(Hopefully not miserable; I just needed to match the reference 😛 )
Hellooo! Merry Christmas! And happy New Year! Both of the New Years, that is! 😛
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. 😦 However, I’m glad I did that, because I would have missed the deadline otherwise. What’s the deadline? Two days from now! 😮 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. 😛
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! 😛 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. 😛 But according to the Ox (zodiac) Wikipedia page, and the meaning of the Chinese word niú (牛), 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 😛 ), 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? 😛 )
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 😛 ). As for the bison, I felt that was a bit too much of a stretch. “牛” 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 “牛” 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. 😆
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. 😛 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! 😛
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 😛
Sorry, this isn’t my best effort, and I don’t think it came out particularly well, either. 😅 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. 😛 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. 😛
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! 😡
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. 😆 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. 😛 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. 🙂
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. 😀 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. 😆
Hopefully see ya in a couple days for something much better! 😀
How’ve you been? Good, I hope! I’m pretty much the same as always, sitting in front of a PC, coding for work, then playing games, rendering, and sometimes doing little bits of coding and writing for fun. 😀 Only major thing that’s happened recently is I had my 30th birthday earlier this month, which was great, but now I feel kind of old. Physically, not mentally; mentally I’m still about 8. 😛 Although according to Dr. Kawashima (Brain Training for Nintendo Switch, fitting birthday present 😆), my brain is 23. Just can’t manage the minimum score of 20 because my memory is apparently a bit poop. 😛
Anyway, yes, Halloween! No trick-or-treating this year probably, which is both bad and good depending on who you are, I guess. 😛 Makes no real difference to me, since I don’t get any trick-or-treaters anyway. 😆 But I have got a treat for you, sir/madam/smadam/nullreferenceexception! A Halloween render! Which almost didn’t happen! 😛
Yeah, I kinda barely made it this time around. 😅 I’d had several ideas a while in advance, but I just couldn’t decide on one. And none of the ideas I wrote down were the ones I did; I came up with one final idea while trying to decide, and I decided to pursue that one instead. 😆 So there was that, and there was the fact that I’m working on a, er… secret project right now, which has a strict deadline and requires a crapton of rendering, and if I miss that deadline, the theme of the project won’t be relevant. I scheduled a week to do my Halloween render when planning the secret project, but I’d totally overestimated how much time I had during weekdays. And Halloween landed on a Saturday this year. So I basically had fragments of time during the week, and the Friday evening and Saturday morning to do this. Not helpful when I’m burned out from doing nothing but working and rendering. 😅
But no matter! I may want to just sleep for a year now, but I still managed to finish the Halloween render on time (just 😛 )! Behold! BLEH!
Hahaaa, I got a dragon to wear a tuxedo! That experience I gained from “Roar, Blue Dragon” paid off! 😀 It went way more smoothly than that, too, probably because the suit wasn’t totally broken. 😛 I wasn’t sure this idea was going to work at first, and almost fell back to one of my other ideas, but I think it came out great in the end! What do you think? 😀
When it comes to the process, I can’t really think of much to talk about for this. Maybe that’s because I’m on about 3 hours sleep right now and all my brain wants to do is turn off. 😛 Fitting the suit was pretty much the same deal as “Roar, Blue Dragon”, the difference being that the assets were already in DAZ Studio. I fit the tux to the figure it was intended for (Genesis 8), set up the materials, and then removed the figure, leaving just the clothes. Of course, ZBrush made things a bit difficult afterwards, since you can’t sculpt multiple SubTools at the same time; you have to switch between them. I got around this by exporting the set of clothing items as a single object, then reimporting it into DAZ Studio before sending it to ZBrush. If I had the time, I’d’ve probably sculpted them individually, but… I didn’t, so I didn’t. 😛
The only other thing was the ground mist, which turned out massively better than I was expecting, despite it just being a stupid “blue sky thinking” moment. It’s just a stack of 28 planes, all with a super-simple cloud texture generated by Photoshop, fully translucent and refractive with an refractive index of 1. Job done. 😛 It almost put me in a kind of difficult situation, though. This solution for the mist felt perfect at first, because it was quick to do and worked well, but I’m pretty sure it caused quite a large spike in the render time. And that was no good because if the render took too long, I’d miss the deadline. Thankfully, the render time was still short enough to get it done. Albeit just the 2K version. The 4K version is being rendered as I write. 😀UPDATE!: It’s done now! 😛
Anyway, the RENDER STATS! 😀 At 4K with Rendering Quality 2, it took a total of 15 hours 4 minutes 28 seconds! So, quite a long one, but it was two renders that I combined into one during post. One of the renders had ground mist, which took 10:51:52, and the other one didn’t have the mist, which took 4:12:36. So that mist solution I came up with increased the render time by 150%. Oops. 😛 I still need to try it with caustics on, but I imagine that’ll take at least 24 hours and I still have a secret project to do. 😛 Postwork consists of combining the two renders, masking some nasty dithering with the ground mist, removing some weird highlights on the inside of his cape, smoothing out some stuff the post denoiser didn’t denoise, adding a bit of motion blur to Dragula’s arms, adding an additional layer of fake bloom (even though there was bloom in the scene already, generated by Iray 😆) a levels tweak and a li’l bit of desaturation. 🙂
I’ve got a timelapse for you, too, which you can watch here! 😀 It didn’t take as long as “Roar, Blue Dragon” (just under 20 hours including render time, as opposed to about 70), but it’s still a fairly long timelapse video. Why? Well, because of the cheese-stuffed soundtrack! Seriously, it’s so full of cheese that you’ll think you’re swimming in it. I was only going to put two songs in at first, but I just couldn’t bring myself NOT to put in the third song I found. 😛 The first track is Shadows of the Night, by DJ Bobo. On my 30th burfday, while I was trapped in the car on a journey, my sister played a playlist of birthday songs, and the last one was a track by DJ Bobo, whom we’d never really heard of before (I had, but only vaguely). “WE SING HAPPY BIIIIIIIRTHDAY TO YOU, AND MAY ALL YOUR DREEEEEEAMS COME TRUE!!” Of course, after that, she played nothing but DJ Bobo songs the rest of the way. 😛 It didn’t take long to decide on the next track, because unbelievably, I quickly found out that the same artist has an album literally titled “Vampires”. 😆 So, the next two tracks are from that album! I chose I’m Crazy for the second track, because I am. And because of the cheese 😛 But finally, just when you think I can’t cram in any more cheese, I round off with Dangerous (the video’s a live performance, lmao HOW did this get a live performance, and lmfao he’smiming it 😆). “WE ARE MAD! WE ARE COOL! WE RULE!” 😆😆😆 I couldn’t stop laughing. This album HAD to have been done for a bet. 😛 🧀
I’ve got the progress history here, too:
Six preliminaries this time, which is pretty average, methinks. 😀 Although this doesn’t include anything related to the original pose I made, which you can see in the timelapse. I might render that original pose as a little bonus, cuz I don’t think it was bad or anything. It just didn’t feel Dracula-esque enough. 🙂
Ah, and just in case you’re working about the post title… that’s a reference to a line spoken by Dracula in Monster Bash, a legendary pinball table by Williams. It involves Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, Frankenstein[‘s Monster], The Bride of Frankenstein[‘s Monster], and The Creature from the Black Lagoon getting together and forming a rock band. 😀 The rule set is just as crazy: you can potentially stack every single feature and play them all at the same time. It has some really funny, well-delivered voice lines (“No I won’t go back to your dog house with you!”), and it has such a great soundtrack, too. 😀 Of course, I haven’t played it for real; I was only 8 when it was released in the U S and A where I don’t live, pinball wasn’t as big in the UK as it was in the US, and it was a pretty rare table to begin with. 😛 I first played it in The Pinball Arcade, and recently picked it up again in Pinball FX 3 on Switch, since I lost all my tables on Pinball Arcade (and they lost the rights to basically all their good tables to Pinball FX 3, looool 😛 ). Anyway, here’s a video of it. 😀
I think that’s all for now! I’ll update this post with the 4K and 1080p renders when they’re ready. But for now, I think I’m going to faceplant my bed. Niiiiight! 😛
UPDATE!! The 4K version finished rendering! I’ve added that to the flavour list, along with the 1080p version. The image itself is slightly different than the one I posted originally; I’d added levels and hue/saturation adjustment layers to the image in Photoshop, but disabled them at some point before I saved it out, and didn’t remember to enable them again, because I’m dumb. Things like this are probably why I can’t get a 20 in Brain Training for Nintendo Switch. 😛 Anyway, I remembered to enable them this time, so the image is a bit brighter and less saturated than before. 🙂
I also updated the timelapse, adding a bit onto the end where I re-do the postwork on the 4K image. Probably not worth re-watching for that. Unless you want to listen to DJ Bobo again. I mean, why wouldn’t you? POWER TO THE VAMPS 😆
Hope things are alright with you! Still apocalypsing it up? 😀 Here in the UK, people are allowed to go to the pub now, or something. I think we’re also allowed to go to the shop without having to queue. Apparently all of this went very well and there were no problems at all, lolololol. 😛 I dunno, I’ve not been watching the news, and the only reason I’ve left the comfort of my flat in the past 2-3 months was to put my rubbish in the bin. 😛 No, I’m not scared of the Death Virus. The only reason I went outside before the outbreak was to go to work. Other than that, I have no real need to go outside, because computers are inside. 😛
So yep, still business as usual for me. Doing work, playing games, making renders, eating, sleeping, repeating. 😀 And on the subjects of renders and games, oh boy, do I have a render for you today! It’s my biggest, most ambitious one yet! And it’s based on a game! A game render! A GRENDER! 😆 NO MONGMASTER NO! 😛
I’m not sure exactly what triggered it, most likely a totally random epiphany that happened while I was showering or daydreaming, but I had this sudden idea for a scene. It was inspired by Dynasty Warriors, probably one of the most polarising game franchises ever. You either love it, or you don’t enjoy hitting thousands of dumb peons with a stick for some reason. I’m the former. 😀 DW3 was the first one I played, and I’ve loved it ever since, although I wasn’t a fan of DW6, and I haven’t played DW9. I really don’t want to know what they did to get such an… immensely negative reaction. 😛 I’ve enjoyed games outside of the core series, as well: the Samurai Warriors crossover game Warriors Orochi was fun, the Monster Hunter-inspired Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce was interesting, and I quite enjoyed Fire Emblem: Warriors on Switch, too. My favourite game in the series is DW8: Xtreme Legends, though, by a pretty big margin. And even though I enjoyed the older games, I’ll admit, looking back, they were… much, much less good than DW7 and 8. 😛 And the voice acting (well, most of it, some of the actors put on a surprisingly good performance) is still fantastically bad. But that’s part of the fun! Not as much fun as, say, the voice acting in Earth Defense Force 4, but still… 😛
Anyway, to help explain the idea I had, here’s a bit of background for those who might not know. 🙂 There’s a character called Guan Yu: tall, bearded, wrecks face, eventually gets face wrecked at Fan Castle, spoiler. 😛 He’s been my main man since DW5. 🙂 In all games before DW7, one of his weapons was called “Blue Dragon”. It’s also the only weapon that I know of that is referenced in voice lines. In DW5, if you trigger a True Musou Attack while playing as Guan Yu, as the camera spins around, he’ll say “Roar, Blue Dragon!” before starting to pwn every fool in front of him. 😛 He also uses the same quote in DW8 at the start of his Rage Musou Attack. (That link goes to a video I put together for reference. 😀 )
And that weapon was what got me thinking. “What if Blue Dragon was being swung by an actual blue dragon? While wearing Guan Yu’s armour? Holy crap he could be called “Guan Ryu“!” (“Ryu” being Japanese for “Dragon”). Stackin’ wordplay and references like a madman! 😆
I laughed to myself because I am sad. 😛 But even though I loved the idea, I quickly went to dismiss it. “Nah… that would be amazing, but it’s impossible on so many levels.” I thought. “I’d need to rip assets from the game for one thing, and that’s probably not happening. Who’s gonna have written something that can rip assets from Dynasty Warriors games? Hell, even if that was possible and I actually did get the models out of the game and into a format DAZ Studio could understand, I’d need to fit a suit of human armour onto a dragon. That’s the most ridiculous ide… ah, wait, hang on… that thing I did the other day… maybe it actually is possible…?”
