Follow the reluctant adventures in the life of a Welsh astrophysicist sent around the world for some reason, wherein I photograph potatoes and destroy galaxies in the name of science. And don't forget about my website, www.rhysy.net



Monday, 17 January 2011

A Blast From The Past : 2001 A Short Odyssey

The far distant past, this being my first major, hopelessly over-ambitious project I started back in 2002 and abandoned sometime in 2003. With 2010 over, I've decided to finally call it quits. Meh, everyone should experience the fun of a massive, failed project at least once. So quit whining about all the people starting things they're never going to finish and let them get it out of their systems (yes, I'm talking to you, blenderartists.org forummers).

Anywho, the video :



The goal was to try and show all the scenes in the book "2001 : A Space Odyssey" that weren't featured in the film. This was done in Blender 2.23-2.3, when raytracing was a gleam in the programmer's eyes (and some Terragen also). So don't expect anything revolutionary, this was a learning project (although it does show some nice faked volumetrics). Editing is poor (because some scenes are outright missing), some renders are pretty hideous, and the psychedelic sequence at the end relies too heavily on a kaleidoscopic effect (because back then, rendering times were insanely slow).

I should also point out that my system at the time had 128 MB RAM and probably no more than a 500 Mhz processor. Only spotlights could cast shadows back then. Volumetrics were the work of the devil. Reflection and refraction - I think not. And vectorial motion blur ? Don't make me laugh. Many scenes were rendering at 5 minutes per frame even at this poxy resolution (the very idea of HD being at least as fanicifull as interstellar spaceflight). And another thing, get those damn kids off my lawn...

A more complete description is probably warranted for people who want to understand what the hell is going on :

00:00 - 01:38 Title sequence, following the film
01:38 - 04:08 2,000,000 B.C, an alien spaceship exits hyperspace and explores the solar system. Detecting primitive humans on Earth, it destroys a moon of Saturn, creating its rings and a large black monolith...
04:08 - 05:42 The alien ships flies in complete silence (because I never got round to adding any music) over some cheesy Terragen/Blender landscapes and creates a second, smaller crystalline monolith

MISSING SCENES : The monkey stares into the monolith and sees some swirly patterns. And then does the famous bone-smashing scene, followed by the whole Space Station V sequence, and possibly something on the Moon for completeness' sake. I even started some of this - you can see the proof on my website. Some of the spaceships were pretty detailed, albeit badly textured.

05:42 - 07:52 Discovery explores the Saturnian system where it finds the monolith on the moon Japetus.
07:52 - 08:50 Discovery enters the monolith which is revealed as a wormhole entrance. This is connected to a "grand central station" of other wormholes and it flies through one of them. I suppose it should really be one of the pods, not Discovery itself, but I didn't want to model one.
08:50 - 09:15 The ship now explores a giant ancient space net. Unfortunately, this is crap. It really can't be depicted on a system with 128 MB RAM, it just can't. But I tried anyway...
09:15 - 09:52 Strange blue non-corporeal entities are encountered on the surface of a red giant star, which fly toward an orbiting white dwarf.
09:52 - 14:27 This was my take on the psychedelic surrealism of the film. I'm afraid it does go on a bit. Watch out for the nebula at ~10:32, it was done in Terragen. The sequence from 11:49 - 11:54 is quite good. From 13:18 - 13:59 we explore the Mandelbrot set using some other program, then explore it in 3D with Blender until the end (which I think looks pretty neat).

MISSING SCENES : I then intended to do a zoom in from the large-scale structure of the Universe to the famous space baby, which would destroy an orbiting weapons satellite. Started, but did not finish. And of course there are many others I didn't even start. Still, I got about halfway through my projected 30 minutes total, which isn't bad going I think.

Moral of the story : Bad workman blames his tools... well, maybe, but if you only have 10 bricks you can't expect to build Notre Dame. Except maybe in minature.

EDIT : Within a few minutes of upload YouTube had correctly identified the original copyright owner of the music (no, I don't have access to my own orchestra, so yes, I used an existing recording) and determined that no action need be taken except, possibly, to display some adverts in the side banner. This is technically very impressive and more than a little scary, but kudos to Demon Music for not adopting draconian copyright principles.

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