My office mate Jason Laramie hooked me up with Cascade Designs recently. He’s been working with them for a while on various illustration projects. Cascade is the the parent company which owns MSR (Mountain Safety Research), Therm-a-Rest, Platypus, Seal-Line, and Tracks.
tent_exterior_flyCascade’s goal was to animate one of their new tents, to match something RIE has been doing on their site to present their tents. A company in Washington is hired by REI to take photos of their tents in 360 degrees. The take about 2 dozen photos around the tent with and without the fly, and also take a photo of the inside of the tent. Cascade was wondering if we could do something similar in 3d which would be not only nicer, but less expensive and would run in flash.

tent_exteriorSo they sent us one of their tents, and we modeled it from scratch, down to the zipper pulls. Fitting the tent into the studio was a task. We also used cloth simulation to get the wrinkles and stretch marks in the tents so it looks more real. Vray for c4d was just out when we were working on this project, so we used c4d’s basic render engine. No GI – just a bit of ambient occlusion.

We rendered the tent in 360 degrees with and without the fly. A frame for each degree. We then rendered a camera move from outside the tent into the inside, as well as a 360 shot of the interior.

We then pulled all of the image sequences and imported them into flash, created a scripted interface using easing for the rotation and all camera moves, and tied it all together in a test interface.

You can test it out here. It’s pretty amazing the how smooth it all works. Not only is the tent rotation perfectly smooth, but the fly matches the camera angle of the tent exactly, so we scripted in the ability to control the opacity of the fly, at any camera angle. The camera move into the interior of the tent also is seamless with the exterior view. And instead of a single photo of the interior, we have a 360 degree rotation.

Note the interface is a test interface. All functional, but not designed or branded. Ultimately we will be sending MSR our image sequences and they will load them into the interface and tie them to custom buttons via XML. The final interface will also have the ability to zoom in at any frame to a high res image of that frame. Now that vray for c4d is out, the next round will also look much more real. When Cascade does send us their tent line, we will need to find a larger office!