Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Gypsy eyes, IRay adventures, and the Reality fizzler

Well, phooey ... best laid plans and all that. Boy, have I learned some stuff since the last time I posted! Some of it good, some of it not so good! The good stuff first: above -- we'll call him a gypsy boy, I think. That's the Genesis 8 base figure, no special skinmap or shaders added yet, because I don't have any -- that's the next thing we're about to fix. But I did buy him some decent hair to get rid of that dorky hairstyles which was the only thing that came prepackaged with Studio! This looks lovely-- the Elan hair, which was on sale via the DAZ marketplace, so I grabbed it while the going was good! Next, we'll get a proper skinmap or shaders; but you gotta start somewhere, and --

The fact is, Studio 4.11 is still doing this to me:

You set up your scene, with the Millennium Falcon in a hangar, and two guys, one of whom is the Genesis 8 base figure, complete with the dorky hair, the other is Michael 4... think to yourself, "this is great, we're halfway there, even if the Genesis 8 boy looks like the undead -- flat white eyes. Okay, he's a zombie. Zombies need love too." But then you save the file so you can come back to it the next day and ...

When you open the file, instead of getting your Michael 4 + costume + hair, you get ... a stack of boxes and a warning about missing files; and when you describe this to tech support, you get the email equivalent of a blank stare. They are on the problem, but it seems that the issues I'm experiencing are vastly unusual Anyway, we're working on it, but Studio 4.11 is jacking around massively. It's already been uninstalled and reinstalled; one wonders what happens next! So...

Last I posted, I had a render that was going on and on and on, six hours and counting. I left it rendering all night, and it didn't look any better in the morning, so it was abandoned on account of "I don't have time to let IRay own the computer any longer!" What I ended up with was --

Raytraced figure added to IRay rendered set: Mog Ruith
Don't get excited: that's the raytraced figure set into the IRay rendered set (images manipulated in Photoshop), because after seven hours the IRay render of the figure was just a blizzard of grain. But on the other hand, the set itself rendered rather nicely, even if if did take seven hours. So I deleted the figure and left it to render just the set alone, and we got this:

It's okay, but it's nowhere near near as high-rez as it should have been, after six or seven hours; and IRay didn't give me a "resume" option, so ... what you see is what you get. Hmm...

I was thinking to myself, "if you were using Reality, you might do better, because you don't need all those pesky shaders," right? And I stumbled into the website for preta3D, the company behind Reality, which was having a special offer on Reality 4.3 -- US$17.48 instead of US$49.99 via the DAZ store. Got it. Installed it. Tested it. WFT? The whole reason I went with Reality was that Version 4.0 was reputed to anything up to 20x faster than Version 2.0, right? So why is it just the same speed as the old version I was using in 2012?! And it turns out, when I dug deep down into the research --

Reality used to fly, up till a very short time ago, when PCs got their new video driver updates, and suddenly the acceleration didn't work anymore. So ... yep, you guessed: Reality 4.3 is as now as slow as 2.0; and that is sloooow. Like this:

Left: Reality render, abandoned after SIX HOURS, at which point it wasn't even 'cooked' as much as a fifteen minute IRay render. I just plain don't have the time to do accommodate thirty-hour renders! And since the Genesis figure was also rendering with zombie eyes (plain white -- check it out at 600x900 and see what I mean there!) even in Reality, I just stopped the render.

So what's the deal with the eyes? I went into the textures and maps and all, and it turns out Studio 4.11 isn't loading a diffuse map on the Genesis 8 base figure's eyeballs. It's that simple. No diffuse map, no detail in the eyes. So my next trick was to scrounge around in the Studio folders, which are somewhat chaotic (Install Manager stuck anything anywhere: Michael 3.0 ended up in the Genesis folder, M4 and V4 disappeared altogether; Genesis 3 base ended up filed with shoes!!!), and I found some diffuse maps for Genesis 3 eyeballs. Soon as I applied a diffuse map to the Genesis 8 cornea, bingo, Genesis 8 suddenly has eyes ... not very good ones (because they're not made to fit), but at least it doesn't look like a Zombie. This suggests to me that proper shaders for the eyes will cure the problem permanently, with betters results --

GP Eyes for Genesis 8, catalog image
Yep, there's another US$20/A$30 ... starting to chuck quite a bit of cash at this already, and the oars aren't even in the water yet! But we'll persevere: one problem at a time. Get the eyes sorted, and get a proper skinmap for the poor boy, and see how we go from there.

Render times are the major issue for me right now. It's dead easy if you just want to stand a model in front of the camera, set up a light and come back in an hour. I can do that. But if you want to render a scene, or a complex set ... better come back tomorrow, or the next day. I peeked into the log file to see what DAZ is doing, and had a major "hmmm" moment. In order to get SPEED out of IRay, you need to be rendering on the NVIDIA card -- and since I have a pretty good middle of the road NVIDIA card, I assumed it would be working. Nope. As good as my card is, it doesn't have the top-end performance and CUDA capacity (look it up) to handle IRay. So it turns out, I'm just rendering on the CPU, and that explains why IRay "owns the computer" while the render is, uh, rendering. Ah, so.

Solution: get a faster NVIDIA card? Sure; but they retail for A$800 - A$2,000 ... it won't be happening for me anytime soon! So I'm going to be a bit restricted in what I can render in IRay (and Reality is way too slow to be feasible). It looks like I can't do large images; and I can't do big, complex sets.

As I began -- I have learned soooo much in the last couple of days! Why things aren't working, and short-term solutions; Reality is installed but shelved; back to IRay, needing shaders and more shaders. But here's some better news: it dawned on me (duh) to go to Ma Google and run a search on 'free IRay shaders,' to see if there's anything out there. And it turns out that wonderful people on DeviantArt are making shaders available to save the lives of people in the same boat as myself! So ... the experiment continues.

Next: a skinmap for Genesis 8. And with any luck, said skinmap will have good eyeball shaders as part of the package! Stay tuned... 😝

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