Fall Directed Study - Week 9

My Warrior's normal maps and turntable are finished:

The only work that I have left to do with him for my thesis is to render a few beauty shots for my presentation book. Since the renders of his turntable frames took about 30 seconds apiece, however, I don't think that that will be too difficult...

I was really happy that his turntable frames took such a short time to render: it was a nice break from all of the 40+ minute per frame renders that I've had to make time for recently. It was also amusing to be so relieved by 30 second renders one day of this week only to spend the next day setting up and rendering an image that required eight hours and seventeen minutes of render time:

This single image took over eight hours to render because it's got all of my models with all of their maps and textures and multiple subdivision levels filling the entire frame that I sized at full HD resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels. I'm sure that I could have cut the render time down somewhat by lowering the subD levels on the character models since they take up so little of the frame, but I didn't feel like going through so many objects one by one to see how far I could drop the subD settings when I knew that I was only rendering one frame. If I were making a video of this shot, then I would do it, but for one single render... I just set it to render before I went to bed and by the time that I woke up the next morning it was nearly finished. I'm really happy with this shot. I set the final color render output settings to a gamma between the two frames that I was trying to decide between last week, and I'm pleased with the results: it's got some pretty good contrast, I think, but it still shows off the model well.

Other than that, this week I finished rendering the first 180 essential frames of my gallery scene, but I was unfortunate enough to discover a problem: the view spins too fast. It's just a little dizzying. I'm not quite sure what to do about this, as, even with my newly extended deadline (I have to turn in my thesis one week before I present rather than two), I don't have time to re-render twice the number of frames that I've already rendered for that shot:

I have two methods that I'm currently working on to try to fix this problem: First, I doubled the length of time that it takes to complete the exact turn that I've already rendered all of the frames for in the video above. Then I set Modo to render only the odd numbered frames. In theory, all of the even numbered frames are the exact same frames that I've already rendered since it's the exact same movement over twice the time period, so I won't have to render those again. I just have to render another one hundred and eighty frames set at every other frame between the existing frames. This theory would be sure to work if the movement was steady, but I fear that it might not work because Modo automatically adds an ease-in and -out to its animated motions. You can see it in the graph editor when the change in position over time shows up as something of a wave or S-curve pattern rather than a straight line. For a normal turntable I would get rid of the ease-in and -out in the timing of the movement because I need the model to spin at a constant rate, but in this case I kept it. It's not a full spin, so I thought the eases would be kind of nice. I'm not certain however, if these transitions remain proportional when the length of time that it takes to complete a movement is doubled. If they don't, my every-other-frame renders won't match up to what I already have. I compared the animation graph that showed up for the original movement with the one that I got after extending the time, and they appear to be the same shape, but I'm just not sure: the tiniest difference somewhere in that graph would throw all of the frames after it off. I also rendered the first set of 20 in-between frames last night and put them together with the first 20 frames from the original movement today and it seems to work perfectly. Thus, I'm going to continue rendering the extra frames overnight and testing it out daily to make sure that everything continues to line up. I'm also going to try another option suggested by a classmate tomorrow: time remapping and frame blending effects in After Effects. I watched a tutorial video on a link that he gave me today and it looks pretty simple. I'm afraid that it could bring down the quality of my video, but it might provide a good enough back-up solution if I can't get all of the new frames rendered before I have to turn my thesis in.

I've been working on my presentation documents this past week as well, and, while I'm not as far as I'd like to be with them, I'm not concerned about the amount of time in which I have to complete them. I really want to get all of my beauty and process shots rendered, screen-captured, or composited before I sit down to seriously write out my project synopsis, but I've been spending so much time rendering and editing video over the past couple of weeks that I haven't had much opportunity to render close up beauty shots of my models. The textured character shots seem to take at least an hour (sometimes even two or more) to render, so I'll need a few days in which to complete these. (They take longer than the turntable frames because the model fills a significantly larger percentage of the screen in close-up images than it does when I have to fit the entire model on-screen for a turnaround.)

I began rendering detail shots of my Juggler today, and expect to spend the better part of tomorrow on her as well, since she has so many different details from so many different angles. After that I'll move on to my Addict, which I expect to take a fair portion of a work day to complete. My Gecko renders are finished because I took beauty shots of him when I completed him back in the summer. My Warrior shouldn't require more than a couple of hours for rendering all of his shots, since he renders so quickly compared to everything else. My gallery will probably take at least an hour per frame to render, so I'll probably need up to a day to finish all of the renders that I want of that scene. I should be done with beauty shots by the middle of the week, then I can spend a couple of days writing and laying out the pages of images for my project synopsis. I expect to be finished with that by the coming weekend, and then I can spend the weekend putting all of my turntables (and the new gallery fly-through renders that I'm rendering daily overnight) together into my thesis and demo reel videos. By Monday I'll be able to upload my thesis project to turn it in online, and I'll still have a couple of days to spare. If all goes as planned, then I'm well on my way to being finished!