Pirate’s Gold: Rendering, Compositing, Video Editing (The Finale)

Rendering

I had more than a little difficulty rendering this animation, and the entire process likely took almost two days.
My first attempt at rendering, which was left overnight, had not finished by morning – not due to any complications with the render set-up, but rather, the fact that the laptop I was borrowing went to sleep and had no background processes running. Alright, no biggie. I can render it at the campus whilst I’m staying there during the day.
…Wrong? It rendered quickly enough, in approximately 2.5 hours, whilst I did some background work, but with terrible quality.

Less than appealing. Alright, moving onto round three. I tweaked the settings so that the rendered animation would have a far higher quality. Even after leaving it to render overnight (high quality obviously means a longer rendering time) I returned to find a video with the exact same quality as my previous attempts.

A little disheartening, obviously, but I had made preparations with my friend to use their computer (which had already had the Autodesk program files installed) to render my animation overnight. And…the exact same result. It was at this point I realised I had been rendering the files into the wrong format – which explained the terrible quality.
With less than a day to turn in the assessment and time running out, I made a last ditch attempt to do a QuickSilver render. Although the quality will undoubtedly lessen, with my options narrowing, I didn’t really have much of a choice.

Because I needed to change the lighting, I went with a relatively bright skylight with an orange tint – mainly to mimic a sunset.

Compositing / Editing

Decided to head over to Adobe Premiere for the video editing effects.

In terms of compositing, in order to add authenticity to the video (since it is still meant to be an advertisement) I added an overlay, as if the animation was made for an android app. The title, “Pirate’s Gold,” was also implemented in a similar fashion, using a visual overlay.

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Even though I had planned to investigate After Effects CC and further enhance the assignment, my issues with the rendering put off valuable time. I decided it was more practical to work with what the tutorial provided me with rather than risking not submitting the files on time. Besides, the new orange lighting looks great as it is – no real need to edit it further.

The audio piece I chose was simply a remix of the traditional “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme by Hans Zimmer, in a less serious, light-hearted tone by Raz Alon. Add some generic punch sound affects to enhance the action and we’re just about set to export!

Reflection

Although the experience was full of obstacles, overcoming them and gaining texturing, mapping, modelling and editing experience was fulfilling. Whilst reaffirming the fundamentals of a production pipeline I gained more insight into the 3D animation industry itself, alongside the processes and programs used to create everything from feature length films to advertisements. As this project is closing, I am eager for the freedom in my next assignment, if a bit apprehensive. I hope this experience helps to reduce my error count in future endeavor.

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Pirate’s Gold: Lighting

In order to create some fill lighting for the scene I implemented an omni light, which created a smooth fallout in all directions. In the Advanced Effects tab, there is an option for “Ambient Only,” which, in essence, makes the light have no specific directionality. By default, this lighting applies to all models in the scene. If rendered using this setting only, the scene will have flat lighting such as the screenshot below (ignoring the highlights already implemented onto the texture).

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The textures are presented flat and at face value. In order to have some soft, albeit defining shadows for this scene I added the mental ray ambient/reflective occlusion shader based on the recommendations of the video tutorial. The shader deposits small contact shadows in darker areas where light is blocked within the environment, or where models interact with the plane.

Although I need to maintain quality for this assignment, it will likely take longer since I’m rendering it on a laptop. Therefore, although the recommended sample size is 64, I went with a lower value at 50. In regards to the maximum distance for the ambient occlusion parameters, I went with a value of 20, also recommended by the video tutorial.

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With the option to change the colour of the shadows, I went with a lowly saturated red colour, mainly to highlight the warmth of the scene. Even if the difference between the black and red shadows is minimal at this stage, I still think it’s an important aspect to have the lighting match the palette of the scene itself.

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Rendered scene with black shadows versus that with a darkly saturate red.

To ensure the shadows were pointing outwards from the center, I adjusted the co-ordinates to start at 0X0Y0Z, after which I adjusted it to fit more towards the middle of the scene, as the board itself is slightly off-centre. And that’s the lighting finished!