“Wait what the fuck don’t be stupid” I hear someone say all the time, but this particular utterance of the phrase manages to get my attention. 😛 Yeah, it sounds totally stupid, but there is something I learned not too long ago. While dicking around and experimenting in DAZ Studio, I managed to figure out the purpose of a tool I never understood before: the Transfer Tool. It basically takes a “source” figure, copies its skeleton onto a “target” figure, automatically sets up weight mappings and everything, then fits the target figure onto the source figure as if it was a piece of clothing. Theoretically, this means that any item of clothing can be fit to any figure, provided that the clothing fits around the figure in the first place.
After realising this, before I knew it, I was at the computer looking for a way to rip assets from Dynasty Warriors 8. 😛 I thought that would end up being the barrier, but surprisingly, I found a solution quite easily. There’s a tool called Steven’s Gas Machine (the executable is called “xentax.exe”, though, shrug) which can rip assets from a bunch of different games, a lot of them being Warriors/Musou games. It’s pretty much as simple as moving some files to a folder, answering some questions, then waiting for a while. There’s also Ninja Ripper, an almost-global solution which hooks into the game you want assets from, and upon hitting F10, it attempts to dump the models and textures loaded into memory at that moment. To view the ripped assets and get them into a usable form afterwards, there’s Noesis, a model, image, and animation viewer/converter. Its interface isn’t particularly great, but hoooooly shit it sure can convert. 😀
After seeing that it was potentially quite easy to get assets out of the game and into DAZ Studio, and that it was theoretically possible to morph a set of human armour to fit a dragon given enough time and effort, I thought “well, I might as well give it a shot, at least”, and began recording for the timelapse. It took absolutely friggin’ ages, and there were several times when I thought “crap, I don’t think I’m gonna be able to do this after all”. But I kept at it… and kept at it… and then, finally, 70 hours and 234GB of video files later… I actually completed this insane endeavour, producing something that didn’t resemble a gigantic poop! 😛
So, I very, very excitedly present to you… “Roar, Blue Dragon!”:
More flavours here, including an alternate version with a HUD! 😀 No HUD: (1080p) (2K) (4K) With HUD: (1080p) (2K) (4K)
YYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOO!! 2,000 KOs! TREMBLE BEFORE THE GOD OF WAAAAAAAARRRRRR!!!
*ahem*. So, ah… yeah. This… this went well. 😆 Honestly, I’m still a bit shocked that I’m able to share it with you, because I thought this project was going to fizzle out as I was trying to fit the armour to Dragon 3. But when I finally got it morphed to the correct shape, and when the Transfer Tool just worked, I started to believe it might actually happen. 😀
Maaaan, I’m so, SO happy with this one! 😀 I think it’s my best render yet! I also think it’s a milestone for me, because it pushed my skills beyond their limits, and I did so much stuff to create this that I’d never done before, or never truly believed I could do. 🙂 But hey, who cares what I think, I’m way more interested in what you think! Let me know! 😀
Before I go on to talk about the process, for those who just screamed at me, YES, I KNOW, the weapon he’s holding isn’t actually Blue Dragon. 😛 It’s Heavenly Dragon (or Moon Dragon in Orochi 4). Getting hold of Blue Dragon would have required me to download Dynasty Warriors 6 (which I don’t own) and use Ninja Ripper to maybe get the correct weapon model. I didn’t really want to go through that. Besides, Heavenly Dragon looks way better than Blue Dragon. It’s actually blue for one thing! 😛 I might do an alternate version with the correct weapon if enough people complain. So if you wanna see that, complain like crazy. 😆
And also, YES, I KNOW, Dynasty Warriors is set in China and the “Ryu” in Guan Ryu is Japanese. But hey, Dynasty Warriors is made in Japan, so mleh! 😛 “Guan Long” would’ve probably been more fitting, but “Long” and “Yu” don’t even share any letters, maaaaaan! I’ve gotta take some concessions when it comes to Epic Wordplay. 😆
“And WHAT ARE THOSE THINGS IN THE SCENE?! HUMANS?!?!?!” Yes, I finally rendered those ugly things. 😛 Hilariously, it’s the first time I’ve ever rendered a human outside of test renders. Hell, even in test renders, I’ve only rendered a human once! 😆 I reckon they were necessary, though; without them, it would’ve been a bit less obvious that the image was a Dynasty Warriors reference/parody/tribute. 😀
Anyway, because quite a lot went into this render, I am going to ramble ALL about how I did it, mainly for my own reference, but I do hope it helps someone else at least a little. 😀 But don’t worry, people-who-don’t-care! I’ve got a very convenient TL;DR link which should hopefully skip you right past it. If you’d rather read more exciting things like the RENDER STATS, go ahead and click the link below. 😀 No, it’s not a link to Never Gonna Give You Up. Okay, it might be. Slightly. Mostly not. 96.5% not. 😛
The first step was getting the armour out of Dynasty Warriors 8 and into a format that DAZ Studio could understand. As mentioned above, I used a couple of tools for this: Steven’s Gas Machine and Noesis. Using Steven’s Gas Machine was simple enough, I just pointed it at the game files, and it did its thing, dumping all the assets into a folder. The hardest part was sifting through all these assets, because of course, they didn’t have any meaningful names (see screenshot). 😛 I used Noesis to go through them, eventually finding Guan Yu and his weapons. It was around this moment that I realised that one part of my joke was going to fall over. Blue Dragon hasn’t been in Dynasty Warriors since DW7. 😦 As a result, I had to settle for the next best thing, Guan Yu’s ultimate weapon: Heavenly Dragon.
When I’d found the models, next was figuring out what format gave the most usable results in DAZ Studio. I tried FBX first, because it’s what we use at work and it seems to work well there. I’m pretty sure it’s a common format, so it surely has some decent support, right? Lmfao no! DAZ Studio did literally nothing when I tried importing it. No feedback at all. 😛 So next up, I tried OBJ. This worked, but the model contained a single material group, meaning that it was going to be a li’l bit of a chore to get all parts of that single material to look good.
The last thing I tried was DAZ’s own format, DAE (Collada). Importing this format gave me no options and made Guan Yu appear as a MEGA GIANT, but weirdly enough, he was separated into many different bits. This made it extremely easy to remove the parts of Guan Yu that were Guan Yu, leaving just the armour. However, this was a trap that contributed towards the pain and frustration and swearing experienced later on in the process. 😣 Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, so I just plodded on thinking “yay, easy!” 😛 After getting the models and textures in successfully, I pulled in Dragon 3, creating a fun little “teaser” render for someone who gave me really useful feedback on Dino Disco. 😀
I wanted to increase the quality of the armour before starting to morph it to fit the Dragon 3, but this is where my respect for ZBrush kinda died a bit. 😛 You see, I found that ZBrush, despite its power, has a pretty glaring flaw. It can’t handle multiple material groups. It claims it can, but really, it can’t. I sent Guan Yu’s armour to ZBrush. It had four material groups when I sent it. I then immediately sent it back to DAZ Studio as a new model, without changing anything. The new model had one material group. It just doesn’t seem to understand that a model can have several material groups. If you split the model into several parts and send that to ZBrush, each of the four “SubTools” (ZBrush’s word for “models”, no idea why because you tend to use tools to shape a model, not brushes to shape a tool, lmao 😛 ) then have their own material, and you can allegedly combine them into a single SubTool but retain their grouping info inside “PolyGroups”. But when you do that, ZBrush DUMBBrush just kinda goes “lol fuck UV maps they’re stupid” and throws them away, so when you send that mesh back to DAZ Studio, even if all the PolyGroups have been separated back into SubTools again, DumbBrush gives DS completely bullshit UV information and you can’t reapply any of the texture maps! AAAAAAAARGH DUMBBRUSH YOU’RE THE LAST THING I EXPECTED TO SCREW ME OVER!! 😦 So yeah. I couldn’t do jack shit with the model quality in the end because I had to choose between losing the material groups or losing the UVs. And they’re both kinda very important. 😛
But anyway, despite that annoyance, I’d at least gotten the model into DS. That was the easy part, though. The first major ordeal followed: getting the armour to fit Dragon 3. I understood the basic process: put the target figure (Dragon 3) in the zero pose at world centre, get the source figure (the armour) morphed so it fits visually, then transfer the source to the target using Transfer Tool. It’s just that the process of getting the armour to fit a creature that was definitely not in mind during the armour’s creation process was… very difficult. 😆 To do it, I used ZBrush’s transformation tools, along with the “Move” and “Move Topological” brushes to stretch the model to fit Dragon 3, frequently exporting it and saving my progress as I went along. Thinking back… although it was time-consuming, it wasn’t too painful overall. The hardest parts were the ornament on his right shoulder, and his hind legs. The legs of the armour intersected with each other, and it was frustratingly difficult to pull them apart so they matched the Dragon 3’s T-pose. As for the boots, I just looked at them, brought D3’s foot next to one, said “heh, no way”, and promptly deleted the polys. I didn’t even want to try that shit. 😛 Besides, I think he looks way better without them! 😀
The morphing process took around 6 hours in total, and I was terrified that the Transfer Tool wasn’t going to work when the moment of truth arrived. 😛 But when it did, and when I applied one of the Dragon 3’s preset poses to test it, I totally felt like Success Kid. It was a true “thank fuck for that” moment. 😆
Of course, it wasn’t immediately a perfect fit (not like it ever fit perfectly 😆), as was evidenced when I broke in the outfit with a more suitable test pose, one based on Guan Yu’s run cycle. There were a couple of things that were ridiculously wrong, and a ton of other things that were less wrong, but still wrong. 😛 The ridiculously wrong things were the shoulder decoration on the right shoulder and the medallion on the left. They were warped to a hilarious degree and needed separating from the main armour.
