This week, I was supposed to get our Sprint 1 shots rerendering on the farm with our new finalized characters and model the detailed buildings for the city scatter. Due to issues with the farm, not many shots were rendered and I’ve reached out to IT for assistance. I did begin modeling the city buildings though, and they’ll be done and integrated with the scatter by the end of the week.
This week I set out to begin detailing our cave and trench scenes, possibly rerender our characters from Sprint 1, and begin work on the city. I ended up spending a few days repairing our city scatter file, which somehow got corrupted in the past month and wouldn’t save any changes, and working on shaders with Val for the Shoggoth and our updated characters. I also worked with Ethan to draft a design and layout for our Senior Project display, which will hang in the lobby of the URBN center on campus.
I’m really surprised that this needed any fixing, since everything was working wonderfully the last time I saved this file. Sadly, I lost several days to troubleshooting the city scatter, though it appears to be stable once again. Fingers crossed, it won’t break at all when we plug in our detailed buildings.
I spent some time this week working with Val to revise our main characters, as well as create suitably horrifying and alien shaders for our big bad monster, the Shoggoth.
URBN Lobby Decoration
I worked with Ethan this week on drafting our design for a patch of wall in the URBN Center’s Lobby, advertising our animation. We got our draft to a good point and are eager to move forward with it, replacing wireframes with actual artwork and eventually seeing it displayed in our art building’s lobby!
This week, my goal was to have shots from Sprint 1 stable and rendering on the farm. The farm’s been busy since Thursday, and about 60% of our shots have already finished rendering!
- Summary: I worked on getting our shots rendering consistently and quickly on the farm. Aside from a few hiccups (I maaaay have left a box called “Don’t Render Final Image” checked for the first few shots) everything ran like a dream. I only wish we had more computers available; the most I ever saw running at once was 5 (total of 10 instances max).
- Positives: Aside from the obvious, now that I’ve got a stable rendering pipeline locked down submitting shots for our subsequent sprints should be a piece of cake. I’ve done a lot of trouble-shooting for this first batch of shots that will carry over to the rest.
- Negatives: We’ll be rerendering our characters at least once, but we knew that going in. They render fairly quickly, anyway, so it’s not a huge concern.
- Hours: 30-40
- Detail the scenes for Sprint 2 (trench, cave)
- Re-render shots from Sprint 1 as needed
- Detail city buildings, pray xGen behaves itself
This week, I was supposed to finalize the Temple Interior environment. I made a lot of headway on it, but because of other SPROJ work it didn’t quite get completed. A lot of my time ended up devoted to working with Val and Anthony on our characters, solving weird rigging issues with our hair and polishing their shaders. I also spent a lot of time converting illustrations from our unofficial team-member Isaias into masks and maps I can use in VRay!
Shading and Texturing (Temple Edition: Part Deux!)
- Summary: I continued applying and polishing the shaders for our Temple environment, though as I said I didn’t get much done on this front. My biggest achievement here was finalizing the snow shader on the floor, and unwrapping the remainder of the Temple’s architecture.
- Positives: I got a lot done, and the bulk of the shaders are more or less finalized now. I just need to apply Isaias’ hieroglyphics and texture the trenches outside and this scene will be ready to render!
- Negatives: I wasn’t able to spend as much time on this as I would have liked, but the issues we solved on our characters had to be addressed sooner rather than later.
- Hours: 8
Shading and Texturing (People Edition: Parte Dos!)
- Summary: Val painted texture maps and roughed in the shaders for Danforth this week, and I polished them and made sure that they were optimized. Danforth should be render-ready now, and Dyer will be by the end of Monday! Speaking of Dyer, we ran into issues with his hair this week that set us back a bit. Despite being set to static (ie, non-simulated), it would move and sway and generally slow things down. It took three of us the better part of a night to sort it out, but he should be stable now!
- Positives: Danforth’s ready for his grand debut, and Dyer’s hair no longer has a mind of its own.
- Negatives: Dyer’s shaders still need work, but he can be done by the end of Monday.
- Hours: 15
Alien Hieroglyphics (and YOU!)
- Summary: Our unofficial team-member, illustrator Isaias Santillan, has been working hard to draft us artwork and carvings and things to liven up our dead, deserted city. I spent a lot of time this week tracing his drawings in Photoshop and converting them to maps and masks we can use in VRay. There’s a lot of detail in his drawing that I wanted to preserve, which is why I chose to trace it by hand.
