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ChrisEngland
09-01-2010, 11:57 PM
Hi guys,

I'm relatively new to Maya and I'm trying to come up with a good render setup, but I've had a few problems that have left me completely stumped. I was hoping a few of you on here might have some idea of what I was doing wrong?

Essentially, I'm looking to render out some animations. I have a good quality, well animated model that you can see here when rendered up at a good resolution, in a stationary shot, just as is displayed within Maya:

http://www.xenonauts.com/devimages/soldierMaya.jpg

What I need to do is find a render setting that will maximise the detail I can get into a small tile, about a tenth that size. So far, the best I've come up with is this:

http://www.xenonauts.com/devimages/soldierRender.png

I've had trouble with the lighting washing out the fine detail, and the same with the anti-aliasing, and overall I think the small image has a sort of smooth plastic look, like a toy soldier. Anyone got any suggestions how I can make it a bit crisper? That image is actually using Maya Software render, as I find mental ray makes it even more plastic-y in appearence...

Thanks in advance to anyone who helps out!

nmcelmury
09-02-2010, 05:16 PM
That's a tough one considering how small your final output looks like it's going to be. I can't say I've ever rendered something out for a resolution so small, but maybe try giving him a bit more of a dramatic lighting setup with a hot rim light to really accent his edges, and toning down your fill lights a little bit. Hopefully that can pull out a bit of contrast in your image.
Again I've never output something so small, but might be worth a shot!

stuh505
09-02-2010, 05:36 PM
Render the sprites out at a higher resolution, then use a Photoshop Action to downsize all of them using bicubic sharper filtering mode.

If you add more detail into the texture (ie, more than can be represented at the small scale) then you may need the action to first do a bilateral filter (eg, surface blur) in order to remove some of the high frequency content that would otherwise create aliasing when you downsize it, while preserving crisp edges.

Example,
http://img832.imageshack.us/img832/2306/spritev.png

ChrisEngland
09-03-2010, 12:13 AM
Thanks for the suggestions, guys - I'll give them a try and see what happens, and I'll post the results back up here tomorrow.

ChrisEngland
09-04-2010, 07:50 PM
Hi guys, I've spent a bit of time tinkering with the suggestions you two gave me, and I've made a significant improvement on the final render quality. Here's the two new images side-by-side, the new one being on the left.

http://www.xenonauts.com/devimages/newjackal.jpg http://www.xenonauts.com/devimages/oldjackal.png

The lighting quality has improved a bit with the rim light, but I've made good gains switching up to a larger render size (10 times larger), and rendering with Mental Ray instead of Maya Software, and then shrinking down the image with PS using Bicubic Sharper. You guys have been very helpful on this count.

Two more questions, now:
1) Is there any way of mass-resizing the images from the larger render size? I'll have about 3,000 images to resize and I can't do it manually.

2) Does anyone have any further suggestions for upping render quality? The full size image is below.

Thanks for your help so far, guys - you've been great!

http://www.xenonauts.com/devimages/jackallarge.jpg

PowderMonkey
09-05-2010, 05:10 AM
to automate it, create an action in photoshop. then, turn the action into a droplet. actions are recorded sequences of actions, and you can record anything, even brushstrokes. droplets are mini applications, created from actions, that you can drag huge bundles of files onto, without even having photoshop open. droplets will process the files as though you have played back the actions on them.

first, bring up the actions palette
(window>actions)

create an action:
open 1 of the images that you want to process
create a new action (the little new page icon in the actions palette)
hit the record button in the actions palette (the little circle)
process the image (carry out all the steps you want to automate)
hit the stop button in the actions palette (the little square)

test the action:
open another image you want to process
select the action you've just created
hit the play button in the actions pallette (the right-facing triangle)
have a look and see that it does what you need it to

if it does, great! skip this next little bit.

if you need to tweak your action:
select your action, and expand it using the little grouping arrow. this will allow you to see all the steps.
if you just want to delete a step, drag the step you want to delete into the little garbage bin icon in the actions palette
if you want to add a step that you missed, select the step before the step you want to add. i.e. if you want to put a new step inbetween step 2 and step 3, select step 2.
click record, perform the step, click stop. make sure you don't do anything else, or it will be recorded too.

once your action does what you need it to, create your droplet:
file>automate>create droplet
most of the settings are pretty self explanatory, but if you get stuck, just ask =)

once you've saved the droplet, test it out by dropping one of the files onto it, and then open the file to make sure that it's performed as you needed it to if not, go back and tweak, save another droplet, and try again. you don't want to have to process 3000 files more than once!

once you have your droplet working, just grab the folder with all the images in it, and drop it on the droplet. wait a bit, et voila!

ChrisEngland
09-05-2010, 11:19 AM
Thanks very much, I had no idea PS could do that! I'm having difficulties if I try and use more than 20 files at a time on a droplet, because it throws up an error about file permissions. Googled around and it seems to be linked to the permissions of the user account I'm using, but that's a bit strange given I have administrator privleges on this account...oh well, I'm sure I'll sort it out eventually. Even if not, the droplet speeds things up by 20 times, so it's been really handy.

PowderMonkey
09-05-2010, 12:13 PM
sorry, don't know how to get around that issue, i'm on a mac =(

still, at least we have droplets now. i remember when photoshop only had actions and you had to make complicated open and save rules in your actions, and then press play for each file. yeugh.

also, if the final output is as small as you've shown us here, i wouldn't worry about improving the render quality any more than you've already got. it's pretty damn good already.

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