Site changes, Iray, new digital art, and film reviews

Site changes, Iray, new digital art, and film reviews

Hi all,

it’s been a busy few days since my last post. In this post I intend to:

  • tell you about my further site changes and how they relate to my writing
  • make a brief mention of DAZ Studio’s new renderer Iray
  • show you my new digital art – two characters from Shade
  • review “Jupiter Ascending” and “Grown Ups”

Yes, way too much for one post. So just scroll down to the part that takes your fancy (I’ll use bolded headings) and read those. :)

Site changes

The front page of this site now has a bit of an explanation about my writing with an explicit focus upon my writing vision. It was an interesting exercise because it forced me to pull together all my streams of thought about my writing and essentially solidify them. For a while I was really tempted to talk about all the other writers that I have loved and their impact upon me, but then thought that this would be a distraction. So there it is. I’ve also added a Tales of Shade item to one of my menus and there I will start putting elements of my world as I create them.

I must admit that I really love the Sydney Theme. It is a beautiful and flexible theme. The best that I have used so far, which is great considering that it is free.

Iray AND two new character images

I tricked you. Two of the stories are related!

OK, so it’s not that funny. But I am tired and anything will give me the giggles right now. :)

Anyway, the most recent version of DAZ Studio (the tool I frequently use to render my digital art) now includes Nvidia’s wonderful Iray. Nvidia describe Iray as a “physically based rendering technology that generates photorealistic imagery by simulating the physical behaviour of light and materials.” That’s a fancy way of saying that it makes 3D models of things look incredibly real.

So several weeks after getting it, I thought that I would try it out. Firstly I picked Kerphulu. As you know I already had a model of him. So I reposed it, changed camera angles and lighting, and then ran the same render under the two different render engines. Here is 3Delight:

delightKerphulu

I was quite happy with this. So here is Iray:

Kerphulu800

As you can see I subsequently threw my signature on the Iray one as I prefer it.

One obvious difference is lighting. Perhaps I am just used to the original renderer, but I felt that I had more control over lighting in the first case. This said, I adored the way the light interacted with the model in Iray. The face is so much more… I don’t know… real. Sure, you cannot mistake it for a photo but see the subtlety of it through his hair, the flavour of the light. It is brilliant. Interestingly the colours seem darker yet more vibrant.

So I re-arranged Pari and did the same with her in Iray and this is what I got:

Pari

In this case I am uncertain, but suspect that I will continue using Iray over 3Delight.

This said, a render takes a long, long time. To do this render in 3Delight is under a minute. The same render in Iray took one hour and forty minutes.

Reviews

Jupiter Ascending is a science fiction film set “now” but with all of us being blithely unaware that we are essentially free range cattle waiting to be harvested by aliens. No, that’s not a spoiler, that’s the plot background and I won’t elaborate further. Part of me wonders whether it ultimately aimed to be this generation’s Blade Runner. I say that because it mixed action with a deep philosophical theme. Nicole and I thoroughly enjoyed it and even a day afterwards we found ourselves discussing ideas presented within the film.

This said, the kids we knew disliked it (we watched it with another family). The main reasons that the kids disliked it were “too much talking” and “she (the main character) keeps making the same mistake” with the same results. OK, I agree with the second observation, and yet was not overly dismayed by such foolishness.  As for the talking – I liked it. It was the content of the conversations that Nicole and I later discussed.

The other great plus was the CGI. Now I am not a big fan of CGI where it is poorly done or where it replaces the need for a story. In this case neither was true. The CGI was awesome and yet just right for the nature of the story. Perhaps the fight scenes were too long and overly full of effects, but that seems to be a trend now. At least they weren’t as long as the last Hobbit movie or (even worse) the last Transformers film.

All this said, the acting was unremarkable. But you seldom can have everything.

Grown Ups is a more prosaic film by comparison. A bunch of kids win a local basketball comp, grow up and a couple of decades later find that their lives aren’t everything that they had hoped for, attend a funeral and then they and their families spend a weekend together.

This is an Adam Sandler movie. It also stars Chris Rock, Roy Schneider, David Spade, Kevin James and Salma Hayek.

Let’s do the bad things first. Too much low-brow humour for my tastes while the director sometimes seemed to merely making funny scenes rather than a cohesive work. Other than Sandler, I feel that the other characters did not really “grow” in the story. Chris Rock, in particular, seemed to get the raw end of the script.

