Thursday, June 6, 2019

A comedy of software errors. And fireflies.

Okay ... so now we're starting to get to the bottom of why DAZ Studio 4.10 is such a mangled mess on my computer: the Install Manager stuffed up the job royally. Almost nothing I'm supposed to have is available, and what is available is in weird places ... like, a pair of boots in the ANIMALS folder, and a crocodile in the PEOPLE folder ... most stuff is still just plain missing. The Install Manager put the incredibly outdated Michael 3 in the Genesis 3 folder (!), and lost Victoria 3, Michael 4 and Victoria 4 altogether. I am searching everywhere for content that's scattered like confetti! And often, when I do find something, I get error messages that boil down do, "Sorry, the stuff you bought years ago ain't compatible with this version of Studio, tough luck." OMG.

Today, however, I stumbled over the installers for a very basic, plain set of shaders for various materials, so decided to slap the Simple Skin shader on Michael 4 (since Genesis 3 isn't available yet), and see how it rendered up. Not too bad, but it doesn't bear close inspection. Either Michael 4 doesn't render very convincingly in IRay, or ... what? The render is full of "fireflies," if you look in the darker areas. These are sparkles where there should be resolved, finished pixels. In Reality, this issue is addressed by letting the image "cook" a lot longer. Soooo...

I was going to set up the same shot, above, to render for 3x as long at a higher resolution, but when I reopened the file after dinner, I discovered that Studio hadn't saved it properly: all the geometries were lost, and instead of Michael 4 loading, a curious figure built of primitives (cubes, spheres and cylinders) loaded in his place. So the file for the above image is gone. Aaarrrgghh. Give me strength.

Having run out of time, I just slapped a really quick shot together and rendered it THREE ways: with and without the Simple Skin shader, and with 3x the resolution in the render (which blows the render time to kingdom come, incidentally). Result: you cannot tell a difference, none at all, between shots where you use the shader or not on Michael 4; and cranking up the render resolution and cooking time made no difference whatsoever. Here's the best IRay could do with poor old Michael:

That's at massively high rez, and rendering forever. Hmm. It could simply be down to the fact that Michael 4 was never designed to be subjected to the rigors of this kind of rendering. Mind you...

AT a detail level, when you look at the hands and the venous mapping (and ignore the fireflies in the shadowed area), it's impressive. Look at the fingernails for a start, and tendons in the wrist. That is very good. There are forums full of people tearing out their hair, trying to get rid of what they call "grain" in their high-rez renders (unfinished cooking among the pixels, is what it is), and there's ten different ways to tackle the problem.

Suffice to say, I've had enough for today and will try again tomorrow, with a different project.

DAZ tech support dropped me a line again this week, and I might be one (small) step closer to getting the teething problems sorted out. There's a procedure called Database Maintenance that might go a long way to fixing the trouble ... but I'll need pro advice before I go there, because apparently it can also create a complete shambles. And I'm exhausted. So -- we wait a bit longer!

Meanwhile, living in hopes that all this will come right in the end, I've been window shopping at Renderosity...

PHX Nate for Genesis 8

SAV Ades

PHX Sean for Genesis 8

Now, there is the problem of getting third party stuff to land in an accessible place inside Studio 4.10, so you can find it, load it and work with it ... but since most of these renders, above, are carrying the "DAZ Studio /IRay" labels," I'm going to assume the designers have the installation all worked out. Please gods, they've got it worked out. I think I shall start with ONE model, and get it up and running ... take notes, and then try another. One step at a time, right?

Anyway, if you want to take a look at Renderosity, there's some good stuff for Genesis figures. Not all of it, by any means: some of the figures/characters, particularly the males, are fairly ludicrous; but some are very good indeed; and generally speaking, Renderosity tends to be a lot cheaper than the DAZ marketplace. So ...

That's it for me for today. Tired. Time to take looong nap. More soon.
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