What is an OX? A miserable little pile of SECRETS!

(Hopefully not miserable; I just needed to match the reference ๐Ÿ˜› )

Hellooo! Merry Christmas! And happy New Year! Both of the New Years, that is! ๐Ÿ˜›

It’s been a little while! How’re you? I’ve been super-busy on a little very large Secret Project for the last half a year or so, as I mentioned offhandedly in the previous post, hence why I never posted anything for Christmas like I normally do. I had to sacrifice that render to gain more time on the secret project. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ However, I’m glad I did that, because I would have missed the deadline otherwise. What’s the deadline? Two days from now! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ The thing is done, just need to give it a once-over and then get some other bits ready like the blog post. I’m kind of nervous and excited at the same time; I really hope people enjoy it! Or, y’know… even look at it. It friggin’ took long enough. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway! Today’s the beginning of a new Lunar New Year, the Year of the Ox! Yaaaaay! And I’m still a bit confused about it! ๐Ÿ˜› I always thought an ox was an animal. Well, yes, it is, but what I mean is that I thought it was its own thing, the name of a species of animal. Like… you could go to a farm and see cows and bulls and maybe some oxen.

But after realising I didn’t actually know what made an ox an ox, then after doing some initial research and struggling to find a model of an ox, I realised: an ox is basically just a job description. An ox is any cattle over the age of 4 that has been trained to work, so oxen are cows and bulls! Most commonly bulls. Sort of. Usually bulls without balls. I think that’s known as a “steer”. Having no balls makes them calmer, apparently. ๐Ÿ˜› But according to the Ox (zodiac) Wikipedia page, and the meaning of the Chinese word niรบ (็‰›), from this Wiktionary page, it can also mean buffalo, yak, and bison. It was difficult to get the facts straight because there are sources all over the Internet that incorrectly imply that an ox is a totally different animal to something like a bull, or incorrectly spout something partially/totally bullshit (no pun intended ๐Ÿ˜› ), like… “ox is a male cow and that’s it lul”. (Yes a male cow can be an ox but a male cow that isn’t an ox is a bull or a steer, and female cows are sometimes trained to be oxen too so a male cow isn’t always an ox, arrrrrrgh see how I’m so damn confused? ๐Ÿ˜› )

So, it took me ages to figure out what damn animal I needed, but it left me with a pretty wide choice in the end. I had access to a cow, a bull, and a bison. The bull model was 483 years old and looked like shite, the cow looked like a dairy cow (a Holstein Friesian), which is fine because they can be used as an ox but most people who see it would go “lol that’s not an ox that’s a cow” and I will say “but a cow can be an ox” and they’ll immediately say I’m wrong but won’t do anything to prove otherwise (happens to me a fair bit, I find it both infuriating and hilarious ๐Ÿ˜› ). As for the bison, I felt that was a bit too much of a stretch. “็‰›” may include “bison”, but it doesn’t match with the meaning of “ox” because bison are wild animals and don’t work on farms AFAIK… even though the meaning of “็‰›” is “ox”. Also, there’s something called a “musk ox” which looks a little bit like a bison and is part of the same family as both bison and cattle (Bovidae) but is in a totally different subfamily (Ovibos, as opposed to Bovinae (which both bison and cattle are part of)) and can’t be an ox in the other sense because it isn’t used as a draft animal, as far as I can tell.

Seriously, do you see why I was so damn confused? This is the worst lunar new year. ๐Ÿ˜†

Anyway, eventually, I was both so tired from my secret project and so confused at the vague definition of this zodiac animal that I kinda stopped caring and tried rendering both the cow and the bison, deciding on which to use afterwards. ๐Ÿ˜› And after not much deliberation, I decided that while the cow was probably the closest match for Year of the Ox, I would have been completely embarrassed to post that, as opposed to only slightly embarrassed to post the bison. And then quickly changed my mind again because a bison isn’t an ox even though it technically is in one defini… oh I don’t care. Here, just have a working bovine! ๐Ÿ˜›

Available in these flavours:
(1080p) (1080p Dark) (2K) (2K Dark) (4K) (4K Dark)

Happy Year of the Cow/Ballless Bull/Yak/Buffalo/Bison/Other Bovine That Has Possibly Been Trained To Work Depending On Which Definition You Use And Is Either Female Or Male Without Balls Unless They Haven’t Been Trained To Work!

