Transformers 3

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions | Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Transformers 3

I think I jizzed in my pants…

Go see this VFX miracle. It’s the holy grail for VFX enthusiasts and artists.

How much RAM is “enough”?

loocas | hardware,miscellaneous,opinions,technical | Monday, June 27th, 2011

RAM usage

I’m actually scared by the fact that even 24GB of RAM isn’t enough for a high-end workstation these days. And I’m talking about projects up to a maximum of full HD resolution! I don’t even consider 2K or, hell, 4K projects at the moment as I primarily work on TV commercials etc…

This is very interesting as I remember every time I upgraded the amount of RAM of my workstation, I was very pleased with the performance and the amounts of available memory every time I worked on something. But then, not long after, I started to reach the limits of the system’s resources.

The thing is, when you reach the cap of your CPU, or GPU for that matter, your renders just take a bit longer to finish. But as soon as you reach the RAM limit, your apps start crashing and the entire system becomes unstable! So, it is a bit of a problem.

I started reaching the limits not long ago when I had tons of apps open at the same time. Especially Nuke, Max, VMWare Workstation and Photoshop. But on recent projects I started reaching the cap with Nuke and Photoshop alone! It’s terrifying as it suggests that no matter how much RAM I put in the system, it will never be enough!

So, it seems that my next workstation upgrade will, indeed, be a RAM boost. Not sure I’ll be able to buy the full 96GB of ECC RAM at once, but, I’m certain I’ll get there very soon.

Virtualizing the render farm

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,software,technical | Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

So far I haven’t had much luck transforming my render farm to a fully virtualized environment for easier management of the render nodes’ software config.

I’ve tried Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology at first as it seemed like the easiest path, but I couldn’t have achieved what I’ve wanted from the setup:

  • Startup of the render nodes
  • Have all the render nodes boot up to a centralized virtual OS
  • Render tasks
  • Shutdown

I’ve even tried the SCVMM, but it was way too complex and complicated so I didn’t actually spend too much time fiddling with it.

I’m currently looking at my #2 option (mainly due to added cost and software layers), VMWare. Especially the VMWare View and vSphere products.

So, no virtualization tips from me right now, all is still one big work in progress, but I’ll be posting updates as soon as I have them.

Virtualization, the future for small businesses

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,technical | Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

After having a very interesting discussion with a friend and collegue of mine, Michal Mocňák, on the topic of IT infrastructure virtualization, I realized that this is something I’ve needed even for my small, but growing “data center”!

The “data center” is still currently offline (except for the license server), so, I’ve been thinking of how to improve upon my previous setup with the future in mind. With a semi-constant grow of my render farm, the management, upgrades, installations and maintenance of the individual machines from the software point of view is becoming more and more problematic. I’ve written a few tools to help me automate the process, but still, managing the actual OS, the actual installed applications, the updates, hotfixes and service packs etc… is a hassle. I currently only have nine nodes in my farm, but being able to abstract from any number of physical machines and be able to easily manage my nodes from a one-person point of view (yeah, I am the only TD/IT guy here :D ) would be a bless!

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Portal 2, a game of the year!

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions | Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Portal 2

In case you’ve never played the original Portal mini-game from Valve (included with the Orange Box combo), you should definitely go and check it out.

The original Portal game was a mini-game bundled with the Orange Box games released back in late 2007. After finishing Half-Life I started the game and was immediately hooked in. The story was rather simple, but still interesting to keep playing. You were a test subject trapped in a synthetic testing environment controlled by a psychotic AI mainframe. Spoiler alert! You escape the testing chambers and kill the psychotic robot in the end. :) Now, the game was a first-person 3D action puzzle game. A very strange and rare combination, but extremely fun and addictive. You solve puzzles primarily using a device called Portal Gun which creates one entry and one exit portal anywhere you attach these to appropriate surfaces (you can’t do that on all types of surfaces, though).

Fast forward to 2011 and we have here a sequel to the very popular mini-game. This time in an AAA title of its own. To say that this game rocks is a huge understatement. So, basically, to not spoil anything and to keep this short and simple, if you liked the first Portal, you’re gonna love the second one! If you didn’t play the first Portal game, go grab it on Steam and then get to solving Portal 2.

Also worth mentioning is the (nowdays hugely overlooked) co-op mode, which is almost another campaign on its own! Get a friend and play the co-op together. It’s tons of brain twisting fun!

Portal 2 is one of the very rare games I had to finish in one go. I sat down to the game at about 9pm, fell asleep at about 4am and continued playing the next day when I woke up until I finished it! Same for co-op. We played the game for good solid 4-5 hours straight with my brother. It was absolutely amazing and very refreshing from all the FPS titles available nowdays.

Simply put: go buy this game NOW!

