Films & Interactive Media



Posted by info on September 30, 2016 at 1:20 PM



Kitbashing versus Computer Modeling

by Gale Benning

     The TRIBORN Universe contains many new themes and settings and with it many varied modes of transportation and each of these require a sense of design. The results of building and designing in 3D modeling software are impressive and the flexibility is unprecedented. Digital lighting and texture mapping techniques have had decades to improve, meet most of any director's vision and can be rearranged with relative ease. During the development of TRIBORN, I decided to take the opportunity to not only use contemporary methods but to also utilize a more traditional process.

     When it comes to hard surface design, computer software often provides an edge with precision, scale and replication, but it lacks in the sense of puzzle-building or discovery that I find with physical Kitbashing. To the unfamiliar, Kitbashing is the practice whereby a physical scale model is created by taking pieces from standard retail model kits and combining them to shape something new. This method does not rely on instructions and with it brings a chance for discovery, a chance to hold pieces together and see a relationship you could not have otherwise envisioned on the computer screen. Once the design was completed, further development could happen by either remodeling in the computer or building a larger scale model for use in filming.

     Two ships are on the TRIBORN “progress table” that have finished what I would call the "design phase" and are ready to move forward into the multiple "development phases". One is the Hero Ship or most used or recognized vehicle of the film, which I chose to design entirely in 3D software. The other is a smaller transport ship that is normally housed inside the Hero Ship, this one I chose to Kitbash.

     I would say that creatively I found enjoyment in both exercises, the former being a method that I was more recently active with as the software Sketchup has a broad spectrum for use. I recognized that Sketchup is not on the higher end of programs available, but it's quick and easy to navigate. From this point, the production will farm out the design to other artists to transform the original into a textured digital model ready for on screen animation. The latter ship, the smaller transport was a conglomeration of parts from four off-the-shelf model kits; two jet planes, a spaceship and a manga robot.

     The timeframe for each of these builds was surprisingly similar, both having a slow start as I had to find what the shapes called for and how a particular ship began "telling" me what fit within it. I could see with both of these projects, it was about the details. Whether it was bending small tubes of copper for the utility lines of the transport ship, or a click-and-drag extruding of the main engine thrusters of the Hero Ship, it's the little parts that make it feel like the model existed with a scale and in a space. In the end it’s about the design, regardless of the process. I always remember to ask myself; does it feel like it lives in this Universe called TRIBORN?

Categories: * Film News, TRIBORN, SRF NEWS

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