One of One: One a Day (Five)

What’s this? Where are you? Why, it’s ‘One of One; One a Day’, the once-a-workday update on the production-side of the short film, ‘One of One’. AND, It’s the end of the week! That means you don’t have to hear me blab on for 48 whole hours! Hooray! But, just in case you’re one of these weirdos that might actually miss me, let me fill you in on what I’ve been up to today (and a bit of yesterday). Unfortunately (as has been a pattern over the last couple of days) it hasn’t been a huge amount (because I needed to move even MORE stuff to my Dad’s today), but it has been a time of some much needed experimentation! Experiments which should speed stuff up, are rather exciting, and that I’d very much like to share with you!

SO, what is it that I’ve been playing with? And what have I learned? Well, I’ve been sinking a little more time into the smoke simulator, and as fun as it was initially, I’ve learned that I kind of hate it… Only in as much as I’m clearly missing something though; I mean people are producing some insanely impressive stuff with it; moving images that beggar belief, explosions and all sorts, yet I can barely make a still image look good. I have a feeling that it could be to do with the cycles functionality not being entirely ready yet, but given some other people’s results, it could be the case I’m doing something wrong. However I might try using the old school ‘Blender Render’ engine, and composite some smoke in from there, as it seems the smoke sim is a bit more fleshed out. We’ll see. BUT using the smoke wasn’t all doom and gloom, it brought me back to a familiar word that I could have easily overlooked, and I’m very glad to have found my way back to it.

‘Baking’ is not just a fun way to chill out with your friends, giggle at nothing, and eat tonnes of skittles; turns out it’s also a pretty great way to speed up render times, particularly when creating animations. But, before you roll your motherboard up into a doobie, or whack your hard-drive in the oven, let’s just cool our shit down and take a moment to clarify.

‘Baking’, in 3D speak, is essentially a form of pre-rendering; it means that certain values don’t have to be calculated over and over again every time a new render begins, because honestly, a lot of those values are likely to stay the same. For example, in my virtual city, I’m gonna have LOADS of buildings all over the place, but they’re all going to be static; it doesn’t make sense to have to re-calculate the way light bounces off them, or in what way the shadows are going to fall, because the light source (the sun, in this case) isn’t going to be moving (and, as it happens, buildings don’t have legs, so neither are they). Baking essentially takes those values and pastes (or bakes) them onto the mesh itself, in the same way you might apply a simple image texture. That means I could (potentially) fly a camera around my fully rendered scene in real time, which is incredibly exciting, and opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities when it comes to production. HOWEVER, when it comes to baking my rooftop scene, this might not work so well. Why? Because One of One, our little robot friend, is going to be moving around on it (as is Hannes), so things like shadows do need recalculating in this circumstance. There do seem to be ways to bake only certain kinds of values though, so it might be that this could still come in handy here.

Using this method, I did some experiments; I rendered out a building as I usually would, and my result was something along the lines of 3 minutes (I can’t use GPU processing to speed up my renders, unfortunately, because I use AMD cards, which sucks), but after baking, my render time was 40 seconds! So, at 24 frames a second, a 30 second animation without baking would take me 36 hours. With baking, however, it would only take 8. Madness! The downside I’ve found, however, is that because my textures have holes in them, for some reason it calculates the light on the outside of the building as the same as the inside, resulting in a weird effect like the one below;

Pre Bake

nobake

Post Bake

bake 1

However, I think I can probably fix this, with a little help from some heavy googling and some perseverance. In the long run, this looks like it’ll be a very sensible thing to be doing for my final scene, and I’m incredibly happy that I’ve stumbled across it. (plus, when I eventually start building games, this is a technique that’s invaluable, so double-dope)

That’s about it for the day! I guess I’ll let you get back to your ‘weekends’ and your ‘fun’ and your ‘relaxation’ (whatever those are), and I’ll see you on Monday for some more; ‘One of One, One a Day’ treats.

But before you go, why not go ahead and like us, share us, or invite us to dinner? We’d love at least two of those things! OR, if you’re just feeling chatty, and have no one better to talk to, send us a comment! Together, we’ll be sure to soothe your lonesome spirits.

Much love, and thank you for reading,

Henry (GAAALE)

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