Copyright 2019 Howard Gardner
During January 2019 I utilised some free time to create a 90 second video clip featuring a starship which I designed and constructed using Maya; this was a sort of follow-up to my 2014 short Space Opera. The mapped surface textures were made using some stck images and also photographs which I had taken myself, of aircraft and machinery. These were edited in Photoshop (and you can see the final UV map for the hull beneath). The rendering was done using Mental Ray and the layers were composited together in After Effects.
My primary inspiration for the look of the spacecraft were the designs of Syd Mead for Alien and Aliens, particularly the USS Sulaco. As I didn't intend the film clip to portray any special narrative, I did not work out a detailed back story for it. However I imagined the vessel as being a civilian freighter, with the gun turrets presumably to defend against piracy.
The unnamed planet in the background is simply a sphere primitive onto which I had mapped a fractal noise pattern. It's cloudy atmosphere was a slightly larger sphere placed around it, again using fractals to generate the patterns, but this time with a transparency channel to allow the surface beneath to show through in places. Some additional glow effects were added later in the compositing phase.
Overall I'm pleased with what i achieved here and it took less than two weeks of my spare time. However I now feel the ship has an unnecessarily 'boxy' appearance and if I repeat this exercise in the future I will try to make use of use some more complex shapes.