Saturday, 28 July 2012

Ahhhh - don't combine referencing and rendering in maya . . .

So having done lots of lighting tests, played with GI and Final Gather settings days to optimise render times etc etc I've now just spent the best part of two week not rendering a single frame!

My scene has been behaving really strangely. Amongst other things lighting updates weren't rippling through from my referenced files, materials were mysteriously falling off assets and after painstakingly setting up render layers I was then getting locked out of them with error messages about missing nodes.

However, I finally know what was causing the problem. Maya's not very robust when it comes to combining referencing and render layers. After much googling I came across this post - appropriately titled "why your render layers break" which was an absolute saviour

Because the problems I was encountering were so various I didn't realise at first that they had a common source. Great to know what the problem is now though.

Fortunately my project is simple enough that I can just import the environments and rigs into my anim scenes, redo the lighting in situ, and use this as my final render scene.

Gah, why is it that I hit my worst technical problem so close to the final deadline? :)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Lighting & Rendering: more lighting / rendering tests

A few more images from my room environment. The lighting's OKish, however I'm struggling to keep render times manageable. The main culprit is the sampling value which needs to be a a minimum of 16 to avoid grainy shadows, at which point the render times leap up. (NB the images below have a lower filter setting as they're tests rather than final renders:

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Lighting: sh02

A bit of a random update - here's a picture of current progress:

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Writer Textures: Wood Grain

and here are the 3D textures inspired by the 2D research in my last post:

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Writer Wood Textures

I've been playing around with some different wood grain and colour so that I've got a decent reference when I make the final tweaks to the existing wood grain texture that I'm using for the Writer character - here are the front runners so far:

Friday, 13 July 2012

Comping: Contour Test

And here's a test of adding in outlines which were generated using mental ray contour shaders . . . 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Lighting and Rendering: Lighting Tests

Here are some tests for the daytime lighting of the writerRoom environment.

There's still a lot to do: some banding on the walls, grainy edges to the window shadow on the floor, some jaggy edges (sighs).

However, the overall look is getting there.

In general there are so many different approaches that one could take to lighting any given scene that as a beginner l feel a bit like I'm groping in the dark (sorry for the pun!) I wish I had months to explore lighting but I'm going to have to make a choice of approach and stick with it so that I can move on with the project.

This particular scene was lit using physical sun and sky with a spotlight portal light in the window and Global Illumination and Final Gather enabled. I've upped the haze value on the physical sky shader to 1 to warm up the light a bit as it was originally too blue. At the moment raytrace shadows are enabled. Next up I'll experiment with depth map shadows to see what results I get and how it affects render times and will also look at tweaking GI, FG & shadow settings with the hope of improving quality and / or bringing down render times.

Render times are currently just under 3 1/2 minutes. Here are the images. Any comments would be very welcome :)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Modelling: final Margarita model

Here's the finished model for Margarita along with some scanned book pages that I'll use for texturing:

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Tech Tips: Render Progress Messages

Gah - why does maya offer you options that don't work?!

I spent ages trying to set the Render Verbosity to "Progress Messages" through the mentalrayGlobals tab in the attribute editor, but it just kept reverting to "Warning Messages" every time I hit render.

It turns out that in the menubar you need to go to Render -> Render Current Frame and click the option box next to that. It seems that the settings here override the ones in mentalrayGlobals.

Here's the forum where I found this lifesaver:

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Monday, 2 July 2012

Modelling - Margarita Head

Phew, at last I feel as though I'm getting somewhere with modelling Margarita's head. The model has been about 80% complete for weeks and weeks now but I just couldn't seem to get my head around how to model the head with the right contours and "seams" to make it looks as though she could realistically be made from paper, but at last I think I'm beginning to crack it :)

Now I'm looking forward to modelling her hair: can you remember as a kid making paper curls by running the blade of some scissors along a strip of paper? Well, that's the plan for the hair :)