Shootin’ some b-ball inside’a the gymnasium…

…when a πŸ‘« o’ πŸ‘¨s, they were πŸ‘†βœŒοΈπŸš«πŸ‘, 🌟🐻 makin’ trouble in my neighbourhoo– yeah, that. πŸ˜›
(I had to write that on my phone, cuz that’s where all the emoji that the kids use these days are. πŸ˜› )

Harro! How are you this fine weekend, or weekday if you didn’t read the post on a weekend? πŸ˜€ Me? I’m good, nothing particularly notable’s happened recently. Although I do need to phone Virgin Media because they “need information” about something or other. I’m upgrading to 350Mb from 200Mb after finding out that these titfaces have been overcharging me for pretty much no reason at all. I went onto their site the other day and found that I could upgrade to 350Mb for 13p more a month than I was paying for 200Mb. Shitheads. πŸ˜›

Anyway, whine bitch moan no-one cares. πŸ˜› I do have something you might care about, though; a brand new, fresh, shiny, tasty* render! *oooooooooooh*
(*not edible)

This one came about from this bit of conversation with a friend:

This was awesome, because no-one’s ever requested a render from me before, and that alone makes me happy. πŸ˜€ But anyway, dragons playing basketball? Hell yeah! Totally my style! πŸ˜€

…Apart from that I didn’t have much of a clue about basketball. πŸ˜›

All I knew is that some very tall men in some vests bounce an orange ball around and try and get it through a hoop to score variable amounts of points depending on how far away from they hoop they were when they threw the ball. πŸ˜› So, I did some research, because I probably wasn’t going to get anywhere if I didn’t. πŸ™‚ I searched for pictures of people playing it for pose ideas and mostly just found pictures of basketball riots, then tried to watch some NBA game replays for scene composition ideas but was denied by Fox because I don’t live in America, so I settled for some random friendly match (which didn’t seem very friendly πŸ˜› ) on YouTube that wasn’t in English. πŸ˜› I also read about basketball rules and a page containing shit-tons of lingo on Wikipedia.

I was originally looking for some kind of lingo where I could play around with the words (or not) to make a double entendre (the clean kind πŸ˜› ) for the title. I was originally going for “monster jam”, but that’s just something I heard on Rocket League once, and it’s more commonly known as a motorsport event featuring monster trucks. But one of the terms on that Wikipedia page ended up giving me the general idea for the scene: “fast break”, where players try to advance the ball and score as quickly as possible, so I just went for that with the title, too.

So, here it is: Fast Break!

More flavours available here:
(1080p) (2K) (4K)

SLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM DUNK! Says me. πŸ˜›

Man, this one was so much fun to make! πŸ˜€ I was originally thinking of a scene with some action near the hoop, like a dragon leaping up to score while another leaps to defend, but after some playing around and discovery of the term “fast break”, I really liked the idea of a dragon confidently running up the court while the defenders prepare to intercept. It gave a much clearer focal point. πŸ˜€

This render contains the largest number of subjects I’ve ever rendered in one scene, including test renders: five main and technically four in the background, so nine in total! :O When I say there’s “technically” four in the background… that’s because I used DAZ Studio’s instancing system. I created four unique audience members and created two additional instances of each of them, which (apparently) saves resources when rendering. This means there’re actually 12 dragons on the bleachers, but eight of them are duplicates. I did this because… well, you’ll almost certainly never notice, because they’re waaaaaaay off in the background, miles into the camera’s depth of field annihilation zone. Would you have known if I hadn’t told you? πŸ˜€

I also realised there was a practical problem… team identification. I wasn’t going to give them clothes because A: I don’t like the idea of that, and B: the only items available are armour and saddles. πŸ˜› I was thinking of spraying player numbers onto their scales, but I didn’t go through with that because I thought it’d look shitey, and I’d had a better idea anyway: armbands! I thought they’d make it very clear without overdressing the dragon and making them look weird. πŸ™‚ So, I grabbed an armband that was intended for humans and hammered the shit out of it using my pathetic ZBrush skills, making a unique morph for each dragon so it would fit well. After doing armband morphs for four of them, I realised… you were only ever going to see two of the armbands. What a pleb I am. πŸ˜› Ah well.

As for postwork, I did quite a bit of it this time. I applied motion blur to the red dragon’s legs and his left arm, as well as the green dragon’s legs. I also added motion blur to the ball. I would’ve done this in Iray rather than Photoshop, but you can’t. 😦 3Delight supports motion blur, but I have no idea how I’d get the motion blur out of that and slap it on top of an Iray render without it looking like… like πŸ’©. πŸ˜› I also removed the nose horns from the red and green dragons, because you can’t remove them from the model itself… well, okay, I’m sure you can, but that would involve things like UV mapping which I don’t fully understand yet. πŸ˜› Finally, I added a normal vignette, and then perhaps most obviously, some manga-like “focus lines” as a secondary, stylized vignette. It took me ages to decide whether to go through with those focus lines, because I found them really distracting. Eventually, I softened them up and made them very transparent, which made them kind of “blend into” the image a bit more, complementing it and guiding your focus rather than stealing it. πŸ™‚ Also, instead of my usual “typed” signature, I used the signature I made for my sister’s Amai canvas print. I’m probably gonna do that from now on. πŸ™‚ For some weird reason which makes no sense, I… kinda prefer not having the title of the art there now. Shrug. πŸ˜› Might be because it looks a bit cleaner.

