More realtime test renders

Since I’ve been putting MSpro through it’s paces today, I decided to see how it did with a larger data set. So I fed it a reasonably large model of Manhattan. Mach Studio did great, export/import was fast, the machine was responsive, and even hitting it with realtime ambient occlusion, shadows and depth of field didn’t get the scene to a point where it chugged. Rendering this scene with similar settings in Mental Ray would have meant significant time per frame, certainly enough to preclude much in the way of any kind of immediate feedback. MSpro was fine onscreen and rendering 5k resolution images with settings turned up relatively high resulted in render times still under a half second a frame.


Not high art, but we’re talking test images people. I rather enjoy the simcity look of the orthographic one…Hey it looks like I nudged the ground mesh in one of those images. That would be a serious drag with a traditional render process, you’d have to submit it to the farm again. Realtime, it’s no big deal. Of course, there’s a lot of room for improvements on these images… the majority are not issues with the renderer but the artist (errr, me) who for some reason didn’t want to spend all night obsessing over test images. You can speed up render times, but there’s still tweaking galore. But at least you can tweak interactively.

Mach Studio Realtime Test

This is another mach studio realtime test. This is one of the face robot heads exported out of XSI. Less than half a second per frame to render. The SSS shader in MSpro is clearly capable of much better output than this, but I’m still a beginner and I didn’t want to take more than an hour fiddling around from start to finish, same thing with the eyes which are flat in this image: I just didn’t feel like spending the time necessary to bring them out when this is just a test.

Head Test

Testing Mach Studio

Here’s the result of 1/2 hour (probably less) fiddling around with Mach Studio Pro and  Photoshop to try to see how fast I could produce an acceptable concept image.

I exported the buildings from Maya which took a few minutes, slapped on some materials, threw in an environment light and a spot light. Rendered a frame (which took 0.13 seconds to render) and took it into photoshop where again I just threw some elements together – a sketch filter blended with the CG, some vignetting and color manipulation. It’s not going to win any awards but that’s not the point… I was able to get this image out from start to finish incredibly fast, and that’s despite my being a novice with MSpro.  Very promising…

Gorillaz and Miku. Who can’t resist a cg character performing onstage? Not these people. I dig the leek-shaped lightsticks. (For the impatient, Miku makes her stage appearance at about 5:25 in this video.)

The mocap performance is nice I guess but what really interests me about Hatsyune Miko is that her voice is synthesized, not recorded. Would have been cooler if she was puppeteer-ed in real time ala Henson’s creature shop…

Update – no video available anymore, it was removed from youtube. Bah.

Good news for XSI is good news for the industry.

Mark Shoennagel posted some good news on his blog on the Area a few days ago. XSI’s sales have been quite good of late and the dev team is likely to expand. Why is this a good thing for the industry as a whole? Because let’s face it… Maya is showing it’s age.

Maya Community?

I have to admit, I’ve got a love/hate thing going on with Maya. It’s an industry standard. It changed the world. It broke new ground. And it… well, kinda sucks.

Look, before you get out the pitchforks and torches, Maya fans hear me out. You have gotten used to coping with things you shouldn’t have to worry about. Every dedicated maya user I know has a cornucopia of tricks, scripts, workarounds and fixes just to get the basics done. Want to constrain an object on a curve? Sure, you can. Kinda. If you know the trick, and are willing to think about it, or have a script handy. How about editing the animation curves on an animated texture? Visually? Make particles flow on a deforming surface? The answer is always the same – yes you can. But it’s not going to be straightforward….

Serendipity Reigns

This is what I love about the net… serendipity reigns. A friend and colleague Jentsen Mooney posts a couple of videos of an (excellent) talk by Matt Ditton on vimeo on the need for artists to learn to program.

Matt has a bunch of neat videos of processing applications, which I check out. In one, he mentions an idea came from a computer scientist Jared Tarbel.

So I check out his site. And it’s wonderful. Another victory chalked up by ye olde world wide web.

XSI toon shader

Did some more work on a basic realtime toon shader for XSI (and maya, it’s CGFX.) Here’s a sample…

Me. Me me me. Me too.
It's Agent Smith(s), toon style.

Functionality is pretty basic at the moment: Ink threshold, 2 levels of paint and a hard spec hilight, overall color control, a single point light source. I still need to introduce diffusion and spec mapping, possibly some reflections and bump/normal. Remember, if you see an agent, run.