Legend of Arad :: short film :: environment design! - looking for collaboration

Started by sepehr, November 03, 2009, 06:42:02 pm

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Hello everybody,

My name is Sepehr and I'm working on a Master's thesis short film called "The Legend of Arad". It is a live action short film in style of 300 with a lot of visual effects and room for creative work!

The Story

Legend of Arad is a story of a forgotten son who returns to his supposed place of birth, only to find himself unwelcome. He is captured as a defyer and is brought to the king for "purification". His soul must be purified before Marduk, the God of time. But Arad survives to become something that he can never forgive. The story takes place 4500 years ago in the lands of Sumeria, only a few centuries after the birth of civilization and the destruction of the tower of Babel.

It is a time when the people of Sumer and Akkad have forgotten their past. The only thing they remember is that they have been praying to the hand of their king; believing the hand to be the shadow of hand of Marduk, the God of the world. It is the hand that rules their army and it is the hand that brings rain. The hand of the king, the holiest thing on face of the earth; what connects their mortal world to the lands of Marduk. They have made great sculptures of the hands of seven legendary kings of the past to keep the memories of their glorious heritage alive forever. Among their oldest beliefs is a deep dread of handless people, those who are considered defyers. The cursed who rot the pillars of society and power. The defyers are often banished, tortured or killed, infants and adults alike. No one can remember the origin of this fear...

The process

The film was shot on green screen stage at the end of summer. We have been fortunate to have some great talents and industry professionals in our cast, crew and advisors. Since summer we have been editing to come up with a short and solid cut and start the best part of film making: visual effects!
We have around 50 shots that are heavy duty VFX shots or totally CG. We have started to work on some of those shots but the post-production is really demanding and I thought to post it here and seek some help!

...and we are looking for Environment Designers!

Terragen is an absolutely fantastic tool to bring the fantasy world of Arad to screen. From using it as a great base for matte painting to using it for animated establishing shots, Terragen can bring a new dimension to this film. We are looking for Terragen artists and Technical Directors who are interested in joining our team!

The goal!

The goal is to come up with a solid short film with stunning look, something new and creative, get into festivals, open new doors for everybody who joined the project. Make something that we are proud of and will land us great job opportunities! That is the beauty of synergy and team work.

Please check out Legend of Arad website and let me know if you are interested!

Thank you all!


It's my guess you have found someone to help, since we have so many talented people here.  But, I'm curious what sort of landscapes you need and if any certain landmass might already be available in a format that could be transformed by Terragen and someone's capable hands.
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?


Hi calico,

No I have not found anybody yet. Maybe my post was too long and people didn't have patience to read it. :(
I'm thinking of grabbing some real landscape DEM files and bringing them to Terragen and start from there. But I'm really new to Terragen and am not sure about its modeling capabilities. Maybe I should bring the DEM files to zBrush, modify them and then import back to Terragen.

My main issue is that the castle and other man made elements should be a part of mountain. I mean something like a castle that is curved into the mountain. Also I'm thinking of very heavy sky. Sandstorms and a very dark environment. I have attached some of my inspirations to this post.



For manipulation of DEM, L3DT could be useful.  Or something like GeoControl.  But, in my opinion, if there's a way to get the DEM to zBrush, this is the best way.  You could even take it to Modo or Lightwave (etc.) for further manipulation and / or UVs.  Sounds like a good start.

Terragen 2 would be better for rendering scenes, even some animation.  Or you could create your DEMs (zBrush, etc.) and then import that into TG2 for a scene setup.  Then, after satisfied with your scene in TG2, export the geometry to another program for your final renders.
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?

Henry Blewer

I am interested, but my computer is quite slow. It takes me days for a Hi-Def sized image.
Forget Tuesday; It's just Monday spelled with a T


Thanks njeneb! That sounds great!
As far as rendering, we have a render farm here at USC but I need to start and see if we can get a decsent number of Terragen licenses so we could use the render farm for it.
I have a meeting for that tomorrow... let's see.


Hi calico,

I had worked on some scientific visualization before and we imported a lot of DEMs to zBrush whenever data was missing and sculpted it ourselves. I thought TG2 is awesome for rendering environment. So it is not? My former pipeline was to sculpt in zBrush, then import it to Maya, convert it to Renderman Brickmaps and render in Renderman. But it was never as good as some images I found in Terragen gallery.
I found this image in TG2 gallery and that's exactly the look I was thinking about for Arad's world. A castle that is curved into this type of stone and clouds that are heavily surrounding the castle...



