Hover Bike

Just for fun (and to learn more about Mental Ray), here is a hover craft that I created from concept to completion. In the interim I’m calling it a Hover Bike, but that’s subject to change. The principle that it works on is some kind of electro-magnetic-gravity field… I think.

I modeled and textured it in Maya and then rendered using Mental Ray for Maya. The trickiest part was creating the lightning and making it move with the vehicle (here is a 1mb video clip of the hover craft in flight). Here is the same animation, but the sparks are limited to a closer range around the bike.

Mel scripting to the rescue! That was the most time consuming part of the whole process. I created a melscript that creates each lightning spark from the surface of the sphere to the ground. The lightning spark gets rebuilt every frame, and if the craft were standing still the lightning strikes remain attached to the same place on the sphere and the ground (wiggling about as it gets rebuilt each time). After a certain length of time the strike gets deleted and a new one gets created randomly somewhere else. I then attached a paint effects glow curve to the curve that represents the strike. Since Mental Ray doesn’t render paint effects I used After Effects to composite them together. I could have converted the paint effects into poly or nurbs surfaces, but I didn’t like the look of the final strikes.

I captured all the creation steps of the craft using Camtasia so I suppose I could create some training with it… I’m still not sure I want to do that. It contains all the steps for modeling, texturing, UV mapping, rendering and compositing both the craft and the rider. Anyway, if you would be interested in the training, drop me an email. If I get enough interest I may just add narration to it and release it. If I get enough interest I may even add some bonus material that covers the making of the lightning script.

One thing that occured to me as I was creating the craft was that if I kept the poly count low I could use it in the Unity game engine. With the rider it’s around 6k triangles. I haven’t had a lot of time to play with Unity, but I’m itching to. I have an idea for a small game that would involve the craft. It would help me learn more of Unity and maybe create something fun at the same time. Just keep learning… just keep learning…