After the big disappointment of the first episode, I did not expect much from the second part as well, that is why it wassuch a great surprise when I watched it! I liked the end of the movie so much, that I knew that I have to make my own version of it...
Picture #1 / Screenshot from the original movie (image by Lucasfilm)
The terrible amount of details that was needed for such a project could not have been afforded without at least a dedicated home computer (my has dual Amd MP2000+ processors, with 1 gigs of memory, it was pretty much the maximum I could get out of such a computer). I started creating the scene using 3ds Max and VRay. At that time however, VRay had a top limit on renderable polygons (the newer versions can render unlimited polygons), which was about 1/30th of the scene, so I switched to Brazil. It was the perfect choice as I figured out later on...
Most meshes that are in the scene are downloaded from the web (mostly from scifi3d.com), the rest of them were box-modelled. The texturing and composition was done completely by me.
First, I created the ground, on which I placed the landing pads. This was the basic setup, I saved the file. After that, every new component was added to the scene by merging from another document. For example, to add another element to the scene, I opened up a blank scene, merged the basic ground plane and landing pads into the new scene and added the elements (the ground and the landing pads provided me with the measures, and outline of the scene, so I knew exactly where to place the new things). This was necessary, because the overall scene contained too many polygons, and it was almost impossible to work in. After an element was created, I merged it into the final scene. To be able to use the final scene for rendering, almost every element was turned to box-shape in the viewports, to save computer resources.
Picture #2 / Setting up the basics of the scene, most of the proportions are wrong
Texturing was done during the element creation phase, so only the final and textured meshes were merged into the final scene. The background is a photo (the mountains and the clouds), it would have been simply too much for the computer to do that in 3d as well. The rest of the textures are tiled jpg pictures, mixed in different ways using the "mix", "blend" and "falloff" materials. I avoided using raytrace materials, they would have probably crashed the rendering if I did. There is a slight "film noise" effect on the rendering, so it looks a bit grainer.
Picture #3 / The scene with textures added to it, also, some of the proportions are corrected
The biggest challenge was to create an impressive, huge army. In the scene, there are between 6000-8000 soldiers. I started by texuring the first soldier, I tried adding not-so-high quality materials, to save rendering resources, however every soldier is equipped with an UVW map. There are two types of soldiers I used, the troopers and their commanders. All of the soldiers were "instanced" from the first ones. When it came to duplicating them, I did not use the built-in "array" feature of Max (I hand placed them), because I wanted it to look much more random, so basically every soldier has a unique position in the scene for added realism...
Picture #4 / Changed the layout a bit and added thousands of more soldiers