Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hotel Righi video, part 1 - concept

one of the 2007 renderings,

Now that Astana is near completion (80% of frames rendered, compilation completely prepped, DVD authoring prepped), I'm starting a new video project.

Righi (pronounced ree-gee) is a Swiss hotel we worked on 2 years ago. My task was to create 600 square miles of the surrounding landscape: the mountains and trees. The output was a series of still images. I'm revisiting this site to create a short animation - maybe a minute long - of a camera flying over the Alps and into town.

I selected this project for the opportunity of advanced features and techniques: a rolling landscape, an enchanting location, a huge level-of-detail (LOD) system, and high-quality animated characters. Since the camera focuses on a much smaller habitat - a village of a few acres rather than the 55+ city blocks of Astana - it'll be easier to bump the realism up from what was produced for the Astana project.

site photo

This is one of the photos of the project site, collected from the Internet, that I'll use as reference to model the town.

satellite photo from Google Earth

The Swiss village of Glion lies between Lake Geneva and some ski slopes, and is the home of the world's 3rd best hotel management school.

Here are this project's stages:
  1. terrain - create a model of the mountains and texture it with grass and dirt
  2. buildings - The hotel has already been modeled. The rest of the town still needs to be modeled.
  3. camera path - This is the route that the camera takes through the video. It will determine where in the scene additional detail is required.
  4. vegetation - These could potentially be millions of trees. I'll need to build a LOD system in order to render them efficiently.
  5. rendering tests - After the bulk of modeling is completed, I'll have to determine which rendering system to move forward with. My inclination is to avoid GI (global illumination) and instead create an economical ambient lighting system.
  6. environmental effects - I'd like to include voluminous clouds, sparking water, and various lens effects.
  7. street-level details - Once the camera reaches the street, the area around it - maybe a 200 ft. radius - has to have enough detail to be convincing. This will include details that are omitted from the rest of the town, including sidewalks, curbs, and bushes. Any roofs that are too close to the camera might require detailed shingles and chimneys.
  8. animated people - As the camera slows to a stop before the hotel entrance, there will be 3 highly-detailed humans milling about.
  9. rendering, compilation, DVD append
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