- Positives: Isaias is awesome, his drawings are awesome, and we can finally incorporate them into our environment!
- Negatives: They took much longer than I expected to trace, which is the main reason I didn’t get to finish the Temple’s shaders this week.
- Hours: 17
- Finish Temple environment
- Polish Dyer’s shaders
- Render render render!
I spent the week working with Val to create textures and shaders for the Temple. I also experimented with using multiple UV sets in Maya to paint in snow drifts near the doorways, an effect that added very little time to our renders but adds a lot of atmosphere! I also worked on character shaders and binding their clothing with Val and Anthony.
Shading and Texturing (Temple Edition!)
- Summary: I worked on setting up a variety of shaders that both look good and don’t add much to our render times. I also unwrapped the walls and floor of the Temple and tweaked the UVs to add visual variety.
- Positives: We got some really sexy shaders in place while maintaining fast render times! Right now I’m getting 7.5min / frame at 1920×1080 and a low noise threshold, which is way better than I was expecting! There are still more shaders to implement, but if this trend continues render times shouldn’t be too much of an issue, at least on the environment side of things.
- Negatives: Still have a lot of ground to cover before this scene is ready to be rendered. I think that I’m on track to have it ready by next weekend, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.
- Hours: 20ish? I dunno, I’ve stopped counting.
Shading and Texturing (People Edition!)
- Summary: I finalized our fuzzy fur hat/coat lining shader this week! I had to scrap all my old work and started from scratch with a new displacement map and material. Thankfully, it paid off!
- Positives: I’m finally done with this fur shader! Hooray! But seriously, it’s great to be able to check this off my list after working on it for so long. It also renders quickly and looks pretty nice!
- Negatives: Nada
- Hours: 10
- Finish up the Temple and get ready to render!
This week, I finished modeling the detailed temple interior and begun to set up and optimize our lighting. It turns out that VRay, our chosen render engine, doesn’t like rooms that are half a kilometer tall…. More on that later!
Temple Detail Modeling
- Summary: I finished modeling out the detail for the interior of the temple. I’ve made heavy use of instancing wherever possible to cut down on the filesize, and optimized all meshes as much as possible while retaining detail. Some minor additions to the scene are left, like small bits of debris scattered around, but they’ll be easy to implement.
- Positives: This is the first environment that we’ve fully detailed. It’s a huge milestone for us.
- Negatives: Still got a lot of ground to cover, but we’re making great progress.
- Hours: 20
Temple Lighting / Rendering
[see above image]
- Summary: I’ve got a nice first-pass at the lighting implemented. It took a lot longer than I thought it would due to some problems with VRay, but now it’s working like a charm! I’m really excited to add shader and texture detail to this scene.
- Positives: I got the troubleshooting out of the way today, so it should be smooth sailing from here on out.
- Negatives: Oh my god, the troubleshooting. So VRay doesn’t work with environments of this scale very well, at least not with default settings. When I first tried rendering lighting tests, any amount of raytracing would cause VRay to lock up. After tweaking some clipping values and dialing in a few other fancy sounding settings, I was able to coax VRay into rendering full-quality images with surprisingly low render times!
- Hours: 6
- Continue rendering, detailing, texturing, and generally working on the Temple.
I’ve begun detailing the temple interior for our first sprint, focusing on the floor first so our animators can correct any clipping issues. I’ll be modeling the rest of the scene during the day off tomorrow.
- Summary: I’ve started detailing the Temple interior. First thing to do was update the floors, which proved surprisingly painless. Simple extrusions and bevels, with Randomness set between .5 and 1, gave me the look I was going for and allowed easy adjustment. I ran into a few odd problems, but nothing that proved un-fixable. I also spent a while prepping the walls and domed ceiling for detailing, and worked out how to tackle those.
- Positives: Everything went better than expected; I learned a lot about how to model stones or tiles from a plane quickly and modularly, which will make detailing the walls and ceiling much easier.
- Negatives: For some reason, the floor mesh doesn’t load properly for one of our animators (I’m lookin’ at you, Pat). We’ve figured out a work-around, but we need to get to the bottom of this so it doesn’t come back to bite us.
- Hours: 10
- Finish modeling temple interior (Monday)
- Confirm that the Renderfarm is working properly, and if so finally finalize our project hierarchy
- Lighting and Shaders and stuff