Project: The Battle for Constantinople

As part of a three part series about the history of the Silk Road with the title "How the Silk Road Made the World", for China TV (CCTV) and France 5, I was asked to provide a 35 s sequence illustrating how the Ottomans used in 1453 an especially crafted huge cannon for the very first time in history to breach the walls of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.


Only the hero horse riders  were rendered as full 3D models, but in low resolution. Delivery format was in UHD and hundreds of soldiers needed to be rendered in each shot. Due to time and hardware limitations I needed to be clever about which models to render as 3D models and which ones just as animated 2D sprites (or flat planes). This frame shows the difference between the two with flat plane horse riders in the background. Note that this image is not taken from the actual camera angle, but from an oblique angle to show the effect.

Foot Soldiers

A similar strategy was applied to the foot soldiers. Only the hero models were built as full 3D models, the entire background army was comprised of animated sprites. The walls of Constantinople I modeled after reference images of the ruins of the old city in Istanbul.

Watch the video

This is the full battle sequence with the original narration and sound effects as it was used in the final cut of the documentary.

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