Friday, May 4, 2018

Millennium Falcon 3D Model Part 8

I teased that the next update would be a CAVE2 one. But given a busy semester, slow progress until I remembered May the 4th, 2018 was coming up. I released a short teaser trailer to highlight the project features to date - well most of them. I spent about 9 hours the night before setting up the 12 or so shots used for the video. Every shot I filmed that night was included in the video. I had 3 additional shots planned, but didn't get around to filming those.

A number of the shots were modeled after the teaser trailer for 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' and uses the music from that trailer by L'Orchestra Cinématique which is available on their YouTube channel.


Like almost all of my CAVE2 images or videos, I personally setup all the shots, the camera, and the lighting. I used a few versions of the CAVE2 application for the video. Some were existing demo versions with the music muted, others I was modifying the source project and making a new build for specific behaviors I wanted to capture or setting up the in-game camera at a specific location in case I needed to duplicate a shot.

The final hyperspace shot was the one that took the most takes because 1) the lighting was hard to get right and 2) I broke the app once and the star streaks were stuck in front of the cockpit. It was also the last shot of the night, so I was rather tired at that point.

I was a bit disappointed I didn't keep the scene used for the video in part 5.5 of this blog since I actually used the CAVE2 displays behind the camera to illuminate myself. There's also a fun part of that story where about a third of the displays and tracking cameras were down since we were replacing some of the screens at the time.

Although I do still have the scene file for the Star Wars 40th picture I did in 2017.


Since my last post, I've completed a first attempt at the flight stick controls for the Millennium Falcon as seen in all the films except Star Wars (A New Hope).

Flight sticks: March 27, 2018
Based on several sources online, the flight yokes were originally from 1940s Vickers Viscount airliners and mounted backwards to serve as the Millennium Falcon's flight stick - though Solo might be the first time on screen that these flight sticks will be seen actually used in flying the Millennium Falcon opposed to just being held. The Solo teaser also showed the silver handbrake(?) lever on the center console being used - another first I believe. The Force Awakens made more use of the black throttle(?) controls on the top of the console.

Landing Gear Doors: May 2, 2018
Continuing to fill out the exterior details, I've modeled and animated the landing gear doors. The original three main landing gears use a similar two door approach. The two front landing gears added for Empire Strikes Back have a wider door that folds when deployed. This is based on some of the closeup shots in Echo Base.

One of the cancelled shots for the May the 4th video would have had a shot of the Millennium Falcon coming in for a landing with the fully animated doors and gears as it made its approach. Maybe for the best since I haven't modeling the cargo lift yet and the gaping hole visible in the above image.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Millennium Falcon 3D Model Part 7


The past few weeks have been dedicated to modeling a basic interior and as much exterior detail as possible for an upcoming update to the CAVE2 demo.

Cockpit door: January 21, 2018
Redesigned and baked lit passenger lounge: January 21, 2018
Armor plating detail: February 5, 2018
Turret armor: February 8, 2018
First draft flight stick: February 10, 2018

Armor plating: February 11, 2018

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Millennium Falcon 3D Model Part 6

Nothing like winter break and a new Star Wars movie to inspire development on this project. Spent a decent amount to time trying to narrow down the end-goal of this whole thing. Flight simulator? Interactive walkthrough?

I reviewed some older Star Wars games like X-Wing Allaince and SWG: Jump to Lightspeed as a template for how I wanted the experience to feel - with the added challenge of trying to add a virtual reality spin to the interaction.

Started writing some mission manager scripts to generate scenarios similar to SWG's space duty mission (destroy and escort). Fighters now have a notion of primary mission targets (in this case the Rebel corvette) and secondary objectives like fighter groups (i.e. the player) and X-Wing Alliance style duty roles to prioritize: Superiority (fighters first, then primary target) or Strike (Primary target first, fighters second).


Revised X-Wing cockpit and more AI duty behaviors: January 10, 2018


But as I've found in the past, just working on the 3D modeling is plenty fun!

Working on the front armor plating: December 20-23, 2017

In my last update, I started texture mapping the interior. But after a while I got annoyed with how I modeled the meshes a year ago. So I ended up remodeling much of the interior trying to keep the sections more universal and modular than I had previously done.



Revised, textured, and baked lighting: January 19, 2018


Planning out the cockpit corridor: January 20, 2018
Another motivation for the complete redesign of the interior is that I had previously scaled the exterior to 31 meters long (latest canon length for the Millennium Falcon is 34 to 35 meters).

I probably did that to reduce the boarding ramp angle into the corridor so that the exterior boarding ramp can still have a 20 degree incline and still have the interior corridors low enough in height so that the floor plane can be above the bottom gun turret. But that caused other restrictions on how tall/wide the interiors could be.

I managed to get the angle at the top of the boarding ramp to under a 35 degree incline (which allows my Unity character controller to go up the ramp without sliding down). As a result, the overall corridor radius is smaller than the film set and slightly compressed in some places. Also the gun turret is readily visible from the corridor as the floor is just above the back wall of the gunner's area. I would have liked to have the corridor vertically centered on the turret tunnel, but the entry ramp would be unrealistically steep.

