Night Shift 2

Where’s Lt. Cmdr Waldo?

cargo_maintenance_048bLatest version of Starstation India’s Night Shift scene, this time with little peoples!

Taking a little break from the ship construction scene, I decided to play around with a little post render fun. I’ve longed to have little people marching around my bigger more expansive scenes, but the most I’ve been able to add to any shot are some very simple humanoid silhouettes or very thin stand-ins that, at most, help with a sense of scale. I do have DAZ 3D but very little experience and even fewer garments appropriate to my chosen theme. The few Trek like costumes I’ve found available online have not been very satisfactory to my needs, and I’m certainly no 3D tailor.

I have to admit though, I’m not much of a “character” art devotee in the first place. As much as I admire and appreciate that in the works of others, it’s usually not the route I’m trying to take. Most of what I want to relate in my scenes, in terms of people, tends to be more distant and far less personal, akin to (for lack of a better analogy) ant colonies from afar. Most of my images and scenes focus more on the stage rather than the players, but when all is said and done, what is a stage without them? Still, I’ve always liked architectural imagery and pure concept art that does includes people into the final scene, all busy looking as they go about their daily routines, but I just hadn’t found a satisfactory means to effectively incorporate them into my renders.

When I realized there was a whole market of 2D “cutout” imagery aimed specifically at this type of endeavor, I was intrigued. There were tons of pictures of various people, plants, and in some cases furniture, available for purchase or, in limited examples, free download. Though I’m not totally certain how much more elaborate the fully purchased portfolios might work (in terms of software), but the freebies tend to be basic pictures of subjects presented against pure white or some relatively easily excised solid backing. Given the solid photographic origins, preset coloring and lighting conditions of the cutouts, and the manipulative processes necessary, I was dubious that I could accomplish anything remotely credible, but my curiosity was already peaked. Once I realized just how far from the camera lens I’d be inserting these slightly more elaborate stand-ins, I got to thinking I might be able to pull it off by sheer impressionism. The few free images I’ve found sprinkled around the internet are a wide range of genders and body types, but naturally none of them had the costumed appearance I was looking for. However, I noticed when I reduced some of them to a mere 2 to 4 percent of their original pixel imagery, things changed rather dramatically; Any silly adherence I might have had to strict costume specifications could be thrown right out the window. Just changing some basic colors and adding a few shabby details were enough to change the overall appearance of the photographed cutouts. Granted, people in blue jeans and t-shirts look pretty pathetic when they’ve merely been re-colorized to effectively stain them over in Starfleet hues. That, and masking them behind simple proportionate shapes and details, can look pretty silly up close. But once you shrink their dimensions by such a high margin, the silliest of those shortcomings just seem to melt away. It reminds me of my days toying with Shrinky-Dinks; They always looked so much better after baking! πŸ™‚

Folks standing around with laptops or kneeling down aiming their cameras like sneaky paparazzi can now be easily perceived as officers checking their itineraries or technicians performing maintenance on equipment and auxiliary craft. While I’ve only just started on a few of the best free posers I’ve come across (one reason for the lack of variety in this shift), I was able to alter them in significant ways to mimic proper costuming for officers and crew in their various work get-up. A few of them are just reversed duplicates dragged to even further distance forcing an even smaller reduction in pixels, but it allowed for a few extra placings. At such a rich distance, multiple layers of the inserted crewmembers, with varying levels of brightness and contrast, allow you to mimic the scene’s specific lighting angles, all by erasing portions of one layer atop another. Adding a layer of shadowing on the deck below or even partially obscuring their overall form behind in-scene objects helps to further anchor them within their new setting. From all I’ve learned it’s obvious I could technically use any image I desired if need be, but the cut-outs make things considerably more efficient.

While I am mostly pleased with this little crew experiment, I’m having to question (again) a number of scale issues. I think the shuttles may be considerably too large, while the large, angular, personnel entry door (luckily mostly hidden by the exiting workbee and its cargo sled) is a tad too small. I had just built the shuttles when I first rendered this, so nothing was concrete, and I’d based that heavy door and its frame on my previous poor estimates of the exterior docking ring. After the recent research and work I’ve done on the Ranger class shuttlebays, I think I have a better sense of scale for some of those details, but these new people bring those specific items in this render to new scrutiny. They’ll eventually need to be resized for any future renders.

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~ by starstation on September 21, 2013.

4 Responses to “Night Shift 2”

  1. Night shift.. where the REAL work gets done!

    looking great!

    • Thanks dude. Sometimes I love working on the tiny level like this, but tell you what… pixels can be VERY picky!

  2. That is really impressive. Would love to see dozens of people out and about on the concourse.

    • Oh, wouldn’t I love that too! πŸ˜€

      Thanks so much! Actually, I have a few more going in there on my next entry. It’s not dozens yet, but it is still a little after hours on the station. πŸ˜‰

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