Friday, July 13, 2007

Testing Animations and Test Flying

Well, I've been rather busy writing a two person couples animation device thingee for Ms Vicky Christensen of Second Frame Animations. In essence, it's a device that allows two people to move about the land together, whilst playing appropriate animations as they walk, jog, chat, run and such. It's mostly for a hand holding animation right now, but she promises clever things to come. And I very much believe her, as you can see her work in this clever clip here:

Well, Ms Christensen was beyond easy to work with, but I do like to have my own silly projects as well. The other day, I was chatting with a customer of mine about old aircraft. Usually, I am worried that I might be losing the interest of my unfortunate audience, but she was far more knowledgable than I about the subject. Towards the end of a fascinating chat about the "firsts", she enthused that I ought make a copy of Santos-Dumont's Demoiselle.

Who was Santos-Dumont? For shame that so few outside of Brazil and France know this fellow's name (unless they are aviation buffs). He designed the first practical dirigibles, and in 1901 won the Deutsch de la Meurthe race that famously looped about the Eiffle Tower. He was the toast of all of France, not the least because he quite looked the part of a dashing, devil may care aviator.

He then moved onto heavier than air flying machines, the most famous of which was the Demoiselle. Several designs of this craft were made, but they were all quite sprightly, capable of three axis movement, and (by the standards of the time), practical. Some still think he was the first to fly an airplane--I have my doubts, as he was quite busy with the dirigibles when the Wrights were making the Flyer. But there is no question that the Demoiselle was no longer a kite dragged along by a motor. It truly flew. Leave the "who was first?" question aside, and let us respect the genius and bravery of all the pioneers!

Well, I found a three way schematic of the Demoiselle and set to work. I chose the tailskid only version, but happily found enough prims about to put the lovely little fuel tank on--it looks so "Buck Rodgers".

Then it was off to flight test!

The first run went well enough, but I discovered a few stability issues. Fiddling about with vehicle buoyancy helped, then I promptly discovered that flying close on to castle walls can lead to a few, *cough*, snags.....

I really need mind that tail skid!

But soon, I got everything swimming along, and I am happy to say, while a simple device, I am proud of it. I have made it rock simple--one simply advances the throttle, and the engine leaps to life with a smokey sputter. No handproping necessary!

(DON'T do this at home!)

Handling is appropriately "old aircraft" in feel, though I have left the power unrealistically plentiful (a realistic simulation would be to merely turn the power on to 20%, or off. Those were the only settings at the time!) It is hardly a speedster, nor as aerobatic as the orni, but it is nicely stable. And with a bit of work, I have managed a loop.

But mostly, it is for watching the countryside move slowly by under your feet. After all, if I wanted to get somewhere quickly, I'd teleport!


Dr. Rafael Fabre said...

Fantastic article, madam - I look forward to seeing you flying about Caledon - an ty for your extrapolation on Santos-Dumont... far too many people know about his accomplishments!

Amber_Palowakski said...

oooo, I hope you plan to sell those! I would like to buy one, when I have a little extra Lindens lying about!