Soooo, how was your Thanksgiving? Mine was nonexistent because I don’t live in the U S and A. 😛 Despite the fact we don’t do Thanksgiving over here, we’ve done Black Friday for the last couple of years for some reason. Honestly, I don’t understand. Maybe it’s just because the shops realise they can make moar moneyz if they all discount stuff at the same time, then they end up fighting each other to give the best discounts, then customers start fighting each other to get the best discounts, then it goes on the news and I laugh at all the degenerates scrabbling for the last plasma TV. 😛 But hell, I’m not complaining, it was pretty awesome last year, actually; through pure luck I managed to snag an Intel Core i7-4790K CPU for £50 off the standard price. Oosh! 😀
This year… wasn’t so oosh. 😛 I’d been thinking about grabbing some new peripherals and a new GPU for a few months beforehand. I replaced my legendary Logitech G15 keyboard with a not-really-legendary-yet G910 when I found it on Amazon for about £40 off. Didn’t expect it to go much lower than that (and it didn’t 😛 ). Also before Black Friday, I had to replace my G700 mouse because the mouse buttons were starting to give up the ghost. I got a G700s because the G700 was pretty much perfect. Apart from the metal on the mouse wheel which rusted a bit. And that some of the buttons were squeaky. And that the power lead was quite rigid and generated a lot of friction when it was plugged in, so using it while it was charging sucked a little bit. 😛 The new one’s great, though; same as the G700 but it’s a bit prettier, the buttons feel better and there’s no rust yet. Power lead still ruins the mouse when it’s plugged in, though. I also got a new cloth mouse mat to replace my old busted metal one, as well as a USB hub and Micro USB leads after finding that Arx Control (the smartphone app which is supposed to be a replacement for the LCD displays you find in some Logitech keyboards) drains your phone’s battery like friggin’ crazy, and the G910 doesn’t have any built-in USB slots, so unless you have a Micro USB that reaches from the back of your PC to your keyboard so you can plug in your phone, your battery will run out. 😛
So, I’d bought all my peripherals and accessories, but I was still in the market for a GTX 970. Then, when Black Friday actually came along… POOP! It was awful. Couldn’t find jack all. One site actually had an offer where you could save 40p on a Raspberry Pi. Wooooow! And even after that AMAZING discount, it was still way more expensive than just buying it directly from the Raspberry Pi Foundation! 😛 I noticed some nice cuts on SSDs (but they’re quite cheap anyway these days), and some okay bundle deals, but there were basically no decent offers on GPUs at all. Two of my mates… er… one of my mates got an okay deal on a GTX 970. 😛 They paid about £250 all-in, but it wasn’t that much of a discount.
There WAS a moment where I found a post on Hot UK Deals with 70-odd upvotes advising that you could buy a GTX 970 off Amazon.fr and get it shipped over here for approximately £220. Acting completely idiotically, much like a Black Friday shopper, I quickly placed an order. Moments afterwards, my frontal lobe turned back on and went “wait wait wait, it’s an international purchase; what about import costs?” There’s no import duty from France for electronics like this, but of course; you have to pay 20% VAT, which brings the cost to around £264, which is MORE than it would’ve cost to buy it here! Not a single one of the nonces on that HUKD page had realised. Thank God some of my brayn cells still work. PROFESSIONAL PANDA PANCAAAAKE
It wasn’t a total bust, though. On Cyber Monday I went on Scan.co.uk, the site I’d totally forgotten about. Luckily, I found they were selling an EVGA GTX 970 for £240; the cheapest (real offer) I’d seen over the weekend. Oh, no, wait… apart from an MSI GTX 970 I saw on an Aria.co.uk newsletter for £220, but unsurprisingly, they were all gone within 30 minutes. 😛 Anyway, after some thought and research, I decided to blow my budget for the month wide open, and ordered two of ‘em. 😀 If I’d just bought one, I’d do what I did with my GTX 770 and plan to get a second one but end up not getting around to it. I didn’t spend extra on an SLI-compatible motherboard for nothing. 😛 It sounds like stupid overkill, but according to an SLI review of these cards, the diminishing returns for two-way SLI is actually quite low. It should boost most things that can’t do 60FPS on one card to 60FPS, and boost games that can do 60FPS to 120FPS or close to it (haven’t got a 120hz monitor for nothing, either, and yes, 120hz does make a difference! 😛 ).