I imported a fresh copy of the armour, deleted the ornament and medallion on the morphed armour, and deleted everything apart from the ornament and medallion on the fresh armour. I used DAZ Studio’s built-in Geometry Editor Tool for that, which I wasn’t super-keen on at first, but it’s actually pretty easy to use, and I ended up leaning on it quite a bit. 😀 The other problems consisted of some polygons (mainly the bits of fabric that move in-game) poking through each other, making the armour look terrible. This is around the time I realised that something wasn’t quite right with the model, and when that easy solution I stumbled upon when importing the model came back to bite me. Some of the vertices on the model weren’t welded together. They occupied roughly the same point in space, but it was possible to move one but not the other, causing the model to “tear apart at the seams”. This plagued me for the rest of the project. It also made it impossible to apply subdivision to the model, so I was stuck with it at game resolution. 😣 I’m not truly sure what I could’ve done to prevent this. There was a couple of steps mentioned in Steven’s Gas Machine that I didn’t do, because I thought they were optional and I didn’t even have Blender installed and I don’t even know how to Blender. 😛 Maybe they were critical to making the model less janky? I dunno…
Anyway, that was the first hurdle passed. Ah, but there was something with the textures, too. Guan Yu’s texture map was 1024×1024, which is okay for a game, but really quite low for rendering. The weapon texture was even worse: 256×256! 😦 I wanted to upscale them, but knew that just making the textures bigger in Photoshop wouldn’t really do much. That’s when, after having a look to see if there was an upscaler that could upscale more better, I discovered the fantastically-named Waifu2x. 😆 It’s designed for images with an anime-like art style (hence the name 😛 ). It somehow supports photos, too, but probably not as well. Despite Dynasty Warriors having a more realistic art style, I thought I’d give Waifu2x a try and see if it could improve things. It ended up being more like Waifu4x, because I increased the texture size of Guan Yu’s armour to 4096 and the texture size of Heavenly Dragon to 1024. 😛 I also used it on the normal maps. It made a pretty big difference. Definitely keeping that tool in my arsenal for the future. 😀
(I had an Image Compare widget/block thing here before, but it was useless because it didn’t let you zoom in, so here’s a gallery instead 😛 )
Of course, no project goes from start to finish without DAZ Studio trying to shit all over me in some way, and this one was no exception! 😛 Around the point I was splitting the medallion out from the armour, DAZ very randomly and very quietly decided to, oh, sextuple the size of my scene. Yes really. The scene was around 3MB, and then suddenly it was 19MB. I don’t know why. Maybe it was bored? Maybe it thought things were going too well and wanted to waste like an hour of my time? Shrug. I only realised there was a problem when DAZ Studio locked up when saving a bit later on, and then locked up again while attempting to reload the save before the one it just failed to save. It had literally shat out scene files that it couldn’t open again! Aaargh! 😡 It’s a good thing I save so much, because I only lost 30 minutes of work because of that, thankfully. Annoying, but at least it wasn’t hours of work. However, it did make me save the scene extremely frequently for a while afterwards as I tried to figure out what I did wrong. I never figured it out, because it never happened again. So I likely did nothing wrong at all. Thanks DS, you massive anus tart. 😑
The second hurdle was creating the peons that Guan Ryu would smack. The minor soldiers that don’t do much other than get owned by you. I call them “peons”. 😛 At first, I thought I’d just use a figure created by DAZ (Genesis 8 Male), but after realising that there weren’t any outfits available that matched the Dynasty Warriors vibe I was going for, I decided to bite the bullet, and began an attempt to rig the peon model myself. This was a massive first for me, because this is something I’ve been wondering how to do for quite a while, but felt that it was beyond what I was capable of.
First off, I had to get the peon into DAZ Studio in the first place. Not quite as easy as I was hoping it to be. 😆 It turns out that Dynasty Warriors 8 randomly generates peons using various models for the head, body, arms, and legs, pinning them together and animating them on the fly. While there were full models of what looked like soldiers you see in-game, their textures were insanely low-res. I imagine they were guys you could talk to in the camp during Story Mode or Ambition Mode. I realised the peons were randomly generated when I kept finding various bits of a peon instead of a full model, and looked at one of my reference screenshots to confirm it. So, I just picked out some parts to assemble one, exported the whole scene from DS, then reimported it again as a single mesh. Job done!
Apart from that I wasn’t gonna fall into the same trap again as I did with Guan Yu! 😛 I wanted to make sure the model was in good shape before I started rigging it, welding together the vertices to prevent the mesh from falling apart this time. I did this using the Auto Weld tool in the only modelling program I had installed at the time: Hexagon, also created by DAZ. It communicates with DAZ Studio, too, which is nice. Sadly, the program has gotta be about 283 years old, and it’s fucking horrible to use, too. All I wanted to do was weld all the vertices on the model to other vertices close by. But the way the UI works is so utterly, utterly stupid. It’s something like… you select the weld tool, and it immediately takes effect. Uh, I think. If you click anywhere on the model after doing this, there’s a chance Hexagon will just crash. But if you send the model back to DS after seeing the weld tool has done what you wanted, there aren’t any changes. That’s because the change you saw in the viewport is merely a preview! To actually apply the thing you want to do, you’ve gotta press the button over to the right in the Properties window (a button that is always there, even if you have no tool selected) that says “Apply”. No, wait, “Accept”! Apply? Accept? Which one is it again…? God damn. I just had to refer to the raw footage used for the timelapse, which I narrate to help me remember things. 😛 “Apply” either does nothing, or shows you the new settings you chose. “Accept” applies the settings for reals and doesn’t allow you to undo afterwards. Wtf. It’s ass. Like 100% pure ass. I can only assume that the people working at DAZ are actually insane. I mean, this is kinda unrelated, but they did send me an e-mail yesterday saying that I could “Get all Michael base models FREE”. Of course, I quickly found out that they’re only free if you pay! Omfg THAT MEANS THEY AREN’T FREE!! Stop clickbaiting me you insane dumbfucks! 😡
*calm* After getting the model into a good state, I began creating a really basic rig. And it was so much easier than I was expecting. 😀 Sure, there were probably a bazillion issues with my rig, but it was good enough for my purposes. 🙂 I used a couple of DAZ Studio’s built-in tools to accomplish this: the Joint Editor Tool and the Node Weight Brush Tool. Both are now in my toolbar. 😀 The Node Weight Brush is annoying, though. The controls aren’t obvious, and sometimes it refuses to let you erase some weight mapping you’ve done. But yeah, it was quite simple to do. Time-consuming, but simple. You basically create the skeleton using the Joint Editor, then for each bone, you paint weight mapping for each axis of rotation. It lets you copy one axis of rotation to other axes, which is great, but it doesn’t let you mirror weight mappings across bones, though. And that’s really annoying. It lets you mirror it over the same bone, but that makes no sense. Rotating the left hand shouldn’t rotate the mesh where the right hand is. 😛
But of course, this being my first time doing rigging, I fell into another trap. And it was caused because I’d welded the model together, this time! Argh! 😣 The mesh for the legs, just like Guan Yu’s, intersects. That is, the fabric on the left leg cuts into the right leg (and vice versa, of course). Because I’d welded close vertices together, I’d actually accidentally welded his legs together, and didn’t realise this until I’d almost finished the rig. What I should have done is figure out a way to exclude certain vertices from being welded, and made sure to exclude those between his legs. Since I was already 90% of the way through rigging, and redoing the model now would cost me about two hours, I decided to chav it and deleted a large section of his right leg. It was a dirty move and I’m sorry. Not sorry. 😛 Screw you guys, I SAVED TWO HOURS OF MY LIFE! 😛
Weirdly, though, even though you weight map specific bones to specific parts of the mesh, there’s an extra dull-ass step you need to take before you can actually select these bones in the viewport. Of course. 😛 You need to assign “Face Groups” to sets of polygons, and assign those Face Groups to actual bones. When you click on a polygon that’s part of one of these Face Groups, the bone assigned to the Face Group is selected. I’ve no idea why they require you to do this step. I have no idea why there’s no automated process for it, because I’ve already weight mapped the polys to the bones. But it was a fantastically annoying waste of half an hour of my clearly-DAZ-doesn’t-think-it’s-precious time. 😛
After the rigging was complete, I put a ton of them into a test scene with Guan Ryu, in a pose that was close to the final thing. Everything finally felt like it was coming together. This was the first moment when I genuinely believed I was gonna get this thing done, and I was SUPER excited by it! 😀
For some reason, though, there was a two month gap between doing that test render and continuing work on the scene. And I think it was because of the VFX, which was the final hurdle that I could see. I’ve done VFX before, sure. Some examples being the cauldron glow and volumetrics of Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble, the volumetric disco lights of Dino Disco, and way back when I was still a noob, the fire effect seen in Shoryuken. But they were all quite simple, really, while the VFX required for this scene seemed really, really complicated, and it was making me nervous. I wanted it to resemble the moment I was trying to reference in my scene, the last strike of Guan Yu’s Rage Musou Attack:
