MAXON CINEMA 4D Takes Blu-ray Star Trek Out of This World

MAXON Computer, a leading developer of professional 3D modeling, painting, animation, and rendering solutions, today announced that the advanced 3D matte painting and texturing capabilities of MAXON CINEMA 4D were used to recreate backgrounds in high definition for release of the original Star Trek television series on Blu-ray Disc.

The Menagerie: This extended scene created in CINEMA 4D for ‘The Menagerie’ episode was crafted around the original footage of the crew (pictured in the lower right-hand corner).

Relying primarily on CINEMA 4D BodyPaint 3D texturing capabilities, acclaimed matte painter Max Gabl worked closely with CBS Digital over the course of nearly two years to restore and update visual effects for the legendary ‘s60s series. Seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek: The Original Series Re-mastered (Star Trek TOS-R) were released by CBS/Paramount Home Entertainment earlier this year; Season 3 went on sale December 15th.

Working under the direction of Star Trek: The Next Generation art director Michael Okuda, longtime Star Trek producer Dave Rossi, and visual effects supervisor Neil Wray, Gabl was tasked with elevating production values across all 54 episodes, which contain many original shots that were filmed with very simple lighting setups and hastily painted and poorly lit backdrops. Gabl deployed BodyPaint 3D as a core software application to bring the look of backgrounds up to present-day high-definition standards, recreating 33 establishing shots and scene extensions, as well as 47 planets and several paintings of nebulae and other planetary system objects.

A key creative challenge was the complete lack of data crucial for visual effects content creation, such as camera type and focal lens that are used to match the virtual camera to the scene. ‘I quickly realized that successfully bringing elements such as matte paintings of planetary objects from the original series into an HD format and maintaining the visual integrity of the iconic television series would necessitate a 3D software solution that offers stability and customization,’ Gabl said. ‘CINEMA 4D with BodyPaint 3D is the ideal solution for matte and texture painters. It offers numerous workflow advantages that are key to maintaining high production standards on a long-term project of this magnitude, and the interface is well designed, stable and extremely easy to use and customize.’

Gabl, whose credits include Stealth, Flags Of Our Fathers, Racing Stripes, and Pushing Daisies (see, created many of the matte paintings of the buildings and planets from scratch (3D model to final render) directly in CINEMA 4D. He also worked in some cases with models built by other artists at CBS Digital, which he imported into the application to light, texture, and render. Some of the paintings were completely new overview shots while others were crafted around original Star Trek footage, with subtle enhancements blended into existing images.

Cloudminders: Wink Of An Eye: The finished matte painting for “Wink Of An Eye” was rendered in CINEMA 4D and touched up in BodyPaint 3D and Photoshop.

CINEMA 4D modular design was a major factor in Gabl ability to complete the project efficiently. ‘Being able to select the modules I needed as I needed them kept the interface uncluttered, lending itself to a fast workflow,’ he said. ‘The Projection Man feature was especially handy, affording quick setup of camera projections while allowing me to look directly at the textured 3D object when touching up textures and seams in painting mode. Virtual set creation is uncomplicated, allowing me to switch back and forth between modeling, projection painting and texturing within the same application.’

‘We’sre thrilled that Max chose to rely on MAXON animation and texturing solutions to handle this challenging project,’ said Paul Babb, president, MAXON USA. ‘Star Trek is among the most venerated and beloved television series ever made, and with the high resolution afforded by the Blu-ray format, the original backdrops might have detracted from viewer enjoyment. Instead, with the help of CINEMA 4D with BodyPaint3D, Max and his colleagues at CBS Digital were able to update the series beautifully for HD, allowing millions of fans to enjoy the show to the fullest.’

To create the large number of planet matte paintings required the creative team to identify basic concepts such as Earth-like with large, dark mountain ranges, pink skies, poles, swirly clouds, etc., usually based on shots in each Star Trek episode, which included at least some features of the planet that viewers could see. Gabl used a NASA template to start modeling each planet, manipulating the textures in BodyPaint 3D until he had approximated the ‘look’. The dimensionality of each planet surface was achieved using data gathered from geological Web sites for the displacement maps, to create elements such as mountains and other terrain.

Over the course of the project, Gabl built an extensive library of textures that could be modified, as needed, allowing him to turn a blue ocean green or vegetation from green to brown, saving much needed production time. ‘By using BodyPaint 3D I could paint textures directly onto the planets and see the results right away rather than having to wait for them to render before entering Photoshop which proved to be a real time-saver,’ said Gabl, adding that the planets rendered at 4000 x 4000 pixels. While Gabl worked on planets and establishing shots, another team of modelers, animators and texture artists worked almost exclusively on a new CGI version of the fictional starship, Starship Enterprise. Once the various matte painting elements were finished, CBS Digital team of compositors inserted them into the footage for the finished look.

MAXON CINEMA 4D is a professional 3D software package offering everything needed to create high-end 3D images and animations for film, broadcast, architecture, and engineering. Continuing a two-decade tradition of excellence, CINEMA 4D 11.5 offers spectacular image quality and an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that puts professional results within reach of artists at all levels of CGI experience. CINEMA 4D 11.5 delivers speed and productivity by taking advantage of the latest advances in processor technology, and its modular design allows configurations tailored to the distinct needs of specialized 3D markets.

About MAXON Computer
MAXON Computer is a developer of professional 3D modeling, painting, animation and rendering solutions. Its award-winning CINEMA 4D and BodyPaint 3D software products have been used extensively to help create everything from stunning visual effects in top feature films, TV shows and commercials, cutting-edge game cinematics for AAA games, as well for medical illustration, architectural and industrial design applications. MAXON has offices in Germany, USA, United Kingdom, France and Japan. MAXON products are available directly from the Website and its worldwide distribution channel. Specially priced learning editions of the company software solutions are also made available to educational institutions.

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