All praise the One True Egg.

OH NOES! IT’S ME AGAIN! πŸ˜›

‘Sup? Hope everything’s well on your end! πŸ˜€ Me, I’ve been somewhat busier than normal, as of late. My mum came down to visit a few months ago, and we visited London because we think Brighton is a boring shitehole. Yes, London is also kind of a shitehole, but at least there are things to do there. πŸ˜› Anyway, that was good, but then the month after that I went to London again with my friends. Then the month after that, my sister came down to visit, and we did an escape room, which we cleared with only 4 minutes left. πŸ˜€ We learned afterwards that it has quite a high failure rate, so we were pretty chuffed with ourselves considering there was only two of us. πŸ˜€ It was really awesome, and I totally recommend it if you ever find yourself in Brighton for some reason (have a look for Bewilder Box). Oh, and we rode on some bikes along the bike lane on the seafront, too. It’s been at least 9-10 years since I rode a bike, and I’ve never ridden one in public before, and it was genuinely terrifying, especially since the bike lane was about 4 inches wide in places and the bikes were god-awful. I constantly felt like I couldn’t control the thing. πŸ˜› Anyway, two weeks after that, I had another weekend with my friends, this time mainly just hanging out, playing board games and vidya games.

So, this excessive amount of human interaction, combined with work and lack of sleep due to the insane heatwave (it got so bad that I actually bought an air conditioner πŸ˜› ), means I’ve felt pretty burned out as of late. Uh, no pun intended. πŸ˜› Various bits of technology have decided to start being a dick to me recently, too. My printer randomly stopped working immediately after someone printed something with it last weekend, so I had to buy a replacement which happened to have the most irritating Wifi setup process ever. The new Windoze 10 update was near-impossible to install, and when I managed to do it, all it seemed to do was slow my PC down a lot and break Groove Music. And the Wifi on my router has randomly started plebbing out and refusing connections for no good reason. And my idiot firewall recently decided to ignore all its rules again, blocking things I told it to allow and allowing things I told it to block. It’s all so very, very annoying. πŸ˜›

To help myself chill out, I decided to book a week off work so I could sleep a lot. And it’s gone way too goddamn fast. πŸ˜› And I haven’t really used it to chill out or sleep as much as I planned, because I’ve spent more than half of it doing a new render. But this is a good thing! I like doing da rendarz. πŸ˜€

This time, I decided to make something based on a weird office meme that started recently, between me and a few others. The story goes something like this: one day, one of my co-workers said “Lewis, can you test my branch?” from across the office. Lewis, one of our QA guys, somehow misheard this to a degree no-one could ever have imagined, replying with “What, egg and be true?” Shortly after that, I drew the best egg I’ve ever drawn on the nearby whiteboard, and wrote “Egg and be true” next to it.

Aaaand that how we began a cult. πŸ˜›

I’ve been meaning to make a render based on it since then. I came up with an idea for it while bored and daydreaming during a totally unnecessary meeting, but never found the time to put it together. So, with this week off, I thought I’d spend a day creating it, but because of things, that day turned into like 3 days. But I’d say it was time well-spent, as it is a joy to honour the One True Egg! PRAISE BE:

A dragon sat in front of the One True Egg, claws positioned over his head.

More flavours here!
Original version (shown above): (1080p) (2K) (4K) (Character Focused – 2250×3000)
Dark version (shown lower down): (1080p) (2K) (4K) (Character Focused – 2250×3000)

Hahahahaaa I’m so dumb XD

Ahhhh, so much zen! πŸ˜€ This was a really fun scene to do, and the pose was interesting to create, too, but when I began, I wasn’t sure it was possible to do it with Dragon 3. Sure, he can stand upright on his hind legs, and he can look pretty good when doing that, but having him sit down on his butt is a totally different story. Not only does his tail get in the way of him sitting down, there’re bend limits on his legs which prevent them from crossing over like that, and I had no choice but to break them by a massive amount (they’re twisted about 130 degrees, which is 50 degrees more than the limit πŸ˜› ). It makes his thighs look really warped and weird, but I think I got away with it here because of the camera angle. His shins and feet block most of the problems, thankfully. πŸ˜› There were other problems too, like his left foot intersecting his right calf, and the fact that his biceps looked huge when raising his arms. I had to fix those by creating some custom morphs using ZBrush.