And I wasn’t sure I could replicate that, or even get close to it. Definitely not with my 2D art skillz. 😛 But anyway, I eventually manned up, and continued on. I was hoping to rip an environment from the game, but after a lot of searching through the game files, I just couldn’t find the terrain meshes. I imagine they they have some bespoke way of storing info about a map, and generate the terrain from an image, or something crazy like that. No matter, I ditched that idea and found an environment from the store that was a good match for the scene. 🙂 I rearranged the peons, set up lighting, tweaked the pose, fixed more costume issues… things were going really well. But all the while, that feeling kept gnawing at me. “Ya gotta do the VFX sooooon! You might Faaaail It because Your Skill Is Not Enooooough!” 😛
When that moment finally came, I decided to refer to the game’s assets to try and figure out how they did it. Instead of searching through about 90,000 images and God-knows how many meshes to try and find the VFX, I used the excellent Ninja Ripper to target specific moments in the game, and managed to rip the VFX textures and meshes fairly easily. They were a lot simpler than I was expecting, so I just decided to pull them into the scene to see what I could do with them. After arranging them into a shockwave kinda shape, adding emission to the material, and adjusting the colour to be just right, I suddenly became all hyper-giddy at the first pass. The filename of the scene saved just after I got the effect in was “Roar, Blue Dragon! 233 – PRELIMINARY PRELIMINARY PRELIMINARY PRELIMINARY PRELIMINARY NOW NOW NOW.duf”. 😆
So yeah, turns out I was worried for no real reason. Of course, something completely impossible and incredibly irritating had to happen anyway, because I’m me. 😛 There was a problem with the VFX textures, where they were clearly very low-res. I’d upscaled them to try and fix this, not with Waifu2x, just a simple bicubic upscale in Photoshop, with a bit of Gaussian blur added on to soften the edges of the VFX. For some reason, this texture rendered differently to the previous one. It’d lost a lot of its intensity. I tried again but without the blur. Same problem. I tried again without even upscaling the image, literally: put image in Photoshop, save out as JPG. Same problem! I made a copy of that image just using Explorer, and the copy rendered the same as the original, but for some psycho reason, even when following the exact same steps I did to create the image in the first place, it rendered differently! It absolutely blew my mind! I didn’t hash the two files to compare them, but there must have been something different. But then again… it can’t have been that different! They were even the exact same size! Saved in the same format by the same application in the same way! Here’s the panel of my redlines I created after this occurred, hopefully it helps illustrate what I mean. It completely destroyed my head. 😛
I ended up fixing the low-res issue in post with lots and lots of blurring and smudging and motion blurring and radial blurring. So it was okay in the end. 😀 Aside from the swipe, the fire spirals and the hit effects, the only other VFX left to do was a dust shockwave. I first resorted to a pack of “shaders” which couldn’t get anywhere near the effect I wanted. In the end, I realised that I could achieve it very easily myself. All I needed was a primitive torus, a simple gradient, and the ground texture that was already in use. Use the gradient as the cutout, the ground texture as the diffuse, and tweak until nice. Simplez! 😀
So, after getting through the VFX, that was it, Luigi. 😛 Got it rendered, applied all the postwork (mostly motion blur 😆), and finally, the scene I never thought was possible was aliiiiive! 😀 😀 😀 As for the HUD? That was easy; I just grabbed the HUD sprite atlas from the game assets, and spent some time matching everything up using a screenshot. 🙂 Rendered a very quick portrait version of Guan Ryu, nothing complicated, stuck it where Guan Yu’s face was supposed to be, and boom, complete! 😀 I did try to convert the game’s charmap into an actual font file, though, like a .ttf file. I gave up after a little while because it was turning out to be way more effort than it was worth. I came across a promising tool called… uh, FontTrace, I think? Unlike the other tools, I’m not linking to this one because I don’t want you to waste your time. 😛 It did nothing but write some useless zero-byte files. Even using the image it provided as a sample. Which was in a format the tool wouldn’t accept. Lmao. 😛 It was a very old and crusty tool, to be fair, so it probably just broke at some point in time. Anyway, I ended up scaling the charmap up so it matched the letters in a screenshot, then just manually copied and pasted the letters I needed, arranging them into the sentence I wanted to make. 😀
TL;DR: I made a render where a blue dragon hits people with Blue Dragon. 😛
Whew… okay… that was the process. 😆 I have a feeling that I missed something, too, but I’m not sure. 😛 If you actually read all that, firstly, thanks for reading, and secondly, if there’s anything I did miss about the process that you wanted to know about, just give us a shout! 😀
I feel that this scene was accidentally well-timed, too, as I’ve very subtly referenced with an easter egg in the HUD version. 😀 Maybe you’ll see it if you’re an ultra-hardcore fan? I’m not, I didn’t even realise until I had an idle thought about it. 😆 But the KO count I used for the HUD version, 2,083, references a special thing that Dynasty Warriors, or rather, Shin Sangoku Musou, will celebrate soon. Let me explain a little first: Dynasty Warriors 1, known as simply “Sangoku Musou” in the East, was a totally different game to the Dynasty Warriors we know now. It was a 1v1 fighting game like Street Fighter or Tekken or whatever. Dynasty Warriors 2 was the first hack and slash of the series, and the series has followed the same style ever since. Instead of them calling it “Sangoku Musou 2” in the East, they distinguished it as a different game by calling it “Shin Sangoku Musou”, or “True Three Kingdoms Unrivaled”. That’s why they’re one number behind the West (DW8 over here is called SSM7 over there, for example 🙂 ). So when Koei/Omega Force celebrate an anniversary of the series, it’s based on the release date of Shin Sangoku Musou, because that’s when the series truly began. And 2,083? 20-08-03. The series celebrates it’s 20th anniversary on the 3rd of August 2020. 😀 Was the easter egg worth reading all that explanation? PROBABLY NOT!! 😛
Anyway, let’s get on with sharing the TIMELAPSE! And as you might imagine, it’s the longest one yet! 😛 It might be a li’l bit more interesting than usual, though, since I did a lot of things I’ve never done before. Although… the length of it might pull things the other way and actually make it more boring than usual. 😛 Anyway, you can watch it here, if you like! It’s only 17½ minutes long! 😛 (I should probably warn about epilepsy here, the video does flash a fair bit since as it switches between darker and lighter windows about 22,000% faster than normal 😛 )
But hey, a longer timelapse means more music, and this time there’s literally no better way to alleviate the boredom than with some of the tunes from the awesome Dynasty Warriors 8 soundtrack! I crammed in seven of them! 😀 I kick things off with “Fan The Flames“, the music played during the ABSOLUTELY BAT-SHIT INSANE intro to the original Dynasty Warriors 8. I thought the Xtreme Legends intro was crazy, but holy crap, the original intro makes that look like a documentary. 😛 (Highlight: Zhao Yun hits a boat with his spear after flying towards it surrounded by flame arrows, and the boat EXPLODES, then all the boats around that ALSO explode, then he gets on his horse while both him and the horse are FLYING THROUGH THE AIR UPSIDE-DOWN!! 😆) After the intro music, I thought that “Welcome To China (DW 7th Mix)” would be appropriate next. I sent that track to my sister just before she actually went to China a while back. Also, whenever she sent some pictures back by e-mail, I always replied with a stupid Dynasty Warriors reference. She didn’t understand. 😛 Next up is “My Bad Fellow“, a classic from Dynasty Warriors 4, but it’s still part of the DW8 soundtrack, played during one of the hypothetical battles. I remember grooving to it quite a lot when first starting out with Dynasty Warriors. I think it was the track played during Pang Tong’s stage in DW4XL. 😀 Of course, I can’t not have Lu Bu’s theme in the timelapse, so next up is “Theme of Lu Bu (DW 7th Mix)“, the only character in the game with a bespoke theme. The DW 7th Mix isn’t my favourite arrangement of it, as they kinda messed with the classic main melody a bit too much for my liking, but it’s definitely got that familiar vibe. 😀 The penultimate track is the epic “Final Game“, played once during Story Mode, but most frequently during major battles in Ambition Mode. I first heard this track on the Dynasty Warriors 8 promo website when I heard the game was coming out, and it immediately made me want the game. 😛 “Wait, MongMaster, why is FINAL Game not the final track, you gorm?!” Well prawn, that’s because I wanted to round things off with my favourite song on the soundtrack, and in fact one of my all-time favourite pieces of video game music: “Heavenly Strike“. I love the way it fuses rock and traditional Chinese instruments so naturally and perfectly, I love the way it builds up several times as the song progresses, and when it reaches the chorus, I just can’t get enough of that epic lead melody. And it’s so Dynasty Warriors. If there’s one song that can describe the series, it’s this. 😀 I also snuck in “Victory Jubilee (DW 7th Mix)” right at the end, played when you win a battle. Because it’s apt, and I love that jingle. 😀 I used the seldom-heard extended version in the timelapse. It’s not in the sound test menu, and you can only hear it after completing a challenge in Challenge Mode, but it fades out. However, if you press a button while “Challenge Complete” is on the screen, it skips to the results screen without fading out the music, so you can groove to it forever. #themoreyouknow 😛
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough yammering about the timelapse, there’s one other boring thing that I want to say about it. 😛 Normally, I have something in the corner saying how many days I’ve worked on the scene, but for this timelapse, I put the exact amount of time, instead. Well, as exact as I could make it anyway. Sometimes I stop recording to take a break, or to refer to something that happened earlier. 😛 That’s why I know this render took about 70 hours to create. 😀 I did this because I felt that showing the days was slightly misleading before. Decorators didn’t take me six whole days, for example. Anyway, that timer was only possible due to some new video editing software I just recently discovered: DaVinci Resolve.