I experienced a bit of fury this morning when I got an e-mail saying the products I’d ordered couldn’t be sent because they were “discontinued” (lol no), but after querying Scan with some moderate force thinking they were trying to back out of honouring the price they offered, they said to ignore that e-mail because it was a mistake. They’re just having some… pretty major delays. 😛 Don’t think I’ll get them until Friday, but when I do, I’ll letcha know how awesome they are at running Transport Tycoon. Haha. 😛
Anyhoo, that’s that bit done. What’s next… ah, yes. Heehee. Heeeeheeheeheee! 😀
I started work on a scene in DAZ Studio over a week ago, but ended up stopping a few steps before completion. There were several reasons for this. One of them was because of my mouse; the mouse buttons were so phwoacked that unless I applied a shit-ton of force to them, drag operations had an unreasonably high chance of being interrupted. I would be dragging the mouse to rotate the camera, then suddenly the mouse button would unclick and click during the drag, causing me to mess with a property or switch tabs or hit render or generally do something very annoying. It wasn’t just DAZ Studio; it was definitely a hardware issue because the same thing was happening everywhere. It was probably even more annoying in Explorer. 😛 Another reason was DAZ Studio itself. The crashes… God, the friggin’ crashes! It was just… fucking ridiculous! I tried everything to reduce the crash frequency; I even ended up messing with the processor affinity to restrict DAZ Studio so it could only use 6 of the 8 CPU cores. That helped a bit, but not enough. Restricting it to 4 cores wasn’t any better. It’d still crash the graphics driver every so often, and cause a Blue Screen of Death a bit more rarely. The third reason I stopped was because no matter what I did, I couldn’t get friggin’ specular highlights to show up on the dragon’s eyes. Well, I could, but they looked completely wrong. Like… all speckly and crap. I basically just wanted to punch DAZ Studio’s face in the face.
Since I’d gotten a new mouse, I went back to DAZ Studio last night in an attempt to finish it off. It was still crashing the graphics driver, but it didn’t feel as often as usual. I was patient with it and made sure to close the viewport before a render (if you don’t, and if it crashes the graphics driver, DAZ Studio also crashes and you lose your current render progress, huehuehue oh my god it’s so painfully dumb). But then, after a few crashes… it just… stopped crashing. Completely. Not a single hiccup or anything. Smooth like butter. Caress your lover. Enjoy the mome… yeah. 😛
There were a few new frustrations. As I dropped the shading rate for more detail, DS started taking a psychotic amount of time to do what appeared to be… nothing. After some annoyance and some probing, I found out that Subsurface Scattering (SSS) was enabled on SOME of the Dragon 3 material presets, but not all of them. I was previously using a preset that didn’t use SSS, and that night, I’d switched to a material preset that did while I was trying to work out why specular wasn’t working on the dragon’s eyes. I didn’t switch it back after I found the problem and just switched the diffuse textures instead because… well, because I didn’t know that some of the presets didn’t use SSS, cuz that just would be dumb and inconsistent, right? 😛 This is how I discovered that SSS is goddamn expensive, especially in final renders. 😛
I disabled SSS on everything, finished off the tweaks to the head morphs… then took a deep breath before tweaking the render settings and UberEnvironment to render at final, DJ Max quality. 😀 Then I pressed the render button and left it running overnight. Guess what? This morning, it was happily sat there, displaying a DJ Max quality render like a doge with a newspaper in its gob. It hadn’t blue screened or crashed or broken or anything! It was all like “here is your render (mong)master, may I please you with another?”
Unfortunately, it did have to please me with another; the lighting was too weak in the first render. While I’ve been at work today, I’ve been popping onto TeamViewer every so often, having a gander at the latest render, tweaking some settings and firing off another one. DS’s been super-cool about it all, and I don’t understand why, especially since I lightly overclocked my processor just the other day, technically making it more unstable and more prone to crashing! ARGH DAZ, WHY YOU SO ERRATIC?!?
