© Mark Platten 2006




- 3ds Max
- After Effects

As with many other of my projects, this brought its own idiosyncrasies to the work-bench.

The pass of a comet began life as a part of a generic space sequence - a highly idealised journey among various celestial bodies in the Solar System. Subsequently the project's made a good occasional test-bed for newly acquired techniques and plug-ins. As my skills have matured, it's lost much of its resemblance to the original project I created for my employers.

The actual 3d model is relatively simple: a lump of asteroid-shaped mesh, slung along an arc-shaped path which comes close to the camera when it passes across the screen. The lump is parented-up to a dummy so that the comet appears to be spinning on its own axis as it traces its course.

Although a number of different passes were rendered, including tracking data, the majority of project time was probably spent at the compositing stage.

Tail itself was accentuated with Trapcode's 'Shine' in After Effects; multi-layering, and blends.

Here you can see the mapping being stretched just a little bit too far here, at the centre of the lump: in practise, the geometry crosses the shot so rapidly, it's inconsequential.

Were I to repeat this kind of project, I'd look more seriously at baking and procedural maps, and I'd embed more sophisticated data at the 3d render stage to give more leverage in post.

A fiery tail and a turbulent mess of incandescent fragments left in the comets' wake were achieved with a Max particle system. Final touches included the mandatory slow-zooming starfield, and, for the edit, a nice whoosh panning across the speakers; a composite of various sound tracks and effects.

In the marketplace, today's audiences, flattered with lavish technology and ever-more sophisticated editing & narrative techniques, is cumulatively cynical toward CG. Anything that falls just below that 100% plausibility 'suspension of disbelief' benchmark is simply not good enough.

Cold comfort to me back then, up against the week's deadline...