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The Edge of Eternity
#1
[Image: edge-of-eternity.jpg]

Title: The Edge of Eternity
Genre: 3D animation
Running length: 2:16
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Format: 24fps, 1920x800 (HD)
Status: Completed

I figured I should split this off from my "Miscellaneous 3D Animated Film" thread as it's a different project (albeit discussed a bit in that thread). The Edge of Eternity is a 3D animated film featuring large amounts of particle effects, animated with Blender, a free open-source 3D animation system. It features a sort of dust cloud / galaxy type of object in a space setting composed of 16 million particles. Through a lot of trouble and modifications to the Blender source code (I hit so many bugs in Blender's particle system that it almost defies belief), the dust cloud / galaxy is formed during the first 200 frames of each scene (not rendered in the final film) and then "frozen" in place during the parts that are actually rendered by tricking Blender into reading the particle physics data for the wrong frames. Final rendering took place at full HD res in a little over 24 hours, using my render farm (Sunset Dynamics farm #2) as well as a virtual render farm consisting of a large number of servers rented from Amazon. At it's peak, there were 240 high-end servers (most of them 32-core Xeon servers) rendering the film to get it done quickly enough. There was 240GB of particle physics simulation data needed for rendering, which were served from several file servers, one at my render farm and additional file servers placed in two of Amazon's data centers (Oregon, North Virginia).

There wasn't a lot of time to accomplish the film, so almost all of the scenes were set up in Blender and then the "start rendering and cross my fingers that something interesting comes out" approach had to be used. Minus interruptions for other commitments, this film basically happened in 3 or 4 days start-to-finish. The particle count was so high I couldn't even render a single frame on my desktop PC to check any of the scenes before beginning to render the final film, due to lack of RAM (16GB in my desktop PC, while all of the servers rented from Amazon had 64GB). There wasn't time to re-render anything, so there are several scenes that I'm pretty unhappy with the quality of the results for various reasons. While a few of the other scenes are kinda pretty and visually interesting. So, when you guys see it, don't judge too harshly.. I did what I could under the circumstances and time constraints under which it was made. I totally acknowledge that it is imperfect and generally below my quality standards.

While I'm aware there is (at least) one member of the group displeased about the timing of this festival submission, and I apologize that that member feels that way about the circumstances, my goal here was to ensure that animation was represented in the festival. And hopefully spark some additional interest in animation either within or outside the group. Had I been aware of any other animated submissions, I wouldn't have felt the need to complete this film.

I'll post a YouTube link in this thread after the film festival.
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#2
This brief behind-the-scenes look may be of interest to people interested in 3D stuff:

In the above post, I mentioned a brief description of the formation of the dust cloud / galaxy particle effects. Just for fun, today I rendered out the 200 frames at the start of one of the scenes, showing the formation of the particle cloud before the portion of the scene that was actually used in the film. What you're seeing here is 16 million particles coming into existence and being influenced by a series of force fields (a bunch of turbulence, wind, vortex and gravity fields). Then on frame 200, all the particles "freeze" in place by tricking Blender into using the wrong particle physics data files, followed by the portion of the scene that was actually rendered for the film.

For a good time, set quality to 1080p and full-screen. Only a few seconds of the actual scene are at the end to avoid posting excessive spoilers too soon:






Given that after tricking Blender into using the wrong frame's particle physics data, all the particles were still aging for the next ~800 frames or so and I had color ramps applied to the particles based on their age to go from magenta to blue, it took a bit of creative math in the shader to keep everything looking static after everything "freezes". Here's what the shader setup for one group of particles ended up looking like, to calculate what the age of each particle was way back at frame 200 and color it according to what it looked like at that time. A value subtracted from each particle's "age" since creation is keyframed to match the actual frame number to calculate how old each particle was when frame 200 was reached:

[Image: edge-of-eternity-shaders.jpg]


Here's kinda what the fully set-up set of scenes looked like. You can see all the cameras (orange) for each of the scenes in the film, with several of them following spline curved paths (also orange). The sphere at the top contains a star field just for the opening scene of the film, while the larger lower sphere contains more stars to try to give the viewer enough perceptible parallax to perceive things in the right 3D orientation (somewhat successful, I still see the final scene in the film in the wrong orientation 20% of the time even though I *know* the right orientation):

[Image: edge-of-eternity-cameras.jpg]
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#3
Hi all,

After analyzing the rules for the various festivals I plan to submit EoE to yet, I've decided to post the (unlisted) YouTube video of the KIFF version of EoE. I may take it back down later depending on circumstances of other festival submissions, not sure yet:





Remember to watch in full-screen mode and set the quality level to 1080p. Even then, it's appalling how much YouTube hoses up the quality. There's no comparison between the YouTube version and the original rendered version.

I have plans to submit EoE to several other festivals, but it's going to take a different form than the KIFF version and be cut differently. Several scenes have already been re-rendered, additional scenes are going to be re-rendered in the coming weeks, and I'm pondering rendering a 4K version as well (3840x1600 in the case of 2.4:1 aspect ratio) if it happened to be accepted at one of the two festivals that would require a 35mm print be prepared for exhibition.

I call dibs on several of John Dreamer's other pieces of music. 3 of them are already in the soundtrack for If You Build It (Minecraft-themed 3D animated film), and 1 of them is already in the soundtrack for Without End (my time-lapse film). I've been guarding my music choices pretty closely since John has such a small quantity available of relatively decent epic/cinematic scores. Be warned that if you choose one of his pieces of music, there is a very high probability of music collisions at next year's festival where more than one film would have the same music. Undecided

-Ryan
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