I was pleased to see some attention brought to this important IP asset, although I am confused as to whether this will be the final FX up to and including the Featured Series set around DS9 or if it will be further iterated upon.
I really feel the Wormhole should be treated like a starship. It has a central role in so many stories both in canon, fiction and indeed in our own foundry at times that it should be made right. Sorry to sound presumptuous given I do not know if the new FX are final - but I felt I could add some feedback - perhaps its all obvious and unneeded, I'll let you decide.
Working with the latter, I decided to screencap a few shots from Tears of the Prophets which no doubt you all have access to of course, but which provide good shots of the Wormhole to talk about imo. There will be images in this topic so you might split your browser into two so you can see the image along with the text.
Before I go into that, I just want to say the opening and close FX are a step in the right direction and quite well done. My qualms are specifically related to the wormhole's 'active' state. I feel the added background layer ripple effects is very detached from the whole, it seems to stand out far too much as a seperate element and because of this much of the wormhole still seems 'vortexy' like the original attempt as opposed to 'whirlpooly-swishy' which would be how I would describe the IP wormhole in my fancy techno-speakz!
Stage One of the Wormhole: The Spark - http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/38/73912571.jpg/
The after patch effects for the immediate 'spark' now work well. Its an important phase that is fast but is important to portray the sudden buildup of energy and power imo, and it gives rise to the all important 'swirl hand'.
This stage is made up of various elements that continue to grow throughout the entire process.
- The central core (bulbous like an acorn)
- Inner Ring (starting connected to the Core - )
- Outer Ring (separated from the inner ring - thick)
Not forgetting the initial Spark either. The FX ingame work well for the spark atm imo. The follow through however, differs. Right now you have spark, one thin outer ring and behind everything is the old vortex FX, but scaled to grow with that one ring.
After the spark there is of course a rapid growth in the wormhole. The central core grows and the inner ring stays connected to it much like a disc going through it, however, there is a valley created. Such that we have:
Outer Ring - separation - Inner Ring (continues all the way to center) - depression-like valley - Central core
The outer ring is still separated from the inner, but it too grows in density quickly and matches the height of the inner and central core.
The size increased overall here and the separation between Outer and Inner blend together to form a valley-like depression. The Central core grows outwards much like a cone or the tip of a hurricane/tornado, but it is still bulbous and not pointy so to speak.
This stage sees the rise of a very important aspect of the wormhole. It creates a key identifier for the anomoly in the IP and can be claimed to be part of creating an 'ethereal' feeling for the gateway to the Celestial Temple. Right now this is missing from the ingame FX entirely.
We still have the three key elements of central core, inner and outer rings. The rings themselves are a collection of dense particles for lack of better words, and now they are all blended together with a cloud of ... less dense particles.
It is important to note that from the central core to the limit of the inner ring there is now a noticeable rippling effect. It seems to me that this effect occurs 'underneath' a cloud layer and the ripples are frequent, and not all the same, i.e. not 1 every 2 seconds, but perhaps 2 quick ripples, followed by 1 followed by 4 etc, so it gives a very active appearance.
Furthermore, there is an 'explosion' for lack of a better word of Gold/Beige/Cream/Red Hue particles from underneath the central core which come out where the inner ring meets the central core.
This stage gives rise to what I call the 'Swirl Hand'. This is the top 50% or so of the central core that peaked above the rest of the wormhole elements earlier. From the pinicle it begins to fizzle out and seperate apart, however, it is worth noting that it leaves finger trails so to speak in a rotating manner which become more defined as the effect goes on. Swirl Hand! Inside is filled with the Gold/Beige/Cream/Red Hue particles which escape out in a veritable fountain of light.
Right now, ingame we have a stream of particles coming from what seems to be a purely cream center only.
Eventually the Swirl Hand Tendrils recede into a thick ring inside the inner ring which houses the central energy fountain thing. Its very dense and is blended with cloud layers above and below presumably with the inner ring. Particles still come out from underneath it and disperse as opposed to the fountain flow of the actual central mouth.
We can now see that there is a rippling effect underneath for the most part but which doesn't extend to the very outer reaches of the wormhole itself. That is moving at a particular speed. Lets say [quick].
Then there is that rotation of the Inner ring moving at [medium]. Then there is the rotation of the Outer ring, which has now become less dense and smoothened out more. It moves at [Slow].
All elements are connected with layers of cloud so to speak which moves at its own speed as well depending on how close it is to the center. It is worth noting as well that sometimes only one side of the wormhole is cloud heavy on the outer ring and the other is sparce. It adds to the organic nature of these swirling elements in motion imo.