Oh, and speaking of the raised arms… that gesture the dragon is doing with his claws is our form of greeting to members of the cult. Originally, the dragon was holding the egg in front of him, but I thought performing our greeting gesture was more apt. πŸ˜€ It’s performed by forming the top of a triangle with your hands and moving it over your head. The triangle represents the truth, and your head represents the Egg. The motion simulates the Egg piercing the truth. πŸ˜› Nope, that was the QA guy’s idea, not mine. πŸ˜›

Originally, I expected to spend an evening doing the posing and lighting, have it render overnight, and do the postwork the next day. Annoyingly, though, a lot of things went wrong, and I kept having second thoughts and random ideas along the way, so I ended up spending way longer on it than I planned. πŸ˜›

On the first day, I had the scene assembled and the pose was pretty much finished, although it took a bit longer because I had to re-pose his arms after getting the idea to use the greeting gesture. The lighting wasn’t going great, though, so I had to spend another day on it. On that second day, though, I started getting a lot of random ideas. I changed the candle holders to be black on one side and white on the other, I tried out making a gloss map for the dragon’s tail to show that it was wet from being in the water (which didn’t go very well for some reason), added rim lighting behind the dragon, and struggled with adding lights around the egg to simulate that it was glowing. That’s when I remembered seeing something called “Canvases” in the advanced render options, and thought that it would let me render different parts of the scene separately so I could do some things in post that I wouldn’t normally be able to do very easily. Lol no. πŸ˜› When rendering a Canvas, you can only render one at once, it seems to render them in a totally different way than normal, and it spits out some random garbled junk in addition to your render, which very, very vaguely resembles what I wanted to render:

yay whitespace I can’t get rid of, thanks wordpress, you piece of shit

A long time after rendering these, I realised that these are 32-bit images, which probably explains why the files were so massive. Really not sure why they display like that, but whatever. Converting them to 8-bit gives you something that looks better, but at the same time… no it doesn’t. πŸ˜› It looks awful. Like… all glowy and shit. And the background is gone, too. And judging by the fact that two of each type of candle rendered as a black silhouette in the left image, it seems that Canvases don’t support instanced objects, either:

wordpress is shit

And of course the Canvases feature isn’t documented. πŸ˜› So I gave up on it. It’s really annoying, though. It feels like this would help with things like motion blur, and open up a lot of post-processing possibilities, but nope, no documentation about it, and it’s impossible to figure it out by poking it like I normally do. Maybe I’ll fight with it again in the future.

Anyhoo, after ditching Canvases, I then had the idea to make the egg gold instead of silver… then as I was doing that and trying to decide whether I liked gold or silver more, I accidentally made the egg transparent and thought “AH, A GLASS EGG!”, so I did that instead. πŸ˜€ I think it turned out well in the end, but making the glass egg caused another problem which ended up costing me a lot of time. I first noticed it when adding a light behind the egg to re-create some nice-looking water reflections that I’d lost after switching the egg to be made of glass. Doing this made me discover a very… uh, interesting quirk with the Iray shader. If you set a light emitter to have geometry, and place it behind something that’s refractive… even if the light emitter’s geometry is set to be hidden, the refractive material will render it. Basically… you can see invisible things in refractive materials. πŸ˜› This meant you could clearly see a black circle in the egg, that black circle being the emitter I was using to get the water reflections around the egg cup.

Notice the solid black circle which only appears in the egg? That’s the light emitter which is supposed to be invisible!!

Trying to think of ways to fix this without cheating pretty much drained about 4 hours of my time. πŸ˜› I even went back to the Canvases feature in desperation, trying to figure it out so I could fix the issue I was having, but nope. In the end, I had to cheat and render the scene twice, once with the emitter on, and once with it off, and combined the two images in post to get the reflections without the black circle. It made me feel a bit dirty. πŸ˜›

After realising that cheating was my only option, and fixing some problems where the lighting changed completely when enabling the Caustic sampler, I was ready to go. But of course, I had to make two more foolish mistakes. πŸ˜› Firstly, I forgot to increase the maximum render time again. DAZ Studio has idiotic defaults where it will stop rendering regardless of the convergence rate if either two hours pass or Iray does 5000 iterations, and you still can’t change the defaults! It’s very rare for any of my renders to take less than two hours, goddamn it! (angry emoji) But my second mistake after that which was even more annoying? I trusted a friggin’ plugin I’d discovered a few days before. πŸ˜›

It’s a render queue. Basically, something DAZ Studio should have, but doesn’t, because they’d rather spend years adding “strand-based hair” and other much less useful shit first. πŸ˜› As you can probably tell, the render queue lets you render one scene after another without input. I was a bit skeptical, but in my tests, it actually seemed to work, so I trusted it with rendering these two scenes. When I came back to it the next day, it claimed it had finished, but I could only find one render. That’s when I realised that whoever coded this made two massive schoolboy errors!

