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1 Tutorials LightWave 3D A quick Sunrise with Skytracer em Qua Jan 26, 2011 3:13 am

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by Christian Bloch


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Why CG?

It needs a lot patience to capture a time-shifted
sunrise in the real world on video.

You
have to climb up onto the roof at 4 a.m., point
the camera at the horizon in darkness, and wait.
Now just don't poke the tripod! Waiting... Quite
shivery this morning, isn't it? ... Waiting.
... Ahh - there comes the sun - but it's slightly
off screen. ... doesn't matter - waiting ...
Where do all these dark clouds come from? Pleeease,
no tempest now! ... More waiting?! Come on, let's
climb down and give it another try tomorrow...

About 5 failed attempts later,
even the most hardcore video fan gives it up.

But with LightWave's unique
Skytracer this shot can be done in five minutes.
In addition, this effect is surprisingly easy
done.

1.
Camera set-up:

First, move the camera to (0,0,0) coordinates
by using the 'reset' button. That's needed because
Skytracer calculates the position of the sun
exactly from this point of view.

For this tutorial the heaven
should cover the whole frame, so turn your camera
up a little (-20° pitch
here) and set the zoom factor at something like
2.8.



2.
Prepare the light:

Create a new Null-object (^A) and parent the
light on it. Reset the light's Y and Z position
to 0, so that the light sits on the X-axis.

Now move the Null-object a
little bit back and right (maybe to 1,0,3).



3.
Let the sun rise:

Now we need just a single keyframe at the Null-object
to animate the rising sun. So go to frame 60
and alter the Null-object's banking angle to
-120°. Now the sun moves along a perfect arc.



The
Light Intensity should also be animated, so we
put an envelope on it. Let it rise for the first
half of the animation, from 50% at frame 0 to
100% at frame 30. To give it a smooth ease-out
set the Tension on the second keyframe to 1.



4.
Create the heaven:

Activate the Skytracer plug-in in the backdrops
panel. It is that easy.



There
you just need to tell Skytracer that our Light
is his sun (respectively 'Light1') and the scene
is actually finished already.

Feel free to play with the
other Skytracer settings, but the Defaults are
chosen well and provide a nice look, too.



5.
Moving clouds:

Because we want to fake a time-shifted sequence,
the clouds should move visibly.

To achieve this, we need another
Null-object and set 2 keyframes on it. How you
move your clouds is totally up to you, but you
should stick to a straight 2-key-line. For example,
move the Null in frame 0 far away (-5,0,-20)
and set it in frame 60 to (0,0,0).



Pressing
F5 brings back the Skytracer window, where we
have to parent the cloud layer 2 on the Null(2)
object.

By repeating these steps with
a third Null-object you can animate the other
cloud layer as well, and bring even more motion
into the animation.



This should be enough for a
quick introduction in weathermaking... Surely,
there are many ways to optimize this scene for
more realism, and you can experiment with a lot
of styles by playing around with the skytracer
settings.

I hope this tutorial could evoke
your interest for some exciting Skytracer experiments.
Of course, I'm all ears to your feedback.
]

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