King James Version (KJV)


Magicians take action

Posted by Marius Oberholster on Thursday, August 3, 2017 Under: WIP
Hey all!
This week's vlog!

GOD is beyond words!!! Just wow!!

 - Technical is not the word
   I already spoke on this in the video, but briefly, so I can elaborate here. Last week I had two re-renders. The one was for the flickering chairs behind Moses and Aaron and the other was the scene where the magicians appear in a cloud of smoke. While these are amazing shots, the magicians one needed a little something more. It was a bit lack luster. While the luster is restored using this transitional effect, it was no small feat and I hit a lot of bumps along the way!

In the screenshot of the node setup, you can see there is a massive cluster of nodes to the left of the image. These nodes are simply the depth maps for the characters as well as their 2D fully rendered counterparts. They are scaled according to the render size and then they are shifted and masked using a blend texture and colorramps to make them all look consistent in their order (explained later). That part is easy, because you are essentially using the same masks for the depth maps as you are for the 2D versions, because they have to align.

Now we come the middle part. Because the 3D storage format used here is Side-by-side (50%), we have to make sure that the right eye is on the right image and that our masks fit the bill, but this is where we hit a massive technical snag - distortion. The method I use, as mentioned a billion times, hahaha, is one of distortion. It just works faster, but it does mean you get a lot of imperfections and using various levels of blurring, you can eliminate a lot of artifacts, but it also causes a lot of unwanted issues - such as the mask lines bending. Yes, this means that the mask for the left eye also had to be distorted using the new depth map before the final could be mixed.

Upon mixing all the stuff together, you end up with a huge problem: about half of Moses is missing! Oh yeah - it is missing and nowhere to be found. All the other formats worked well, but in the side by side version, Moses has a part of his side missing. So, I went looking for the solution at the depth maps, because I saw some alpha issues there - nope, dealt with. So I went to the mask - nope, perfect. Finally, I checked the other formats of the 3D node and sure enough, his sides are both there, so something had to be wrong with the side-by-side output and yes indeed - it was using the Alpha Over node, instead of the Mix node. This causes an unwanted transparency around Moses (probably caused by the alpha issue with the depth maps, but again, shouldn't have been an issue). Anyway, as soon as I replaced it with the Mix node, it worked perfectly and he had his side back, hahaha. GOD is so awesome - HIS idea to use a mix node instead!!!

With the technical issues now resolved, we also had the matter of depth perception. We have 4 characters in very close proximity and varying depths. That means that we can't push the 3D too far. I went with the pretty standard 200% for the full HD and only 100% for the test at 50% HD (I just don't have the hardware yet where these things just show up instantly...). All in all, it took roughly 1-3 hours to get everything cut and timed and get through the technical issues and start rendering. I think you can also include the 2D version's rendering in those 3 hours, because it flew along after the file output node issue was discovered...

Yes, there was another technical problem that surfaced! The file output node would not output what was sent to it. I thought that it may again be the alpha channel that's acting weird or that the scaling was off, or something. None of the above. It just doesn't, based on my personal theory, want to give you any output if it doesn't involved a render layer of some sort (the flat black output would be consistent with a 'passless' render layer set to transparency). So, like I mentioned, this took two rounds - once for 2D and once for 3D.

 - Finishing of the shot
   I wish I could say the shot ended there, haha. When I imported it back into Blender, it ran way too fast. In fact, on my first watching it, I didn't even have time to take in who was selected. So, I resorted to the lazy man's motion blur again and felt like the LORD insisted that I have the frames interpolated instead. I didn't want to do that, so I said: "I'll do that, if I can see a difference that is very obvious" (talking about the speed shift to be able to see the characters) and I didn't even finish watching the video, before I knew that that would be the right way to go; interpolation that is. So, I chucked it through the script, saved the frames again and imported it back into Blender, and I am honestly so glad I did. The interpolation turned out so beautifully, I could not have asked for a better solution! This shot looks fabulous!! :D

 - Order of the shot explained
   You'd be surprised how much goes into the making of things like this. There is meaning in almost everything you see - even if post-considered. The reason that Pharaoh is at the far left is because, at least visually, we associate that with decline or backsliding, seeing that we read from left to right and games also follow that trend. There is a sense of going backward. Secondly, GOD setup an order here when HE told Moses that he would be made like a god to Pharaoh and Aaron be his prophet. This meant:

