April 19, 2017
This is an improved animation test. New textures. Better lighting. Changed the church facade to reflect earlier (1840) drawings. Added officer on horseback. Added flag bearer.
- Models and background render: Blender
- Crowd simulation and animation; Compositing: Houdini
- Textures: Allegorithmic Substance Painter
- Video editing: Movie Studio Platinum 14
March 19, 2017
This is my first attempt at using Houdini in my work flow. Houdini is a powerful procedural modeling and animation tool that is widely used for VFX productions–think explosions, fire, floods, etc. One possible use for me is in the creation of scenes with large numbers of Mexican soldiers. This is a test of Houdini’s crowd simulation to depict the arrival of Santa Anna’s army into San Antonio de Bexar on February 23, 1836.
My workflow to create the scene shown above was as follows:
- My previously created soldado model from Blender and Substance Painter was modified to use a single material.
- Marching and standing animations were created in Blender.
- The animated soldado was imported into the free Houdini Apprentice version using FBX as an agent primitive.
- In Houdini, the agent was used to create several groups of soldados in formation with randomized sizes and animation offsets.
- The ground mesh and buildings from the Main Plaza were imported into Houdini using FBX.
- The scene was composed by translating and rotating the marching groups.
- A camera was added and positioned in Houdini.
- A matching camera was positioned in Blender.
- The scene in Blender (no soldiers) was rendered as a background image.
- The animation was rendered in Houdini containing just the soldados and their shadows.
- The background, marchers and shadows were composited in Houdini and rendered.
- The composited output sequence was rendered to MP4 in Movie Studio and uploaded to YouTube.
The result still has some work to do. This part of my model still uses materials and textures from 7 years ago. The lighting needs work. The standing soldiers need animation and more variation. The scene should include other types of soldados, officers, horses and townfolk.
I am also interested in exploring an alternate workflow in which the Houdini animation of the crowds is imported through the Alembic format into Blender for rendering. This requires the purchase of the Indie version of Houdini.
April 24, 2016
Animation of a soldado walking in front of the San Fernando church in the Main Plaza of San Antonio de Bexar.
Continuing my study of animation, this render is an improvement of the previous try. The feet make good contact with the ground thanks to a feature of MakeWalk. I fixed some problems with the skinning of the model to the rig and I used the Blender compositor to reduce the render time by only rendering the foreground for the full sequence.
September 4, 2015
March 6, 1836 Dawn
The final battle of the Alamo occurred in the hour before dawn on March 6, 1836. This image depicts what San Antonio de Bexar might have looked like on such a morning. The view is from an elevated position just west of the Main Plaza. The San Fernando church is flying the red flag of “no quarter.” In the distance you can see the Alameda, Watch Tower and Alamo. You can barely see a glint of sunlight reflection in places along the San Antonio River.
This render made with Blender Cycles. Textures made with Allegorithmic Substance Designer and Painter. HDRI from Hyperfocal Design.
Trees, foliage. stones and fences were instanced using Blender particles. The foreground ground textures were improved from the low res versions used previously. Ruts in the roadway and plaza may be seen.
August 8, 2015
Bexar 1836 from the Tower of the Americas
This is an overview of the state of my model. The image is taken from a point of view of the top of the Tower of the Americas, a structure in modern San Antonio’s Hemisfair Park. The field of view includes San Fernando church and Main Plaza on the left to the Alamo compound on the right.
Most of the buildings have been completed with moderate detail and texture. Some are the properties are divided with fences and shrubs. Trees have been applied along the banks of the river. The next big improvement will be to tackle the resolution of the ground textures.
May 7, 2010
Here is a quick render that was inspired by a scene in the 2004 Alamo movie which shows the San Fernando Church backlit by a blood red sunset on the eve of the battle.
Sunset in San Antonio