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Week of testing

Posted by Marius Oberholster on Thursday, August 31, 2017 Under: WIP
Hey all!
This week's vlog!


GOD is just wow!!

  - Anime Metal
   Without a doubt one of the hardest materials to produce for a flat shaded look, I really learned a lot about the approach to metal in anime and the results are super surprising!
   Shockingly, in most cases, you were just looking at the equivalent of a diffuse shader or even more alarming, a shadeless one! In almost every situation from the 80's, you would find that metal is purely metal, because it is metal - often times, at the most, simply having a strong specular value and it worked. Even some of today's adaptations to the mech anime genre still use a basic diffuse shader equivalent! You know its metal, because it is metal.
   What does that mean?
   You know it's a robot, so you know it's metal. You know it's a car, so you know it's metal. You know it's a transformer, so you know it's metal. You know it's an android, thus you know it's metal. The same for water in some instances.
   In more recent shows, metal has received a lot more attention, while retaining very similar characteristics. Iron Man, for example, has the diffuse shader with sharp specularity look, while having the addition of what I would like to call metallic contrast. This is the addition of specularity-like lines that flow along the normal, that represent that reflective quality that, especially, brushed steel has. I've also seen some images where the metal has been given a slight smoothness on the face of the diffuse reaction, but still having a nice crisp specular highlight.
   Some take this sort of reflective quality into over-drive and produce some truly visually stunning results that you'd almost only expect from a feature length piece (if you have understanding of the effort that would go into it).
   In addition, there are some serious issues with reflective materials in anime and that is that they are by no means truly reflective. They look reflective, because they adhere to certain requirements to get that look (such as the specularity-like lines and creating reflective shadows). Reflective shadows meaning that where there would ordinarily be shadows, there are, but with rim lighting, causing the shadows to add to the reflectivity of the material.
    Rim lighting, or fresnel reflections, are also a major component of anime-style metal. It is a nightmare to put a metal shader together and have it really feel like metal in a 2D space - which brings me back to the original point - that's not really the goal. You know it's metal, so you're not loading all the responsibility on the material to tell you what it is. The shape bares part of that load as well as the story and the sound.
   Your part as the artist is simply to add to that expectation of the material, so that in context, the material truly does give the impression of being some form of metal.
 
   The biggest question for this section is of course what all this means for Exodus and quite frankly, not much, hahaha. At the most, the metals that are in Exodus can easily be rendered using a flat color with some specular highlights. Only close-ups would require the greater detail, but so far, those are limited. It could certainly be of immense value where they are kicked out of the throne room when Pharaoh won't listen to them. In any case, I'm glad GOD helped me get these shaders working well, because they have immense potential! :D

 - Cycles as alternative with 2.79
   Yeah, I'm a little more than disappointed on this one, haha. I was so hoping that Cycles would, with the denoising feature, present me with the possibility to get render times down even further. While it certainly does produce a noiseless render faster, there are a multitude of issues that still mess with the final result:
 - Transparency is only partially transparent (when the image is black and the transparency is white, it still leaves a semi-transparent "plate" visible
 - Ambient occlusion has no distance when used as environment lighting. The hemi lamp is not supported in Cycles and works like a sun lamp. The problem here is that the hemi lamps simulate environment lighting for the freestyle objects, while allowing the ambient occlusion to exist for background elements. You could say Blender Render really has flex when it comes to environmental controls, because its so physically inaccurate (which is a total must-have for toon shading and other NPR stuff). In order to get the distance, there has to be some level of adding the emission shader to the general materials, but then "global illumination" won't affect the shaders (aka single hemi light control for all shaders is a no-go)
 - Overall speed of hardware still remains a major draw back for Cycles. While Blender Render and Cycles are pretty head to head on speed at this point (at least on my PC), Cycles can render about 15-20 seconds per frame faster, but without the visual quality of Blender Render and unfortunately, it's just not the 15-20 seconds worth. I can get those 15-20 seconds (and more - tested it) by turning off the same features in Blender Render, so, yeah... Cycles got it to be about 1:10 from 1:30 in Blender Render, but if I make Blender Render do the same as Cycles (0 distance AO), it goes down a further 10 seconds, making Blender Render 10 seconds yet faster and still looks better (transparency is clean, textures are easier to setup, easily layered, environment lighting is better distributed, etc).

Basically, not knocking Cycles in anyway here, but it's not built for NPR (of course this is no secret) and because it doesn't want to bend far enough to accommodate that and all I need for Exodus' look, it just doesn't present a viable replacement for Blender Render yet - ironic, hahaha.

