Back to the dance floor!


Just a quick(ish) one!

So, almost a year ago now, I finished Dino Disco, quite a rare render for me because it didn’t involve any dragons. ๐Ÿ˜› Despite the unusual struggles I had trying to fit it into the memory of a very high-end GPU, and the INSANE render time of 36 hours, I was stupid-happy with the result, and I still think it’s the best render I’ve ever done, although… mrghhh, it’s really hard to say that, actually. Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble came out so much better than I imagined it would, I loved Decorators in a different kind of way, and I was really happy with my most recent render, Hoarder, too. There’s something about Dino Disco, though. The insanity of it is just a slight step above the others. ๐Ÿ˜†

Damn it, Mongz, stop digressing and stay on target, this is supposed to be an aside. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, when I first showed it to someone at work, they quickly noticed something I hadn’t noticed in all my excitement: some of the dinosaurs, specifically the raptors and the rex, looked “shiny”, like they were sweating or something. And AFAIK, reptiles don’t sweat. ๐Ÿ˜› Since then, these shiny dinos have become a mini-joke which kept coming up every so often, and while I wanted to fix it, I didn’t want to re-render the scene because I thought it was going to take another 36 hours to fix it. ๐Ÿ˜›

The memory of that ultra-long render time has passed, though, so I thought I’d pick it up again and fix the damn shiny dinos. ๐Ÿ˜› After doing that and checking with the joke-maker, he also pointed out a few other things that I agreed could be improved. Sooo, I did all the changes, let my computer burn for a while, re-applied the postwork on the new render, and voila! Dino Disco v2!

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

WOO! I think this looks a lot better than the original! ๐Ÿ˜€

So, aside from fixing the shininess of the dinosaurs, what’s changed? Well, it was pointed out that the central rex’s chest looked unusually white. I was about to pull out the “camera flash” excuse, but I couldn’t deny that it looked a bit wrong, so I dimmed down the key light and mixed in a few more lights to give her chest a bit more colour.

The disco ball also didn’t look right, which I knew about already, because I’d spent a while trying and failing to get it to look nice the first time around. Not sure why I was struggling, because I saw the problem almost immediately after going back to it and looking at the material settings, lol. ๐Ÿ˜› I also got some feedback saying the floor wasn’t supposed to be shiny, which I disagreed with, because some crap computer monitors (*cough* Mac *cough*) do still reflect light despite being lit from behind the glass, but agreed that it was a bit too reflective, so I toned it down. I was also given the great idea to add some scratches to the floor, so I added an overlay with various scuffs and claw marks on it. It’s very subtle, but I think it worked nicely. ๐Ÿ˜€

Also, I found that most of the dinosaurs had some stupid preset subdivision settings on their displacement maps, and on the models themselves. Knocking them down to a realistic level brought memory usage down quite a lot. This, combined with, uh… a very generous “loan” of another 8GB GPU (a 1070Ti), allowed me to render this scene in about half the time of the original: just 18 hours 19 minutes 40.55 seconds! My room was quite hot afterwards and there was this distinctive burning smell in the air and that loan wasn’t technically authorised, but hey! Speed! ๐Ÿ˜›

That’s about it, I think. Hope you like the improvements! And big thanks to Louie for all the feedback! I never get feedback, so that was nice. ๐Ÿ˜†

Fight to the death for the last toilet paper!

Heyooo! Happy Apocalypse, one and all! ๐Ÿ˜›

How’re you doing? Hopefully you’re using your mad Ninja Skillz and dodging all that invisible and ultra-deadly COVID-19 while at the shop only to buy bread, milk, fruit, and Cheesestrings. (cringe) ๐Ÿ˜› Me? Yeah, I’m totally fine, better than usual, actually! I really don’t get what all the panic is about. It’s no worse than the flu, right? We get that every year, but that doesn’t cause people to have a massive panic attack and buy 40,000 toilet rolls and hand sanitisers. ๐Ÿ˜› I dunno, I completely shut myself off from the news months ago, and Adbook not long afterwards. It’s all scaremongering and fake news. Sure, I’ll stay away from other people out of respect (even though I don’t have the virus, and even though I know they don’t have the virus, because if they did, they’d be at home dying, because apparently almost no-one recovers, lmao), but I’ll think for myself, thanks. ๐Ÿ˜›

