A long time ago, I got inspired by a book with a story for a pen&paper role playing campaign taking place in a very particular sci-fi world. Actually I was so inspired that I rendered an intro video for the players to set the mood. Looking back at that now, it looks very dated, very low-poly and low-res, and I was (and still am) very much an amateur.
So I decided to go for a remake and see what I can achive with blender and today's tutorials.
Imagine a planet at the backend of nowhere, cut off from civilization in the aftermath of a war and not even habitable, as the lower layers of the atmosphere are not breathable. But a large transport with thousands of fugitives from the war in cold sleep gets shipwrecked in the that system, with no chance of repair. Those people need a new home, but all you have to work with is some nearby asteroid mining and a few experimental scientific observation platforms exploring the planet. Those platforms get converted into flying cities, and more of them are built to accomodate the fugitives. They are dubbed "Windriders" and a whole culture develops in midair, surviving in their rather fragile and comparatively low-tech homes.
So I am working on a windrider again. That is basically a huge bubble, with a small section for people to live in at the bottom and lots of space for air as it is bascially a huge, hard-shelled hot air balloon. It is powered by solar panels, heated by the sun during the day and electrically during the night.
Adding a current render first for the thumbnail
Here's a picture of the original version created in 2000.
I am having a lot of trouble with the sheer size of the thing. It is 5km in diameter and most modelled details just disappear with the scale. Following the numbers strictly, the habitat section in the bottom would even be much smaller in order for it to fly, but it just isn't any good visually.
Now—I think an airship could be a LOFTID type ballute…but it would be ugly.
Here's a render of the top part with the solar panels. The solar panel unit is originally from BlenderKit/Davide Tirindelli. I immediately fell in love with the hexagon concept and just made them look slimmer and larger to fit the windrider. The bands running all the way to the zenith of the dome are elevators to give access for maintenance - and I figure that parachuting from the solar panel gallery is quite in fashion as a hobby in those habitats.
At the very top is an exterior airlock - but again with the size of the whole bubble its barely visible even though it is a sizeable 25m mainenance shed.
Thanks for pointing that out - I was not aware of that project but I think that those concepts give a lot of credibility to my scenario. The first bubbles even were used for planetary exploration and traffic between the windrider cities happens with airships. The main difference is that NASA uses blimps and balloons, as they must unpack and inflate from spaceships during "landing", while my scenario is using airships with a framework and solid-skin domes, as they are constructed on site in a dock and are supposed to be used for decades rather than months.
Here's the original render of my solar-panel covered, self-sustainging airship. Need to remake that, too.
But all in all the similarities are so striking that I am really happy that my role playing scenario predates the NASA concept by 15 years, so it's clear that if anything, NASA copied from me.
JP Aerospace thinks they have an airship to orbit solution.
Now, ion engines have got a boost with the H9 MUSCLE.
But an airship from orbit might work and slow itself.
Here is your bubble concept—heck…they could be bigger
Originally I had started modelling the windows, but when projecting them onto the hull caused lots of artifacts and I realized that I would have to manually tidy up each of them, I decided to go for textures, bump and specular. Considering the LOD for the renders I think that geometry would have been quite an overkill.
So there are three more sections of decks for living space and public functions, the rest of the hull is dedicated to storage and industry and will not get windows. The bottom most section is a hangar for smaller blimps, which are used for close range traffic and hauling between windriders. Still missing is the large dock for the big airships under the windrider.
I can also imagine that to keep the weight low, that the habitat section is a ring (a thicc ring, but a ring) and the "ground" is lower, above the storage and industries levels. Also means that you have a view both inside and outside, and more distance for your solar panel skydiving.
The first level or so beneath the garden can be the public transport system, you could have subway-style trains that go around the inner circumference, and others that cut straight through, and of course there'd be multiple train stations in the park itself.
The park itself is probably bigger than Central Park, and I can imagine it being curated and evolving over time to become like that: a zoo, a concert area, a lake, sculpture gallery, etc...
The 3rd engine is not running deliberately, to make the shape of the rotors visible.
As for the windrider, I also had similar thoughts concerning a different shape, with windows on the inside, too. The thing is so huge that there would be plenty of space for that, the real estate is about 2km in diameter. But in order to keep with the storyline I'll stick to the full surface "topside" as they call it on a windrider, with a mix of agriculture and recreation. That will be fun to model next.
It has 4 buildings in the cardinal directions that allow access to the inside of the city, a maintenance building for agricultural work and the patch crew station. The worst thing that can happen to a windrider is a hull breach - and it does happen as materials do age. So there is always a so called patch crew on standby. In case of a sensor alert, they launch in their copter (sorry, not modelled) within minutes, fly to the damaged section of the globe where the copter attaches itself with suction cups so repairs can begin. Very much like a fire station in real life.
Yes. The Seagaia Ocean Dome was the largest indoor beach, and it did have its own weather.
I'm really enjoying this thread. It's a beautiful idea having these self-contained spheres floating around. It makes fertile ground for storytelling.
By the way. what modeling software do you use?
Life is a dream — of pain and woe.
A dream from which — we pray to wake.
A dream from which — we wake and go
I use Blender for modelling and Paint.net for textures.
Recently I was busy improving the cloud quality and setting up perspectives and camera movements. Draft renders looked promising, so now I started the high-quality rendering.
So I wrote a little program, that monitors blender and if it detects that the process is no longer running, it restarts it. It can also check how far blender got and will exit if the rendering has finished. Seems to work quite nicely so far.
As this seems to be a widespread problem, I would like to share my solution with other blender users as freeware. But I am at a loss where the best place to share the info and publish the application might be. So my question to the blender users around here would be: Do you have a suggestion?
Maybe Blend Swap. That seems to be a place where those sort of things can be shared. Of course, people share meshes, materials and whatnot, but there's also a place for sharing tools.
One of the things was the motion blur on the rotors, which just didn't look right. As it turned out, the rotors were just going too slowly (the values came straight out of a tutorial). Higher RPM gives better results. But I am undecided on quite how much. Here's a sample render of the airship with a different RPM on each engine.
The one on the left is rotating the fastest and is completely blurred. The one on the right is rotating at half speed and you can barely make out irregularities from the blades. The on in center is rotating quarter speed.
Which one looks best to you?