Picture of How to make a sci-fi film, the easy way

PLEASE NOTE: this tutorial is old, i cannot be sure how much even still works with the latest versions of all the programs listed. provides information on 3d modelling and animation with other packages which results in far more advanced video output. That newer tutorial is more likely to be helpful to you than this old one

In this instructable i will show you how to use google sketchup 3d modelling software and wax 2.0 video editing software to add spacecraft and explosions into videos and also how to use wax 2.0 for greenscreen effects. for a glimpse of the effects that can be achieved see the image.

download wax at

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Step 1: Models

Picture of Models
I will start with this first although it does not need to be done in this order, you can construct models in goolge sketchup or other software, these can be moved around in your scene in wax but their parts cannot move. If i had a model of a fighter landing and the landing gear extending i would have to make one model for the fighter and one for each element of the landing gear, although in sketchup this can be one model with a few groups or components to use it in wax the gear and fighter must be separate models otherwise they will be unable to move relative to each other. sketchup models can be found at the google 3d warehouse this is a good scifi collection.
or across the internet searching for what you want followed by the word "mesh"  example: starship mesh  , space fighter mesh  .these meshes will be of a variety of formats but wax 2.0 can only take those in "3DS, Quake MD2 & MilkShape MS3d" . so when you have a model you like you must convert it.
IMPORTANT: when making a film/animation one of the first things people will see is your models, a bad or boring mesh/model will ruin a video.

Now we must convert the models to .3ds  .
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i wish instructables let users edit their own posts so i wouldn't have had to make two posts here... this is the second

my most recent instructable(it's a bit old though, i haven't had time to make any tutorials lately) is a full tut on a still workable (for older skp versions, i use sketchup version 8, later ones might be incompatible with the kerkythea plugin) method of making models in sketchup then animations in blender, at the time of my earliest youtube videos the contents of my sketchup,blender,animation and 3d printing tutorial were the grand total of my cgi knowledge. with that much knowledge i could go about making my earlier(including space dogfight2.avi) youtube videos it's just a matter of repeating some steps to build more and more complex(hence photorealistic(ish)) models and then using loads of key frames and some material tricks(most of them outlined in the tut) in blender to animate. if you look at my most recent youtube videos i am still using the same method, my latest model is still originally made in sketchup using the techniques i describe in that tut. the key things i have learnt since writing that tutorial are constraints in blender, basic rigging of a human model, basic use of procedural textures to enhance a model's appearance and i am working on how to use blender for greenscreen type shots. if anyone wants some advice on specific details of how oimade the youtube vids then i am happy to explain particular details to them.

these days i do use blender but this was before i discovered blender. infact this method might not even be workable anymore, the converter site became a "pay for" service a few years back so i now use another conversion method to make skp models. wax was a "good place" to learn the first principles of keyframing, which before my use of the software i had never done and is simpler to learn than blender. but blender is much better, my newer videos on youtube all use blender not wax, infact i don't think any of my youtube stuff dates back far enough to me being purely a wax user.

I just watched your video on YT. You have some serious time on your hands! How long did it take to make those models in sketchup?
thought i ought to mention that the video on youtube was actually done with blender(much harder to use and despite having downloaded it in august i am still an absolute beginner). it took me a fair while to make some of those sketchup models and some are available on the 3d warehouse. sorry about not doing a video tutorial but sometimes it is easier to use a text and pictures tutorial as you can go through it at your own pace, also my internet connection is cr*p so sometimes i am unable to watch video online. if you want more advice i can probably help. note: i do not know(yet) how to do greenscreen with blender.
Hey, Resistance, how about using screen capture software to show us on-screen what you're doing? You've got a LOT of info here, and it would be nice to have a better visual. Thanks for the tutorial!
this sounds really interesting, can you post a video of the final animation?
i could try uploading one of my videos produced with this method to youtube but as the file is raw .avi it is huge ( over 50 mb for 10 sec) although my longest individual wax clip is about a minute. i used movie maker to string these clips together. i might not upload any of my wax clips for a while BUT in the meantime you can see some similar stuff i did with blender at this address