I’ve not really had to adjust to the “always stay inside” rule because I do that anyway. ๐Ÿ˜› There are only two differences, the first being that I now have to work from home, which I greatly prefer because it’s quieter, because I’m an anti-social bumface, and because I don’t have to give the bus company that I hate ~ยฃ12 a week just to get to work. ๐Ÿ˜› But the second difference is that I now have to spend an hour and a half getting to the shops and back, and can only carry about one week’s worth of supplies, because everyone in the country is panicking and suddenly wants to use online grocery delivery and all stores are booked solid for three weeks and people are staying up past midnight just to snipe a friggin’ delivery slot for three weeks in the future. God damn really? ๐Ÿ˜‘ But yeah, other than those things, it’s business as usual for me; just staying inside with my best friend (the PC ๐Ÿ˜› ) and playing many many games. Although some spaz is trying to scare people out of that, too, by posting an unrealistic model of what gamers will look like in 20 years. Lol, 20 years? I’ve had my gaming PC for about 12 years now, and I’ve been gaming longer than that, but I still look pretty much the same as I have done for a while. So in about 8 years I’m apparently going to be fat only in the lower part of my torso and have a long head with a crevasse in it? Lmfao those “researcher” gorms need to get out. But when they do, they’d better stay 2m away from other people. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, yep, the world has gone crazy, but I’m still the same. Still crazy. ๐Ÿ˜› Despite me trying to ignore everything, I couldn’t bring myself to ignore the very appropriate but potentially tasteless render idea that appeared in my mind the other week. Because it was funny. And funny is good. Usually. ๐Ÿ˜›

It took some self-nagging to bring myself to get started on it because of what I thought was going to be a mahoosive pain. The idea required me to construct a mound consisting of many duplicates of a single object, and just thinking about doing it was boring. ๐Ÿ˜› I was also unsure about how it would turn out when I had done the really boring part. But nevertheless, I kicked myself up the arse, reattached my leg, and started work on it on Easter Monday. Then, just the next morning, I was greeted with THIS!

More flavours below, including a special, stylized, dark flavour!
Regular: (1080p) (2K) (4K)
Dark: (1080p) (2K) (4K)

Because OF COURSE!! Morons hoarding a ton of toilet paper got you down? Fix it with a dragon hoarding a ton of toilet paper! ๐Ÿ˜›

Hahaha, despite the mild pain that was the first 30 mins or so of creating this (and the moderate pain that followed), this was so worth it. ๐Ÿ˜€ Hell, what little pain I did feel while creating this render was pretty short-lived anyway, because this scene only took about 7 hours to make, which is the fastest I’ve been able to create a fully-fledged scene in quite some time! ๐Ÿ˜€ Hell, if you include the render time and postwork (render stats spoilers! ๐Ÿ˜› ), it only took about 9 hours, start to finish! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

So, that “mound consisting of many duplicates of a single object” I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that was all the toilet rolls. I ended up referring to it as Mt. TP. ๐Ÿ˜› I put a roll of toilet paper in the scene and created 100 instances of it, arranging them into the base of the mountain. To help, I created a sphere which vaguely represented the final mound, and very roughly posed the Dragon 3 so he was sprawled on top of it to ensure it was about right. Then I realised I didn’t need to create the “core” of Mt. TP, I just needed the shell, so I rearranged the toilet rolls so they followed the perimeter of the guide sphere. It wasn’t too bad when I got into the rhythm of it, and it wasn’t particularly hard. Just… dull. Needed way more than 100 rolls, too; the final scene ended up having 343 rolls in there. ๐Ÿ˜› It only took about half an hour to finish the basic structure, though, so that was good. ๐Ÿ˜€

The Mountain

After that, it was just a matter of posing the Dragon 3 on top, which took a bit longer because I couldn’t quite decide how I wanted him to lie. I wanted him to be sprawled out, but at the same time, I wanted him to look happy and cozy, so I settled on a hybrid of the two, where his upper body was curled and he was resting his head comfortably on his claws, but his hind legs were sprawled out a bit, accidentally kicking a couple of rolls off Mt. TP. But he clearly don’t care. He stupid-comfy. ๐Ÿ˜€

Dawwwww. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Deciding on an environment was a little tricky. In fact, I already had a shot at making this scene a few days before doing it for real. During that session, I managed to narrow my environment choices down to a few options, the last one being “make a custom cave”. About 5 minutes after experimenting with ways to do that, I quit, because everything was being a dick. ๐Ÿ˜› The rocks I was trying to use all had inverted normals so you couldn’t see them in the viewport without using negative scale, and instances of those objects with the same transform parameters were appearing in a different position for no reason. ๐Ÿ˜‘ Anyway, thankfully I didn’t have to resort to creating my own. I found a little nook in one of the environments I chose which was just what I was hoping for. ๐Ÿ˜€

I learned something pretty strange while doing this scene, though: a “solution” to the inverted normals problem I had. Let me explain a bit: each polygon on an object has a “normal” which indicates what direction the polygon is facing. If this is towards the camera, that’s okay. If the polygon is facing away from the camera, however, that’s called a “backfacing” polygon. Usually, programs save processing power by not rendering backfacing polys, but some programs decide it’s necessary that the user sees them, and do render them. DAZ Studio is speshiful, though. It does render backfacing polys, but instead of drawing the material on the poly as normal, it simply makes the poly solid black, regardless of lighting! Neither of DS’s core renderers (Iray and 3Delight) have a problem with showing backfacing polys like this; they render perfectly fine. But when all the viewport renderer bothers to show you is a silhouette of the object, it is a problem! A massive problem! ARGGGH!


