Well, it’s a “ship” that goes through the “gate,” so we’ll call it…

…a puddle jumper!

Front view

Rear view

Now that the modeling of the exterior is finished, I believe I have enough invested in it to start up the WIP thread. I’ve started on texturing, and I believe I have a good base for the hull texture above. I’m painting alpha maps for it so the mottling isn’t so uniform. I already finished animating the unfolding of the engines, though I’ll need to work out a new way to clip the objects so they don’t show up inside the cabin of the ship when they’re retracted. The method I’m using now only works when the ship is pointed along the Z-axis.

Also, I’ve finished texturing on the drone weapons, complete with a low-detail version for those scenes when you have thousands of the things flying every which way.

Drone Showcase

Active Drone

Added July 22, 2007

I’ve finished texturing and the light set-up on the exterior. I’m going to try to figure out how to get this clip-mapping fixed, though. Being able to only point the ship in one direction is a bit limiting for cinematography. After I’ve gotten that done (or given up in hopes of figuring it out later), I’ll get back to modeling the interior.

Also, I’ve rigged the engines so I can throttle their brightness with one slider. In fact, with the complicated retractions this ship does, I have to say, sliders and Master Channels are an absolute Godsend.




Added July 23, 2007

As for the engines on the Jumper, those are a magical wonderland of cheating. The engine bays on the original are about twice as deep as mine (the reason the bays on my model are shallower is so the rear compartment fits in at something close to its actual proportions), so the actual engines fit in with a bit less of a problem. However, it seems clear that the pivot they rest upon jumps off of its track while it’s retracting, so the engines can point straight up. Also, the wings themselves just pull into the body, without any sort of fake compartment or rationalization as to how they could possibly fit into the ship. Part of the fun of making this model was realizing exactly what compromises were made in its design, right after I made the same ones and thus knew what to look for.

The best look at how the engines retract (and how the VFX artists hide the fact that its physically impossible for them to move the way they do) come in the opening shot of the episode “Trinity,” and in a number of shots in “38 Minutes” (thought the best angles from those episodes aren’t included in those caps).

Seriously, after reverse-engineering this whole thing, I’m thinking about doing a writeup on the Jumper, mostly a taxonomy of the 3+ distinct 3D models of done on the show.

Here’s a movie of the cycles for the drone and engine bays. I’ve already decided I’ll take a page from the Atlantis VFX teams and only show the engines unfolding while the ship is distant, in motion, in shadow, or all three.

The same movie as above, but with the main body of the ship hidden so you can see precisely how the engines have to be clipped out so they don’t show up inside the cabin.