I hate this day ๐Ÿ˜›

Sorry, this isn’t my best effort, and I don’t think it came out particularly well, either. ๐Ÿ˜… Quality feels around about as good as the Year of the Goat render I did about 6 years ago… actually, nah, let’s be fair, it’s at least a li’l bit better than that. ๐Ÿ˜› I only had about a day to do this, and honestly, it feels like I’ve been posing and rendering almost every day for the past six months and I really need a break from it. ๐Ÿ˜›

There wasn’t much to the creation of this one, really, nor did any notable things happen during it. Apart from that one time where I did a minor tweak of the bison’s right eye and DAZ Studio completely locked up and forced me to restart it and made me lose about half an hour of work and then took another 5 minutes to load the scene again. Which I then found out hadn’t actually saved the last time I asked it to save, making me lose another 10 minutes of work. Because this scene was so much lighter than the ones used in the secret project, I’d hoped DS might start behaving itself a little bit, but nope, it’s still a shit eater! ๐Ÿ˜ก

Anyway, now for the RENDER STATS! And… well, the render was very fast. At Quality 2 and with the caustic sampler on, it took 6 minutes 19.10 seconds to reach 98% convergence on a 1080Ti and 1070Ti. So… yeah. ๐Ÿ˜† Postwork was pretty much the same as every other Lunar New Year render: a custom background and some glow effects around the ox cow bull bison. ๐Ÿ˜› As for a timelapse, I didn’t bother this time, because it wasn’t really worth it. The scene didn’t take long to put together, and it went pretty similarly to Year of the Rat, apart from that I didn’t need to do any major model adjustments, so there was even less to it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the post title, that’s a reference to this scene from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. I’ve never played it, although I probably should get around to that at some point. ๐Ÿ˜€ The only reason I know of that scene is due to a Flash file once served to me when visiting thebest404pageever, a now defunct (and probably non-existent) website due to Adobe Flash’s end of life (mixed feelings about that, so I shall say both RIP and good riddance :P). Thankfully, someone’s converted that Flash file to a video, which I shall leave you to enjoy. Meanwhile, I will go and play a game for the first time in what feels like ages, and have a mega sleep. ๐Ÿ˜†

Hopefully see ya in a couple days for something much better! ๐Ÿ˜€

Oh, rats, it’s the Lunar New Year again!

Ni haaaaaao! Xin nian kuai le! ๐Ÿ˜€

Another year, another… Lunar New Year. Yep, I realised how stupid that sentence was, just before I finished typing it. ๐Ÿ˜› Anyway, it’s now the Year of the Rat, and you know what that means! Another Lunar New Year render, the 9th in the series! ๐Ÿ˜€

Like last year’s render, I cut this one pretty close again. ๐Ÿ˜› It was because I spent most of the previous weekend creating something for my brother’s birthday: the Daily Cipher. It’s a rough browser game based on a stupid in-joke that I don’t really understand. ๐Ÿ˜› Apparently a daily cipher is some kind of cipher which, I quote: “can be used daily az a way to change da algorithm”. Not really clear on what “da algorithm” is, and if by that he means the cipher itself, it sounds like a “daily cipher” is actually a process in which some information is ciphered, and then every day after that, the original cipher is ciphered by a new cipher, which would basically make the information completely irretrievable after the first day, unless you can somehow decipher some garbage into some… some less garbagey garbage before deciphering that into the original information. ๐Ÿ˜› Anyway, my brother is dumb and the game I made is nothing like that. On each day, the website gives you a randomly ciphered phrase, and the aim is to decipher it to get an “epic bassline” (another stupid in-joke ๐Ÿ˜› ). You can give it a shot here if you want! Although be aware that it was the first time I’ve ever tried to make a game for web, the API I used was utter shite, and no-one I told about it has really tried to play it, so I’ve been unable to get any feedback to fix any problems there might be. As a result, it might not work properly, especially if you try to access it on a mobile browser (despite my best efforts to make it work on mobile). ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes! The Lunar New Year render! ๐Ÿ˜›

So, the past two years, I barely managed to finish the render in time for the Lunar New Year. Year of the Dog was difficult because good dog models were scarce (for some reason), and and the Look At My Hair plugin was a piece of shit. Year of the Pig was even more difficult because good pig models were non-existent and I had to resort to using an upscaled low res pig, and the Look At My Hair plugin was an even bigger piece of shit. ๐Ÿ˜›

This year? Yep… pretty much the same thing happened. Apart from that Look At My Hair was the biggest piece of shit this time. ๐Ÿ˜›