Moses = a god in relation to Pharaoh
Aaron = prophet of Moses in relation to Pharaoh
Serpent = sign of prophet to
Pharaoh = receiver of said sign

   The battle is against Pharaoh, to let the people go and Pharaoh is defiant, so he is directly facing the audience, while all the rest are directly opposing Pharaoh, and so facing him compositionally and physically and and and and, hahaha.
   Also, because I want it to be obvious that Pharaoh is fighting a losing battle, his image is on the left most of the time and I want his head, most of the time, to be lower than Moses and Aaron. The only times I want it reversed is where there is a clear frustration with Moses and Aaron like when they say that up to now he would not listen or let the people go (you can look out for this visual language in the storyboards video as well). Ito production, there truly is a visual battle going on, as well as a psychological one, on top of the already raging spiritual one resulting in physical consequences too. Haha, you could say there is a tussle going on here on every conceivable level, haha.

 - Dangers of burn-out, the time of completion and the importance of balance
   Many of us have heard the statement about working smart, not hard. Well, I have to say that there is a mix required here. You need to work hard, but also smart. For example, working on something like Exodus is extremely hard work, but rendering a 3D version alongside the 2D one, without having to go through the same render times, is working smart. Not to mention cutting down on render times by optimizing every shot's scene. Making things invisible that don't affect the final result, drastically cuts down on render times. For example, the smoke cloud isn't visible on Pharaoh, Aaron or Moses or the serpent in the last shot from last week. Leaving it on, makes the render more than 5x slower, while having absolutely no effect on the result - except to delay it dramatically, hahaha.
I wrote on optimizing Blender Render before, so if you are interested, you can go check out those articles below!

And of course, more on the workflow:

   Well, I have to be honest, because I want this project to be completed as soon as possible, I would tend towards over-doing it, as opposed to under-doing it and I really feel like GOD wants me to just dial it back a touch (not by taking a break from the project altogether, but just taking it a little bit easier). Last time I ignored the warnings, I got a serious bout of shingles and I will tell you honestly, I have never felt so tired in all my life! You can get up in the morning and feel like you can take on the world and the next minute, you feel like you have been working for 10days non-stop and you just need a nap. Burn-out doesn't just open you up to diseases, it also makes it extremely hard to be around you as a person, because being so tired makes you cranky, bitter and hard to get along with, because it makes you snap at the least little things. We have to maintain proper balance, regardless of who we work for - working for GOD does not make me immune to burn-out, but it certainly helped in recovery and working smart since! hahaha. I can't blame HIM for me getting burn-out, because if I choose to go beyond what HE has established as a safe area for me, I am looking for trouble and I can't then complain because I got it - repentance is required for healing in these instances and the shingles took almost a whole year to wear off (specifically the tiredness).

For me, it is crucial to have balance on this project and I feel like I've been slipping out of it the past few weeks and need to get back into it - plain and simple.

 - Wallpapers
   This was a fun little side project over the weekend! I felt led to make some wallpapers out of the rendered frames so far and I picked a few I really liked, stuck the logo on and of course, they're all upscaled to 4K! I added them to the Panther Dynamics FB page in a special album, so you can get them there if you would like to use them.
The great part about this is that everyday, I get to see a different wallpaper for the project!It's just a little freshness to the general everyday stuff.

 - Motion Blur with MVTools
   I am so thankful for this tool, I cannot even begin to express it! It uses the same vectors that would be generated for the interpolation and blurs for motion based on those vectors, instead of drawing in frames. That's the best way to describe it. I am very pleased with the results of it, but I don't have peace about giving Exodus a motion blur pass. I am very glad I checked it out though! It is stunning! The default example on the website, simply suggests a blur value of about 15. This, to me, was basically unnoticeable. If you really want a strong motion blur, you want to go for something between 30 and 90. 90 is a bit high, but if you have already slowed something down a lot and you want to add a serious motion blur to it, you may need to go even higher to compensate. Just test it on some shorter examples before going for the big final piece, so that you don't waste hours waiting on something that has to be redone every time. Will Exodus get a motion blur? Nope, I don't believe so. Should it? Again, no, I don't believe so. Do I have peace about it? No, I am a little conflicted, but honestly, I really don't want yet another task in the pipeline, haha. Upscaling and interpolation, in post, is more than enough imo, but we'll see closer to the point! hahaha.