Quote from: sepehr on November 09, 2009, 03:20:16 pm
Hi calico,
... I thought TG2 is awesome for rendering environment. So it is not? My former pipeline was to sculpt in zBrush, then import it to Maya, convert it to Renderman Brickmaps and render in Renderman. But it was never as good as some images I found in Terragen gallery...

TG2 render engine is in my opinion one of the best and maybe the best in landscape rendering.

But working with objects  in other 3d software and bringing then in TG2  for rendering or for composition  is maybe what he meant...
He will sure say what he meant but this is what i understand and i share this thoughts too.



If you want bold vibrant coloured matte paintings check out my gallery http://wetbanana.deviantart.com/gallery/
I can do surreal desert landscapes and have a pretty good knowledge of terragen 2
My terragen gallery:

Henry Blewer

It is possible to composite the 3D or Live action into Terragen 2 scenes. By using a single color self-illuminated object as a mask for the 'hole' in the landscape. Then with a little math the camera angles and lights can be simulated in the 3D object render.
I would like to say Blender would do this, but because it does not use real world measurement, it would be very difficult.
Forget Tuesday; It's just Monday spelled with a T


Hi wetbanana,

You have some pretty cool images there. Thanks a lot for offering help. I'm sending you some samples of the look and color theme we have been working on. Colorwise Arad's is a very high contrast world with very dark shadows, heavy clouds and a very dry land.
I'm sending the samples to the rocketmail.com email



Are you suggesting to bring rendered images of Foreground objects to Terragen to be used as reference when modeling? I plan to do compositing in Nuke. As I understand Terragen should be able to render in EXR with separate passes embedded into one EXR(?)

I took a look at your pictures and I really liked A Dark and Gloomy Day, Old Granite and Fred's Mountain of STINK. I don't have your email address. If you pm me here, I can send you some more info about the project.


Henry Blewer

I would put the objects/models where you want them in the landscape. Give them a single bright obnoxious color which is self illuminated. This gives the compositor a color to map the external rendered object/models, and have the landscape and grasses, etc; render in front of the object/model. Don't get me wrong, Terragen 2 is a fantastic render engine. But it does not do transparency well yet. (Windows/glass. But my knowledge of Terragen 2 objects is still very scant.)
So, I have been playing with how to do this using Blender. It's not simple as it should be using Blender, because Blender Units of measure don't mean anything; they just are Blender Units. It would be handy if they were meters or feet...
Forget Tuesday; It's just Monday spelled with a T


Ok, I heard that at Digital Domain (which is the place Terragen was develpoed for before it became commercial if I'm not wrong), they use Terragen for atmosphere a lot but not for landscape rendering that much. They try to export landscape from Terragen to Renderman or Mental ray and render there...


Quote from: sepehr on November 11, 2009, 03:03:25 am
I plan to do compositing in Nuke. As I understand Terragen should be able to render in EXR with separate passes embedded into one EXR(?)

No, it outputs a single layer half float EXR. There is a Photoshop plugin out there that will assemble all layers into a single EXR, though (can't think what it's called right now. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's a Photoshop plugin...  :-\ )

Some pertinent questions might be:

What resolution is your final output?

What colour space will you be working in? (linear / log / 16-bit / 32-bit / etc...)

Will you pre-grade plates for the environment artist to match to, or will all grading of elements be done in comp and then go through a final DI?

Will you be providing lighting instructions (a map showing where the Sun is, etc)? (This is important; there's nothing worse than being told late in the day that the Sun needs to be somewhere else - even if you did put it in the right place but a certain look is requested... ahem)

Do you have a full VFX breakdown yet?

What other 3D apps are you using, and will there need to be a strict workflow and pipeline if necessary?

Do you have lens info, per shot, that is converted into raw FOV in degrees?

How many shots do you need covering, and, of those, how many can be covered by a single background at very high resolution? (Whoops, just saw you need 50 or so. My bad. Second part of the question still applies, though)

Is it a stipulation that everything must be TG2 (it's not a Renderosity competition after all  ;) ), or can photographic elements be mixed in?

Do you have any existing 3D assets necessary for any of the shots already, or do these also need to be created by the artists here?

Will each landscape element need to be provided by the artist as a separate render, and/or do you need masks for tweaking in comp? (Land, sky, clouds, etc)

Who will be art directing the backgrounds?

And last, but not least..... What's the deadline?  ;)
Some bits and bobs
The Galileo Fallacy, 'Argumentum ad Galileus':
"They laughed at Galileo. They're laughing at me. Therefore I am the next Galileo."

Nope. Galileo was right for the simpler reason that he was right.