Friday, September 20, 2019

Old props and sets, new shaders and surfaces. And check this out --

This is where it gets really, really interesting! That's Michael 4, rendered in Iray ... and I've figured out how to get decent results:

When you first set up the character, more often than not it loads with incompatible surface mapping. Basically, it shines as if it was cast in colored glass! But it only takes a few minutes to go around and apply the "Uber shader" to every separate "UV island" in the figure and hair, and then dial down the gloss. Then, Iray can make sense of the render, and the results are actually extremely nice. That's Michael 4 wearing the Marco skinmap and the Alexander head morph, the Mon Chevalier hair, and the Journeyer Scout pants with the texture switched out.

The set is a whole 'nother story. DM's Circular Shrine (from Renderosity) won't load into Studio 4 for love or money, so I went back into Studio 3, exported it to an OBJ, and imported that into Studio 4 and spent about half an hour applying shaders, where I couldn't save the original diffuse maps (I think I managed to save about two ... the rest are just so Iray-incompatible, the set simply looks better with some really good shaders applied.

Now, it gets interesting. Here is the standing set, but the time I was done with the shaders:

That's pretty good. So, how about we drive the camera in there and add a characer? Here we go:

And yes, that's M4 wearing the Xurge costume you saw yesterday ... and yes, the metal parts have been fixed with a metallic shader. Yesterday, Studio 4.11 refused to recognize two file paths for various stashes of content. Today, it played nice and I could get hold of the shaders. Go figure. I didn't do anything different today; the program just decided to work, out of the blue. The render is pretty nice. I lit it with IBL lighting -- using this --

-- which I painted up from an old image, and it worked a treat. So far so good. I just did the character render at small size for the sake of speed; it's nothing special, just an experiment to see how the shaders worked out; and the final experiment was still to come. Could I save the file, since Studio understands its file paths now? And the answer is --

--forget it. The second you hit "save," Studio loses any content it previously loaded -- with one exception. You notice it saved and reloaded the OBJ properly! The circular shrine set came in as a simple white plastic OBJ, and it saved cleanly. Well, now. There's food for thought.

So right now, I can work with Michael 4 characters, but whatever I'm going to do, it has to be done fast and be fairly simple, because the file can't be saved. This is actually what deters me from taking the next step at this juncture:

Catalog image. See this. 
There is actually a script you can install into Studio, which does the work for you: makes the Generation 4 characters render properly without the messing about. The problem is, it's A$30, and with the best will in the world, I can't save a file! Also, right now, I can't get the computer online in order to install this properly, using the automatic, online Install Manager. Studio also isn't recognizing anything I install manually; something's not right somewhere ... but I am finding answers one by one. I don't say I'll figure out how to save a file properly, because this is the problem that beat tech support, who gave up on the issue after three months of trying. It must be something to do with the vagaries of my own specific PC?? Well, end of next year we'll try this again with a new one. Chances are, everything will "come good" without me sweating over it. And that's the time to be buying the Iray Converter for Generation 4 ... which I adds layers and layers of functionality. Something to look forward to!
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