 - Assembly line approach test
   This week I asked GOD to do something special regarding this project. Of course HE always shines in HIS unlimited capacity to time things perfectly, but I seriously don't want to work at the snail's pace I feel like I'm going in right now (with roughly under 30 seconds of completed footage a week). It's not that I don't have the patience to carry it through, because the HOLY SPIRIT's unlimited patience is available, but I don't want to spend that much time still on it (there is a lot to do and very little time before the anti-christ comes on the scene etc.) so there is a sense of urgency without pushing myself to do inferior quality work and so on. Anyway, getting back on point. I have asked GOD to enable me to work a lot than I have been able to. The first thing HE did was suggest something practical.
   When HE mentioned that I use an assembly line approach, I immediately also received what that means. It means that you do a bunch of scenes' animation. Then you render them and then you add them to the edit. It lets your brain and mind focus on one task and get it done as quickly as possible, before moving on to the next one. Very well-known and very effective approach to getting a massive massive amount of work done very quickly. So, I want to do as much animation as I can in one day and then render that out. For example - on Monday, I was, by GOD's grace, able to animate roughly 11.5 seconds. The biggest reason it wasn't more, is because of the amount of people in the scene that feature in camera space. With 3D, you easily notice if someone isn't moving, because your mind knows how to read motion and lack of motion (especially when it comes to people) very quickly (you've been designed to do it and then you've done it all your life too, haha). That meant for these 11.5 seconds, I had a small group of people to give expression to and that took a lot longer than I anticipated, hahaha.
   Does that mean I am giving up on what I've asked for? Absolutely not! I still believe that HE wants to give me that speed, but on HIS terms, not my effort (as in struggle to make it happen - if HE enables me to do it, it doesn't require extra effort on my part, because I already know I can't do it, HE has to do it through me as a compliment to the natural speed HE has already given). It's in HIS hands and I am believing for a very very efficient week ahead!!! :)
This week was already immensely efficient. HE helped me produce 38+16 (seconds+frames)! That is a full 10 seconds or so more than last week! GOD is super!

 - The magicians finally appear
   With all the build-up, I was reminded of something that I struggled with a lot when it came to Jannes and Jambres. They had to be made distinct enough from the other magicians, so that if they are mentioned in the book of 2 Timothy, chapter 3v8, that they can be ID'ed in some way shape or form.

"Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith."
2 Timothy 3:8, KJV

In this week's first shot, you don't really see much, but as things progress there are patterns in there that show who ranks where, which should make it abundantly clear. I am still in the process of animating and rendering these sequences. Hopefully next week we're another minute or two on (the shots where GOD speaks are often long - there are only two with clear instructions that can be 'visional', haha).

   For their choreography, I had them cast down the rods and lay them out for transformation. The Bible says:

"Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods."
Exodus 7:11-12, KJV.

The statement there for "like manner" is just to vague to be sure how similar it was to what Moses and Aaron did, but the word for enchantments was very interesting. It says of a flaming - the flame of an angelic sword (source: StudyLight ). That means that I can make the cobras appear in a flame of some kind as the rod morphs - that would be interesting in appearance for sure! We'll see what GOD leads me to do, but that was certainly very surprising - I spoke about the fact that they were busy with the demonic and this just confirms it and I didn't even know until tonight that that's what enchantments here referred to! GOD is so awesome!!!

 - Editing 3D
   Like I mentioned earlier, this can be an extremely complicated and very tedious process, since you are editing the storage medium and not the actual effect (ie, side by side, not anaglyph, shutterglasses, etc.). Later in the week, after finishing the shot spoken of at the start, GOD showed me an easier way I can edit it under different circumstances (where no scaling or shifting is needed). Simply put, the approach just goes - whatever you do on the right hand you also have to do on the left hand. If you follow this mirror approach, you can do most of your typical or basic anime editing in the VSE, even for 3D, which I showed you guys in the video. This does come with a major major caution - keep it as simple as possible. The more items you add to the VSE, the easier it becomes confused and you may get frame showing right one time and then wrong when they render (been there). Keep it simple!
   I have to say though, getting to edit the 3D in the VSE was quite an experience - especially when I saw the result turned out fantastic (again, video, hahaha).