Spacing compromises: January 21, 2018
Reworked lighting and cockpit corridor: January 21, 2018
As a tribute to how much I improved over the years, I think the new corridors look much better than the old ones and took me a weekend to do rather than a few weeks. Key modeling tidbits I picked up since was better use of shared meshes, modeling pipes, and overall experience with dealing with curved and angled corridors.

Also on the interaction side, been working on VR style flight controls using a wand. This of course requires an actual flight stick model. Partially inspired by the mid-season finale of Star Wars: Rebels Rebel Assault - where there are a number of shots of the cockpit of T-65 X-Wings. The flight stick concept art is also prominently shown in the Rebel Recon video for the episode.

X-Wing flight stick: January 13, 2018
I had previously modeled the controls of the Millennium Falcon's gun turrets and I'm now working on making those actually usable with the Oculus touch controllers.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Millennium Falcon 3D Model Part 5.5

Quick pre-The Last Jedi update to the lighting (now real-time) with blinking lights, interactable switches, additional tracking (for the chair), and textures and lighting fixtures in the corridor.




Textured corridor panels, baked lighting adjustments, corridor light fixture details: December 14, 2017




Lighting and interaction test in the CAVE2™ virtual-reality environment at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago: December 15, 2017

Just a quick video over a lunch break and in between a refit of CAVE2 (some of the displays and tracking cameras behind the camera were down) to celebrate the release of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Went to see the movie later that evening.





Saturday, August 5, 2017

Millennium Falcon 3D Model Part 5

Boarding ramp and revised corridor: July 12, 2017

Cockpit corridor panels: July 12, 2017

Exterior and engine redesign: July 16, 2017

Starting turret interior: July 16, 2017

Revised turret seat: July 19, 2017

Scaling with Stormtrooper model: July 19, 2017

Turret panels: July 31, 2017

Turret panels: August 2, 2017

Turret panels: August 5, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Millennium Falcon 3D Model Part 4

New post after over a year! Focusing on other projects like Enterprise, research work, being lazy on writing posts, Breath of the Wild, Mass Effect Andromeda, etc.

Hoping this summer to get back into it.

Baked Lighting Test: June 12, 2016
Playing around with Unity's baked lighting system. Apparently one of the last screenshots before I shifted projects last year.


Star Wars 40th Anniversary: May 24, 2017
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the original cinema opening of Star Wars, updated the Death Star hanger model to use the emergency lighting as seen on the season 1 finale of Star Wars: Rebels and added a Darth Vader model in homage to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Also felt this was a fitting time to finally take a CAVE2 picture with my Kenobi "Redeemer" lightsaber which was a gift to myself for completing the PhD qualifying exam last year.


During May and June I did a significant amount of work rewriting the space flight mechanics and starfighter AI. Once those were completed, I finally did a push to implement important UI elements such as head-up-displays, targeting systems, and a radar.

TIE Fighter Play Test: July 2, 2017
Since Rogue One and season 3 of Star Wars:Rebels had come out since I last worked on the TIE fighter, there was much more reference material for the cockpit displays.


X-Wing Play Test: July 4, 2017
Just a quick port of the new TIE fighter UI components into the old x-wing cockpit.


Exterior and Boarding Ramp Overhaul: July 10, 2017
In early July, I started work on adding more exterior details to the Millennium Falcon - specifically the armor plating. However the current state of the model has enough inaccuracies, that I started overhauling most of the exterior components.

This work is based off the production plans of the Millennium Falcon from Empire Strikes Back acquired from Star Wars: The Blueprints.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Millennium Falcon 3D Model Part 3

Revised cockpit: May 20, 2016

Right on the heels of a rather hectic semester, including passing the PhD qualifying exam, I present version 2 of the Millennium Falcon cockpit. Most of the modifications are based on the earlier CAVE2 virtual reality tests which exposed some scaling issues with the model as well as experience gained by modeling such a detailed space with angled panels.

Opposed to the original model where the cockpit walls were modeled at that angle, the new version are actually separate panels rotated into that position. This made it much easier to place switches, buttons, and lights using the panel's local coordinates.

Also since the original model I've found two major reference sources that have vastly improved the detail in this model:

  • Joshua Maruska's Millennium Falcon model
    • Used his cockpit walls as scale and detail reference
    • Also for the captain and nav seats.
    • My Nav seats used his as a reference as the originals had far too many polygons for my use.
    • The Captain's seats are currently his. Haven't decided if I'll model my own or keep them
  • StarWars.com The Force Awakens 360 Panoramas
    • These have been immensely helpful for getting the details of the cockpit and especially the main cockpit console

Completed side wall panels: May 23, 2016

Cockpit console: May 26, 2016


In a change of pace from 3D modeling, I worked on finishing the turret interaction I had started on in January and implement the wand controls so that I could test this in CAVE2. As a testament to the development of the CAVE2 Simulator most of the interaction was tested using the simulator augmented with a Kinect for hand and head tracking. This translated to directly running on CAVE2 without any sensitivity adjustment to the controls.

This was one of two CAVE2 Unity demos using a new version of my cluster sync code. Details and probably a video in the next update.

Cockpit console: June 4, 2016