Neverending Story - Ivory Tower (Ending)

(Mhazani) #1

Long time reader, first time poster:).

I've recently gotten into environment design (using Blender primarily) and this challenge is a great way to motivate myself and get something done. TNES is my all-time favorite movie and as soon as I heard about this contest I knew I had to give it a try! I'm currently thinking about the scene towards the end of the movie - flying in space among the remaining few shards of Fantasia, etc. - but I might switch over to the first flyover-towards-the-Ivory-Tower because it's so incredibly gorgeous as well.

Loved seeing the Artax Scene already namechecked! Neverending Story fans represent!:slight_smile:
In all seriousness it's a fantastically designed movie thanks primarily to Ul Del Rico, a true magician / set designer - and if you're short on inspiration I highly recommend giving it a look. I can only hope to do it justice in my own humble way.

Good luck to everyone!

Pictured: my Auryn, an original prop from the actual movie:)

(Ally Albon) #2

Awesome, a second Never Ending story scene! Goes to show how utterly influential this film was! Looking forward to it

(Bart) #3

Welcome on board! I've just added one month of free Sketchfab PRO to your account. You will now be able to upload larger models, use more annotations and more - here's more information.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the contest news thread and to read the Frequently Asked Questions!

We'll be in touch :slight_smile:

(Mhazani) #4

Thanks so much, @bartv!
Looking forward to the work, and following everyone else's too!

(Mhazani) #5

Small update: upon researching references, I found a LOT of fan art, and was particularly impressed with this very faithful recreation of the Ivory Tower in Minecraft!

Clearly, the bar is incredibly high when it comes to tributes for such a classic... But no. Atreyu wouldn't quit now.


This is going to be beautiful! Have fun!

(Mhazani) #7

First stab at the Ivory Tower.


The original scene has some ingenious lighting - gonna be hard to match it in Cycles, and near impossible to fake it with only three allowed lights (which is the Sketchfab limit, right?)

Onwards and upwards!

(Mhazani) #8

Test import looking promising!

Pros: background looks beautiful, VR controls are navigable,the whole scene feels like a place - very impressive.

Cons: my textures are awful, some serious placement issues, lots and lots and lots of work to be done - but I'm beginning to get really inspired about this contest! I wasn't sure it would be possible to create an entire environment for Sketchfab, given certain limitations (lighting still bugs me!) but I am now a convert:). Thanks Sketchfab! You guys are awesome. Now, to take it to the next level...

(Mhazani) #9

A quick moodboard.

Today: onwards to particles!

(Mhazani) #11

Faux-particles checking in! Really happy with how this is coming along. Of course the Ivory Tower itself is many hours away from being ready, but that's what the rest of the month is for...


(Mhazani) #12

Nebula Testing. Gotta find the right shapes!

(Mhazani) #13

Ended up going with a transparent, emissive nebula sky (/space?)sphere. Really adds to the fantastic/outer space ambience.

Without volumetric lighting I don't think I'll be able to recreate the actual "smoky", physical texture they fly by:

But the nebulasphere adds a lot in terms of that melancholy, fantastical vibe that is the exact thing I'm trying to nail.

(Mhazani) #14

Top of the ivory tower. Those leafy walls are a treat to model!

wip #wip-moviecontest #neverendingstory

(Mhazani) #15

Newest version has the final (un-re-topo'd) ivory tower, and some cool new lighting. Gotta love that bloom!

(Mhazani) #16

Update: retopo'd version, mostly for performance considerations. Huge decrease in polycount - 1.2 million down to 700k. Gonna have to see how it looks and feels with the rift and vive. Smaller nebula - definitely noticeable difference (smaller range before you leave it and it's odd) but helped with the scale issue.

(Tam Lik) #17

I loove the bloom, nice scene!
But isn't post processing not an option for VR? :sweat:

(Mhazani) #18

Thank you! I don't think it should be an inherent problem - the same bloom filter could be applied to both virtual stereoscopic "cameras". I'm seeing it in VR mode, although to a lesser extent;

it'll probably take some further tweaking to get it just right in VR. The absence of a permanent HDR option and the inevitable "floor" are much more annoying problems...:slight_smile:

(Mhazani) #19

Final update: finally got to test it on a VR rig and it's pretty abysmal.

-"floor" at any height is simply a no-go in 360-degree space.
-Rift performance was sketchy at best, on a very decent setup, even with the 700k tris scene (as opposed to the 1.2M tris scene).
-Auto-scaling issues still mean that I can either have immersive "space" feel OR a large centerpiece (the ivory tower) but not both.
-The VR interface isn't really suitable for VR navigation at the moment. The whole "click on floor" thing needs a major redesign, although admittedly it would have worked much better in a scene that wasn't 360.

This is a lost cause. I'll try to upload one more version for the sake of having submitted something but at this point Sketchfab is simply not a viable platform for immersive large-scale 360 degree 3D scenes. I'm not just blaming the tool here - I should have gotten around to realizing it sooner rather than trying to optimize something that can't be optimized - but, yeah, this was a no-go. Kinda sad, but live and learn. Sketchfab is a great tool for showcasing dioramas, individual meshes and low-poly works, but is not really production-ready when it comes to immersive VR. Still a fun experience!

(Alex) #20

If you are really into making VR stuff in the future you could give normal mapping a go. Would probably drop your scene below 10k triangles in this case.

(Alex) #21

Thought of one more thing! Sketchfab has double sided material on by default, which effectively doubles your triangle count (the triangle count displayed on the website doesn't reflect this). Make sure you have this disabled for every material in your scene. It's the last option in the materials tab. It won't fix your other issues but your framerate should get a decent bump.