image onto a cylinder (rather than a dome) and inverted the normals on the cylinder so the map would show on the inside. The skyline material is 100% self illuminating since the photograph naturally has its own lighting and shadows.


For turnaround, it always takes longer than you think. I just finished an interior and exterior animation for a restaurant. I had budgeted a month for modeling, and a month for rendering (processing). I am as of today at 308 hours, not including rendering time. There were numerous design changes, and progress stuff that I had to prepare to show the client. Take your estimate, and double it!


Our fee was a modest $8k as that was all I was allowed to bill for this project. It should have been about $12k. We're able to charge for additional services for this particular project though to cover the cost. My animation was also over 5 minutes long at 30fps, though we had to trim it back to just over 4 minutes due to presentation time constraints. This fee also was for interior and exterior.


Bottom line, don't underestimate the time. Especially since you'll be using methods and techniques you've never used before. You'll have a lot of time experimenting and testing settings, which will eat away at your budget.


Good Luck,


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RPCs can save you time, as they don't take much extra, but keep in mind how you will light it, that's what will add the time.

The next thing is if you will be doing interior renderings. I assume you will be. That will add much time to get right. Exterior animations are much easier and there is much less accuracy to account for. With interiors, you will be close to detail and you will notice the lighting. This could add a significant amoutn of time to your rendering.


The doubling idea is a good starting point. You will almost always have to make significant changes and being new to this you will run into problems. Count on at least a few days just to try to get the rendering times down (the difference will be exponential).


Will you be using GI? The lighting, from my experience, will make the most difference. Soft shadows or raytraced? There are many areas you can save time, but you have to start somewhere. Testing will be crucial to reduce the time for each frame.


Computers? That's a big one. If you have a render farm, and can use it to it's full advantage, then you don't have much to worry about. If you only have one computer, even if it's a screamin' new dual, it will be different. If you don't have a the computers, I would suggest budgeting in enoungh to upgrade and buy the computers and software (RPCs aren't cheap) to get it done faster.


Pricing depends on the size of the project and the complexity of the detailing. Don't underestimate how long this will take, these projects vary in price dramatically (with your prices being the beginning point, and on up....really up).



Good luck.

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RPC cars are excellent for man's eye view or aerial, but 2.5 people need to be on man's eye view or will definitely look funny. they add a little on rendering time. but if you have lots of rpc trees then this will slow your rendering time.


Nice backround are panoramic skies.



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This link is to a project I completed a few months ago. It has RPC Cars, Trees, People, and Fountains.




I kept the lighting simple and used a camera map for the shadows for the RPC trees and parked cars. This took between 5-12 minutes per frame, 30 fps for 3 minutes. Probably 40plus hours to render on a 20 computer render farm.


I agree with Eric in how easy it is to underestimate your time on a large render job. I try to do lots of test renders (every 100 frames) before submitting the entire job.


Good Luck on the Job,



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To seyahmit.......



Thank you, thank you, thank you for the links. I bid the job on Monday and should know by Wednesday if I got it. The architect and developer are also looking into a full interactive web site from a studio. This job is a stretch for me but I am more confidant because of all the help and info I have received from this forum.


Thanks everybody!



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