 - Is it quiet in here or is it just me
   I have to say, when I play back the scenes, the silence is deafening in many respects. There is still quite a bit of work to do (both sound effects and music) and I want to get those done, but GOD is taking me more the route of the movie studios, where this is part of post production (meaning all the sequences have to be stitched together and then music and sound effects are played and times to the sequences, not the other way around). Of course, you do get some level of editing when all is added together, but preferably not major changes at that point. For me, I only have the footage that is rendered, so it's not even going to the cutting floor for extra footage, hahaha. It has to be final when it's final and then sound gets added. Thankfully, I've already added some sound, but that was more for the trailer, however, I really do like it and feel like it is exactly the way it's supposed to be for now.

 - Defocus revisit and review
   For one shot, I used that special defocus node again and, quite frankly, it is just plain better to layer the shot with render layers and blur them properly, hahaha. I'm not knocking what GOD has given me here. I luv it, but if you can, under any circumstances, use layering (true layering), please do so - your work will be so much the better for it!

   Now, some things I have noticed this week regarding the custom defocus node:
 - Blurs unevenly (image blur is less than mask blur) - fixed
 - Middle-ground always out of focus to some degree - use render layers
 - Transition can't be faked - distance has to be pure white for clean focus (dept map and masking issue) - use only three points to define depth and change the color over time
 - Two level focus is the best (close to far or far to close, no middle area)

   It's by no means perfect, but it certainly has gotten me out of some pickles with the defocus I wanted. Thankfully none of the issues are seen in the shot that is finished, because it passes too quickly! haha.

Anyhow, that is it for this week - I do hope to get a lot more finished for next week! :D

Biggest thanx to GOD for helping me with this. Without HIM, none of this would be possible! :D

Know JESUS yet? GOD is reaching out to you through these videos. HE loves you more than you can imagine and wants you to know HIM. Not because HE's lonely, but because HE loves you and paid a heavy price to enable you to go to Heaven, where HE is. See, we all have sinned in some way shape or form. That makes us guilty before GOD. If you have ever said that you hated someone, in GOD's standard, you have committed murder (James 4). If you've ever looked on a person with lustful thinking, you've already committed fornication with them in your heart and you are then guilty of sexual impurity. If you were to face GOD on judgement day, saying: "I was a good person" will be a void argument, just like it would be before a human judge. GOD knew that we would have to pay that penalty and that we could not pay it, even if we tried, but sent JESUS to pay the price for us. Your sins were put on HIM and the forgiveness that is there for you was by no means cheap - the cross was not padded and comfortable, neither was the death.
But, HE was raised up on the third day (after being crucified) and finished the work so that we may enter through HIM paying the penalty we were supposed to pay, but it is only valid for you, if you accept it and live for HIM.
If that is you today, please, follow this prayer:
"JESUS, I believe that YOU are real and I believe YOU died for me and was raised on the third day for me. Please forgive me for my many sins. I make YOU the LORD of my life, full time and to fill me with YOUR HOLY SPIRIT. Teach me how to live for YOU, help me become what YOU have made me to be, in JESUS' Name! Amen!"

To find out more, you can check out this link:
It gives you access to free Bible translations, free teaching videos and more. Remember, this is a decision with eternal consequence, choose life, choose JESUS. :D

Have a great one!!!

Thank YOU!!!!!!

In : WIP 

Tags: god  jesus  holy spirit  blender  anime  exodus  7-12  kjv  progress  wip  defocus  magicians  enchantment  fire  angel  interpolations  smoke 

About Me

Marius Oberholster Hey all! I've been doing CG work full-time since 2011. GOD has been with me, supported me and taught me all the way. HE tells us to do all things as unto the LORD and that is my goal. I do whatever I believe the HOLY SPIRIT is leading me to do and it's not always easy, but it's always worth it to be obedient! JESUS is awesome!! If you don't know HIM yet, follow the link above!

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