Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Operation Fail-Safe! (Finding the right workflow)

When working with many artists, the relevance of a streamlined pipeline is extremely important. I've spent many hours researching and developing lighting workflows so that even the "entry level" lighter is able to light and extract render passes with minimal effort on our film.

When the film first commenced, I wanted to use RenderMan due to its certain caveats. But due to my own lack of RenderMan knowledge and the availability of people who have that knowledge, I decided to use Mental Ray. After starting, I realized that even though I know how to create and extract the passes necessary for compositing, maybe others wouldn't and maybe it wasn't even necessary to do all that work by hand. Upon further thought, I remembered that V-Ray is able to render all the necessary passes at the click of a few buttons. Upon that thought I took 2 days and converted all my Mental Ray shaders to V-Ray shaders. There was only one problem at this point. And that was the "artistic tweak-ability". I was finding it very hard to get away from that "V-Ray" look... especially with skin. So again I dug a bit more into the cave of internet research wonders. To be honest, I started to feel like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, thinking to myself "what am I going to do?". A few days later, I stumbled upon a phenomenal shader pack written by Ledin Pavel (aka Puppet) called puppet shaders. These shaders are extremely useful and are capable of rendering out to passes just like the V-Ray nodes. So yet again, I took a few more days and converted all my old Mental Ray shaders to puppet's shaders. After I finished and completed some more "tests", I realized that I had made a great decision and that all the research was well worth it.

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