Author Topic: Subspace Vortex  (Read 2562 times)

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Ever since I first played Freespace over 20 years ago, I've had this tiny little obsession with perfectly recreating the original subspace vortex. It always had a particular charm to it. Finally, I've gotten close:

Made this in after effects. It's fully animated, and easily customizable. Say you wanted a more detailed capital ship vortex effect. You can simply bump up the fractal noise detail and there you go. It doesn't loop, but it wouldn't be too hard to make it a seamless animation. I'll upload the .aep if anyone is interested.

It took me a long time to reason out exactly how they may have made the original effect. Ultimately, it was way simpler than I had originally thought.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2022, 12:06:59 am by Gamma39er »


Offline mjn.mixael

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I don't see anything here, but i'd still like to see the .aep.

EDIT: oh there it is. It just took an incredibly long time to load.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2022, 08:25:55 am by mjn.mixael »
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Offline Colonol Dekker

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How big is it?

I remember back in the gamespy days extracted every frame of the ani and recoloured them frame by frame in paintshop pro to make them red 🤣

It can be as big as you want it. Right now it's 2048x2048, but it should be flexible enough to increase the size if needed.


Offline Nyctaeus

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While I like the swirly effect we have currently in use, this one is like 15 times more accurate compared to it. Impressive recreation.

I'll ask the rest of FSU team what should we do about it. I think it's real candidate for inclusion. Can I get 2048x2048?

Also to be usable in FSO, it must be looping seamlessly.
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Offline EatThePath

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It took me a long time to reason out exactly how they may have made the original effect. Ultimately, it was way simpler than I had originally thought.

For those of who might want to follow in your footsteps but don't have aftereffects, can you explain how it's done?
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So, there's a decent number of steps, but put simply, it's just two fractal noise ripple layers faded over each other. The ripple layers are made using a combination of fractal noise, rgb curves, radial gradients, polar coordinates, and turbulent noise to distort the ripples. You then color the combination of those two ripple layers a light blue, and then, in addition to those two ripple layers, there are two more smaller white ones faded over each other in the center. Then you use a radial gradient to achieve the white center. These two white layers are half the size of and animate at twice the speed of the larger ripple layers.

The original animations white center was always kind of noisy and after doing it this way, I think this method is the reason why. It's simply the more clustered part of the polar coordinates texture.

I got a bit ahead of myself and tried it out in FSO, and it will definitely need to be at least 4k. Also there's this sort of artifacting on the 'fringes' of the effect at several points. Apologies if you were already aware of this.

It's good to know that it will need to be 4k. I'll make a 2048x2048 version and 4096x4096 version. Do you happen to have a screenshot of it in game? I'd like to see how it looks on the current warp mesh. I actually don't have the game installed and I'm going to try not to install it so it doesn't distract me while I focus on my last semester before I get my bachelor's degree. Although, obviously, this subspace effect was a little bit of a distraction already. :P


Offline Iain Baker

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Funky.  I like this, but also the swirly one. Is there a way we could use both?

How about two different jump vortexes, one for entering subspace, one for exiting it? (Kinda like Babylon 5's blue and orange jump gate things).

Or perhaps one for intra-system jumps, and one for inter-system jumps at nodes?

Just a thought...
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Offline Mito [PL]

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Link to the aforementioned test, video of which Asteroth posted in the HLP Discord.
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The res doesn't look too bad at that distance, but I wanted to get the whole thing in the shot. Much closer, at a more reasonable distance, the relatively low res becomes very obvious. Warp holes can go even bigger than that, but I think designing them at the biggest for destroyer-sized ships is reasonable.

Wow, that looks better than I anticipated. The lens flare overlay works like how I thought it might. The white circle seems to be the right size. Did you modify anything about the graphics or is that just straight from the .gif? The blues look more pronounced.

Also, I have the graphic in 4096x4096 form, and it was pretty easy to make it seamless. Is there a preferred framerate and duration? Also, to transition it to the game more easily, what should I render it out as? An .avi or .mov? Or a sequence of targa's or something.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2022, 05:58:54 pm by Gamma39er »

I used an online .gif to .apng converter, and that is also the format I would recommend. Otherwise, I changed nothing, just directly overlaid the new file into the existing effect. Due to engine shenanigans, some degree of differences are to be expected.

Ok, so here's a 2048x2048 version. It's 25 fps with 50 frames. The file size is 58mb. Most of the apng converters will only accept a maximum of 100mb, so in order to have enough frames for the animation I had to lower the resolution from 4096x4096 to 2048x2048. I rendered a png sequence that I then converted to an animated png. If there's a better way to compress this, I'm all ears. 58mb feels a little large, but maybe that's normal for the FSO engine?

You'll notice I made some minor changes to the color, speed, radial gradient, and amount of detail. I thought the speed was a little slow anyway, but I also had to increase the speed for the purpose of making the animation seamless.

Lots and lots of retro-charm, I like that~ :yes:

Here's a preview of the above animated .png:


Offline Goober5000

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This looks really good. :yes:

50mb is definitely on the heavy-side... but I guess its not that crazy for an animation that big. It's funny that the .gif version when converted was only 8mb. There's gotta be some compression shenanigans going but I honestly don't know much about it.

The original .gif I made was only a 512x512 .gif so that's why it was 8mb even though it had a lot more frames. Gifs tend to add a bunch of dithering too, so I tried not to compress as a .gif first this time.