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Santa's Little Helper


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#1 thejobe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 10:20 AM

Hey Guys, after many years of building and animating practice, its time to put it into Action!
we start our production today of our first short film Santa's Little Helper.
its going to be a 3-4 min (now over 8 mins!) short about Santa as he tries to get toys ready for Christmas but is has some obstacles to overcome, Ninjas.

sets are all designed by me and my friend BBB3D here on the forums,some characters are models found in the contributor cue (just modified a bit), we are shooting for a November release. Now June 2013! hey could go for christmas in july :)
we will also be using this page as a guide so we remember where we are at on the production.

Production List

Story board:
100% complete!

Character list:
Santa: Done
Elf: Done
Ninja: Done
Ice men: Done
Deer: Done

Penguin:Modeled, DELETED!

Sets:
Santa's Workshop: done
Cave entrance: done
Bathroom: done (turned into outhouse)
Outside workshop: done
Winter Forest:done
Ice Men Cavern: Done


scenes
intro elves dancing: DONE!
elf walk from bathroom: DONE!
elf reenter workshop: DONE!
building of ninja: DONE!
Santa sleigh drop off: DONE!
ninja enter cave: DONE!
ninja in cave: DONE!
ninja finds elves: DONE!
ninja vs icemen: DONE!
exit cave with elves: DONE!
outro scene: DONE!


Post Production
editing: 50%
music: 60%

Voice recording: 50%
Sound effects:15%
Post rendering:0%
color grading:0%



Join us as we go through this production journal in the making of this short film.

i have already started doing some rough blocking and animating, and testing of rendering time vs quality.
Attached File  iceguy_run_shaded.mov   2.26MB   172 downloads
iceman_run_still.jpg

please feel free to comment and give suggestions as we go along.

Thank and enjoy the fun!

Jason -
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#2 Darkwing

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 10:35 AM

Santa vs Ninjas...I like this already!

#3 Rodney

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 10:46 AM

Santa vs Ninjas...I like this already!


How can anyone go wrong with Ninjas?

Congrats on taking the leap into animated film production.
I am excited for you and look forward to seeing your progress on the film. :)


I know it is far to early to crit but based on your first image I'll postulate a question/consideration. Please note that there is no right/wrong answer here.

Shouldn't the ninja be more of the iconic black or at least darker color that is normally associated with ninjas at least at the beginning of the film?
With all that snow it might help with the instant recognition, silhouetting and constrast against the (lighter) background.
This seems to be the case because I didn't not immediately know that the character in the image posted was a ninja.
It was only upon reading your text that it became clear.

Disclaimer: I have never actually met a ninja so I do not know what colors they prefer to wear.


:)
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#4 thejobe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 10:50 AM

Santa vs Ninjas...I like this already!


How can anyone go wrong with Ninjas?

Congrats on taking the leap into animated film production.
I am excited for you and look forward to seeing your progress on the film. :)


I know it is far to early to crit but based on your first image I'll postulate a question/consideration. Please note that there is no right/wrong answer here.

Shouldn't the ninja be more of the iconic black or at least darker color that is normally associated with ninjas at least at the beginning of the film?
With all that snow it might help with the instant recognition, silhouetting and constrast against the (lighter) background.

Disclaimer: I have never actually met a ninja so I do not know what colors they prefer to wear.


:)


that character is actually going to be an Ice druid of some kind. i dont know all the details yet (since my friend has the script and isnt sharing much with me yet.) but that is pretty much what my friend wanted to look to be.
they are called Ice men.
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#5 thejobe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 11:44 AM

heres a question. anyone know how to install the 2008 rig? Im thinking that might be easier than me trying to figure out bone systems for a month.
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#6 Rodney

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 11:56 AM

they are called Ice men.


Without knowing more about these characters I'd say that does indeed look like it could be an ice man.
I like where you are going with the animation. :)

Tell your buddy if he doesn't give you a copy of the script you'll quit. <just kidding... um... I think!>
The important thing is to lock things down to the greatest extent possible. It is hard enough to complete a project already even when you can see the plan.
For every change to the plan/script I'll suggest that the powers that be add one additional production day to the schedule. 'Failing to plan is planning to fail' or so they say. Every change is critical and that will be especially true with the deadline looming large in November... only a few short weeks away.