I normally use Adobe Premiere, but DaVinci Resolve is like a hybrid of Premiere and After Effects, with the critical difference that the basic version (which is ANYTHING but basic) is friggin’ FREE. What the actual hell. Why haven’t I heard about this program before?! 😛 Apart from the interface being all different and requiring me to re-learn where everything is, and it being somewhat… unstable at times, it works quite similarly to Premiere, and can do pretty much everything Premiere can do. It did have a terrible start by crashing silently and forcing me to start from scratch… twice… but it quickly redeemed itself and really showed its worth when I started playing with Fusion, the in-built visual effects tool. 🙂 Also, mine is a niche use-case, but I found the whole program super-accommodating for timelapses. 😀 After Effects claims it can only support compositions up to 3 hours long (even though I imported a Premiere project and it was perfectly fine with a 12 hour long one (shrug)), and while Premiere can handle sequences up to 24 hours long, that’s sometimes not long enough. As is evident by this 70-hour long one. 😆 DaVinci Resolve? Yeah, it kinda just shits all over them both and can support both timelines and compositions that are as-near-as-makes-no-difference 256 hours long. 😛 Although in the Fusion visual effects tool, I found that expressions break when you go past frame 1,000,000. Which is weird. Maybe I should file a bug report and give them a good laugh. 😛 I fixed that by using multiple compositions less than a million frames long and setting the start time of each of them differently. 😀
Anyway, enough about the timelapse! Now it’s time for the RENDER STATS!! 😀 Amazingly, this render, even with the environment and lighting and peons, was only taking around 4 minutes to render in the early stages. That kinda changed after adding the VFX and upping the render quality and resolution. 😆 Sooo, at 4K and Rendering Quality 2, rendering it took a GTX 1080Ti and a GTX 1070… 6 hours 23 minutes 38.32 seconds! So, not too bad. 😀 Although in hindsight, I have no idea how it went from taking minutes to taking hours. 😛 Oh, and as for the portrait render done for the HUD version? I have the time for that one, too! It took 15.97 seconds. Lmao. 😆 As for postwork? Aye, there’s a fair bit. I cleaned up some graininess, fixed a problem with Guan Ryu’s outfit on the left shoulder, removed two of the specular highlights on the gem embedded into his helmet, applied motion blur to the swipe effect, Guan Ryu’s right arm, and the peons in the foreground, added a fake bloom effect, and added some focus lines and a vignette. And of course, assembled the HUD for the alternate version. 😀
Ah, I nearly forgot: the progress history! It’s quite… tall, this time. 😆 I ended up doing 5 test renders and 17 preliminary ones before the final render. Here it is, you’ll probably wanna click on it to be able to see it properly. 🙂 Not sure why it’s so blurry before clicking on it, though. Probably WordPress’s fault. 😛
Since I know I can do this kind of thing now, if I ever decide to make a follow-up, and I’m not saying I will (although despite the duration and how much effort was needed, it was still really fun to do, and very satisfying 😀 ), I definitely know who I’ll be having the Dragon 3 cosplay as next. That goon over there. Zhang Jiao. 😀 Why? He’s my second-favourite character. 😀 I love how broken he is, gameplay-wise. If you equip him with the Throwing Knives (which are fully compatible and give him the maximum attack bonus), they can hit an insane number of times, filling 1 unit of Musou in a single combo if the group you attack is big enough. Then you can use that to fuel his secondary Musou Attack, which hits so many times that you can get his Rage from zero to maximum in a single attack. Then, if you trigger Rage and hit Rage Musou while his secondary Musou is still going, you can get to True Rage instantly. Repeat all this, and the amount of time he spends in Rage mode is ridiculous. 😆 Not only that, his voice actor is a legend. 😆 Here, I made a quick video to demonstrate. THE TIIIIIIIME FOR JUDGEMENT HAS COOOOOME!!!! 😆
Anyway, I think that’s all. Hope I didn’t bore you too much, and I really hope you like the render! 😀 I will finish this post with the following GIF. And by saying WordPress is shit. 😛
So, almost a year ago now, I finished Dino Disco, quite a rare render for me because it didn’t involve any dragons. 😛 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. 😆
Damn it, Mongz, stop digressing and stay on target, this is supposed to be an aside. 😛
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. 😛 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. 😛
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. 😛 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!
WOO! I think this looks a lot better than the original! 😀
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. 😛 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. 😀
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! 😛
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. 😆
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) 😛 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. 😛 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. 😛
I’ve not really had to adjust to the “always stay inside” rule because I do that anyway. 😛 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 ~£12 a week just to get to work. 😛 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? 😑 But yeah, other than those things, it’s business as usual for me; just staying inside with my best friend (the PC 😛 ) 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. 😛
Anyway, yep, the world has gone crazy, but I’m still the same. Still crazy. 😛 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. 😛
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. 😛 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! 😛
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. 😀 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! 😀 Hell, if you include the render time and postwork (render stats spoilers! 😛 ), it only took about 9 hours, start to finish! 😮
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. 😛 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. 😛 It only took about half an hour to finish the basic structure, though, so that was good. 😀
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. 😀
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. 😛 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. 😑 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. 😀
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. 😛 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. 😛 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!
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?!
Ugh. Whatever. 😛
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. 😛 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. 🙂 Despite DS’s stupid brokenness and dForce’s stupid brokenness, everything went pretty smoothly, which is always nice. 😀 But now, it’s time for the render stats, which may have already been spoiled! 😛 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! 😀 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. 🙂
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. 😀 I’m glad it only has two songs because I couldn’t think of a third. 😆 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. 😛 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. 😀 You can watch the timelapse here!
I also have the progress history below, and it’s very short! 😀
Only four preliminary renders before I felt like I could render the final thing! 😀 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. 😆 It never goes that well! 😛
Anyway… I think that’s all from me for now! Hope you liked the render. 🙂 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. 😛
(in all seriousness, plz stay safe, you’re too cool to get owned by a microscopic virus 😆)
Another year, another… Lunar New Year. Yep, I realised how stupid that sentence was, just before I finished typing it. 😛 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! 😀
Like last year’s render, I cut this one pretty close again. 😛 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. 😛 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. 😛 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 😛 ). 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). 😛
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes! The Lunar New Year render! 😛
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. 😛
This year? Yep… pretty much the same thing happened. Apart from that Look At My Hair was the biggest piece of shit this time. 😛
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. 😛 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. 😛
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? 😛
But then came the worst part. The Look At My Hair plugin. Now, I’ve said how shit this plugin is onseveraloccasions, 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. 😛 I’ll stop yammering about the process now, and just show you what I actually managed to come up with! BOOM:
Wooo! 😀 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. 😛 What do you think? 🙂
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! 😀 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. 😛 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. 😀
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! 😀 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. 😛 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? 😀 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. 😛 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. 😛 G’niiiiiight!
(Crap, I barely posted this in time; there were only two minutes left. XD)
I AM! I haven’t heard even a hint of that stupid song yet! I can taste victory! 😀 😀 😀 UPDATE!!:I WON!!
Anyway… harrooo! Merry incoming Christmas! Or whatever it is that you celebrate! 😀 Exactly like last year, when this is posted, I’ll be sliding down a snowy hill on a toboggan in an attempt to beat my sister to the bottom, and losing every time because my toboggan is crap! 😛 Saw lots of people crashing and wall-riding last year because they were too dumb to slow down and/or turn for the corner, which was funny. Hopefully there’ll be more of the same this year. 😀 Oh, and we’ll be sitting in giant inflatable rings and sliding down some ice, too. 😀
I also went to Cadbury World in Bournville with the whole family a couple days ago. 🙂 The best part was… well, I was gonna say the shop, but no, the best part was an accident that happened during one of the shows. One of the actors was sat on a barstool-style chair when the top cushion part of it kind of collapsed, allowing the frame of the stool to tear through the fabric and pelt him (seemingly) directly in the gonads. 😆 He rolled with it so well that it almost felt like it was staged, but it can’t have been. That stool looked totally phwoacked afterwards, and the wicked witch completely fell out of character and could barely stop laughing. Understandably, of course. It was hilarious. 😀 The second best part was the shop, which is now my new favourite shop. I was expecting it to be a total ripoff, but holy crap, there were some really great deals in there. I ended up buying way more than I thought I would. 😀 The rest of Cadbury World? Nah. Don’t bother. Especially with kids. Unless you’re crazy about history or the Cadbury brand (as a company), it’s suuuuper-boring. 😛
Anyhoo, aye, despite having the uninteresting history of the Cadbury brand forced into my ears, it’s been fun. I hope you’ve all had fun so far, too, and I hope you get some nice presents tomorrow! 😀 And hey, I’ve got a slightly early present for you: a Christmas render! Whether it’s a nice present is totally up to you, but hey! PRESENT! Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth! Its breath is terrible! 😛
(where did that stupid saying even come from 😛 )
So, this year, I was a bit worried, cuz I couldn’t think of a solid idea for ages. Usually I have something solid before I start working on a render, because I really don’t like scrabbling around in the dark, so to speak. It’s not fun to work on a vague idea for hours just to realise that it ain’t gonna work out well, or at all. 😛 But I did eventually think of one, and amazingly, it was DeviantArt which kick-started the idea this time.
One day, when I decided to log in just to see if I’d happened to get any views on my work in the past few months (I hadn’t 😛 ), I noticed that they were doing an event where they take Christmas cards made or decorated by artists and give them to people who are in hospital over Christmas. If you participated, they’d give you a free month of Core, too. This was interesting, because it felt like the first time I’d seen something on DeviantArt that I might actually be able to participate in. Normally all they do is competitions clearly aimed at high-level artists. But just as I was thinking about doing it, I realised. I don’t give a damn about DeviantArt’s stupid Core membership, I probably wouldn’t be able to get the render done in time, the price to send a letter overseas would probably be way more than I’d be willing to pay, and I don’t really consider myself to be an artist. They might’ve rejected it for being too weird or not arty enough. I dunno if they look gift horses in the mouth or not. 😛
But the event did make me think… why don’t I do it anyway? Why not base my scene on something that would look nice on a Christmas card? And hell, why don’t I make actual cards out of it and give them to people I know, people who will probably appreciate it? 😀 Kind of an odd idea, really, because I haven’t done Christmas cards since primary school. I think they’re a bit pointless. 😛 Oh well, my brainworks in odd ways, so I guess the idea isn’t so odd for me. 😛
So, I booked my remaining days off work, and when they came around, I used them to work on the render. Then the weekend, too. And the odd day after work the next week. Eventually, after tons of fannying about, I ended up with this! BEHOLD!