Crysis 2 – minor tweaks

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,software,technical | Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Ok, it wouldn’t be the TD inside of me if I didn’t customize the game at least a tiny little bit before even starting to play. :D

So the absolutely first thing I did was to change the game’s language. I can’t stand Czech localization (though, admittedly, it was done very well in this particular example, to be perfectly honest). Unfortunately, there isn’t a super simple way for an average player to do this. You have to modify a config file called system.cfg, found in the root of the Crysis 2 installation (i.e. C:\Program Files\Crysis2).
In there, there’s a line that says g_language = Czech (in my case, obviously), simply rewrite the locale name to your pereference (mostly, probably, English).

After that was done, I started playing. Now, I have a 24″ widescreen monitor (as probably most of the people on the planet), which makes it even more baffling why the devs kept the default FOV option at 50 degrees?! I changed that to something more pleasant and “natural”, 70°. To do that, simply open up the game’s console by hitting the ~ key (delete the semicolon!) and type:

cl_fov = 70

or whatever value you like. Try several options which one will suite you best.

After this, you should also consider tweaking the near FOV (for drawing the weapons you hold etc…) and the sprint FOV (when you’re running). These are the commands (with my settings):

r_DrawNearFoV = 60
pl_movement.power_sprint_targetFov = 70

If you need to change anything else, try searching the web for the right command. Unfortunately, I don’t know if there is any particular command for listing all the available commands, so, this was just that. :)

I don’t feel the need to modify anything else anymore. :D Enjoy the awesome game!

Crysis 2 – buy this game, now!

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions | Monday, March 28th, 2011

Crysis 2

I don’t play many games often, but when I do I tend to be very picky and I stick to the genre that I usually enjoy, like FPS or RTS. Now, as for Crysis 2, that’s actually my “first” Crysis game I’ve played and I have to say one thing: this game fucking rocks!

It’s the best FPS since Half-Life 2 (that I absolutely love)! If you haven’t played it yet or considering buying it, just don’t think, buy! If you pirated this game, fucking rot in hell, because the dev team, Crytek, put so much effort into this beauty that it’s a sin not paying the few bucks for such a wonderful gaming experience!

Kudos to all that worked on this masterpiece, it’s awesome!

duber studio plugin distribution system

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,software,technical | Monday, March 28th, 2011

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

An overview of the setup at the duber studio that I use for synchronizing and distributing plugins, scripts etc… on all my machines at the studio using Deadline and Dropbox.

Still no Visual Studio goodness for me

loocas | opinions,Python,software | Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Visual Studio 2010

Once again, after the promising IronPython Tools for Visual Studio 2010 were included in the installation of IronPython 2.7, I decided to give Visual Studio Express another shot. Well, VisualStudio Integrated Shell, to be exact, as Express doesn’t specifically support IronPython.

I’m fairly inexperienced with Visual Studio and also I don’t code very large script/programming projects, thus a full Visual Studio suite is a complete overkill for my needs, however, I really like Instellisense and Autocomplete features it offers, but mainly I really dig the Forms or XAML designers.

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Dropbox

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,showcase | Friday, March 11th, 2011

Dropbox

I’m amazed how long I’d been avoiding Dropbox. I knew about the service for ages and a few friends of mine and collegues had kept on suggesting me starting using the service. But I’ve always preferred FTPs and other methods of distributing and sharing data.

The thing is, for my clients, FTP will always be the best way to share data with them, but for my collegues and partners, Dropbox just beats everything else! Hell, I even considered writing tools that’d automatically synchronize my dirs at work and at home over the VPN etc… but then I recently “discovered” Dropbox and I felt ashamed I hadn’t started using this awesome service before!

What I use Dropbox for right now is rather simple. I setup two accounts, one for me personally and one for my company’s file server. I linked the two together using simple folder sharing Dropbox offers and I use that folder to synch all my plugins, scripts, settings etc… between my workstation and my file server. This “centralized repository” is then being synced individually among all my render nodes and workstations at the studio using another brilliant piece of software, Deadline, so that everything is up to date and all the machines are using the current tools.

I’m planning on installing a company Dropbox account on all my workstations so that all the workstations are up to date immediately and only the render nodes get the full synch using Deadline. Or, perhaps, I’ll finally finish writing the Deadline plugins that allow for running Python scripts as jobs on all the nodes, so I can perform maintenance and synch operations without actually having to execute any of the rendering apps. We’ll see about that.

However, another thing I’m going to definitely do is sharing my public Dropbox folder with my collegues so we can easily skip the upload – download hassle, especially when there is no FTP access (yes, some companies have weird security policies).

Anyways, Dropbox is an easy to use, very flexible, genius service that everyone needing to transfer files or carry files on them should definitely check out. Did I mention it’s also free? ;)

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