Since february this year my studio pipeline went 100% virtual. Due to several reasons I had to get rid of my physical, dedicated render farm, disk station, rack, pretty much the entire server room, and moved to cloud computing.
It goes without saying that it wasn’t as simple and straight forward as I had hoped. Setting up everything took several days (mostly trial/error), but in the end, I moved my entire license server, render farm, Deadline etc. to Amazon’s cloud computing platform.
I picked Amazon for no particular reason. I just had the most experience with it and didn’t really look elsewhere. The setup is so complicated that I didn’t want to invest any more time and money into setting up Azure or Google cloud. The only reason would, potentially, be the cost. Because, let me tell you, virtual computing isn’t exactly cheap.
I’ll discuss my setup, my experience and my reasoning for going to the cloud in my later posts.
Have you thought that the market with renderers is full and thus there is probably nothing that could come up with something almost revolutionary to stir things up? So did I. But man, was I wrong!
Introducing Corona, the unbiased, CPU based renderer that will kick asses of even the most high-end and proven renderer on the market, such as VRay, finalRender or Arnold.
It’s still in its Alpha stage of development, but let me tell you, I’ve been using it for over a year and have done quite a few TV commercials with it without too much of a hassle.
Now, you can read more about the renderer on the official page, even download the full-functioning version and try it out for yourselves. So, I won’t go into how awesome, simple and brutally fast the renderer is, but instead, I’ll write a bit about how we used the renderer for a slightly different purpose than just final rendering.
I just realized that after seeing what Autodesk has been doing to the (at the very least) DCC software packages for a long time now.
They just can’t write good software. Nothing breath taking, let alone revolutionary. Just look at it. All they sell is software they bought from really smart and bold developers in the past. Then they pretty much kept it the same way it had been, including all the bugs, quirks and issues, but slapping on fancier and fancier GUIs they also bought or licensed from someone else (Qt anyone?). They don’t have the balls, even though they pretty much have a monopoly on the DCC field. Pussies.
Seriously, when was the last time you were excited a new version of anything from Autodesk is coming out soon? I haven’t. Hell, I haven’t been even excited about their betas in a long while. Autodesk doesn’t listen to the users, they don’t care much about the old time power users either. They just don’t give a shit, in my opinion.
So, with all seriousness, I’m truly considering cancelling my subscription and just don’t give a shit back.
There would be no fun without VFX!
I got really sick of all the shit that Mozilla started doing with Firefox lately. It kept on freezing, crashing, updating all the time, the Flash was basically unusable in Firefox (though I blame Adobe for that), but mainly it became bigger, bloated and slower with each micro-release.
This drove me to, again, evaulate Chrome (as I can’t stand Opera in general, so I won’t even bother trying it out). And to my surprise, they removed those annoying little bits I didn’t like last time I was trying it out and added a few handy features I appretiate.
The smooth scrolling is still a far cry from Firefox, though, but it’s snappy, feels lightweight and doesn’t get in my way as I basically just want to browse the web, not admire the software that does the rendering for me.
So, as of today, after a few days of trying Chrome out, I made Chrome my default browser and I hope it won’t be pissing me off as much as Firefox has in the past few weeks.
This, Mozilla, shows how easy it is to lose user base.
I don’t think I have to praise regular expressions here, however, I wanted to point out one extremely useful case where regular expressions were pretty much the single most useful, fastest and not so obvious choice in my 3ds Max pipeline.
The thing with 3ds Max is that regular expressions are foreign to MAXScripters and they don’t usually use them. I too am more used to regex in Python or IronPython than MAXScript. However, since we do have access to .NET in MAXScript, we can use its Regex class inside MAXScript.
Why I’m mentioning this and why could it be useful to you? I bumped into a little issue with my pipeline’s handling of rendered files. They assume to be exactly the same as I set them up in 3ds Max, which is logical and correct. However, since I started using Deadline’s SMTD script for submitting my files to the render farm, which takes care of handling the path remapping and storing, it also accidentally took care of letter casing. So, in the end, my render files were being saved all upper cased: “\\SERVER\PROJECT\RENDERS\ABC.EXR” instead of what I set in the Render Dialog: “\\SERVER\Project\Renders\ABC.exr”. The reason was simple, I used simple MAXScript substituteString() method to re-map my local paths to my server, UNC, paths and I converted everything to upper case just in case I got a mismatch:
substituteString (toUpper srcPath) @"D:" @"\\RAMMSTEIN\__UNMANAGED_PROJECTS__"
I’ve been looking for the perfect phone since my good old Nokia 7650 I had in high school. It was a great phone, back then. Had a very comfy portrait keypad and a large screen. Since then I had a few more Nokias until finally switching to HTC phones. My first HTC was TyTN II, what a beast! Then, after the iPhone introduction, some more touch only or touch + type HTC phones. My last one was HD2. I loved and hated the phone equally.
I’d test driven RV a few months ago to see what all the fuss was about. I was kind of satisfied with RV at that time, but didn’t really have a strong reason to switch from my beloved FrameCycler. Now, however, I needed a strong platform for conforming, ingesting and generally managing my review and delivery pipeline. My two immediate options were MetaRender and RVIO.
First of all, I am not a big fan of acquisitions. I admit it’s sometimes to the better for all of the parties involved, but sometimes, for the worse. I personally don’t see Adobe investing too much (at least not in the begining) to FrameCycler and MetaRender. They admitted they were more interested in the color grading suites. Secondly, RVIO provides a bit more robust framework for transcoding etc… and seems overall more powerful.
So, that’s the reason right there, I’m slowly switching to RV mainly thanks to RVIO. I wish FrameCycler all the very best, I certainly don’t want to see it go and it most likely won’t go anywhere, but, I think there are more interesting things happening on the RV side.
I’ve been really lucky to have been able to use Shotgun as a developer for some time now (getting to know the API, integrating it into 3ds Max pipelines, etc…).
Now, for the first time, I’ve actually tried to use it on a production we’re working on here at duber studio. The reason is the sheer amount of shots needed to be done, even though they are not very complicated.
Let me get this straight. Photoshop is not a compositing tool. Period.
I certainly am not a compositing artist, however, I have a, rather, deep technical knowledge of compositing principles and compositing software packages (such as Nuke) and thus I get asked from time to time by fellow CG artists about some compositing issues they have etc. The worst thing is when I find out they’re comping their still image in Photoshop saved as a PNG file! Blasphemy!
There are so many attributes that make a good compositing program that you cannot even start considering Photoshop for the duty. Even After Effects fall flat facing some more serious compositing tasks (mainly true 32bit float comps, or 3D space comps etc…). Why, you may ask. Let’s start with the essentials. One of them is color management. It truly startles me that Photoshop, the mecca of digital image manipulation tools, doesn’t have this feature! I mean, of course you have color management in Photoshop, but that’s more to have with calibration to printing standards, CMYK color space etc… but you don’t have a chance loading up a custom LUT, or, hell, even something as essential as an sRGB LUT. So, working with true linear renders is a huge pain in Photoshop.