Wednesday, February 22, 2012

No, your eyes don't deceive you. Brad Pitt. Not guilty!

click to see all the images at large size, 1000+ pixels... 

Not guilty! I didn't put Brad Pitt through Poser's Face Room ... but someone did. And the results are very good indeed. The designer is H3D, and you can get this character from Renderosity -- he was on sale the other day, and I couldn't resist. The face works very well from almost every angle ... cheers to H3D for this one! In fact, the character is retailed as Bart, not Brad, so if you're over at Renderosity looking for him, remember to search under "Bart for M4," of course M4, or Michael 4, being the base model.

So the next thing was to plunk Brad, uh, Bart, into a scene with characters of mine, and the next thing I couldn't resist was this: 

That's my own Leon on the right -- one of my favorites from among a lot of characters I've created over the last several years. My characters are created in DAZ Studio and saved as "preset" files. They're not compatible with Poser, which is the only downside to them. But having said that ... Poser will import and open a Collada file. Uh huh. Thais means I should be able to do the scene set up, right down to the textures and lights, in DAZ, save it to the Collada format, then open that in Poser, and render it up in the Firefly engine. Now, there's a thought to conjure with! This would also save me having to reinstall about 30 GBs worth of 3D models and props ... hundreds of installers to run, and what have you. That's not a job I've been looking forward to. But if you have this "3D Bridge" between DAZ and Poser, via Collada, then you just do your stuff in the familiar old program, and render the living daylights out of it with the Firefly engine. Hmm. Wouldn't that be nice!

(Incidentally, if you're wondering how I got the shirt on Brad, I mean Bart: it's the Lockwood shirt ... go into the Surfaces tab and make the collar and laces transparent; then add a brocade transparency map; and use the same map as the displacement map, jiggling the settings till you get what you want. Add a diffuse map to create the overall color and toning for the fabric itself, and you're done. I made the brocade map myself ... I just photographed a chair, believe it or not, and then dropped the image into grayscale and flattened the contrast waaaay down.)

This week has been a blizzard of work -- so thick, I haven't even had time to install Studio 4 Pro ... which, as I blogged the other day, they are now giving way ... which is the whole reason I'm revisiting Studio 4, in the hopes that the pro version will be several dimensions smarter and smoother than the basic version (which sucked).

But I did manage the wrangle the time to get Bryce installed, and ...

Yes!! It works!! Not only does it work far better without falling over six ways ever ten minutes, but I'm also able to open up a bunch of content that I bought a while back. The content only ever made the old Bryce 7 Pro crash, or else it would open the files and "bong" at me with a message, "Object missing." This time around, the files load very nicely indeed.

The top two landscapes are all me: in fact, it's the same landscape, with the mist/fog turned ON in the top one, and turned OFF in the bottom one. The mist-off one has the look of a renaissance painting, but I really like the misty one. When you're working in Bryce, you work most of the time with the atmospherics turned off, because as soon as you turn 'em on, it takes a couple of minutes to get a preview -- in other words, so that you can see if the tweak you just made worked out, or made a mess. So you're done with just about everything before you turn the mist on ... and I knew by that time, I wanted two renders, because they're two very different pictures.

The third landscape here ... I'm reluctant to even sign it, but I have signed it because it took 7.5 hours to render, even on the fastest machine you can get in these parts (rendering on four processors threaded as eight). I call it "Canyon, after David Brinnen," because this shot is based very closely on one of the scenes from a pack of David Brinnen landscape materials (which wouldn't open in the old Bryce, but open nicely in the upgrade). I want to stress, this isn't really my work, as such ... although I did drive the camera around, change a few things, and worked my computer hard all night to render the shot...

Now, I know how to do the terrain, the materials on the terrain, and the foliage. But what Mr. Brinnen is doing with the lights, to get this daylight effect, is a complete mystery to me so far. I have literally no idea how to get this quality of light out of Bryce. But I'll reverse engineer this, I swear it, and find out! This is the whole point of buying a pack of scenes, like this one: you take them apart and learn. This is what they're packed and retailed for.

Next: I'm looking at the Bart (ha!) skinmap -- which is a lovely skinmap -- and I'm wondering how Neil Travers would look wearing it. For months, I've been somewhat stymied, because I can't get any skinmap right on Neil. If you have a long memory, you might recall that the last skinmap I tried on him was the SAV Eros one. It was extremely realistic but it really changed his face too much. He looked uber-real, but very different, and I wan't happy with the result. Since then, I haven't had the chance to return to Travers, and I also haven't bought many skinmaps lately, because I have a pretty good library of them. But they'll all quite tan, swarthy, and in the Hellgate books Neil Travers is described as being "pale," as many spacers are. He needs a very fair skinmap -- but at the same it has to be very different from the skin used for Captain R.J. Stone, because (and this is on of the things that makes life hard!) if you notice, Travers and Stoney answer to very much the same physical description. The way they're described, they could be first cousins, yet they're very different men. If you know your NARCs and Hellgates, you know what I mean. If you don't, you might want to click here and find out a little...

So -- Bryce is on and working like a charm. Next is to give Studio 4 Pro a workout and see if it delivers the goods; and to try out the, uh, Brad (!) skinmap on Neil. Experiments in Poser are continuing, but I admit, I've been so strapped for time in the last few days, I've barely had a chance to touch it. On the other hand, Dave has done a couple of renders in Vue that blow you away ... I just can't get him to post them. Grrrr.

Jade, 22 February

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