About the Model Design
by Jim Lammers
So, if you are here you are probably wondering how our Corvette youtube video came to be. In November 2011, Jalopnik posted drawings of what they claimed would be the actual, final new Corvette design. Naturally, this caused some controversy, as the drawings depict a radically restyled design with many cues that deviate from Corvette history. During a visit to the Corvette Museum in Kentucky during early 2012, I started thinking about how the Jalopnik speculations might look as a 3D model, where the drawings are reconciled to each other to produce something we can image from a human height.
Also I thought that a few of the features might be a bit out of proportion, and very slight edits would make a world of difference in how sleek this design could look.
A batch of spy photos of the C7 test vehicles (heavily camoflaged) driving in public appeared in February 2012, which seemed to confirm many aspects of those earlier Jalopnik drawings.
So, in April 2012 we at Trinity Animation set about working on a good 3D car model that combined the best of everything known about C7. We fit this work in around our regular animation work.
I should explain - the video is 100% animated. That is, using the same process you may have seen for 3D animated movies such as "Toy Story" and the fanciful CG worlds of "Avatar," our team constructed a computer model of the car that can be rendered in a way that looks real. This process involves virtual "sculpting" the 3D shape of each part of the model as polygons, using a mouse. Next, the artist creates materials in the software that will look like car paint or other surfaces. Environments are built in a similar way to the car model. Next, the software allows the artist to create and place virtual "lights" to light the car and scene in various ways -- some that would be impossible in the real world. Finally the images are computed at full quality, a process that may take hours for a single frame. Each minute of animation consists of 1800 frames, so it can be a big job to compute those. Finally all these frames are combined with other effects (such as depth blur, glows and flares) and the final movie is produced.
The inspiration for the model came largely from the Jalopnik illustrations, which many expect to be quite accurate. However the Jalopnik illustrations depict a future version of the ultra high powered ZR1 edition. The current ZR1 is priced over $100,000 USD, not exactly a daily driver. So we chose to depict the base coupe and therefore removed the ground effects, rear wheel air intake, extra wide spoiler and hood intake. The spy photos by Car & Driver also give some idea of the LED accent lights in the headlights, as well as confirming the likely wheel design.
The Car & Driver spy photos also seemed to indicate that all the marker and brake lamps would be LED based so we used that as well.
One interesting design cue revealed in the spy photos is the quarter windows that appear behind the main side windows. This would be a new feature on a Corvette, and we think it looks good in this design.
Another feature that seems confirmed from the spy photos is the exhaust configuration - putting all 4 pipes together in the center. You can also see a bit of the tail light shape behind the camoflage, which is the most controversial design element with their squarish appearance. Many of the unique new design cues we expect to see are inspired by top exotic cars such as the Ferrari 458 and the Audi R8.
About the Modeler
Chad Koerner created the 3D car model. Chad is a graduate of Full Sail University and is employed as an animator at Trinity Animation, where he creates images and movies for a variety of clients.
Q: Was there anything you had to guess on or had to create that wasn't in the plans?
A: There were actually a few things we had to create that were not shown in the "spy photos" or the Jalopnik drawings. The interior structure of the headlight was the area that needed the most work.
Q: Have you ever done anything like this before?
A: I have never worked on a project like this before, although we've built a lot of cars for the animated TV series we work on - the spy comedy ARCHER on FX. We produce all kinds of vehicles in our work as background artists for that show. But they are rarely seen close-up and our background elements are painterized, rather than realistic. So obviously the level of detail and final quality on this Corvette model are far greater.
Q: Did this present a unique challenge from past projects?
A: Yes, this project had unique challenges. There are a lot of wildly conflicting illustrations of the 2014 Corvette from magazine covers, the web, and of course the spy photos and Jalopnik's illustrations. Ultimately we had to piece the car together and reconcile the conflicts bit by bit. Some bits like the rear vertical parking lights are pure conjecture - they are similar to those cool side marker lamps that border each wheel.
Q: How did you prepare for this project?
A: To prepare for the project I trained with the League of Shadows for about 6 months. I also reviewed hundreds of Corvette images and videos.
Q: What was your favorite part?
A: Oddly enough, I really love the way the windshield wipers turned out!
About the Animator
Neal Biggs is the Lead Animator at Trinity Animation. He supervises and reviews the work produced by the other artists and is responsible for the general quality of the animations and renderings. He will advise the animators regarding motion, modeling, lighting, materials, quality, technical, scheduling and budgetary requirements that relate to their projects. Neal is also a talented animator and compositor, and built the environments and composited all the elements of the finished Corvette animation.
Q: What kind of references did you use?
