Building a City in Lightwave

Earlier this year I worked on a project that called for a 3D map of Washington DC, and a semi-realistic handling of buildings, terrain, and lighting. While there are some excellent applications that are specifically designed around the unique challenges of large-scale terrestrial rendering, namely e-on’s Vue Infinite and Planetside’s Terragen 2, I decided to tackle this project in Lightwave.

I was extremely pressed for time, so I had to come up with a solution that would work without global illumination or volumetric rendering. The real trick for aerial shots like this is simulating the effect of looking though several miles of atmosphere. Dust, humidity, and even the air itself will diffuse and absorb light in complicated ways, but I decided to cheat this haziness and distortion with a combination of Lightwave’s fog and some depth-mapped gradients in After Effects.

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Brave Part II: Story and Theme

This is the second part of my random thoughts on Pixar’s Brave. Please read Part 1 first; it talks more about the art and character of the film. This half will look a little deeper into the story.

Brave vs. Tangled
Story-wise, Brave is much more similar to Disney’s 2011 film Tangled, since the prevailing conflict of each film is a strong-willed princess daughter rebelling against a mean ol’ (step)mother’s rules while being personally conflicted about their relationship. Axe-wielding ruffians, magic, and big hair are tangentially involved in both films.

Rapunzel and Merida

There are some major differences, though. In Tangled, Rapunzel’s mother figure is a kidnapper, which means that the audience can overlook any disobedience. It’s a clever trick of the writers, but Rapunzel doesn’t know this, so she’s being genuinely defiant to someone who she thinks is loving and trustworthy. When she runs away from home a happy adventure ensues, wonderful things happen to her, and everybody’s life gets better (except for her stepmother’s life, which gets shorter). It’s kind of a problematic message for kids, when you think about it.

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