My scenes were called something like “The One True Egg 45.1.duf” and “The One True Egg 45.2.duf”. What this idiot plugin does is look at the name of your scene file, find the first dot, and discard everything after it to get the render file name. Presumably, it does this to strip the file extension, but for fuck’s sake, this logic is completely wrong!! When you do that to the scene names above, you get “The One True Egg 45” for both of them! You’re supposed to check for the last dot and strip everything beyond that! I didn’t notice this idiocy before rendering because, as you can see in the screenshot above, the window didn’t show the full target path! I just assumed the target paths would be correct, because why wouldn’t I?! But after scrolling across the window after about 8 wasted hours of rendering, BOOM! That’s when I realised that the coder was a dumbass!

And hey, as if that’s not enough, it doesn’t even bother to check if the file it wants to save already exists before saving it! So the plugin just goes “yep just save with that file name I’m sure it’ll be fine” and shits all over what was already there without giving half a damn! Oh my God, why do you not check if the file already exists?! Both of these errors are so ridiculously basic that all I can imagine is that the author wrote the code, then never looked at it again! Never considered any kind of edge case! That just seems like an “I don’t give a crap” attitude, to me. So yeah, I was pleasantly surprised by this plugin at first, and was gonna keep it after I’d confirmed it working in a real-world situation, but hah, not any more! No chance. I just can’t deal with half-arsed plugins that waste my time. I’ve already asked for a refund. πŸ˜›

Anyway… I’m calm. I’m calm… FUCK YOU I’m calm. Come on, MongMaster, zennnn… sit like the dragon and praise the One True Egg… thaaat’s better. πŸ˜›

That was the last thing that went wrong, thankfully. πŸ˜€ After that, I re-rendered the scene four times (twice for the character-focused version, twice for the desktop version), and all was good and stuff. πŸ˜€ At Quality 2, with the Caustic and Architectural samplers on, the character-focused render (6.7MP) took 7 hours 6 minutes 20.2 seconds in total, which was much longer than I initially expected. And that was using both GPUs, because the scene was quite light on GPU memory. As for the 4K render (8.2MP), it took 3 hours 52 minutes 29.3 seconds in total, which makes NO SENSE. It has 22% more pixels but it rendered 80% faster! :S Maybe it’s something to do with the image dimensions? I dunno. Magic. πŸ˜›

As for postwork, that consisted of merging the two different renders together to get some nice light around the One True Egg’s eggcup without having a black circle within the Egg, blurring out some noise that the post-denoiser didn’t get for some reason, adding some glint to the dragon’s eyes, tweaking contrast, levels and saturation, and adding a vignette. Here’re the two different renders before postwork, so you can hopefully see what I mean:

The render without the water light.
The render with the water light. Notice the black circle in the Egg, and the shadow on the dragon’s legs.

fix your shitting editor wordpress oh my god

Continuing the recent tradition, I created a timelapse of this render, too, adding some mildly-related music behind the video. πŸ˜€ I really struggled for tracks this time, though, because for SOME reason, no-one wants to sing songs about eggs. πŸ˜› Still, I just about managed to scrape together enough egg-related songs for the video. First off, there’s “E.G.G.M.A.N” from Sonic Adventure 2, followed by “Do The Funky Chicken” by Rufus Thomas (sorry, not sorry πŸ˜› ), and finally, “Egg Shaped Fred” by Mansun. πŸ˜€ I was tempted to include “Tails and Dr Eggman Fight but Dr Eggman Dies In An Explosion” by Sonic4ever on there, but I thought I’d use Eggman’s theme instead. πŸ˜› You can check the timelapse out here, and watch me keep changing things and flail around with Canvases and slowly lose my sanity (not like I had much in the first place πŸ˜› ). Yes, I’ve tried embedding the video in the blog post again, but it’s still not working. And I don’t want to use YouTube because they’ll be all like WAAAAAAAH COPYRIGHTED MUSIC, even on unlisted videos, and even though I’m not profiting off using it. πŸ˜›

Oh ya, also, like I did with Dino Disco, I drew some notes over my preliminary renders that pointed out problems and things that were going well. I’ve found that this really helps keep my thoughts straight and helps prevent me from forgetting something that I need to fix before the final render. And when the render’s finished, it becomes a nice history of how the render evolved over time. πŸ˜€ Here it is:

