Thursday, November 29, 2007

3D Post No. 44 - Once Upon a Time


2007 has marked my 10th year of doing 3D - as an old man rewinding memories in my mind with tears in his eyes, I am blogging my ancient 3D history :p. Read on..

So I started doing what I love doing in 1997, aka the Jurassic Period of 3D rendering. PCs were only running at 60Mhz and RAM was way too expensive (P1,000 / megabyte!). Despite the limitations they were the best and worst of times. (sniff) It was exciting to do 3D stuff and we were pretty amazed at any CG that comes out of our monitors. Windows was still causing a stir and the first edition of 3D Studio Max was an exponential improvement from the DOS version. The downside was things really rendered slowly and production was a pain, but we didn't mind..

.. yeah.. was also a victim of that lens flare craze.. and those (ugh) tasteless RPCs :p

1999 up until 2000, just did scanline, scanline, and more scanlines.. computers became faster, software was getting more and more complex..

.. and one day I got bored and made my first attempt at "fakiosity".. (but I never got to repeat it until I arrived in Singapore, where fakiosity is still a norm side by side with the G.I. renderers.)

In 2001 it wasn't all gloom and doom with the 9/11 attacks and the economic recession, it was also the advent of radiosity, which was introduced in VIZ 4. It really made renders much more photorealistic than scanline outputs.. below is my first radiosity try, based on an Arquitectonica sketch..

..and more practice renders:

somewhere along the way I desired to learn Lightscape (which I think is still unbeatable in terms of G.I. solutions). Too bad they discontinued this software in favor of enhancing Max and it's Mental Ray plugin.

..the dilemma was that radiosity and/or lightscape renders took far long to prepare and render compared to scanline, and the time difference to achieve that effect only makes one think of reverting back to standard lighting. Which I did, in 2003, but with more complex lighting placements.

Then along came (drum roll) the G.I. renderers..! With G.I. (Global Illumination), any renderer is bound to be a great artist with only a few clicks.. Now photorealism is much more convincing and more intuitive to use. Except that we are fed with voodoo words like "min-max" and "regathering" and tons more of G.I. related jargon enough to create its own language. The motto then was "because it is not the artist's fault". Nope, it's the software developers'. :p Take the first G.I. engine I ever tried, as an example - Splutterfish's Brazil. It was too long and complex to set up back then:

..and I also became familiar with Cebas' Final Render, but didn't have a chance to use it in an actual output -

- because after a while came the star G.I. renderer, Chaos Group's Vray:

and everything really changed.. which is now my renderer of choice. It was the easiest and fastest G.I. engine that one could ever come across. I suppose I have no need to expound on the capabilities of the plugin as this blog is sprawling with Vray renders everywhere..

..and now, I'm thinking of learning Mental Ray, because it is slowly rivalling Vray's speed.. but who really knows what the next trend will be? I have yet to see the next quantum leap in rendering.. which doesn't seem to be happening yet.. Nuninuninu..

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