I have the ultimate confidence in you (but I confess that I really don't know your friend).
Let us know how we can help.
Perhaps most important of all, have fun with it! :)
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#7 itsjustme

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 12:22 PM

heres a question. anyone know how to install the 2008 rig? Im thinking that might be easier than me trying to figure out bone systems for a month.


Instructions should be included in the ZIP file...the 2008 Rig is here.

#8 Gerry

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 01:28 PM

this is a promising start, but seriously, you should be privy to the script. If your friend isn't sharing, it's *probably* because it's not finished/it has problems/your friend has no confidence in it. But I could be wrong about all three. A script shouldn't be kept secret from the animator(s) is what I'm sayin!

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#9 robcat2075

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 01:34 PM

Is he on a run cycle? The beginning and end of that don't look like they are matching and that's what's causing the twitch. I like the look of the character.

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#10 thejobe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 01:58 PM

yea its a run cycle. it was perfect i did it sort of quick, these are mostly tests anyway. it will be perfected in the end. trust me lol. im still having a lot of trouble with the rig. from the instructions you showed me its basicly just placing the bones where they need to be one by one. i might as well build the bones myself if i have to do that.
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#11 thejobe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:34 PM

here is another character in the short- the elf santa_elf_image0.jpg hes also the model im having trouble rigging.
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#12 itsjustme

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:46 PM

im still having a lot of trouble with the rig.
from the instructions you showed me its basicly just placing the bones where they need to be one by one. i might as well build the bones myself if i have to do that.


For the 2008 Rig? I don't think we're talking about the same thing...where are you reading that in the instructions? There's more to it than just moving the bones into place...your method would leave you without the Poses necessary to have an easily controlled rig.

#13 thejobe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:51 PM

im still having a lot of trouble with the rig.
from the instructions you showed me its basicly just placing the bones where they need to be one by one. i might as well build the bones myself if i have to do that.


For the 2008 Rig? I don't think we're talking about the same thing...where are you reading that in the instructions? There's more to it than just moving the bones into place.


i guess so. thats one thing i was never ever good at was rigging and this one is just confusing me.
i been working on this for like 2 days and cant figure it out at all. i about ready to pay someone to do it for me.
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#14 itsjustme

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:56 PM

im still having a lot of trouble with the rig.
from the instructions you showed me its basicly just placing the bones where they need to be one by one. i might as well build the bones myself if i have to do that.


For the 2008 Rig? I don't think we're talking about the same thing...where are you reading that in the instructions? There's more to it than just moving the bones into place.


i guess so. thats one thing i was never ever good at was rigging and this one is just confusing me.
i been working on this for like 2 days and cant figure it out at all. i about ready to pay someone to do it for me.


The instructions are very detailed (Mark did a great job). Most of the installation is positioning the bones, but, you also have to mirror the positioned bones, export the model and then turn on the Poses that would have caused problems while installing. Where are you running into problems?

------------------
EDIT
------------------

Something I should have added (it was in my mind, but it didn't transfer to my typing fingers), the bones you position when installing the 2008 Rig aren't all of the bones involved...Mark has set up constraints that position the bones you don't see based on the positioning of the installation bones. Also, there is the matter of all of the Poses required to make the rig easy to animate. So, there's a lot more involved than I think you are aware of.

#15 thejobe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 03:22 PM

first problem i ran into was the body null that he says to move is in the bone menu but does not exist on screen (the eye is on for the bone to be seen) Edit: Never mind that statement. im finding the missing bones since they are microscopic on the screen. im moving along steadily now Edit 2: i officially give up, after 3 hours placing every bone in the right position i go to install the rig and the program completely crashes. i lost everything.
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#16 Mechadelphia

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 05:50 PM

im still having a lot of trouble with the rig.
from the instructions you showed me its basicly just placing the bones where they need to be one by one. i might as well build the bones myself if i have to do that.


