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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Render Theory

One of my friends, Robert Cole, has a great signature line on his emails and posts:

Render Theory. Either it renders or it doesn't.

I love that!

Especially, if you, like me, have ever used Autodesk Maya to render your animations. It's, unfortunately, not a given that it will render. It can, and does, often crap out on you when you hit the render button, expecting the magic to start appearing frame-by-frame while you walk away blissful in the hope that the cool animation you just created will look 100 times cooler with those awesome shaders you just made for your objects, and the incredible lighting that you just spent hours (no, DAYS) working on... You leave the office, counting the hours it will take to render by taking the average time per frame, and multiplying it by the number of frames, and adding a bit (a tad, a sprinkle, a smidge) of time for longer render times for some frames. The next day, when you get in to the office, you walk straight over to your desk, turn on your monitor, and you can't wait to launch the animation in fcheck. Wait!!! What's this?!?!? It's still rendering? But how can that be? By my calculations, it should have been done at, like, 4:30am... What the hell?!?! It's still on frame 7 ?!!!!!!?? But when I left, it was working on frame 5 !!! And that's when you realize, Robert is right. Rendering is a theory, and it isn't a given that it IS going to render. It's more of a hope. As in: "I hope this works..." or "I hope this doesn't die on me after I walk out the front door..." All this (and loads more) is what made me switch to Softimage XSI years ago. Sure, it's not perfect, but it renders (or it doesn't) right away. No more walking in to the office in the morning and being un-happily surprised. Now the only unhappy moments of surprise I get with it are when I make a stupid mistake, and the final render isn't as "awesome!!!" as it was in my head when I dreamed of what it would look like when it was done. Oh well, live and learn. Do you have any "rendering horror stories"? Let me know, so I can feel better... Oh, and one more thing! If I had a signature to my posts or emails, it would read like this: A big hollywood director and a visual effects guy are on set for a huge bluescreen shot. The VFX guy is worried that the bluescreen won't extract correctly for the composite. The director looks him straight in the eye and says "Don't worry about it, we can fix it in post".


Dennis G. said...

"rendering horror stories"

I have not made any really complex shader networks. I have watched a tutorial on making a skin shader with subsurface scattering and I cant remember if it used final gather and he used a 3rd party plugin to use a node called 20 layer. lol it allows the use of 20 layers and he hooked that up to a blinn for specularity instead of using the fast skin shader's specualar settigns.

So once i try that out I'll let you know how it went.

This reminds me. I need to learn more about final gather. I dont know much about it. :-)

Dennis G. said...

I will be doing some rendering and special effects for a Cube fan film soon.

The set is all built and the filming is almost done.

Probably wont be anything to complex but should be pretty fun and a good experience.
Im sure to come out with some "rendering horror stories"

Perry Harovas said...

I hope you don't, but you probably will... I'd be interested to see a link to the film when it's done. Good luck!