Oh maaan, I’m so happy with this one. 😀 And I’m glad, because as you might’ve deduced from what I said up there, it took way longer than I was planning. I initially thought it was a simple enough idea that I’d be able to do it in two days, but nope! It ended up taking six. Not six whole days, of course. I had annoying things like “work” and “social life” that I had to deal with in-between. 😛
Although thinking about it, overall, it probably didn’t take that much longer than normal. I didn’t spend the entirety of every day doing the render, so… it probably only took about 4 whole days, as opposed to my usual 2-3. I think it took longer because of indecision and the need to keep adding things to the scene, not because of things that went wrong. 😛 The worst thing was choosing the environment, and at first, I thought the render would never see the light of day because of it. I tried one which looked quite good and that I felt would work, but when I set it up and rendered it, I found that it didn’t look anything like the promo images… which is a very common occurrence, but still irritating. 😛 The next environment I tried didn’t look bad, but it was mahoosive, and all the detail seemed to be focused on one small part of it that I didn’t plan on using. Thankfully, I got hold of another environment which was a much better fit. I ended up combining the HDRI from one of the other environments I’d tried with the geometry from the new environment, which worked very nicely. 😀
After that, it was just tweaks and mostly unnecessary experimentation. 😛 The most time-consuming one was probably the custom morph I did for the wyverns. There’s a supermorph which transforms the Dragon 3 into a wyvern, but I’ve never properly used it because it never looked “right” to me. The body’s fine, and I don’t mind the bulkier muzzle (even if I do wish it was optional), but the feet really bug me for some reason. I always saw wyverns as having three front toes and optionally one rear toe, so they can grab things easily, kinda like a bird of prey. But this supermorph keeps him as a four-toed dragon, but with an inflated index toe tipped with an oversized talon, and it just makes him look stupid. Like some sort of deformed velociraptor. 😛 So, I made a really rough extension to the morph in ZBrush, in which I scale his fourth toe down to zero (because one cannot simply remove it without rerigging the whole model, and I have no idea how to do that 😛 ), and make all his talons big. Massive overkill, because I reckon no-one will give a damn, and the morph is rough as hell, but hey, I like it and I think it looks better, so shush. 😛
There were other annoying little things I had to do, too. Because the tree and decorations were all one big mesh (not separate), I had to extract some baubles from it to place in the claws (and maws 😛 ) of the dragons, as well as in the decoration box. I ended up having to cut the top off a crate using DS’s lame-o geometry editing tool to make said decoration box, because I didn’t have one that could open. 😛 It was also really tricky to make the tinsel look nicely shiny and metallic. I had to use glossy anisotropy and set the rotations just right to get the effect I wanted.
I got the A5 version done in a few days, and that was printed onto the cards I sent out to people, but it didn’t actually end up being the final version. Because of time pressure (I had to get something reasonably close, otherwise the cards wouldn’t be delivered in time), I’d forgotten to add mist into the background, which made it look like the foreground and background were melding together, even with depth of field. Also, I then realised that when I extended the picture to 16:9, the left and right sides looked… dead. There was no life outside the middle third of the image. So, yep. There was still more work to be done! 😛
I came up with some nice “scene extensions” for the left and right sides, and learned a way to add mist to the scene. I basically just used a bigass cube set to be completely refractive, with a refractive index of 1 (the refractive index of air), a high scattering distance, and a very, very faint light blue scattering colour. It pretty much doubled the render time, but it was worth it. 😀
Wow, that’s a lot of blabbing, but I’m done now! 😀 Lots of tweaking and additions, but I think it was worth it in the end. What about you? Do you like it? 😀
Now for the RENDER STATS! And… I don’t have them! 😛 Not right now, anyway. I know that the render was done in 4K at Quality 3 (one more than I usually do) and it think it took about 12 hours. I’ll get the accurate numbers when I get home, and update later. 🙂UPDATE!!: Lmao oops. I completely forgot, and now the render time’s been truncated from the DAZ Studio log file. 😆 I’ve also since deleted the raw footage used for the timelapse, so the only number I have is from the timelapse itself. Rendering in 4K, it took around 18½ hours to reach 95% convergence at Quality 3. Normally I do Quality 2, but this time, my early test renders were completing really quickly, so I thought I’d spend a bit more time for a tiny increase in quality. When I shifted to 4K, added the new dragons, and especially when I added the mist, the render time spiked, but I didn’t go back to Quality 2 in response. I was probably thinking “naaah it’ll be fine, placebo quality go go go”. And I was probably stupid-tired, too. 😛
As for postwork, there isn’t much, really. The main things are the subtle falling snow and the vignette, but I also removed/masked a few distractions and tiny mistakes, added a cooling filter, and tweaked the levels. I do want to tweak the vignette again because I think the desaturated corners are way more distracting than I intended, but that’ll have to wait until I get home. 🙂
Since the render took longer than usual to create, I made a slightly longer timelapse for it, too. Sorry. 😛 But if you’re still interested, you can watch it heeah! 😀 As always, it comes with vaguely related music. I didn’t put any crappy Christmas music in the video because I can’t stand it, and all the winter-related songs I could find were all friggin’ depressing, so I had to resort to using songs from games I’ve played. 😛 First off, there’s a very wintry-sounding piece from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity’s final dungeon (I think): Glacier Palace (Great Spire). Spoilers. 😛 After that, I stick with the wintry theme by playing Snowy Mountain from Sonic Adventure before kicking it up a notch with the snowboarding music from the same game: Be Cool, Be Wild and Be Groovy! 😛 Then, there’s a song featured in Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd: Decorator by livetune(kz), which I chose because the name of the track describes exactly what’s going on in the scene. 😛 I finish with Wonderful Dream (Holidays Are Coming) by Melanie Thornton, which is both full of cheese and just makes me think of the old Coca-Cola adverts, preventing me from taking the song seriously and making me laugh every time because I have a broken sense of humour. 😆
Also, here’s the progress history, too! You’ll probably need to click on it to enlarge if you wanna read any of my scribbles (unless you have eyes of GOD 😛 ).
I think that’s all for now. Time to schedule this post… if I can figure out how to do it on this mobile app! 😛 Have a great Christmas, and a happy new DECADE! 😀 See yaz!
UPDATE!! I added a few bonus pics to the post in an attempt to make the huge, likely boring wall of text a bit more interesting and less eye-bleedy. 😛
Hiii! Happy Halloween! Or All Hallows’ Eve! Or Allhalloween! Or All Saints’ Eve! Or Saints Row Eve! Not that last one! 😛
How’s your day been? If you’re a kid, I hope you obtained/will obtain many free sweets from creepy strangers! And if you’re an adult, I hope you successfully make it through your evening without any kids ringing your doorbell. 😀 Me? Well, I bought a box of treat-size sweets with the words “ideal for trick-or-treat” on it. And then began to eat them all. 😛 Like hell am I givin’ out sweets to random kids that interrupt my evening! Not like anyone’s ever buzzed my doorbell on Halloween, anyway, and not like I’d answer it if they did. 😛
Ah, seeing as it’s Halloween, I’ve got a spooky story about something that happened recently. Well, it’s not really spooky. Or particularly interesting. 😛 But anyway, for some reason that I can’t quite figure out, one of my videos on YouTube – just one – has seemingly gone viral, because the view count on it has exploded. It’s the last stage in my Streets of Goong series, Stage 8. I finished that series about 9 years ago now, and although it didn’t get a monstrous amount of attention, I was still really humbled by the response. It got far more views than I ever expected it to, around 5K-14K per video. However, all of a sudden, Stage 8 has gotten a monstrous amount of attention, achieving more views than all of my shitey videos combined: 636K, and it’s still rising. :O What shocks/scares/confuses me the most is that seemingly because of this, my subscriber count has jumped from about 100 (which I was genuinely amazed by) to 2,000 (which completely blows my mind), and it’s still going up! I don’t get it! That series is 9 years old! Why’d I get so many subscribers from it now? What’m I gonna do with them?! And why is everyone only watching the last video in the series?! That’s not even the best one in my opinion! 😛
Heh… typical, ain’t it? Back then, I had a ton of free time, so I used to post crap on YouTube fairly frequently, but it only got a relatively small amount of attention. Now I barely post one video a year, and suddenly I’ve got this massive audience for the stuff I posted ages ago. 😛
Y’know, talking about this viral explosion has just reminded me of another one I had a while ago, when a Starbound dev used one of my videos in a news post on their blog for a reason that didn’t really make any sense. The difference was that that ended up being very annoying, mainly because of the fanboyish comments I got which were directed straight past me as if it wasn’t even my video they were commenting on. Instead, most of the comments on the video were directed at the dev who shared the video, in a tone that falsely insinuated that they were bestest buddies, and in a way that made it sound that they believed the dev created the video or something. I didn’t mind much at the time, because I felt honoured that one of the Starbound devs thought my video was funny and random enough to share on their blog for a joke, but now I just get super pissed off when I think about it. Because Starbound, that borderline scam of a game that I backed when its first round of crowdfunding opened (with three others, and I was the one who suggested it, which made me feel bad when it was delayed to the point where we nearly forgot it existed), turned out to be a gigantic pile of turd and one of my most hated games of all time, easily described with words such as “slog”, “dull”, “untested”, “late” and “iwannaplayterrariainstead”. I know that last word isn’t a word. That just symbolises the developers’ lies. I don’t want anything to do with the shithead company who created it and if they shared any of my videos again I would immediately take down the video and re-upload it with external sharing disabled, like a kind of Chucklefish exorcism. Lmao “Chucklefish”, more like “Chucklefuck“. 😛 I encourage everyone to pirate every goddamn thing that has their name on it, and here is a gif just for those shithead devs:
ANYWAY, off-topic, MongMaster, VERY off topic and very ranty. The readers don’t care because they’re too cool for that, so get back to Halloween. 😛 Yes, despite the start of this post looking like some kind of trick, I didn’t come here to do that. I came to give you a treat*, in a kind of Soviet Russia-esque trick-or-treat! And that treat* is… a Halloween render! 😀
*your perception of whether this “treat” really is a treat may vary 😛
I didn’t do a Halloween render last year for some reason. In fact, I didn’t even realise I hadn’t done one last year until this year. 😛 Maybe I didn’t have any ideas for it, or maybe I was busy. To be honest, at first, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna create one this year, either. I wanted to, but couldn’t think of any ideas for days. It was probably just because my brain was a bit fuzzy, cuz when I decided to get serious, sit down, and brainstorm some ideas, I got one quite quickly just by thinking of stuff associated with Halloween. 😀
I ended up writing down “pumpkins”, “the Moon”, “werewolves” and “witches”. I didn’t feel that a pumpkin carving scene was good enough, and I felt like I’d already used the Moon in my last Halloween render, Ghost Stories, with its “ghost stories under the moonlight” theme. I liked the werewolf idea, but decided to put that on the back-burner in favour of a scene based on witches. 😀 And of course, you can’t really think of witches without thinking of the famous “Song of the Witches” scene from Macbeth, which I ended up using as inspiration:
Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. Blahdeblahdeblah.
I’d say it’s more of a “poem” than a “song”, and that’s only part of it; it goes on for three verses, which is about two verses too long, and the second verse (written above) is the least annoying and most readable of the three. 😛 IMHO, of course. I really hate poetry like this, and I’m not a fan of Shakespeare and his broken English (yes I know how stupid and ironic that sounds 😛 ), but I can’t deny that it’s a classic scene.
