Black Sails

Take to the high-seas with this animated vignette

Avast! Two foes exchange cannon fire upon the surging seas, in this spectacularly dynamic scene, given movement with Cinema 4D. It’s put together by super-builder Will Loader, otherwise known as JustSomeMonkeys - one of the many talented creators who collaborate as part of the BlockWorks build team.

I spotted this build on Will’s Twitter and, having just devoured the sixth book in the Master & Commander series of nautical adventures, I knew I had to drop him a line to find out about the project.

Will points to the piratical TV series Black Sails as the source of inspiration. “I've recently started to rewatch Black Sails in preparation for the new season that's airing currently,” he says. “I've always enjoyed that period of history - films series like Pirates of the Caribbean are also a good source of inspiration for work, but I particularly enjoy the depth of characters and level of detail that Black Sails captures! There is a point in the series which features a pretty fierce storm, so I wanted to have a go at creating a similar scene.”

As with many builds, Will’s ideas evolved during the creative process: “I don't always plan ahead,” he says. “Usually I start with a rough idea of the theme and go from there! Often before the final animation or render is sent through I've changed most settings a couple of times, altering texture colours, lights and the speed of the animation. With this scene it was the maelstrom that I set out to achieve - I was going to have it quite a bit darker with rain and clouds, but decided to go for something a little lighter once I added in the ships. Maybe I'll go back and do a full storm scene after!”

To achieve the whizzy video you see up top, Will used a programme called Cinema 4D, a fancypants modelling and animation tool.

“The animation itself is a simple rotation of the two ships around a central point,” Will explains. “I split the ship model up to add a Cinema 4D tag called a Vibrate tag. This creates a pulse that vibrates the individual parts that I wanted to move. This creates the rocking of the ship, along with the movement of the sails, rigging and the flags. If you look close, you can see!”

Even with results as polished as this, Will says it’s all part of an ongoing learning process.

“I hope that by merging Minecraft with other more 'professional' or well known design tools, it might help to carry on bringing Minecraft models and renders the recognition as the fantastic digital art they can be!”

Quite so!