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Freedom Farm Animation

April 28, 2015

I had a chance to do a short 10 second animation recently for the Freedom Farm initiative, a non-profit aiming to establish the first farm animal sanctuary in Israel, with a museum and education center.

This was the opening sequence for a promotional video, which introduces viewers to the farm and why it’s so important.

I had very little time to do this, as work is pressing, but I think it came out alright even if I’d add and improve a gazillion things if I had the time.

Everything was modeled in Blender and the animation was rendered in Cycles.

I used this nice grass made by blendswap user einarparker, but modeled the rest myself. A particle hair system was used to distribute the grass on the hills (which were created with the landscape generator addon and some sculpting).

Grass

Grass object group used for the particle system. Original grass provided by einarparker (downloaded from Blendswap.com).

I also used a few of the awesome textures Pixar released recently to the public, and some image textures I took myself. Spec, normal and AO maps were generated using the free and wonderful AwesomeBump.

Awesome Bump texturing

Generating AO, normal, spec and cleaned diffuse maps from a single image with the incredible AwesomeBump – easy, quick and looks great!

For the animation (which was simple camera movement only), I added some subtle camera shake as suggested by Andrew Price (Blender Guru).

I made the mistake of rendering the sky separately from the rest, which looked far less good than it would otherwise. I used some filtering in compositing to mix the two, but it shows if you look carefully (mild blur and a weak halo around the edges where the sky meets the foreground). If I had time I’d add a whole lot more detail, add more terrain in the far background, replace the sky, use a procedural texture for the wood fence (the repeats show and it’s annoying!) and improve the lighting.

NodeEditor

Node setup used for compositing. The sky and the foreground came from different image sequences, rendered separately (big mistake), and blended back together with some subtle edge blurring. I also added a vignette and an animated blur vignette to fake DOF when close to the grass (accomplished with a simple fast gaussian filter applied via a circular black and white gradient, with the factor animated).

Rendering took around 35 hours in total for 250 frames, with my 2GB Nvidia GTX660 GPU.

Complaints and perfectionism aside, this was a really nice foray back into 3D animation from my daily coding routine. In the next few weeks I’ll get to follow it up with an internal architectural visualization of the farm’s museum, something I hope to do in a higher standard and perhaps also generate an interactive “playable” version for web interaction.

Other stuff

The cat’s wheel harness is progressing too, and a much improved new version simply needs integrated screw sockets on the aluminum frame. More updates about that soon.

Shiny new model almost ready for testing...

Shiny new model almost ready for testing…

I also got some comments and emails about some of my scripts that require updates and don’t work well with Blender 2.74. I’ll try to find time to handle these ASAP, which will probably be sometime during the next week or two.

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