You don’t even want to know what the installation cost was for this thing

While I have done a few experiments with compositing, this is probably my most ambitious effor. In case you’re wondering, that is my back yard (currently, and delightfully, hurricane free), with my new Stargate model placed in it. Perhaps SG-1 could come through that ‘gate some time. A nice, (if slightly overdeveloped) piece of the subtropics would certainly relieve the monotony of all those pine-tree planets.

Now all I need is a real one to put back there, to see how close I was to reality.

I did the compositing in Lightwave. I set it up to do that thing where it makes an alpha map for the ground stand-in based on the amount of shadows, just in case. I only have Photoshop Elements (which happens to be missing the Element of alpha channels), but I was able to use a copy on one of the computers at school to make a transparent image of the ring and its shadow, so all that remains is to reintegrate it into my original background and tweak it up a bit.

Another thing I noticed was that on the school PC’s monitor, the blue cast (caused by the light I used to simulate the glow of the sky) on the ground object (and the devision between it and the real background) was a lot more noticeable, and the shadow of the ring was a lot lighter. So while I’m most concerned with getting it to look right on my Mac, I may have to see if I can steal some more time at school to find a happy medium.

I rerendered the scene with a slightly modified ‘gate model (fixing a spot of missing detail on the back and adding a more accurate bit of detail to the inside surface, where the event horizon sits), and a slightly modified lighting scheme (I tried throwing a little more specular on it from the sun, but found the only way to get even a little to show was to have the light point straight down, which wouldn’t have fit in with the shadows all that well). I then recomposited the ‘gate in Photoshop, getting rid of the blue cast on my front-projection polygon. Only problem that remains is that the bump mapping in the chevron wells is having some kind of difficulty, causing the background to shine through as if it were partially transparent there. I’ve no idea how or why, and it doesn’t show up on the alpha map of the image.

In summery, I think it would’ve been far easier to go to Canada, steal the prop, and instal it in my driveway, then say it was a comp-job when I posted the pictures of it. It would also be endless fun at parties.