I also thought I’d try doing something else new and dumb with my renders, for cheap lols important research purposes. πŸ˜› I’m not sure if you know, but Microsoft released something a while back called CaptionBot. It’s an AI which looks at an image you give it and tries to describe it, usually with terrible results. πŸ˜› So, I thought I’d feed CaptionBot my renders and see what it says it is. I’m hoping to be surprised at some point, but I’m mostly just expecting it to fail. πŸ˜› Here’s what it thought about this render:

Boooring. You could’ve at least tried to describe it. That would have been funnier. πŸ˜› But hey, it recognised that something was sitting down! Not sure where it got “cake” from, though. πŸ˜›

Oh, but there’s something similar to this that I’ve found really impressive, though: Clarifai. It does the same kind of thing, but instead of trying to form a sentence, it just spits out a list of words that match the concept of the image, along with a “confidence” value. It has all sorts of other features, too face detection, a colour breakdown of the image, and can even determine if it’s NSFW… and now I have a huge urge to try and break that feature for some reason. πŸ˜› Aside from the explicit content detection, I’m not exactly sure what kind of serious use-case all this stuff has, but anyway, there’s a section of the site that lets you try it out, and it’s amazing how close it can get:

“Meditation”, “Zen”, “Spirituality”, “Candle”… there’re so many accurate terms there, it’s crazy! :O However, it didn’t see “dragon” (slightly understandable) or “egg” (bit of a blunder there πŸ˜› ). And yes, it says it’s SFW with 96.8% confidence. πŸ˜› I might make this a thing. CaptionBot vs Clarifai! πŸ˜€ Ahhh, I’m such a gorm. πŸ˜›

Anyway, I kind of went off-topic at the end there, but I hope you like the render! Let me know what you think. πŸ˜€ For now, though, I think I’ll stop writing junk and go and shoot some more giant insects on EDF 5, which thankfully came out on Best Console recently (thank you Sandlot/D3Publisher/whoever else was involved! πŸ˜€ ).

Egg and Be True, everyone! πŸ˜€

UPDATE!!
Firstly, many thanks for the likes! Honestly, it means a lot. πŸ™‚

A couple days after finishing and posting this render, I found myself thinking about it. To me, this scene represents light, and the good side of things… but what about the dark side? I wondered… could I pull a 180 on the atmosphere and make a dark, evil version of this scene?

To find out, I decided to revisit the scene, and began a corruption spree. I took everything I could think of, and flipped it around. White turned into black, sky blue became blood red… and before long, I found it: the Dark Side of the Egg!

So, so EVIL! πŸ˜€ I just took the words “evil” and “corruption”, and ran with them. The environment changes consist of the red lighting, the red “Dark Egg”, flipping the candle positions around and giving them red flames, as well as darkening the rocks and sand around the edges of the pool. As for the dragon, aside from the very obvious black scales, I made his eyes and wing membranes red, gave him new horns with a modified texture, made his facial expression more aggressive, lowered his arms, lengthened his talons, and gave him a bit more bulk. Good experiment, methinks! I had fun with it, at least. πŸ˜€

I’ve added it to the Render Flavour List under the main render near the top of the post, but of course, you can see the full version by clicking on it above. πŸ™‚ I have the desktop version of the render in progress, and I’ll post it at some point tomorrow. I had an idea for a dual-monitor desktop wallpaper version of this, as well. Nothing special: just a simple compilation of both renders, side-by-side. If it doesn’t end up being a turd, I’ll post that here, too. πŸ™‚

As Ulala would say: staaaay tuned!

UPDATE!! (2)
I created the desktop versions of Dark Side of the Egg. You can get them from the Render Flavour List above, where the main render is. πŸ™‚

I also created a basic dual-monitor version, where both renders “blend” together slightly. However, I realised that it’s not going to work for everyone unless I make about a million different versions of it. πŸ˜› For two monitors of the same resolution, it’s easy, but if the monitors are different resolutions, it gets tricky.

I made Double 4K, Double 2K and Double 1080p versions, though. πŸ™‚ I also made a 4K + 1080p version to put on my desktop at work, and if you have a look at that version, I think you’ll understand what I mean when I say it gets tricky, and why I decided to stop there. πŸ˜› Having said that, if you do want a specific version for your monitor setup, just ask, and I’ll create it for ya when I get some time. πŸ˜€ Unless it’s triple monitors or something crazy like that. πŸ˜›