Anyway, so I finally had a solid idea in my head, but I still felt kinda unsure whether it would come out good or not. The mini-Arnold in my head said yelled “STAHP WHINING AND DOOEET NAOO”, so I picked a weekend (the only weekend left before Halloween :P), sat my ass down, accidentally stayed up until what was effectively 6AM (because of daylight savings 😛 ) and came up with THIS!
As always, there’re more flavours here! (1080p) (2K) (4K)
DRAGON WITCHES, BITCHES! WOOOOO! 😀
Ahhh, this one came out so gooooood! XD Honestly, I thought I was going to Fail It because My Skill Was Not Enough, but the basic composition of it turned out to be really close to how it appeared in my head. 😀 Beyond that, the little details and pose decisions, such as the jar of eyes and the right witch looking unsure about the recipe, just happened on the fly, as they tend to do. 😀
Not much went wrong during the process, this time. In fact, things went unusually well, which made a nice change after all the difficulties and indecisions I had while creating The One True Egg. 😀 Despite not having a clue about how to create textures properly and not having any of the tools for the job, I created a relatively decent (for me 😛 ) texture for the eyes in the jar. Stacking up about 40 of them in that jar also went really well; it wasn’t too painful, and it turned out great, especially since I thought they wouldn’t show up very clearly in the final render.
After having the central witch stir the cauldron and the left witch add ingredients, I was struggling to think of what the right witch would do at first. I came up with two ideas, and posed both of them to compare and decide:
I ended up going with the second one, because I liked the pose more, it matched up with the rest of the scene a bit better, and I felt that it had a bit more humour to it, in a subtle kind of way. 😀
The only technical problems I came across were pretty easily fixed. The first issue was with the “Instancing Optimisation” setting, which I’ve had a problem with before, back when creating Monster. Hunter. (see right). For some unfathomable reason, when set to “Memory”, it mangled the texture of the Dragon 3’s left eye, even though both eyes used the same material!
Turns out that this time, it was caused by having Instancing Optimisation set to “Auto”, whatever the fuck that means. 😛 I would’ve expected that “Auto” would select between “Speed” and “Memory” depending on how much memory the scene was eating, but no, it appears that Auto does something completely different to the other two options!
This “Auto” option seems to have been added in DAZ Studio 4.12.. or it might’ve been 4.11, but I never actually clicked the dropdown for that option in 4.11 because I never had a problem with it while using that version. Anyway, it was a minor annoyance. I just picked “Speed” and everything was fine. 🙂
The second problem was that I wanted to try dForce, DAZ Studio’s cloth simulation, to get some realistic collision on the hats. I’ve never really used it before because I only render things that don’t wear clothes (that’s dragons, dinosaurs, and the occasional mammal, before you go and make a funny 😛 ), but seeing as I got a dForce-compatible witch outfit so I could have the dragons wear the traditional witch hat, I thought I’d try dForce out. Turns out that the hat, despite being part of the “dForce-compatible outfit”… wasn’t actually compatible. Trying to make it compatible by Doing Stuff(tm) ended in a funny way:
So, yep. I didn’t bother using dForce after all. 😀 I just placed the hats as best I could, and did some morphing in ZBrush where necessary. 🙂 Part of me thinks I should have at least tried to dress them up in the witch robes, but it would’ve probably taken an immense amount of time to get right, and I only had one weekend to finish the scene. I can’t bring myself to pose after work; I feel way too tired and unmotivated. 😛
Also, I was originally planning to use an emissive material for the contents of the cauldron, but I actually found that using a point light and placing it inside the cauldron contents created a massively better effect. Probably because the emissive material just made the whole mesh glow with the same intensity, whereas putting a physical ball of light in the middle of the mesh caused some smexy refraction and stuff. It was a nice surprise. 😀
Anyway, now for the render stats! This was kind of an odd one. At Quality 2, the 4K render took 14 hours 14 minutes 28.57 seconds to reach its iteration limit of 25,000, getting to 73.11% convergence, which was about 22% shy of the target. That’s never happened before! Normally, a render at least gets close to the convergence target before it hits that many iterations, but this time, it was way off! I might have to do another render both overnight and while I’m at work to see if the outcome is any better, but hell, even at 73% convergence, it came out well! UPDATE: Before this post was scheduled to go live, I did another render, and this time it went on for about 27 hours before hitting a doubled iteration limit of 50,000, reaching a convergence ratio of 83.76%. It was increasing by about 0.01% per minute by the time it ended, and as convergence increases slower the higher it gets, it would probably take several more days to reach the target of 95%. 😛 The result of all that extra GPU burning was a microscopic increase in quality that I only noticed by flicking back and forth between the old render and the new one, so I felt that it was pointless to update the final image. 🙂
As for postwork, there was quite a lot this time. I added motion blur to the eyes falling into the cauldron, corrected a massive blunder with the front of the cauldron (there was a very obvious seam caused by the smoke effect from the cauldron, so I had to do some colour tweaks to mask it), did my best to try and make the dragons look more female (painting dark lines around their eyes, it was the only thing I could think of, and I really don’t think it worked 😛 ), removed some nose horns and minor light distractions, added a subtle fake bloom effect, smoothed out some noisy areas, added a vignette, and did some levels and brightness tweaks. 🙂
So… what do you think? Do you like it? Spotted something that looks off? Know an easyish way to make a Dragon 3 look more female? Lemme know! 😀 Honestly, I’ve done it before, but I don’t know how. I’m pretty sure it was a miracle that I made Emerald look as female as she did when I created Amai. 😛
Hmmm… I’m not sure why I use OneDrive to share my timelapses. Maybe I should put them on YouTube… 😛 Oh no no no, I know why, because if I put them on YouTube, I’d get slapped for using copyrighteted musics. 😛
Ah, also, as is also now tradition, I drew notes over my prototype and preliminary renders to keep my thoughts straight and to try and prevent me from forgetting anything, which makes a nice little history of how the render evolved. 🙂 Here it is:
Anyway, I think that’s enough from me for now. I hope you enjoy the render, and the rest of your Halloween! I’m off to trick or treat myself again. 😛 Bye!
‘Sup? Hope everything’s well on your end! 😀 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. 😛 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. 😀 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. 😀 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. 😛 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 😛 ), means I’ve felt pretty burned out as of late. Uh, no pun intended. 😛 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. 😛
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. 😛 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. 😀
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. 😛
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:
Ahhhh, so much zen! 😀 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 😛 ). 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. 😛 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. 😀 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. 😛 Nope, that was the QA guy’s idea, not mine. 😛
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. 😛
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. 😛 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. 😛 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. 😛 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. 😀 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. 😛 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.
Trying to think of ways to fix this without cheating pretty much drained about 4 hours of my time. 😛 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. 😛
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. 😛 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. 😛
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. 😛 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. 😛
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. 😛
That was the last thing that went wrong, thankfully. 😀 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. 😀 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. 😛
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:
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. 😀 I really struggled for tracks this time, though, because for SOME reason, no-one wants to sing songs about eggs. 😛 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 😛 ), and finally, “Egg Shaped Fred” by Mansun. 😀 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. 😛 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 😛 ). 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. 😛
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. 😀 Here it is:
I also thought I’d try doing something else new and dumb with my renders, for cheap lols important research purposes. 😛 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. 😛 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. 😛 Here’s what it thought about this render:
Boooring. You could’ve at least tried to describe it. That would have been funnier. 😛 But hey, it recognised that something was sitting down! Not sure where it got “cake” from, though. 😛
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. 😛 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 😛 ). And yes, it says it’s SFW with 96.8% confidence. 😛 I might make this a thing. CaptionBot vs Clarifai! 😀 Ahhh, I’m such a gorm. 😛
Anyway, I kind of went off-topic at the end there, but I hope you like the render! Let me know what you think. 😀 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! 😀 ).
Egg and Be True, everyone! 😀
UPDATE!! Firstly, many thanks for the likes! Honestly, it means a lot. 🙂
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! 😀 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. 😀
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. 🙂 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. 🙂
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. 🙂
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. 😛 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. 🙂 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. 😛 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. 😀 Unless it’s triple monitors or something crazy like that. 😛
I be speakingwritingSPRITING (omg no) writing to you this time from the comfort of my (somewhat) new laptop! 😀 Aye, I got one for those occasions when I get in from work and all I feel like doing is eating some food before faceplanting my face on my bed, but don’t want to go to sleep immediately and don’t want to play games but still want to do something with my brain, like writing. Specific, I know. 😛 I already have a cheaper, sort-of-laptop that I backed on Kickstarter a while ago, but it turned out to be pretty much the worst thing I ever bought and is now just stuffed in a drawer somewhere. I have a ranty post somewhere in drafts about it and my reasons for getting it, and I’ve been meaning to clean up and post that for ages now, but I never got around to it. Maybe I’m putting it off because it’s all ranty and negative and crap. Writing negatively is fun sometimes, but I understand that reading negative stuff is usually like “ahhh stfu no-one cares ya shartface”. 😛
Oh, as we’re on the subject of computers, another technomological-related thing that happened recently was that I realised that my Raspberry Pi server was kind of… massively overworked. It was working as a media server, web server, backup device and downloader, and I’m pretty sure it hated me for it. 😛 So, I decided to give it a POWER UP!
