Maya Ocean Shader

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  05 May 2013
Maya Ocean Shader

Does anyone know how to render convincing large scale Oceans in Maya (mi Final Gather)? I work in previs and the sets at our studio are so large that I need an Ocean plane or planes around 125,000 ~500,000 units in centimeter scale. I came across some really amazing work on these forums (SOR and Mayadvanced blog) and followed some of the tutorials for plugging in the Ocean texture/shaders to mia_x material and it works great on a plane of 500 units, but when I scale up to the size of our scenes it looks horrible??
  05 May 2013
Your rendering using FG and your in previs ? surely that defeats the whole purpose of previs which should be quick ...........

Now back to your question, nobody would even attempt to render such a large ocean in one go, you would render / set up a small high detail area near camera and then a low res far background area and then blend the geo.

  05 May 2013
re FG

Bob, there is an ongoing debate as to what is the best route for previs in terms of quality vs. speed and to be honest I am still not sure which is better. Simply doing playplasts with no lighting/shadows/textures etc. is very fast and is much more flexible when it comes to iterations and experimentation.

On the other hand, the stuff we are doing in previs these days is hard to distinguish from the final product. This does come with a considerable increase in the amount of time it takes to get shots done (whether its prepping assets, uvlayout, texturing etc, or just trouble shooting renders). That being said FG alone is pretty fast (faster than Maya's renderer with way better end results), but obviously much slower than playblasting, and realtime solutions such as Viewport 2.0 are as time consuming and problematic as simply rendering at the moment (maybe not in a few years).

This higher fidelity work is very helpful for screenings of movies in early stages to the public. Some directors find it much easier to visualize the movie and because of the better looking renders we have started to put in all the bells and wistles (high quality fluid and particle effects, mocap and polished animation, lighting which is meant to inform the lighting dept. as well as consulting cinematographers who have a hard time with the disconnect in animation between camera and lighting, even crowd systems). Not all directors are on board, but many seem to ultimately prefer it because they can genuinely visualize the movie ahead time and what they are seeing is pretty close to what they will get yet still much faster and cheaper than putting stuff through the pipeline and then making drastic changes.

Of course, this method also steps on the toes of some of the other depts in a pipeline and I am sure some or many are not happy with it. Personally, I am undecided which is better.

Anyhow, I can get the Maya Ocean shader to look decent at these scales (particularly for previs needs), but the repetitive grid patterns are hard to eliminate from all angles. I am doing a lot of flying stuff so we are up high and then flying down to boats and it would be nice to find a solution that works up high and down low in the same shot.

There must be a way to render this? If I were to scale our characters and boats down so that a 500 unit plane looked like our 150,000 unit plane and render it would look pretty close to photoreal with FG. And by the way , our single frame renders are between 16 secs to 1.5 min with FG per frame (obviously double when we do render stereo at the very end).

Unfortunately, I can't scale (our pipeline is not Maya - and nobody would allow that) and while we are doing more an more compositing these days it is really not a viable solution for hundreds of shots that will likely be ret-imed and re-imagined dozens of times each.
  05 May 2013
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