NASA: Asteroid Redirect Manned Mission

So for the past few months I have been working hard with the concept analysis team here at NASA JSC, helping them visualize the recently announced asteroid redirect and utilization mission.  It has been quite the brain-opening experience, learning about all that goes into planning a mission of this caliber.

One of the main things that we have been hard at work at here is an animation representing the manned portion of the mission, which is what the JSC team has been focusing on.  This animation was presented at a mission formulation review up at NASA headquarters:

It was very well received, which was good news for us.  We spent a lot of time this go-around making things look realistic and getting everything we could technically accurate.  (We had gotten a lot operationally wrong the first time we did an animation of this mission).

If you're wondering what I personally did in the video, it was pretty much the part from when the two spaceships dock to when they separate.  All of the modeling and animation was done in Modo while we did the compositing. To save render time on some of the less complicated vehicle shots, we wound up using Video CoPilot's Element 3D plugin for After Effects.  It took a lot to set up, especially since it doesn't cast shadows, but we wound up getting it in the end.  We also got to do our own J.J. Abrams-style lens flares for it, which was a nice touch in the end.  We used SonicFire Pro for mixing together the music, which helped out a bunch in the long haul.  It's a handy piece of software that anyone who regularly does videos needs to pick up.

Overall, I am pleased with the results.  It's a good blend of artistic interpretation with real engineering planning behind it.  Here are a few more still images that I created that were used in the review:


AMA Declassified: Mark 3 Surface Suit

Here's another peek into my work.  We recently got connected to the group here at NASA JSC who are working on the Mark 3 surface suit.  We showed them a few things that we could do and they were interested in how that could apply to their work. 

As a bit of a test run, they gave us a 3D laser-scan of the Mark 3 surface suit.  We quickly did a quick texturing and rendering of the raw file, which was well into the millions of polygons.

I am in the process of creating a low-resolution version of the suit, after which I'll project all the details of the high-resolution into a normal map.  It should be a good asset to have, once I finish it.  It certainly will be hard to create a usable rig for the legs, though, looking at the joints in the hips.  I'm still scratching my head about how to tackle that one.


ZBrush - Lunar Surface

I have been meaning to do a lunar surface ZBrush sculpt for work, and I finally got some time to work at home today.  This was knocked out in about three hours.  If I was doing it right, I would have split up the UV map into four or more tiles, but as it currently sits, the final texture maps were around 8192x8192 pixels.