Jer 2007-05-17 00:00 tutorial  > 3ds MAX  > misc

N-RENDER started off as an extra curricular job to get by during college making perspectives and previews for architects. The name came much later of course. Four years have gone by and we've become a professional studio with a team of seven artists, designers and engineers divided in two cities and providing services all over Mexico.

Last year we began a new stage: animation. Meeting new challenges and all we succeeded in creating the art of the website that recently won Best 3D Application at Flash In The Can among other awards, some related directly to our job. Lately we continued to work for the same client creating the digital animation for their recently released website, a guy in a sports car passing trough a city, since its about a deodorant you're supposed to control his body temperature and sweat. Pretty cool.

Well, the purpose of this text is to talk a little about our experience, the challenges and some of the main technical aspects in the creation of the ActionCity project.
The project was composed by three main scenarios: a viral game 'the stuntman', the home 'ActionCity' and a contest game 'Avenida 13' (13th Avenue). We'll begin by describing some of the process of 'the stuntman'. First we took a series of drawings and a very extensive image gallery as a base. The general context was focused in a timeless slightly neglected big city dark alley.

We worked on the initial alley to define proportions, point of view and exact location of the different objects people would interact with. As for textures we used some of what we thought could be the final color pallet.

In N-RENDER we normally work with new, clean and well defined spaces and images. In this case it was necessary to use different methods to generate textures, make them look old and dirty so they would match with the rest of the scene and props in order to create a dramatic context and environment. This was a true challenge.

We wanted to achieve the sensation of actually playing with, or in, the reality. From this moment on all the efforts were to reach this goal. Textures and illumination were fundamental. Each texture was made and retouched on Photoshop and 3DMax. We used materials from commercial galleries or created them ourselves. Here's the evolution of some of the textures.

Illumination had to be a job with very well defined objectives. To accentuate the dramatic character of a dry red and Grey color pallet diffuse shadows and high contrast areas were to be accomplished. VRay was used as render engine with a slightly blue ambient illumination and a couple of yellow omni lights.

Finally the scene was retouched and integrated into the website format.

To animate the objects in the scene we used the basic procedures of keyframe animation, and for the case of the pole and the car we combined it with morphing.


The graphic context of ActionCity was planned under the same argument of the alley, a timeless big city space portrayed as dramatic and somber. After different proposals for a starting point we finally got the basic sketch of the city.

The main view: a mildly elevated shot in the middle of an avenue, mountains and buildings in the background, and a cloudy, intensely sunlight enigmatic sky.

The process involved several illumination tests using a HDRI, a direct light and some additional light spots. For the final render it was also necessary to emphasize the contrast.

We used a mixture of modeling and texturing independent of the objects, and modeling over texture for most of the buildings. This way we optimized work times in order to concentrate on the other scenes for this part of the project.

In all, four camera movements and various animated objects throughout the city were involved.

The TV flying trough a window was particularly fun. Every piece of broken glass has to be made. To finish the effect, four states of morph and blizzard particle effect for the small bits were used, after spending an afternoon watching Placebo's video Follow the cops back home.

In another scene, the flying canvas, we used a mix of reactor and key frame animation, complemented with a pair of modifier like bend and noise.

The final scenery of the multimedia interface was enriched with vehicles, people and a helicopter that gave life to the city.

Avenida 13

Avenida 13 was the last part of the project and consisted in creating a long and horizontal scenery for a game resembling the first versions of Mario Bros.

Well, of course the best way of looking at the final results is by visiting the website, with all the other details music, programming, blue screen shootings, interface, etc, brilliantly put together by our contractor GrupoW.

Have fun
Author: Jer
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