 - Taking the test a bit further
   There is something about Cycles' way of handling materials that is very soft (even when toon shaded properly) and it would be awesome to have that as part of the result. I know that Cycles is still being developed and there are major improvements being made under the hood with every release (especially with the support for AMD cards coming in strong), so I know that the features I am looking for may still come. They my also come in Eevee in due time, but regardless, GOD is good and I am so glad HE allowed me to test this out, because it certainly was interesting to see! For the sake of being thorough, I also had the same scene render in 2.79 with Blender Render and it was actually slower by 5 seconds and the compositing broke - something is different about the AO in 2.79 that causes it not to take transparency into account or something and that causes a major glitch in the final result. So it's not just slower in the new version, it's also broken, hahaha. There's a very good reason for the motivation to stay with the same program version until a project is completed! hahaha.
   For the sake of interest, when the project renders correctly with all features and look intact, it takes just under 2mins (1:50-1:55) per frame (excluding 3D conversion).
   Of course, the goal is always to get these render times down even further, but as far as times go, this is technically super fast for a non-game engine render at the desired quality. If I start dumping the visual quality (ie removing features), then I can get super fast times, but at a visual quality that isn't pleasing at all - which I also shared in the vlog. Keeping the usual essentials for compositing 2D with a non-freestyle background, but turning off everything else, I can get it down to 25 seconds per frame (most of which actually goes to freestyle - about 13-14 seconds to be more precise), 18s/f if I remove the textures as well and 1s/f if I use the viewport, haha.
   Clearly, getting low render times isn't the problem. It's getting low render times with good looking visuals that's the problem, haha.

 - Foley
   Not something I haven't talked about in the past, but this week I was actually able to dedicate one whole day of production time to just sound and what a blast it was! I'm not 100% happy with all the sounds (I feel some can be better, or at least made better) and others are just wonderful! Some feel out of place and some are just plain missing, hahaha.
   The fun part with sound is that you create a mood. When the whole thing opens, there's this eery wind noise with the crackle of the fires and a weird mix of sound, as if something is happening out of view, outside and we can hear it, even though it's not directly affecting us. The goal with that is to give that "what is going on" or "what is about to go down" kinda vibe. I think it goes more toward the former, because it does create a lot of questions for the listener.
   Making the sound is the interesting part. For the fire crackle, I used a scrunched up shopping bag (gently scrunching it for the crackles) and boosted it obviously. For the fire role and flap, I had to use Brownian noise generated and boosted around the base frequencies and made uneven by very much altering the volume level. It was a lot of effort, but it turned out well. The effort mostly came in with the volume adjustment and layering the crackles (I have some at various pans and various offsets, etc.). Totally luv how it turned out! GOD is awesome!
   What I would've liked to adjust was the amount of crackling. I felt it crackled waaaaaaaay too often, but I listened to another sound later from a fire place that made me feel totally at ease, because that thing crackled like it was going out of style, hahaha.

   The river sound was adjusted significantly. The Bible doesn't tell us whether this was a raging river, but odds are it would've been one that flowed well, but didn't necessarily always make a big racket. In the video, it is shown to be quite calm (like the previous, still there sound), so having rapids sound isn't fitting (at least not for the immediate vicinity). That means it's volume level had to come waaaaaaay down (spoke about that last week). Since bringing it down, it feels soo much better! One thing I definitely want is a greater pause between the start of the river sound and the opening's ending. Not major, just enough to let you know as a viewer that we're moving into the narrative now and the one space is left as we enter another. Would definitely continue to work on timing.

   Speaking of timing - Moses saying "Take thy rod and cast it before Pharaoh" has to open it's visual when the reverse cymbal stops and sometimes it looked that way in the edit and sometimes not, hahaha. I rendered it out and sure enough - timing is good! :D
GOD is so wonderful! Watching it with more sound is so different, especially Aaron's throw with the whooshes added! haha. They were super disorientating, because I had made the stereo too wide for the throw - much better!

   There are still a ton of sounds that need to be done, such as the snakes' his, the dino's scream, the transformation of the rods, the cloud of the magicians, etc. Not to mention atmosphere! Still so much to do, but I luv luv luv working on it! The whooshes where the snakes get eaten was the coolest to work on this week, hahaha.

 - Order of events
   This is quite a difficult thing to work with, because quite frankly, everything needs to add up. There are some really fascinating things about the account of the water being turned into blood:
 - GOD told Moses to take Aaron's rod to strike the river (the one that was turned into a dino)
 - Moses was the one that struck the river.
 - Moses told Aaron to stretch out his rod over the water of Egypt (meaning at some point he handed it back)
 - Aaron held out his rod over the waters of Egypt to turn it all into blood (scripture makes it fairly obvious that even loose standing vessels were most likely turned into blood, so again, we come to a sequence of events where the magicians also turned water into blood)

   The only thing that I personally, so far, can conclude here is that we have a check list of remembrance rather than a sequence of events in the blood section with GOD's orders and what Moses told Aaron to do (notice that there are no thens following the ands).
   Moses has to strike the river. This has to happen before the magicians turn water into blood, because they copied GOD and always made it worse.
   Moses had to hand Aaron back his rod and tell him to stretch it out over the land of Egypt to turn all the water in the country into blood - at which Pharaoh turns himself and goes into his house.
   This is like a repeat of the serpents where GOD totally outgunned him and he refused to listen, so it does fit.
   Basically, it means that somewhere between Moses hitting the river and the hand off to Aaron, the magicians tried their hand at coming against GOD and failed with the next step - it's the only time they could, seeing that there was blood in all the land of Egypt after Aaron stretched out his rod over the waters of Egypt.

