Milestone 6

Since the last blog update, I’ve
  • completed two camera move renders of the loft (see camera 1 here)
  • completed re-rendering (and rebuilding) a short logo animation from an old project
  • created a breakdown video of the Trashbot project that I originally did for another class.
  • re-rendered at higher quality a 15-second commercial I created for a past class


Loft – camera 1 from John Leftwich on Vimeo.

Occam’s Garden logo animation from John Leftwich on Vimeo.

Trashbot – breakdown from John Leftwich on Vimeo.

Business Company. For your Generic Business Services needs. from John Leftwich on Vimeo.

 Things I learned:
  1. The reflection interpolation that comes with the mia_material won’t work for animation. At all. :(
  2. When rendering on multiple machines, if the machines are not nodes controlled by a central workstation, the individual nodes will come up with slightly different FG and GI solutions. This will cause frames with odd shadow effects. This is especially noticeable on objects that are light-colored. Two fixes that I think would work:
    1. I believe I could fix this by outputting and sharing FG and GI maps, but I haven’t tested that at school. I also wonder if I could share the FG and GI maps on Network Transport and point each machine to it.
    2. Splitting the render by objects rather than frames would also address this, I think. I suspect the lighting solutions might be very slightly different for each object (unless the machines were sharing maps, that is), but that could be addressed in post if it affected the quality of the scene.
  3. I’m getting consistently faster at modeling. I modeled a a new sofa for the loft in a couple of hours. I feel like I’m getting a better grasp of what I think of as macro modeling – blocking out a shape before moving on to details. I really like Maya’s soft mod tools – they’re intuitive and can yield nice results when you’re looking for smooth deformations of a mesh.
  4. Rendering alphas is fast – you don’t need lights or materials. I don’t know why this wasn’t immediately obvious to me, but luckily I did some reading before I started rendering.

Room for improvement:

  1. Background plate on Loft Camera 1 is too blurry.
  2. Loft Camera 1: I need to replace the old chaise model with the lowest-poly Mudbox version. That would make the normal map be more effective.
  3. Loft Camera 1: the inside of the bowls on the island shelf need supplemental lighting. (This one is fixed, I think I can render out an alpha of the stools and the island have that comped in the next few weeks.)
  4. The logo animation isn’t reading as effectively “Zen Garden” as I’d like. Maybe more rocks? (Maybe I could add some 2d sand particles in AE…)
  5. In Trashbot, the actor loses his reflection. I’d need to re-shoot him to fix that, but that’s not practical.
  6. Also in Trashbot, The floor reflections don’t match the window reflections. I’m not sure how to approach that; I guess I could try to shoot a plate at night and comp that in.

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