There’s an option in the preferences called “Backface Lighting”, but it appears to do shit all. But hey, it’s fine, cuz I managed to fix the problem by… heheh, God damn… sorry, I… I still can’t believe the way I fixed it. It’s so, so dumb. ๐Ÿ˜›
Okay, so… DAZ Studio has several viewport render modes, most of which are never used unless you’re really weird or have some kind of need for it. Two of those are “Wire Shaded” and “Wire Texture Shaded”. They’re helpful if you need to see the polygons of your scene, or, well… they would be useful, if they didn’t completely tank the viewport framerate. Seriously, it takes DS about 10-20x longer to draw the wireframes than it takes to draw the object on its own. ๐Ÿ˜› For some insane, impossibly stupid reason, though, in these modes, if you have the “Backface Lighting” option on, backfacing polys actually render properly. I just… why. WHY!

Texture Shaded w/ Backface Lighting ON
Wire Texture Shaded w/ Backface Lighting ON

Of course, if you do decide to use the “Wire Shaded” or “Wire Texture Shaded” mode with the Backface Lighting option on just to get around the problem where backfacing polys are black no matter what, you then have to deal with the ludicrously low viewport framerate. But hey, there’s a stupid way around that, too! If you go to the Draw Settings window and set the wireframe opacity to 0, yay! Framerate becomes normal! So uh… if I’m in Wire Texture Shaded mode but with no wireframe… WHY exactly does that act differently to Texture Shaded mode?! What are you smoking over there, DAZ?!

Wire Texture Shaded w/ Backface Lighting ON w/ 0% Wireframe Opacity

Ugh. Whatever. ๐Ÿ˜›

I also poked dForce again in an attempt to get some stray sheets of toilet paper lying in the scene, dForce being DS’s solution for cloth simulation. It was my first time using it properly, and it’s, uh… shit? Yeah, “shit”, that’s the word. ๐Ÿ˜› Maybe it’s okay for clothes and stuff? I dunno, I don’t render humans, so I don’t render clothes. But seeing as how the following can happen sometimes when trying to apply cloth simulation to a simple plane, I can’t see how clothes would work any better:


Maybe I was using it “wrong” or something, but seeing as there’s almost no documentation for this feature (yet again!), I’m not exactly sure how I can learn to use it. Maybe I should render a human with dForce clothing just to see if I can figure out how it works?

Anyway, I think that’s all I have to say about the process. ๐Ÿ™‚ Despite DS’s stupid brokenness and dForce’s stupid brokenness, everything went pretty smoothly, which is always nice. ๐Ÿ˜€ But now, it’s time for the render stats, which may have already been spoiled! ๐Ÿ˜› Despite all the toilet rolls, thanks to instancing (maybe), this scene didn’t need much memory, so both my GPUs were able to party this time! ๐Ÿ˜€ So, at Quality 2, the 4K render tooook… 1 hour 35 minutes 20.36 seconds! Pretty nippy! As for postwork, I covered up some poke-through on the toilet paper hooked onto the dragon’s horn, fixed some weird artefacts on a different sheet of paper, added motion blur to a few rolls of toilet paper, blurred out some noise that the Post Denoiser didn’t quite denoise, tried fixing some nasty-looking texture seams on the cave wall, added a very mild bloom effect, and added a vignette. ๐Ÿ™‚

I got a timelapse for you, too! Since the render didn’t take long to create, it only contains two songs this time, both by the very funny and very crazy comedy/metal band Psychostick. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m glad it only has two songs because I couldn’t think of a third. ๐Ÿ˜† Anyway, first up there’s The Dumb Song, because everyone is being dumb and hoarding craptons of toilet paper for no good reason. Hoarding it won’t stop you from getting the virus. ๐Ÿ˜› The timelapse ends with Fight To The Death, because of one perfectly appropriate lyric near the end of the song, which I also used for the post title. ๐Ÿ˜€ You can watch the timelapse here!

I also have the progress history below, and it’s very short! ๐Ÿ˜€

Only four preliminary renders before I felt like I could render the final thing! ๐Ÿ˜€ After the first preliminary render barely showed any issues, I got very suspicious and triple-checked it to be sure I wasn’t losing it. ๐Ÿ˜† It never goes that well! ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway… I think that’s all from me for now! Hope you liked the render. ๐Ÿ™‚ See ya later, don’t die and stuff, and enjoy your pasta and toilet paper casserole or whatever you do with those things that I can’t buy any more because everyone else is suddenly buying all of them. ๐Ÿ˜›

(in all seriousness, plz stay safe, you’re too cool to get owned by a microscopic virus ๐Ÿ˜†)