But no no no, I’m not complaining. I like it not crashing. 😛
Anyway, yes, maybe I’m blathering a bit. That’s because I’m just a li’l bit hyped to show you this. 😀 When I got home, what I believed was going to be the final render was waiting for me. It was good, but there were a few things I wanted to change. After that, I did the actual final render. And here it is:
Hahahahahahaaaaaa! Man, I’m ultra happy about this one! 🙂 It’s just… ah, screw it, I’m throwing modesty outta the window for a minute. This is AWESOME! The concept is fun, the scene arrangement and posing really worked, the lighting’s turned out really nice (it’s the first time I’ve used UberEnvironment 2’s Global Illumination), the textures look good, the depth of field (DoF) is perfect, and the only postwork I did was a slight “bloom” effect, as well as the title and signature. I reckon it’s my best render yet! 😀 But my opinion means jack; what do you think? Let me know! 🙂
As I mentioned, I changed a few things after the first final render, which you can have a look at here. The first change was a replacement texture for the awful, low-resolution one I was using for the desk… stone… stone desk thing. 😛 It looks waaaay better. The second adjustment was the addition of a can of Wyvern Energy (frost flavour). 😀 Just a little extra touch to make the image a bit more fun. And somewhat accurate. 😉 The third adjustment was the DoF; even though it was great in the original render, it blurred out the Wyvern Energy can a bit too much, so I had to tweak it. 🙂 Oh, and I increased the size of the PC tower, too. It was a li’l bit small. 😛
Right, let’s see… stats for those who care! 😛 Rendering at WQHD with UberEnvironment 2 on Bounce Light (GI) mode and with the XHi quality preset, with a general Shading Rate of 0.2, the total render time was… 2 hours 10 minutes 5.31 seconds. Took about 9 minutes longer than the version I made before the adjustments; I blame reflection. 😛 It was a pretty heavy job this time; respect goes out to the i7-4790K @ 4.3GHz. 😀 Oh, don’t worry (if you are), I’ll make sure to get 1080p and 4K renders done and add them to the post, too! They won’t be until tomorrow at least. Depending on if DAZ Studio keeps bluescreening the PC (yes, it’s started doing it again for basically no reason). 😉
Right… phew. I think that’s it for now. Crap, this post was technically supposed to be about Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Project Mirai DX. Ah well; I’ll talk about them next time. 😛 For now, though, I’m off. See yaz!
I don’t really understand what exactly it’s doing, but DAZ Studio has… well, it’s stopped bothering with non-fatal driver crashes and is more frequently causing the PC to bluescreen through fatal driver crashes. It crashes at random times, sometimes after about 30 seconds, sometimes after about an hour… but it always gives the same error: DRIVER_CORRUPTED_EXPOOL. I imagine it’s a graphics driver crash, but honestly, I have no idea. I’ve tried disabling integrated graphics but there was no difference, and I haven’t done the more extreme option of unplugging the primary GPU and running off integrated graphics yet. I’ll try that tonight, because whatever the reason is, it’s making this 4K render absolutely impossible.
I started it earlier today before heading to work. So far, so good. I’ll leave you with a snapshot of the current progress:
WHOOO YEAAAAH ALLLLRIIIIIGHT!!!
Seriously I shouldn’t be this excited or happy that DAZ Studio finally rendered a 4K image on this perfectly healthy, quite powerful PC. A renderer successfully rendering a scene is what should happen. Every time. Because otherwise the renderer fails at its only purpose. 😛
I’ve added links to the 4K (UHD) version and the 1080p version (YES IT DID THAT TOO, HOLY SHIT!!). While this strange unexplainable streak continues, I’m rendering a… erm… a 2560×1600 version, which is a stupid aspect ratio that MacBooks use. I’mma set it as my desktop background on the one I use at work. Maybe it’ll make it faster or nicer to use. 😛
Finished off that WQXGA render and added it to’t list. Yes that’s the resolution’s actual name. 😛 Any other resolution requests, just lemme know! 🙂