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NASA's Perseverance Built and Animated in Apple's Motion

With the landing of NASA's Perseverance only days away, one FCP.co contributor used a 3D model in Motion to illustrate the Mars mission.

A recent update to Motion added the abilit to import 3D models directly into the app. The capability is slightly limited at the moment and we hope that Apple add more control with lighting, shadows and other Motion features such as depth-of-field.

We have been looking for a good example of this in action and we have to thank Brian Cassin for contacting us with the example below. Very well timed as well, seeing that hopefully Perseverance will land on Mars later this week. Brian explains-

I made this as a proof of concept for quick CG work using Apple's Motion and Final Cut Pro. I also wanted to make a more cinematic version of the event surrounding the Mars 2020 landing. All CG except everything past 2:15​ was created in Apple Motion.

The hardest part was breaking apart the model in Blender. If it wasn’t for Ripple Training’s 'Working with 3D' tutorial pack, I would have been dead in the water!

Motion is very limited. No ambient occlusion or depth of field. But the fact that I could preview my animations in real time and adjust behaviors on the fly was incredible and let me riff on what animations I was building. I didn’t really have anything other than a rough game plan and made it up as I went along. I couldn’t imagine doing that with After Effects waiting to render to see the results.

I just used a ton of behaviors. This also was a little bit of a learning experience. Since I had only used move, dolly and the basics, I started to experiment with link and a few other parameter ones. That way I only had to animate one side of the rover and then link and negate the other side. Layer ordering was a bit weird and had to ask for help in the Apple forums.

 

Brian has also made a documentary on FCP about Perseverance that airs Thursday on NatGeo network. You may recall in 2017 he wrote an article for FCP.co about the amazing speed that a game show can be assembled in FCP.

Getting a 16 Episode Gameshow to Rough Assembly in 30 Minutes With Final Cut Pro X.

 

 


Written by
Top BloggerThought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

great house giveaway 2020

2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

Tour de france 2020
Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.

 

BBC snooker the crucible

BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

amazon kindle BF

Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.

FCP.co

Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!

 

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thinkfilm's Avatar
thinkfilm replied the topic: #112706 15 Feb 2021 16:06
That's a really excellent piece of work, utilizing Motion's real strengths and working around it's limitations.
markspencer's Avatar
markspencer replied the topic: #112707 15 Feb 2021 17:08
Great work! Agreed that there are limitations but it's quite amazing what you can accomplish with USDZ's in Motion, especially if you break them apart first.
bcassin's Avatar
bcassin replied the topic: #112708 15 Feb 2021 17:22
Thanks Mark:)

Your Ripple Training Series: Using 3D Objects in Motion really helped me out:). In fact thats what encouraged me to see if I could pul this off.

I faked some depth of field using blurs but it was clunky. So shied away from it.

Something I came across in Blender that I want to pass on is this: There is a faster way to export model parts.

If you have a model that has selectable parts you can export them individually without having to erase all the other parts.

In Blender go to Export>gIFT 2 then open the Include disclosure triangle and check selected parts. That way only the parts you have selected export.
 

It did behave weirdly when there was an animation involved so one may bump into that issue.

Thanks again, Blender is a beast and your tutorials got me where I needed to be quickly.
satanworker's Avatar
satanworker replied the topic: #112711 16 Feb 2021 05:51
That is incredible! Thank you so much for sharing!
Do you texture models in blender before export or did you use something like substance painter for that?
bcassin's Avatar
bcassin replied the topic: #112716 16 Feb 2021 13:50
Thanks! I didn't do anything to the model textures. I used the NASA Perseverance and Mars model, the earth model that is in Motion, and bought the cruise stage/ aeroshell. All I did was split them apart in Blender and pass them through Reality Converter.

Honestly I don't know much about 3D, but after this it's something I'd like to learn more about!

That's what is so cool about Motion was I was able to iterate on the fly and watch the result in realtime.
Ben Balser's Avatar
Ben Balser replied the topic: #112717 16 Feb 2021 14:15
bcassin, look into mO2 from MotionVFX if you want to go deeper.
bcassin's Avatar
bcassin replied the topic: #112719 16 Feb 2021 14:59
Ben,
I was going to approach the project using MO2 originally, but it didn't appear there was an easy way to make what I wanted.

For example the "exploded rover" shot, when I tried to do that in MO2 I could only see key frames for one object at a time. So there was no way to group adjust the timing. Nor did it seem like I could apply behaviors to each object within MO2. I know they have their built in animations but felt it was too much like adjusting parameters while looking through a keyhole to be helpful.

I did however use MO2 for the starfield.

It's too bad because I woudl have like to have taken advantage of mO2's lighting, shading, and DOF.

Again I just winged it so maybe I missed some functionality. I just really appreciate the use of behaviors to animate.
Ben Balser's Avatar
Ben Balser replied the topic: #112726 16 Feb 2021 23:30
Yeah, mO2 has some maturing to do, and they are working on new features. Some models come in with separate parts you can manipulate, some as one solid object, I don't know what the difference is. Anyway, really impressive work! Bravo!