When I first started looking for rat models, I thought I was gonna have to resort to using a low res one made about 15 years ago, again. But thankfully, I did find a mouse morph for Genesis. Not quite the rat that I was looking for, but I took it, because it was by far the best option. But… that doesn’t mean it was a particularly good option. ๐Ÿ˜› The morph itself wasn’t quite what I was shooting for. Sure, it made Genesis look like a mouse, but it was still a bit too anthropomorphic, kinda like what happened with Year of the Monkey. It was made worse by the fact that the eyes didn’t look anything like a mouse’s eyes. And it was kinda fat, too. ๐Ÿ˜›

After posing it, it became clear that the model didn’t look good enough, so I had to morph the crap out of it in ZBrush to get it to look reasonably close to what I wanted. I shrunk down the eye sockets to be more circular, morphed out the thumbs, changed the fingernails to be more like claws (that was especially painful), hid the front teeth that were making him look more like a rabbit, and did my best to morph the body shape into something leaner. I don’t think I’ve modified a model so much before. I… guess it was an experience? ๐Ÿ˜›

But then came the worst part. The Look At My Hair plugin. Now, I’ve said how shit this plugin is on several occasions, but this time, oh my fucking GOD, I don’t know what the hell its problem was! It didn’t even work at first; I had to reinstall the damn thing. Then it started crashing as I was trying to style the fur preset provided with the morph (it looked way too “poofy”). Then it prevented scenes that contained the hair preset from loading, so I had to uninstall the plugin, remove the hair objects from the scene, and reinstall the plugin to recover my work! Then it refused to let me add more hair follicles without friggin’ crashing! Then, when I was done, it slowed DS down to a crawl until I removed the stupid LAMH preview objects, and then, for some insane reason, it decided to fill up the remaining space on my boot drive! Goddamn, I hate it. I hate that shitting plugin so, so much.

Anyway… caaaaaalm. I’m calm. ๐Ÿ˜› I’ll stop yammering about the process now, and just show you what I actually managed to come up with! BOOM:

Available in these flavours:
(1080p) (1080p Dark) (2K) (2K Dark) (4K) (4K Dark)

Wooo! ๐Ÿ˜€ The body shape and materials could have used a bit more work, but hey, I don’t think it came out too badly! A bit better than Year of the Pig, at least. ๐Ÿ˜› What do you think? ๐Ÿ™‚

Now for the render stats! And this one was turbo-fast! Thanks to the scene’s low VRAM usage, both my GTX 1080Ti and GTX 970 were able to pair up this time, and they managed to spit out a 4K render at Quality 2 with Caustics on in just 29 minutes 19.77 seconds! BOOM! ๐Ÿ˜€ That’s faster than Year of the Pig, although I didn’t have my 1080Ti back then. Still not sure why Year of the Dog took more than two hours. ๐Ÿ˜› Postwork was pretty much the same as every Lunar New Year render: a custom background, some glow effects around the rat, and that’s about it. ๐Ÿ˜€

UPDATE!! I’ve got a timelapse for you now! Overall, the render didn’t take that long to create (I’ve got about 9 hours of footage, so excluding all the parts where I took a break or got distracted, it was probably 7-8 hours in total), so that means the timelapse is a bit shorter than normal. You can take a look at it here! ๐Ÿ˜€ Because it was shorter, I could only fit in two songs. I start with Expecting More From Ratty by Scooter, mainly because “rat” is right there in the title, but also because it started playing when I was working on the scene and made me laugh. ๐Ÿ˜› I then finish with Rat Race by Billy Idol, because again, “rat” is in the title. C’mon, what else did you think I was gonna do? ๐Ÿ˜€
Making the timelapse made me realise something, though. The majority of my time was spent on the fur, trying to get it on the rat in the first place, trying to style it, trying to export it as an OBJ, trying to tweak the materials, then doing one or more of these things again because LAMH exported the OBJ wrong. All while the plugin kept crashing DAZ Studio at random intervals. No wonder I felt like I was losing my mind. It’s because I was doing the same shit for about 5 hours! I bet I’d’ve been able to finish this in half the time if it wasn’t for that friggin’ plugin!

Guh. Whatever. Brain is fried, and I am tired. ๐Ÿ˜› I’m gonna head off now and play a bit of DJ Max Respect V until I am super-tired and just want to faceplant my bed. ๐Ÿ˜› G’niiiiiight!

(Crap, I barely posted this in time; there were only two minutes left. XD)