I wrote these notes as I did it. I tried many different things and techniques and I hope it is not too hard to follow.
I have the models now so I am trying to reference them and I have changed the tractor beam. There is a man in the bottom of the beam and he gets taken up into the ufo.
Here I am playing with rendering with mental ray, some of the particles in this one are spheres
I decided to abandon the thin inner beam and just stick with the wider cone and tendrils.
Below I have put my tractor beam in a file with referenced models etc. I have changed the size of the beam to match the opening in the UFO but I am having trouble making the outer beam particles be transparent since I made Mentalray the renderer. I have made all except 2 streams of particles visible or dynamic.
For the main part of the beam I tried a polypipe into a conish shape with emit from surface, visibility off
I put these expressions on to make particles emit randomly on the UVs
pipeParticlesShape.goalV = pipeParticlesShape.parentV;
pipeParticlesShape.goalU = pipeParticlesShape.parentU;
pipeParticlesShape.goalU = pipeParticlesShape.goalU +0.01;
I had a bit of trouble working out how to use referencing in maya but I think I have it now.
At first I sized my fx all up to the size of the models and so increased the point size on the particles as points and multipoints, increased gravity and the size of the cone geo and the fields.
After I received the scene with geometry and animations etc I scaled it all down to fit my fx and made the particles live longer to reach the guy. Because it looks better in the smaller original scale.
I shrank the particle tube in to fit the guy’s size and particles to goal to him by scaling in the x and z scale of the newton field which constrains the tendrils and they curl down unevenly around just the man now and I like it.
I animated the start and finish of emitting rates to time with the opening of the doors and then animated the cone to start flat and extend to the ground, then reverse at the end.
I tried reversing gravity to make the tendrils go up with the man like it is pulling him up and goaling them to him then a sphere that I animated to ascend before him.
I want the wider beam to be more like a beam of light as in the references but below I have gone back with the maya renderer so that I could get some transparency on the wider beam so I am using a particle sampler node and reverse node to reverse the info of opacity to transparency on the phong as per the notes.
After trying to get tendril particles to follow the man up with little success I made a cylinder with Y scale at .001 and radius 3 and subdivisions axis 6 so that here would be 6 emitting points and animated that to descend and ascend while rotating slowly. I animated the emission rate to be 1000 as it descended and it created an even spiral pattern. I tried a newton field and gravity to bring them up, uniform field worked best turning it on and adjusting the magnitude to match the ascension. I attached the vortex and they flew out so I also attached the newton of the original tendrils. The vortex was too strong so I tried a low turbulence to mess it up a little. I like it. Now the tendrils descend in an ordered spiral then go wiggly and then ascend with the man into the spaceship. I shortened their life to 5 because they were shooting out the top of the ship.
I have tried a new way of making the tendrils and I have playblasted just them not the whole beam below. Now they go down to the man in a nice spiral as per one of the examples in the brief then they go squiggly and pull back up with the man, (so excited that they go up with him now)
Maybe the client will like the more irregular tendrils. Having worked out how to bring the spiral back into the ship I have applied that method- uniform field- to the original tendril particles and shown it below.
Now for the cone particles of the larger beam, I started them again because something broke in Maya and they wouldn’t work at all and I thought I would try something else. This time I made the cone flat and up in the UFO then made gravity pull the particles down then up to drag them back up and placed a drag field under to stop them going way down. Then I tried removing all the fields and making the flat cone go down then up and leave its particles as it went fading over time so as to finally disappear in the upward direction. I then tried attaching a uniform field to drag them up at the end to make it a bit more convincing. I added a drag field at the top to stop particles flying up out the top after they are brought back up.
I am having trouble rendering so I think I must stop fiddling with the particles and spend the last 3 days trying to render. Liar, anyway I made a turbulence field for the cone particles into a cylinder and trapped the particles inside and had it on low.
I made the particles to be software rendered to have translucence so the cone is cloud and the spiral is tubes, decreasing density makes it more transparent and big cloud cell size makes it all like a glowing cloud of the shape I chose coming down from the opening. I am pretty happy with it. I used particle sampler nodes and reverse nodes to get the opacityPP of the prticle working correctly in the transparency of the particle sampler because they are opposites. The roundness of the spiral particles was ramped down to make it more tendrilly. I batch rendered that and it is very regular and a tad boring? It does however have the same spirals as one of the things the client really liked.
This done I wanted to render the tendrils one too. Having trouble with maya playing up and not rendering in the render view so it was taking too long. I batch rendered some of it with 8 passes and it works so when I get Maya to correctly show particles and changes I am making I will be able to render. Restarting Maya again!
The tendril particles separate as they go up so I decided to try a drag field and trapping the particles as it scales down in the Y scale and translates up into the ufo. Not real good. I changed it to a new gravity field just for the tendrils and fiddled with the strength til it went up the same speed as the man.
I decided to do just a beauty pass at this stage for speed but I made a separate layer each for the ufo, man and beam, if I had more time I may have done the 2 parts of the beam separately so I could just replace 1 part if needed. I am doing the 2 versions of the beam because they are different.
I had a few goes at rendering because of accidentally not confirming the correct camera and incorrectly setting up the render passes for the layers.
I finally rendered, with MentalRay (which worked on batch renders– discovered with small test batch renders– but not when I hit render in render view) – separate beauty passes for the ufo, man, wide beam and tendrils. I realised too late that I had accidentally chosen the wrong format in render settings so I used reformat and transform nodes in Nuke to make up for that when I composited it and finally I rendered it in Nuke and have a real movie of it at last to hand in for the week 9 progress assessment.
It took so long to do just the one scene that I didn’t end up finishing the rendering and comping of the regular spiral one hence I only handed in the irregular tendrils one, that was all that was asked for anyway, just one and I like that one better.