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Work in Progress 5 – Refining Details

April 2, 2013

At this stage, I have finished the composition of the character. To progress from here, I spend time analysing test renders, I look at areas that lack detail, then go in and refine them:

WIP17 WIP16 WIP15

I have also been doing some more in depth render testing. I have isolated the settings that I will be using for my final render. With rendering there is always a trade off between quality and render time. My time management on this project has been good and I have a lot of time left for rendering, so my aim is to produce the highest quality render the human eye can easily distinguish; my decision is to use settings, any higher than which would provide diminishing returns. Put simply – I put sliders up a notch, render and repeat until I can’t tell the difference between the higher quality render. Each time I recorded the render time for the frame; I have left a lot of time but don’t have months to spare.

Another important facet of this stage is to identify what is necessary and what is not. For example, global illumination is widely considered the holy grail when it comes to realistic renders. However, I have found that it is not really necessary and increases render times by around 50% even with medium settings:

test31comped(b)

test31comped(a)

The first image has no GI and the second does. Not only does it not bring much to the composition, but I actually prefer the look of the first image. I like the graded background, and it helps to give a sense of scale as the camera zooms out. The colour bleeding is a nice touch, though, and I would consider including GI if I received feedback to suggest that people preferred it. Both of these images have an ambient occlusion pass rendered and composited in photoshop. This is definitely a worthwhile addition; render times are low (<2 minutes) and it really adds depth to the image:

test30

test31

test30ao

So, an ambient occlusion pass is the first component to achieving final render quality. The next is to change lighting samples from default 8 to 32. This removes the noise from the shadows, however the materials still had some noise. This was solved by doubling the material glossiness samples from 8 to 16 on select materials. These values were determined through trial and error, and increase render time from approximately 7 minutes per frame to 18 minutes per frame:

test56(5.52)

test59(11.56)

test60(17.29)

test60comped

Of the above images: Image 1 took 5:56, image 2 took 11:56, image 3 took 17:29, image 4 is image 3 with an ambient occlusion pass composited, the ambient occlusion took 2:04. To properly compare these images you would need to download them and open them in an image viewer which would allow you to see them in full resolution and flip between them.

The rest of my test renders up to this point (change quality settings to 720p):

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