For the 2008 Rig? I don't think we're talking about the same thing...where are you reading that in the instructions? There's more to it than just moving the bones into place.


i guess so. thats one thing i was never ever good at was rigging and this one is just confusing me.
i been working on this for like 2 days and cant figure it out at all. i about ready to pay someone to do it for me.


I'll rig it for you and you don't have to pay me.

thejobe,

You helped me a lot with the airplane hangar and I've been very thankful for that.

If you send me one of your characters I will rig it for you. With my schedule I could have it done by this weekend but that depends on the model that you send.

I'll make a video of it while I rig it and post it on my website for your reference so that you can refer to it when you are ready to try it again.

If that works for you then either post the model here or email it to me at mack@mechadelphia.com along with any notes I should have about the model before I start.

Let me know what you want to do about this when you can.
"Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." Chinese Proverb
Web site: www.mechadelphia.com

#17 thejobe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 05:56 PM

I'll rig it for you and you don't have to pay me.

thejobe,

You helped me a lot with the airplane hangar and I've been very thankful for that.

If you send me one of your characters I will rig it for you. With my schedule I could have it done by this weekend but that depends on the model that you send.

I'll make a video of it while I rig it and post it on my website for your reference so that you can refer to it when you are ready to try it again.

If that works for you then either post the model here or email it to me at mack@mechadelphia.com along with any notes I should have about the model before I start.

Let me know what you want to do about this when you can.


you are awesome! i just gave up then i come here you save the day!
emailing you now!

Thank you!!
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#18 Shelton

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 06:03 PM

Dont give up on the rig. It goes faster each time. Steve
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#19 Mechadelphia

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 06:09 PM

I'll rig it for you and you don't have to pay me.

thejobe,

You helped me a lot with the airplane hangar and I've been very thankful for that.

If you send me one of your characters I will rig it for you. With my schedule I could have it done by this weekend but that depends on the model that you send.

I'll make a video of it while I rig it and post it on my website for your reference so that you can refer to it when you are ready to try it again.

If that works for you then either post the model here or email it to me at mack@mechadelphia.com along with any notes I should have about the model before I start.

Let me know what you want to do about this when you can.


you are awesome! i just gave up then i come here you save the day!
emailing you now!

Thank you!!


You're welcome.

I have the model now and I'll update you tomorrow.
"Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." Chinese Proverb
Web site: www.mechadelphia.com

#20 thejobe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 06:12 PM

You're welcome.

I have the model now and I'll update you tomorrow.


Thank you!
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#21 Mechadelphia

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 06:15 PM

Dont give up on the rig. It goes faster each time.

Steve


Exactly! Ask questions when you get stuck

But it can be tough just starting out so hopefully the forthcoming video of me installing the rig will help him out a bit.
"Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." Chinese Proverb
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#22 robcat2075

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 08:06 PM

Your on Windows. Is there a reason to not use TSM2? The TSM2 plugins work fine in 32-bit A:M.

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#23 thejobe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 11:31 PM

Your on Windows. Is there a reason to not use TSM2? The TSM2 plugins work fine in 32-bit A:M.


no clue what that is.
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#24 itsjustme

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:06 AM

Your on Windows. Is there a reason to not use TSM2? The TSM2 plugins work fine in 32-bit A:M.


no clue what that is.


TSM2 is here...a rig built by Raf Anzovin with installer.

You can also consider the LiteRig.

#25 thejobe

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 07:10 AM

i installed TSM2 but it doesn't work for V17. all it does is crash the program.
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#26 robcat2075

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 08:23 AM

i installed TSM2 but it doesn't work for V17. all it does is crash the program.


yup, just tried it, that's new.

Use 32-bit v16. You can have both v16 and v17 installed. After the installer runs copy your master0.lic file from your v17 A:M folder to your v16 folder.

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#27 Gerry

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 10:57 AM

Eventually TSM will age out, and I'll miss it! I've been watching Keith Lango's tutes and at one point in passing he praises Raf Anzovin's Setup Machine for Maya. Made me feel wistful.

