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Building LA: adding some buildings

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Having  previously created the landscape of LA and placed the model of the chinese theater. for a flythrough for the intro of Pied Pipers Production of Singin’ in the rain.Next thing I did was to make some rain

Makin’ it Rain

to make the rain effect, I created a simple particle flow system and altered its settings to look like it was falling like rain. I then built a simple raindrop and then made the particle system reference this one raindrop . I turned off  random rotation so the raindrops are heading straight down. Particle systems are expensive in terms of redraw and update speed so I will hide it untill I need to render it.


A single raindrop








I then placed a camera in the scene, set up some controls for it and after a bit of trial and error , made the beginings of what could be an interesting camera move.Here’s roughly what I had:

I then went on a download spree over on 3D warehouse, looking at the collections of models in LA and Hollywood checking against the map to find buildings next to the Chinese theatre. Then I got some more generic buildings and come cars

Changin’ the Format

here’s the next problem. 3D ware house has files in sketchup format, which if you remember from last time, I don’t have sketchup. but 3D warehouse also has the option to download in google earths model format – .KMZ

I renamed each of the .kmz files to .zip before extracting to new folders. Each folder has a collada file and a folder of directories. Luckily 3DS Max will import .dae files

Except when it doesn’t.  these files simply crashed 3DS Max. So I tried a different approach. I fired up a copy of Blender and imported the .dae file it loaded so I exported out to .fbx


El Capitan Theater in Blender







after a little of trial and error,  I managed to get a model into 3DS Max ! behold the El capitan theatre!


The same El Capitan Theater model in 3DS Max







hmmm. Looks a little strange. lets take a look at the 3D model in the browser again:

The El Captian model in 3d warehouse

The El Captian model in 3D warehouse







Yeah it looks like as part of the dae import, it welds/deletes faces and/or verts seems Dae importer is not very well supported in blender so, back to the drawing board. This time I tried to import the .dae into Maya and straight back out to fbx and back into 3DS Max


El Capitan Theatre, converted via Maya







Ok, that’s looking good. Let’s go ahead and put some buildings in there!

Buildin’ the town

I dropped in some generic looking buildings on Hollywood Boulevard, built some very simple buildings ( literally cubes with  texture maps on them) in there and made a starry night sky dome.

Then I found a model T ford on 3D Warehouse. I downloaded , got rid of the open bonnet, and merged the objects to make 4 new object, the car body, the back wheels, and 2 front wheels

I then modelled 2 low poly cones and fitted them to the headlamps. These cones were given a gradient in their diffuse and opacity channels to make them fade out. In effect faking the light cone you see in headlamps in fog

Model T Ford with headlamps

Model T Ford with headlamps








I then patented all this to a dummy, I made copies of the dummy and animated them driving down Hollywood Boulevard.

Paintin’ the town

The opening is in black and white, So I decided that I would have to tweak all the textures, I made an action Photoshop to convert an image to grayscale and ran it as a batch on a copy of the textures (if I ever want to swap them back then it should be easy)

the only building I am going to worry about is Graumans chinese Theater itself. It’s current textures are promoting the film ‘300’ so I need to change it to promote the film in the script.

Lightin’ the lights

Lighting this set was hard, mainly because I suck at lighting. The first thing I did was make a large blue spotlight toward the top of the skydome . This represents the moonlight

I Created some large omni lights at the edges of the planes and set them to white with -1 intensity which sucked the colour out of the scene, darkening the edges of the map when the cameras moving you hopefully won’t notice the square edges of the landscape.

I then stuck a series of lights on each car ( in hindsight I should have lit the cars first then animated them)  I put a couple of low intensity omni lights in front of the car and a free spot to represent the headlights.

I found a Streetlamp model from 3D warehouse and created a couple of lights an omni light for the glow and a spot pointing downwards. These were patented to a dummy. I was then able to mass duplicate 20  down Hollywood boulevard

A streetlamp lit rigged and ready to duplicate

A streetlamp lit rigged and ready to duplicate







A lot of the buildings in my section of Hollwood Boulevard have lit signs .I will mke those textures be self illuminated.

Next up, Balancing Textures and animating the camera move







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