The close effect is a shortended version of the above without the Hand Swirl and it seems to be quite fast. The ingame effect seems good for this but as it shrinks it sports the inaccurate elements of the ingame FX birth (one outer ring, the old vortex, a spark and sometimes spark streaks as it collapses).
I really like the direction the new FX are going in, and I really hope it is the first step in iterating the FX for the new Featured Series as a whole. As I have mentioned earlier, I see the Wormhole as a crucial element from the IP much like I view the Galaxy Class or PADD itself. I don't usually nitpick on details, but considering the fine work being put in on art and the upcoming FE I felt it was appropriate and I hope it is helpful (likely not tbh).
My favourite element of the new FX ingame is the addition of a rotating cloud FX. It is exactly what is needed. Except I would hope that it will be expanded upon. If the rings and rippling could be covered with it instead of it being an isolated rotating element in the background it would go along way to improving things. I feel more variance in colour should be added to the central fountain of light. We see a variety of gold-cream-orange-reds in the IP.
I add this because it illustrates the difference (for me anyway) between the IP wormhole's traditional whirlpooly-swishy nature and this collapsing Vortex like FX due to the disconnect with the orbs/whatever. We used to have vortex, now we should be working towards whirlpooly-swishy. /techno-babble.
The next image is a bad illustration of some of the elements in an open wormhole. All have their own speeds, and densities. It is a complex beast, but like the Enterprise, or transporters - its effect mimic its importance imo. The blue would be underneath the green in this image. http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/195/57800251.jpg/
Well I won't keep you longer if you read this far. Thanks.
Wow. Thats a lot of text for the wormhole. I like the new version 100% more than the old version. I'd be ok with this one being the final version, too. At least for a while. I think for a plot device that you don'rt see very often (at least right now) in STO, to spend more time improving what is already a much improved model would be hard to justify.
They could come back and tweak it a bit more after they get more of the more serious problems worked out. IMO, I think a redone interior to DS9 or a redone interior of the wormhole itself would be a better use of resources than more work on the wormhole open/close animation.
The new wormhole looks great so much better than what we had before but I think its impact and luminance is slightly washed out by the brown tea stained background and how brightly lit the DS9 area is.
I normaly like the exaggerated backgrounds as they add colour and vibrance but in this instance its overpowering the station and wormhole.
I hope DS9 gets the same tlc as ESD did (and a shrinking to boot) having the wormhole opening and lighting up the darkness could be a real spectacle.
Revo the Star Trek Armada II wormhole model, which was just several 2d textures was successful in recreating the desired effect in my opinion, I would have thought things would have moved on since then.
It may not be a major plot device now Boglejam, but it will be one day - and much like the featured series at the moment the Cloaked Intentions Quality is above the Breen in terms of environments, VO and throwbacks to trek (amok time music) - it would make sense to future proof it now. I'm not saying the Breen vs Romulans means the Breen is BAD, but just think how much better it would be if it had the same treatment as the Romulans (i.e. if the lessons learned from the last three FE were instead known from the beginning ... if they can sink time in now, it would be a protected asset for the future imo.
I kind of see this like having the enterprise D with a square primary hull instead of what it should be. Sure the costs of making effects are great for TV BUT remember that was 20 years ago nearly! My 14 year old nephew can make 3d effects on his personal computer of spaceships flying around - and we've seen what splendour Cryptic is capable of in it's newer environments.
I really had not considered the effect the background space had on things McItoshi. Great point! I suppose it could be downplayed, or get a new background where some of the area has a nebula effect, but its mostly dark.
I'm cautiously optimistic that that wormhole will continue to be worked on.
The new wormhole is far, far better than the original, kudos to the devs for their work on this so far...
However, things still aren't quite right :p
The OP has plenty of points that I agree with, so I wont repeat them here. I'd also like to add that the aperture is too large in my opinion and needs shrinking to about half the size. Also, the space background for DS9 needs changing. The brown background of DS9 doesn't match up with what we see on screen, which is mainly black space with a purple nebula far in the distance.
If the devs were to make the changes I suggested, and those of the OP, I think DS9 will look awesome
Thanks for the feedback! The wormhole effect is a WIP. Our goal is to get it as close as we can using the tools we have available. There are some major differences between the way our VFX are created and rendered and the systems used to create the VFX in the show but I'm confident we'll be able to get it pretty close.