Good things. Well, I’m always a sucker for a feel good film and this was that. I really felt the emotions that some of the cast portrayed. maybe that’s because I too am a middle-aged man who feels that he never reached his potential – whether as a worker, father and husband. Also, where the humour is not low-brow I actually found myself chuckling quite a bit. Obviously they were aiming to please a range of demographics.

So at the end of the day, I enjoyed this film and would watch it again.

Anyway, that’s enough for this post. Thanks anyone who bothered reading the whole thing :)

Greg

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9 Comments


  1. The biggest difference is that Iray calculates indirect light transport by default + uses physically plausible shading models by default as well.

    3Delight supports that all, too, but it’s not an archviz tool specifically geared towards ‘light simulation’, it’s a production renderer (for studios doing VFX kinda stuff), it’s a toolbox more than a single tool. It can handle a wide variety of tasks, photorealistic and toon-style, but there are no ‘defaults’ in there. If you want GI and/or PBS, you write a shader that will invoke the calculation. If you can’t write… well, then you’re in trouble (particularly if you are a DS user since most DS-enabled ready-made shaders are, well, quite oldschool – and oldschool method of work meant a lot of artist time spent on setting up cheats and tricks to mimic light transport; all for the sake of rendering faster).

    Until there is a user-friendly DS-specific system out dedicated to contemporary photorealistic rendering in 3Delight (I have a basic one, but the question of user-friendliness is debatable… at least, until I finish the documentation), Iray is a better choice for those who cannot/won’t code. But there is still more work involved than ‘point and shoot’.

    If you truly want to use Iray to its fullest, you need a good Nvidia card, specifically one with at least 2, or better 4 GB VRAM. Dedicated video card memory, not system RAM. Iray has no ‘out-of-core’ support, so it means that if your scene data (models, textures) does not fit into your video card onboard memory, Iray will revert to CPU-only which will be slow.

    Another thing that will slow the render down is not using dedicated Iray materials and/or physically plausible values. This will inhibit convergence and hence add to render time. Yes DS will do conversion behind the scenes, but it’s not the best ever. It’s much better, if you intend to use Iray seriously, to learn applying and finetuning the Iray optimised materials to _every_ surface in the scene (look in the Shader Presets / Iray content library folder for the generic Iray materials and in Genesis 2 M/F / Materials / Iray for dedicated character settings to base your character presets on).
    There are various threads on the DAZ forums for newcomers to Iray; you may find it useful to at least lurk there.

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  2. Thanks for responding. I’ve got a GTX 560 with 16GB. I’ll do as you suggest and start to learn the Iray materials and how to set them up :) I also have started posting on the DAZ forums. I really need to get to know the community :) Thanks as always for your sage advice :)

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    1. Greg, I don’t know if my previous comment got eaten, but just in case:
      If you can, get in touch with Cath “Mec4D” and the user AlexLO who posted a truly exemplary image here:
      http://www.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/comment/855601/#Comment_855601

      I’d say these two could teach you the most about using Iray.

      PS something I forgot to say. There are some settings in the Advanced render settings tab: check that DS actually uses your powerful card and not CPU! It sometimes defaults to the CPU when you first run it. And then there should be a checkbox to turn OptiX acceleration on/off, see which setting gives you better render times!

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      1. Thanks once more for this advice. I’ve done as you said and switched over from CPU to the GPU, but a quick test showed not much difference :( Also, I’m a bit apprehensive about just contacting those two. I guess I need to first build some sort of online relationship first.

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        1. You could first “stalk” their posts on the DAZ forums. There are buttons in the user profiles that display the “comments” (posts) each user made, so just reading them you may pick up useful information. I know that just hanging around Cath’s threads has taught me a lot over the years.

          As for performance, I finally found one PDF I had in mind… here it is: http://irayrender.com/fileadmin/filemount/editor/PDF/iray_Performance_Tips_100511.pdf
          And another thing that most users suggest, is using mesh lights – like a primitive plane that you apply the “emissive” preset to and then use it like a photo softbox – instead of “delta” lights (“math-based” ones that have no actual underlying geometry, like spotlights, pointlights…). More (and brighter) lights will help with convergence and so decrease render time.

          Have you tried using the Iray skydome that is found in the render settings tab? It’s pretty quick to converge, and doesn’t look half bad for character concept type of “mugshots”.

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          1. On my mobile phone at present so just a brief response. Wow! You know so much! I had no idea about the iray skydome, so i will go look when i get home. And i will look into mesh lights. Thanks ☺

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          2. Oh thank you, but please, you don’t have to thank me all the time =)

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  3. Far too involved for my worn out little red cells as Hercule would say.

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