"When fortune comes, seize her firmly by the forelock, for I tell you she is bald in back." - Leonardo daVinci


#28 thejobe

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 02:35 PM

here is the Ice Men cavern partially complete. still needs decorations but the shape is complete. cave_wireshade0.jpg cave_test_render0.jpg
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#29 thejobe

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 01:23 PM

started to work on Santa's workshop. still needs a little fixing on the actual building but its coming along nicely. santas_workshop_preview0.jpg
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#30 Gerry

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 01:47 PM

Hey, that's looking nice! don't forget I've got a set of Christmas goodies over on the Contributor's Cue forum: http://www.hash.com/...showtopic=36002

"When fortune comes, seize her firmly by the forelock, for I tell you she is bald in back." - Leonardo daVinci


#31 thejobe

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 03:24 PM

cool thanks! using them now!
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#32 gwinkelman

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 06:24 PM

Nice set designs. I'm interested in seeing how these look when you're finished.

#33 thejobe

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 11:37 AM

Update on santas workshop. still playing with wall textures. finished decorations. need to fix lighting. santas_workshop_preview2_0.jpg
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#34 thejobe

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 02:03 PM

This is the final set for santas workshop. takes me 2:35 mins to render 1 frame. does that sound right for a scene like this? any way you think i can lower it? santas_workshop_preview3_0.jpg
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#35 BBB3D

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 07:56 PM

full render of santas workshop it took 17 and a half minutes. santas_workshop_full_render0.jpg

#36 NancyGormezano

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 08:03 AM

takes me 2:35 mins to render 1 frame.
does that sound right for a scene like this?
any way you think i can lower it?


it took 17 and a half minutes.


Sounds like using 2 different computers? 2:35 sounds about right for that size (1280 x 720) render. Are you sure you need to go that large for your animation? Cutting the resolution to 960 x 540 would cut the render time, or even better - 854 x 480 would be good enough.

Shaping up nicely - lots to look at.

In order to decrease render times - would have to know:

1) what are current render settings? - # of passes?, Soften ON? Try multipass = OFF - see if that helps time. (sometimes does, sometimes doesn't)
2) Using any complicated materials rather than decals? (especially on the wood). Some darksim, or materials that use some sort of "turbulence", or are "deep" can cause long renders. Sometimes patch images (rather than decals) can be render hogs (use to be - not sure about ver 17). Large images (really large) used for decals will sometimes make longer renders (anything over 2000 x 2000 is overkill).
3) Is there any transparency, refraction in scene (eg the windows?) ? The Snow Globe may be a killer time eater if using refraction.
4) what kind and how many lights are you using, (bulb, sun, klieg), with shadows? Kliegs with z buffered shadows are the fastest, rather than ray traced. Zbuffered with low map resolution (512 x 512) is fastest.

Edited by NancyGormezano, 26 August 2012 - 08:49 AM.


#37 thejobe

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 02:04 PM

whats going on is we have 2 machines were testing. my old AMD64 6000+ dual core with 3GB ram my friends new alienware MX18 latop with 3rd Generation Intel® Core i7-3820QM (8MB Cache, up to 3.7GHz w/ Turbo Boost 2.0) with 16GB of RAM now i did a test on both machine with the following settings: (everything standard except for these changes) Camera: output 1280x720 multipass = 1 soften ON bulb Light: intensity =80%, Shadows Ray 1, Shadow darkness = 60% (there are 4 of these lights with same settings) my machines rendertime = 2:35 my friends rendertime = 1:06 (and this is while having skype screen sharing running at the same time!) so i think my machine is just outdated. it is almost 10 years old.
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#38 NancyGormezano

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 03:12 PM

Do you still want to cut your render time? Your last response was confusing.

Camera: output 1280x720 multipass = 1 soften ON


Soften option does not kick in for multipass until the number of passes = 5 or more. If you turn soften off, it will speed things up.

Are you saying it took either 2:35 for 1 pass? on your machine and 1:06 for you friends for 1 pass? It will take more time, the greater the number of passes. I would assume you intend to do more than 1 pass rendering.

17+ minutes sounded way too high...not sure whose machine that was?

The same comments as I posted before still apply for cutting down render time. I'm not sure if they made any sense to you.

You might look at if you can get away with only 1 bulb light casting shadows, and the others only have diffuse, spec ON.

