ixtract | Miao Cave Animation

Based on the printing image of the Miao Chamber for National Geographic, we were asked to develope a simulated flight through this chamber. We should ues the pictures of the well-known photographer Carsten Peter who was part of the expedition team, which explored the so-called ,Gebihe cave system‘. The flight should connect 8 to 9 different photos and one of the biggest difficulties for us was to find the correct localisation from where the photos were take from. The other challenge was to connect them to a fluent animation, too...

A mega cave in motion
Virtual experiece of China's biggest cave for National Geographic Magazine
Based on the printing image of the Miao Chamber for National Geographic, we were asked to develop a simulated flight through this chamber. We should use the pictures of the well-known photographer Carsten Peter who was part of the expedition team, which explored the so-called ,Gebihe cave system‘. The flight should connect 8 to 9 different photos and one of the biggest difficulties for us was to find the correct localisation where the photos were taken from. The other challenge was to connect them to a fluent animation, too...

Here you will find the NGM Animationthrough the supercave online:
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/china-caves/supercaves/
outtakes from the animation
Some final shots of the inner cave. As the rendering for the print file took 10 hours to complete, we had to reduce rendering time for one single image down to 15 minutes, at least, as 2400 pictures would still need 4.5 days then.
But of course without loosing any quality regarding atmosphere, details or resoultion (Full HD). This meant we couldn't use any of the "modern" rendering technics like global illumination, physikal rendering even no simple area shadows at all.
 
First step into the dark
Turn on the camera lights - i can't see anything...
Camera settings  Trail and angles
To set up the whole animation path there had to be placed nearly 20 different cameras, to meet exactly the 9 fixed camera positions from Carsten Peter.
Colour Settings  Layer per layer
Instead of using image based textures we generated tens of infinte noise patterns which wehre combined afterwards in several overlapping, masking and distorting layers. Here you can see a selection of some major textur layers.
Two views with only color applied to the chambers stone-material.
Relief settings  From rough to detailed
The same proceedure had to be applied to deffernt channels like relief or normal which you can see above.
 
Color and bump matched together in the same views like above.
Smaller Adjustements  light correction through animation
Finally we had to match the Cameraflight and animate lights to avoid overcasting areas.
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