WIP - Apollo 11

ts scene in ue4

Transferred the project from UDK to UE4. New support for landscapes can be seen toward the back of the level shown in the image above. The problem with skeletal mesh offsets and the t3d imports is gone. It may have been fixed by moving to UE4, scripting changes or it may have been cause by user error. The T3D script was updated to work with the new format and support for landscapes was added. Items marked as terrain will export as landscapes when using the ue4 t3d export option. The new T3D export also adjusts for skeletal mesh orientations, so they don't have to be set during import to the ue4 editor.

February 9, 2015

Apollo Wip 2014

lem ascent descent

Apollo Wip 2013


Apollo 11 landing and EVA.

Recreating the Apollo landing using a game engine was a cool idea and I thought it would be easy to find all the information I needed, but I was wrong. Most of the time has been spent on research and finding out that a lot of information doesn't exist. Measured drawings are scarce and blueprints don't even exist anymore. Many of the mission videos seem to also be missing/lost. http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/frame.html is the best site for information and I was able to find other reference from other sites.

I started by downloading the pictures taken during the EVA and a LEM model I found on the NASA site. I created a scene and setup cameras with the images used as backdrop image planes. I couldn't get them to line up and found that the model I downloaded was just a little bit taller than the measured drawings indicated, so I started a new model from scratch. After spending a few days setting up cameras I found the image used as the ground in the picture above. Someone else had already done the work mapping out the camera and equipment positions. My setup was close, but it took a lot of work to get there.

The next step was to create the link editor node shown on the left. It reads in a tab delimited text file filled with the mission time, the pictures taken and the actions each of the astronauts was performing at each time frame. The index value is animated and updates all the other data. The mistake I made at this point was to not use a count by 10 for the index in the database, so it would be easier to add events between the existing events without having to change any preexisting animation.

The Apollo Events node together with the Photogrammetric Analysis Of Apollo 11 Imagery provided by the ground diagram were used to animate the astronauts. The Apollo videos that do exist helped to fill in some of the gaps. All other gaps will be filled in with my best guess as to where and what they are doing at a givien time. At this point the animation needs to be re-timed. Everything happens in order but without any consistency or planning to the timings between events. Some timings will be altered for practical reasons. It was about 7 hours between touchdown and the first step on the moon, around 2 hours of EVA activity and another 13 hours before take off. The next step after the timings are worked out will be to build detailed models of the astronauts and animate them.

Throughout this process I've also been programming the plugins and scripts that will be needed to transfer a complete trueSpace scene to the UDK editor. The FBX exporter has been modified so that it can gives more consistent results. It has a mode to export animations that are compatible with the UDK Matinee importer and another new mode for unreal static meshes. A T3D exporter has been written to get the scene into UDK with full static and skeletal mesh support. It will also export terrains, however because of the small area I decided to use a staticmesh for the ground instead of a UDK terrain/landscape. Another script for setting up an unreal style grid and snapping was also written. Not useful for this project, but ready for the future.

May 2, 2013