It’s now the machine on the right of that picture. So… slightly bigger than a Pi, now. 😛 It’s basically the leftover bits of my old PC build all stuck together inside a stupidly cheap case with a low-end power supply and tiny CPU fan. Cost about £80 for the missing parts, and it’s pretty much just like my old machine was before its last major upgrade (pretty nippy!). Like the Pi, it’s running Linux (Ubuntu), which is the world’s worst OS until you have it all set up like you want it, and then it’s great! Uh, not for everyday use, though. 😛 I called the new machine “Shard”. Because it’s as if the Pwnage-O-Matic (my main PC, the giant thing on the left side of the picture) was upgraded and left some shards of its old self behind which then became Shard. Or something. 😛 Ahh, maybe I should’ve called it Snakeskin… no, no no no, shut up brain, Shard is good. 😛
Yes of course I name my computers. 😛 The laptop’s called Dragonflight! Because it’s an MSI machine, which has a dragon as its mascot, and it’s free to move around as it wants, and it’s quite powerful! Uh, but it’s a really hungry dragon. It needs to eat like every three hours. Friggin’ laptop batteries, man… 😛
Anyway, no, none of that was the actual reason for this post! 😛 Ahh, but maybe I can work the fact that I’m writing on the laptop into the actual post topic, somehow! Ahem… “So, MongMaster, why’re you writing to me on your laptop?!” I pretend to hear you ask. “Are ya just showing off, you fartnose?!” Yes, I be a showoff! But I’m not showing off the laptop… I’m showing off a NEW RENDER! 😀
But, uh… as I’m writing this first section of the post… the truth is that the render isn’t… actually done yet. 😛 That’s why I can’t use the Pwnage-O-Matic right now. It’s been locked up all day, burning the CRAP out of my EXPENSIVE 1080Ti in what is the most complicated render I’ve made so far. 😛 I mean, I could use it if I really needed to, but things will be slow and I’m kinda scared I’ll click the wrong button or do something the GPU really didn’t want me to do, which would cause it to crash and lose all the progress it’s made, and that would make me very angry and depressed at the same time which would cause a strange rip in space time and cause the universe to implode which would kinda ruin the weekend I have planned. So I’m not touching it. 😛
I’ve done some estimations using ULTRA SCIENCE and a simple calculator and figured out that the render is probably gonna take most of tomorrow, too (as of writing). Of course, to be honest, if it’s not done by the end of tomorrow, I’ll become very nervous and very bored, so I’ll probably end up stopping the render at that point and accepting whatever convergence ratio it’s reached. I think it’s entering the overkill phase of render quality right now, so I’m sure it’ll still look good if I do that. 😛
For now, though, I think I’ll save this into drafts and come back tomorrow to finish it off. 🙂
Hello tomorrow! Uh, today! Yesterday it was tomorrow, but today it’s toda- yeah, you get the idea. 😛
So, I never told you the idea behind this render yesterday. Today. 😛 Well… it was inspired by two different songs, one which I heard a while ago, and one I heard recently which ended up being the catalyst for the idea. The first song, the one I heard a while ago, is Liskodisko, by Hevisaurus. Yes, I’m still listening to them, and yes I know it’s Finnish so I barely understand a word, and yes Iknow it’s supposed to be a children’s band, but… DINOSAURS? PLAYING METAL? HELLO?! 😛 Honestly, I’d go so far as to say they’re my favourite band ever. They’re that perfect combination of unique, crazy, fun, and genuinely great. XD Anyway, as you can probably tell, “liskodisko” means “lizard disco”. Translating the lyrics of that song seems impossible for me, mainly because, as I said, I have almost zero understanding of Finnish, and partially because Google Translate just spits out total crap most of the time, but it’s pretty obvious that the song is about a bunch of dinosaurs or lizards partying at a disco and generally being crazy. I’m pretty sure there’s something in there about Herra Hevisaurus (vocalist) and Muffi Puffi (bassist) somehow falling over and getting tangled up after some kinda comic chain reaction, too. 😀
You might be able to tell where this is going already, but I’ll keep boring you with my explanations for now. 😛
The second song, the “catalyst”, popped up while I was listening to an online radio-station-but-not-really called DI.FM (not an advertisement, I hate ads, please use AdGuard on my site, I hate the shitty clickbait ads everyone is forced to see but refuse to give WordPress money to remove them 😛 ). DI.FM’s great for me, because it’s focused more on genres and music shows, which I hugely prefer over specific artists or eras, and I like hearing a random shuffle of tracks rather than going through set playlists. Anyway, I was listening to the Glitch Hop channel one day at work. It’s quite a cool genre until a horrendous, ear-raping turd of a track comes up, but it sometimes plays really awesome, funky tracks that get stuck in my head for days. One of these songs was a glitch remix of a well-known song by Was Not Was, called Walk the Dinosaur. You probably know it. 😀 The track’s great fun until you read into the lyrics and find that it’s actually a insanely convoluted protest against the Cold War. Of course, being me, I completely don’t care about that and just take the song at face value. 😛
I found myself letting my mind drift a bit as I listening to the lyrics of that song, taking them literally. I even ended up mishearing a lyric, and it actually helped the idea (I thought “I walked the dinosaur” sounded a lot like “I was a dinosaur” 😛 ). “Open the door, get on the (DANCE)FLOOR, everybody walk the DINOSAUR.” That, combined with remembering Liskodisko at the same time, was pretty much the moment where my brain went “AAAHAAAAAA! I HAVE AN IDEAAAAA!” and I had to stifle a laugh at the idea, cuz I was in the office and was supposed to be trying to figure out an incredibly irritating and boring bug I’d been working on for about a week. 😛
So… on a night like this, 40 million years ago, yeee-eah-heah the lizard disco’s starting! Everyone kick your legs in the air! This is the DINO DISCO!!
There’re some more flavours here! (1080p) (2K) (4K)
YEAAAAAAAAHAHAHAAAAAHHHH!! DISCO DANCING DINOSAURS!! WOOOOOOOOO!!! 😀 😀 😀
Haaaahh… ahaha… okay okay… okay, I’m calm… I’m calm. Sorry. 😛 I was just super-excited to share this one, because I think it’s my best render yet. 😀
Were you surprised? I mean, look! There isn’t a single dragon in there! :O That’s another reason why I thought this scene would be an interesting, fun one to do: I’ve never posed or rendered dinosaurs into a polished, “final” piece before. No, that one I did with the kaiju, “Monster Fight!“, doesn’t count. 😛 Hell, even in my big cesspit of rough/test renders, I’ve only ever posed one dinosaur-like thing before. So making dinosaurs dance as my first real posing attempt? Sure, why not dive in at the deep end?! 😀 I mean, if I can help dragons break their boundaries and do things like play basketball or play chess or code at 1AM, why can’t I help dinosaurs dance the night away at a disco?! 😀
Gotta say, though… this scene turned out wayyyy more complex than I originally thought it’d be. At first, there were only about 5 dinosaurs, but when I noticed the scene looked a bit “dead” in my first preliminary render, I decided to add more… and it ended up having 10. That means it broke my record for the most number of unique subjects in a single scene (that record was previously held by Fast Break, with 9 uniques). 😀 I’m… glad the subject count stopped at 10, though, because this render was the first one since Monster. Hunter. that really made me want to punch DAZ Studio’s face in the face. 😛 After adding all those different dinosaurs, the scene became so heavy that it stopped fitting in GPU memory. I have a GTX 1080Ti with 12GB of VRAM and it wouldn’t fit! I never thought that day would come, but aaaaargh it happened! And what does DS do when it can’t fit the scene in GPU memory? Why, it tries to render solely with the CPU, of course! And as I’ve said so many times, this is insanely irritating, because I always disable the CPU option under the render settings, but DS totally ignores that and tries it anyway! Yeah, the CPU might be able to render this scene, oh, in about a MONTH! And when this CPU render that I never asked for tries to start, it just takes so loooong to cancel because DS is stupid and dumb and ARRRGHHH! 😛
I fixed the memory issue in the usual way, by cutting the size of texture maps of things in the background, which somehow didn’t actually save that much memory, but it was enough. There was one other thing, though… I found that the Post Denoiser, the best thing DAZ added to DAZ Studio since Iray, sometimes turns itself off silently and without any warning. This seems to happen if you almost don’t have enough memory to render the scene. So, like automatically using the CPU when your GPU doesn’t have enough memory, this is yet another friggin’ stupid silent thing that DS does to “help”. Can’t they tell me when and why stuff like that happens?! It’s so annoying when it silently stops working and you have to fag around trying to figure out why!
Oh, this was the first time I tried out some volumetric lighting, too. DS doesn’t let you do it easily, of course, so I had to use an asset for it. Took a while to figure out and set up so it didn’t look like crap, but it worked well! It works by shining a stupid-bright light at a set of transparent planes with smoke textures on them. The “smoke” then catches the light and gives a volumetric effect. They seem to be quite expensive to render, though, and I had to do some postwork to remove some really ugly artefacts on one of the light sources, but overall, they turned out great, and added a lot of niceness to the final render. 😀
So… yeah, despite DS being annoying as usual when you push things right to the limit of what your machine can do, this all came together really nicely, IMHO. The thing I’m most proud of? Well… it’s gotta be that breakdancing raptor. XD I’m still not sure how I managed it. 😛 What do you think, though? 😀
Now… time for some render stats! This was… by far, my longest render ever. At 4K, Rendering Quality 2 and with the Architectural sampler on, to reach a convergence ratio of 95%, it took… 1 DAY 16 hours 38 minutes 25.58 seconds!! Holy CRAP! :O And normally, I use something called the Caustic sampler, too, which increases quality of light refraction. However, when I tried to use it this time, it made the first three iterations take about three MINUTES. This render needed about 26,000 iterations! I ain’t got that kinda time, foo’! 😛 It was probably the volumetric lighting that made the Caustic sampler hyper-expensive. As for postwork, there’s a fair bit this time. I blurred out some nasty, fuzzy artefacts in the background and on the red volumetric light facing the camera, covered up a blunder which resulted in a black circle near the raptor DJ (no WAY was I re-rendering the whole scene for that 😛 ), added motion blur to different dinosaurs’ arms and legs, added a “fake bloom” effect (which is way better and more reliable than trusting Iray to do bloom 😛 ), added a vignette, and did some vibrancy and levels tweaks. 🙂
Also, I managed to create a timelapse video for this render, too! 😀 Let’s see… the WordPress editor appears to have changed very slightly, so let me try the OneDrive embed code again to see if it works this time…
Okay, it seems to work for me… but it did take 742 years to load. Oh. It stopped working for me, and suddenly says it’s blocked. And it’s suddenly working again. But you can’t make it go fullscreen. And now it’s forcing a redirect to the video page when it loads. And now it isn’t loading again. And now it is, but it still doesn’t go fullscreen. And now it’s blocked again. And it’s working again.UPDATE!!: NOPE, it’s way too unreliable, and doesn’t work in the mobile app anyway, so I’ve removed the embed. Fucking goddamn it, WordPress and/or OneDrive WHYYYYYY?! Sigh. Well, I guess my only option is a lame hyperlink. Click here if you want to watch the timelapse. 🙂
Also, one other thing (slightly) worth mentioning… if you do watch the timelapse, you might notice that I started writing notes over my preliminary renders. They pointed out problems I noticed, things that needed to change, and stuff that was going well. I’ve never done that before, but the notes really helped keep my thoughts straight, and I found it quite useful. Especially when I had a feeling that the render would take ages to finish. 😛 And in the end, it became a nice “progress history” sort of thing, showing how the render evolved (and sometimes how it broke) after each set of tweaks. 😀 Here it is, if you’re interdasted:
Right… whew. I think I’m all partied out. Time for me to faceplant my bed again. 😛 I hope you liked the render! See y’all later. 🙂