#39 TheSpleen

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 03:31 PM

very cool stuff going on in here
"To be honest....I animate and design to make myself laugh. And if I accomplish that then I have succeeded!
And in turn others as well will laugh too."

#40 thejobe

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 05:14 PM

Do you still want to cut your render time? Your last response was confusing.

Camera: output 1280x720 multipass = 1 soften ON


Soften option does not kick in for multipass until the number of passes = 5 or more. If you turn soften off, it will speed things up.

Are you saying it took either 2:35 for 1 pass? on your machine and 1:06 for you friends for 1 pass? It will take more time, the greater the number of passes. I would assume you intend to do more than 1 pass rendering.

17+ minutes sounded way too high...not sure whose machine that was?

The same comments as I posted before still apply for cutting down render time. I'm not sure if they made any sense to you.

You might look at if you can get away with only 1 bulb light casting shadows, and the others only have diffuse, spec ON.



we were going to do 9 passes (3x3) but since we dont want our machines on for days on end we decided on 2 passes. (but might just turn it off and use the started anti-aliasing)

and yes 2:35 for me and 1:06 for my friend same settings.

that 17 min render was with:
bulb light: rays cast = 16 distribute in passes on
multi pass = 16 soften on
AO = ON

i really dont want to mess with the lighting any more than it is since it took me a while to get the look that i wanted.
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#41 robcat2075

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 06:02 PM

Good looking sets! You've been busy!


In order to decrease render times - would have to know...


Nancy has some good questions.

Bulb lights will always be ray traced lights. I think well-placed kleig lights can help you out substantially.

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#42 Mechadelphia

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 07:06 PM

thejobe,

I've finished rigging your elf for you with the 2008 Rig and have emailed it to you.

I'll have the video of the process up on my web site in a few days. There are 4 and 1/2 hours of video and I want to trim it down a bit. I may edit a long version (for those who like details) and short version (for those who don't care much for the details).

Good luck with your project.

Take care.
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#43 thejobe

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 10:13 AM

You are the most amazing person this century. THANK YOU!!!!!
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#44 BBB3D

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 10:22 AM

Thank you sooooooo much for rigging the elf :-)

#45 BBB3D

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 10:23 AM

The elf was the last character we were waiting for to start animating thanks alot!

#46 thejobe

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 10:45 AM

This is the tunnel going to the cavern where the Icemen live. this was done with baked surfaces. the renders still took a long time so the mats are not an issue. its just a slow machine. snow_cave_tunnel2_0.jpg
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#47 NancyGormezano

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 11:24 AM

this was done with baked surfaces. the renders still took a long time so the mats are not an issue. its just a slow machine.


Was there any improvement in render time: ie What was the render time using materials, and what was the render time using a decal? Getting your render time down is a matter of whittling away at ALL the potentially unneeded render hogs.

If you didn't remove the materials from the models after baking the decals - you will see no improvement, you will probably see an increase in render time.

However - that being said - even after removing materials, I have also noticed that sometimes depending on the material and the size of the decal created by baking, and along with the fact that the material is now replaced with with color, bump, reflectivity, etc types for the decal - that the render time may still also go up. Delete all the types in the decal container for everything except color, bump and then see what render time is. If that's still too slow, delete the bump type, or change it to legacy bump.

#48 largento

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 11:36 AM

I experimented this with my Vulcanine set, which made liberal use of a procedural texture. Baking the surfaces not only failed to give as good a look, but actually took longer to render. Go figure. In the end, due to time constraints, I identified scenes where the camera didn't move and rendered a background frame and placed it on a layer behind the animated characters. Where the camera did move, I just bit the bullet and accepted the render times.

#49 NancyGormezano

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 11:48 AM

Decaling by hand usually renders the fastest. Not sure why baking materials into decals renders slower sometimes. Maybe it's the size of maps, and complicated mapping that causes an uptick in render time? Also - You might consider using a bitmap plus material on your cave walls - that can potentially give good results for such a generic looking cave texture.

#50 thejobe

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 06:51 AM

I did a few more test and it seems its the model itself. its just too spline heavy.
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