Oh, oh, yeah! There was something I was supposed to mention after doing Amai, but I totally forgot to mention it then, and I almost forgot to mention it here, too! πŸ™‚ Ever since starting to use Iray, I’ve had this irritating problem with the renders it spits out, where certain areas – usually reflective or out-of-focus – come out as grainy, fuzzy chunks of poo. The way I’ve dealt with the problem has evolved over time. Initially, I used a Gaussian blur in Photoshop, then began to use a combination of 0.6 radius Gaussian blur followed by a 0.6 radius Smart Sharpen. Most recently, I’ve been applying a stronger blur and sharpen to a Smart Object version of the image, then painting the effect mask depending on how strong I wanted the blur in certain parts of the image. Now, though? In the DAZ Studio 4.11 Beta, they’ve added this godsend, called the Post Denoiser:

Just click to make it available, click to enable it (not sure why there’re two steps, lel, it’s not a nuke πŸ˜› ) and boom, it kills that noise like the police killing a noisy party. πŸ˜› It can even make Iray viewport renders more useful by removing the initial noise early into the render so you can get a good idea of how the render will turn out in much less time! πŸ˜€ One thing, though: the default start iteration is 8, and while that’s great for viewport renders, I don’t know whether I can trust a number that low for final renders. If the denoiser starts early, it makes the image appear very, very messy early on, and I’m not sure if this is improved as time passes. For Fast Break, I first performed a render with the denoiser off to get a vague idea of how many iterations it would need. After it reached about 33% convergence, I stopped the render and set the start iteration to about the number of iterations it had performed, which, for this render, was about 2500. Thinking about it, though, I used the denoiser on Amai, but never adjusted the start iteration, and that turned out alright. So… maybe I’m worrying for no reason. πŸ˜› UPDATE 2!!: Yep! I did an experiment and found out that having the Post Denoiser on from an early iteration doesn’t make any difference to the final quality of the render; it comes out just as sharp as it would if the denoiser was set to begin at a later stage. So it’s a win-win; a more useful Iray viewport experience and no noisy renders! Yay! πŸ˜€

Anyway, whaddya think of the render? πŸ˜€ I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed making it. Special thanks to Ben for the request! πŸ™‚ I now understand basketball just a tiny bit more than I did originally. πŸ˜› To me, it’s like a crazy “sleight of hand” game, with all the insane passing techniques and dribbling tricks and stuff. πŸ˜€

Oh, crap, of course! Render stats! Yaaaaaaaay! πŸ˜› So, at 4K, with Rendering Quality 2, 98% convergence and everything nice on (Caustic and Architectual samplers), my 1080Ti and 970 pushed out a render in 9 hours 42 minutes 34.23 seconds, which, when you consider the 1080Ti, is a really long time! Some maths would suggest that on my old cards, this render (if it had been able to fit in the GPU memory, which it wouldn’t!) would have taken about 18 hours 16 minutes! :O I LOVE MY 1080TI! Best purchase ever. πŸ˜€

Right, I’m gonna bounce on outta here. Yeah, I went there. πŸ˜› I’ll leave you with one of the songs that started playing while I was making this render. I found it funny when it came up, because the lyrics say “make more rhymes than Michael Jordan make slam dunks”. XD

UPDATE!!
First off, I want to say thank you for the likes, everyone! It means a lot! πŸ™‚

While I was creating this render, I had PlayClaw recording with the hopes of creating a timelapse video for no apparent reason. πŸ˜› I’ve tried doing this a few times in the past, but the videos always had something or other wrong with them, usually PlayClaw or Shadowplay silently crashing when I started a render, or sometimes for no reason at all (Shadowplay -.-). This time, though, the videos recorded with no problems, so I stuck them all into Premiere and made a… er… 5258.17% timelapse video, which you can check out here, if you’re interested! πŸ˜€ Almost everything is there, excluding the initial scene setup bit (because I forgot, oops πŸ˜› ), and the bits where I stopped recording to have a break to eat dinner or send messages or talk on the phone or poo. πŸ˜›

The video’s soundtrack consists of the song above, “Stimulation (New York Stage)” from Capcom vs SNK 2, followed by “The Fresh Prince of Tidal Tempest” by Qjimbo (I actually prefer that mashup over the original song XD), and finally “Jam” by Michael Jackson, which I chose because it has a music video with lots of basketballing in it. πŸ˜›

I do not apologise for the Fresh Prince. πŸ˜›

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