A: I had to refine the Evermotion scenes' lighting, materials and settings so we had a consistent look to the overall animation and to get faster render times. The Tunnel scene is the only scene that was built from ground up and I used Google Image Search to find an image of a tunnel I liked, to use as a starting point. Besides that, I reviewed a number of car commercial videos on YouTube.
Q: How did you prepare for this project?
A: Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.....and Beer to counteract the third coffee.
About the Music
In addition to his role as Trinity Animation CEO, Jim Lammers has always loved music, so with this project he created and performed all original music. The opening ominous notes are played by Jim on a cello. The bass and drums are also performed live, along with the guitar parts. The rest is sequenced using the instruments that are part of Cubase 6, which is the software used to record and mix the many audio tracks that make up the finished result.
The music was designed to start with a mysterious feeling, progressing to something rhythmic and driving (for lack of a better word!).
The car engine sound effects were recorded directly from Jim's 2012 Grand Sport Corvette.
About Trinity Animation - Founded in 1994, Trinity Animation is a Kansas City based animation and visualization service best known for its work on the hit TV series Archer. Trinity Animation produces visualization for architects, manufacturers and entertainment producers from around the world.
- F. A. Q. -
Q: Are you connected with General Motors or Chevrolet or Corvette?
A: No, we are just Corvette and sports-car enthusiasts that wanted to prognosticate. We have no special information. Everything is derived from public sources. The real final C7 2014 Corvette is expected to be revealed to the public by General Motors and Chevrolet in January 2013 at the Detroit Car Show.
Q: I hate it! I love it! How can I buy one? It won't look like that.
A: We are just artists making some images of what it might look like. We do like the design as it appears in our animation, but we don't know yet how close we were to the real thing. We hope that however the new Corvette appears, it will be a big hit! If you enjoy speculating (and arguing) about it with other enthusiasts, check out Jalopnik and the Corvette Forum and Digital Corvettes! Also Corvette has a great official Facebook presence with nearly a million fans connected.
Q: Is any of the animation from video or photoshopped pictures, or live action you filmed?
A: No, every frame was made using 3D software, compositing software and many hours spent by talented artists. Not a bit of it ever existed!
Q: What software did you use? What hardware?
A: The software is 3DS MAX 2013 from Autodesk. For lights, materials and rendering we use the VRay renderer by Chaos Group. The music was recorded using Cubase. The scene elements were combined into a final movie using Adobe After Effects CS5.5. Many of the environments were derived from scenes made by Evermotion. All of this software runs on PCs running Windows 7. Our animators also use the Space Pilot Pro for 3D interaction.
Q: How can I learn to use this 3D software?
A: Happily, Autodesk allows 30 days full use of 3ds max when you download it from their site. If you are a student you can get a free license of 3DS MAX. For VRay, the student pricing is also quite low, $150 USD. All of this runs well on any modern Windows laptop or workstation, although it will definitely use all the power you can throw at it.
Q: How big is your render farm to compute all of this?
We have about 40 machines, all Dual-Xeon Dell Precisions (T5500 and T7500) with 12 GB of RAM.
Q: Can you give me your 3D model for my own experiments?
A: At this time we aren't sharing our model, but we may post it on TurboSquid at a future date. Many of the environments are derived from scenes sold in 10-model volumes by Evermotion for $150 USD.
Q: How detailed is the model?
A: It is about 3.6 million polygons, total
- Credits -
Animation produced by Trinity Animation, Lee's Summit, MO ©2012
Car Modeling: Chad Koerner
Lighting and Compositing: Neal Biggs
Materials and Effects: Neal Biggs, Chad Koerner
Scene Preparation: Jim Lammers, Neal Biggs, Chad Koerner and Matt Tyree
Animation: Neal Biggs, Jim Lammers and Chad Koerner
Editing: Neal Biggs
Tunnel Environment: Neal Biggs
Sound Recording: Jim Lammers
Music Composed and Performed by Jim Lammers
End Credits: Lane Meister
Environments adapted from scenes created by Evermotion:
ArchInteriors Volumes 12, 20, and 25
ArchExteriors Volumes 12 and 15
Thanks to Jalopnik.com and Matt Hardigree for their inspirational artist's illustrations of this car.
Rendered with VRay by Chaos Group
"Corvette" and the checkered flag logo are registered trademarks of General Motors.
- Disclaimer -
The animation is an artist's simluation of what the 2014 Corvette might look like. The creators of this animation are not connected with GM or Corvette in any way. The design of the vehicle depicted in the animation is based on public illustrations and photos, and our own conjecture of how it might look.
- Contact Us -
Phone: 816-525-0103 (US Central Time)