Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It was under the Christmas tree, and I'm still astonished!



Can't remember the last time I was so completely gobsmacked. It was under the Christmas tree. And I didn't even suspect it till I was halfway through ripping the wrapping paper off the box, and then it was the weight that tipped me off  ... it has FOUR massively powerful processors that are threaded to produce a virtual eight-core, or octocore, or whatever they're calling it. It has TWO terabytes, of internal storage, additional to the boot drive. It has 8Gb of ram, which I can blow out to 33Gb, if I need to. It has a 22-spin dual layer DVD burner...

Omigod. It's screamingly fast, when doing the work that used to make my previous computer have a hernia (supposing it would even try to do these jobs -- which sometimes it wouldn't). It's rendering in less than one tenth of the time -- which gives me the opportunity to finish pieces that would have been abandoned before.

Take the first of today's uploads: lighting it was a nightmare. I could. not. light. it. I don't know what was going on, but nothing I did was getting results I liked ... I went through better than 60 test renders to figure a way through the labyrinth. Now, on the old computer, each test render would have taken maybe 8-10 minutes. In other words, the piece would have been abandoned, because there wasn't enough time to find the answer! On this computer? Oomph. Each render took less than a minute. The lights still drove me nuts -- I still set up, and dumped, four different suites of custom lighting, before I got it working. But it was doable!

Incidentally, click to see these at full size ... check out that floor. I made the texture, and the displacement map, myself, on the fly. Look at those floorboards! The orb was handpainted in Photoshop...

Then, look at the detailing on the Palenque Ruins render. That one is raytraced at biiiig size, with the bump mapping turned up sky high, and trees and grass and and shadows, the works. Very little was done to this in Photoshop after the fact. Just a few extra grasses and some birds in the sky. The rest is all right there in the 3D work. Render time on the old machine would have been about 3 hours. On this machine? 11.5 minutes.

I want to thank my husband huuuugely, massively, copiously, for this. I honestly, seriously, didn't have any clue what was going on till the wrapping paper was halfway off the box, and I felt the weight. There's something about the weight of a CPU that tells you what it is, even before the box is open. (This one was a custom build, by the techs at IT Warehouse, who were told the work I'm doing. I call it Thor. The previous one was Ajax. The one before was Achilles. The laptop is Pandora. The previous laptop was Hera ... whimsical, I know).

Thank you, thank you!!!!

So now I'm getting excited about all the things I've never been able to even attempt in 3D. Stuff like smog and smoke and fire, done right there in the render engine, rather than being painted in later ... things like huge renders, 2000 pixels wide, which allow for massive amounts of detail, and atmospherics. Things like scenes that are stuffed full of objects and characters...

In the immortal words of the dude who gave Batman the biggest run for his money he ever had, "Here ... we ... go!"

Jade, 27 December
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