"And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt."
Exodus 7:21, KJV.

So, the right sequence, imo, praying about it, would be:
 - Moses speaks to Pharaoh
 - Moses strikes river with Aaron's rod
 - Magicians called in to copy Moses - striking water pots for blood (scripture doesn't say what they did to copy him, just that they "...did so with their enchantments:..." Exodus 7:22b
 - Moses hands back rod and tells him to stretch out his rod over the waters
 - Aaron stretches out his rod and all the water in Egypt becomes blood
 - Pharaoh shrugs it off and goes back into the palace

 - All the water?
   Well, all the obvious water (surface water, barring the water in your body) makes sense if you listen to the wording:

"And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone."
Exodus 7:19, KJV.

Notice "all their pools of water", "throughout all the land of Egypt" and even loose standing vessels "vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone."

And further:
"And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt."
Exodus 7:22, KJV.

Again, "blood throughout all the land of Egypt."

It also makes sense then why GOD put a limit on the lifespan of this plague:
"And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river."
Exodus 7:25, KJV.

   Of course, if we are really honest here, seams ambiguous, but what we believe it means is that there was only 7 days' limit on this plague and it's quite clear from the fact that Egyptians still exist today, that they didn't all die of thirst. And it is supported by some health info about waterlessness, giving you in bad conditions a three day limit and in ideal conditions, about a week (sometimes a smidge more).
http://www.businessinsider.de/how-many-days-can-you-survive-without-water-2014-5?r=US&IR=T
https://www.livescience.com/32320-how-long-can-a-person-survive-without-water.html

   Now, that is the people of today or a little bit back, but the people from Moses' day would've probably been in much much better shape (in general - less fast food and more trades-work) and would've probably been able to last the week fairly easily (given Pharaoh's attitude). Children might not be that strong and I would venture to say that probably a few people died within this 7 day period, though scripture doesn't say that nor denies it.

 - Rigging lag
   With the new updates that are coming to 2.8 and probably a smidge early in 2.79, there still remains, at least in what I used, a lag that will be fixed. Basically what it does is it prevents Blender from updated a parent on a parent on a parent (whether by constraints or parenting). This causes about a frame or so delay. Normally unnoticed, but with fast movement, you can certainly see someone's hair trailing behind, hahahaha. Moses' did until this simple fix - that was actually suggested to someone who found the same rigging issue a few years ago. You can check out the thread here:
https://developer.blender.org/T35409
So, while it's a bug, it's not a bug, hahaha. It shall indeed, prayerfully, be fixed in the future with 2.8. I saw this in Esther 6 as well, with Haman running to his house, but it held an animation advantage there - not so much with Moses' hair, hahaha.
   Do realize that this is a very unpredictable result, so if you do decide you want to use it to your advantage, make sure you test it with OpenGL first (or whatever pre-viz render mode you are using when you're using it, hahahaha).

   So the fix is simply to force Blender to update said object a little faster. In Moses' case, it was his hair that I want to keep with everything else. To apply it, you go into the object data (the orange cube in the properties tab). Scroll down to Relational Extras and tick both boxed for Extra Update and that's it. You don't have to have a slow parent turned on for this to work - it fixed it for me.

   I have to add though. I wanted to keep the extra update turned off on his clothes, because it created a bit of a more dynamic reaction when he moves quickly, but unfortunately for a frame or two, the sleeve is so far behind that his hand is literally in mid air with the sleeve off doing its own thing, hahaha. Oh well, better to have it right than to have it dynamic and wrong.

 - Minor visual adjustments
   Definitely what it sounds like, it also makes a great impact on the final result to push something just that little bit more to get it better. Of course, there will always be something else that can be improved, but you need to find peace for where you're at in terms of skill and time. Aim for as close to perfect as you can, but also getting it done! :D

   Anyway, so the visual changes that were made:
 * Pharaoh's "Show a miracle for you" shot fades out slower
 * There's a bigger gap between the intro and the first line
 * The magicians' stick tap "cut scenes" are brighter
 * The noise intensity on the magicians' energy control was reduced (it just went too dark and was too erratic imo)
 * Timing of the shot with Aaron was also changed to reflect a more snappy pace than before. Not rushed, but definitely more snappy.
 * Moses and Aaron's "Take thy rod and cast it before Pharaoh" gets a snappier tie-in with the audio

   Another visual adjustment you will definitely have seen in previous projects from other people, is that they often don't include shadow on shape or from shape for the sake of rendering fast. This is not bad, but it certainly doesn't help in every situation. In Moses' case I did something else - I rotated the sun to shine in his face. This gives you a nice sense that it is indeed morning and that the light is shining on him - like GOD is looking at him and smiling from ear to ear! :D
   Anyway, this is a very very effective way of getting the result you want without compromising on the final result of it all. Also, unfortunately no rendering in real time atm, so that will come with time and development.

Anyhow, that is it for this week's post - a lot got done this week, so I am just so thankful for everyone who reads, comments and watches! Thank you!

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:
http://www.crossallegiance.org/knowJesus.html
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  metal shader  confrontation  water  order of events  rod 

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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