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Author Topic: 2 Possibly Dumb Questions  (Read 3789 times)

Old Codger

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2 Possibly Dumb Questions
« on: December 03, 2020, 08:34:35 am »

Got a couple of possibly dumb questions. There are people in this community (and thank the Creator for such communities) who have been using Steven's marvelous toy for years and years so I am highly confident that the knowledge I seek is out there.  My questions are not something which - so far as I can tell - can be solved by simply reading the manual. I hope I am not wearing out my welcome with all my noob-y questions.

1. Is/are there tutorials on using the scene editor (scene editor 101, 102, 201 etc.)? I've figured out the basics of adding objects and positioning them (although the rotate axes seem to me to be out of phase - have to select "X" to rotate an object around the "Y" axis and vice versa) and I would like to be able to use the arrow keys to nudge objects the way I can in object mode. For the moment I just want to take stills of a scene I set up. My question is about not merely placing the objects where and how I want them. I want to learn how to light a scene and position a still camera in order to render a still. I've seen tutorials about specialized scene related things - focal blur and such - but nothing about basic scene setup and lighting. I need something like that and I know good and well you folks know how to do it. In the absence of tutorials, then a list of what tools to use with guidance as to when to use them would be greatly helpful. It would certainly save me a whole lot of time spent in approaching things empirically.

2. How do I make things look "real"? Is there a basic "trick" to making a model look "real" when rendered? Is it in scaling? Materials? Does it require textures? (right now, until I can master the UV functions I'm simply self-texturing things) My gut tells me that there has to be a basic "trick" (for want of a better word) to making things look real when rendered. If/when someone answers this question I expect to have a flat-forehead moment. I figure it is something so simple I'm missing it.

I am fully retired and my health precludes me working outside the home ever again so I have lots and lots of free time to experiment. And I can experiment if needed. But if there is some basic understanding, some fundamental conceptual issue I'm missing then likely all the experimentation in the world will likely not get me past that hurdle.  That's where you good folks come in. You've leaped those hurdles. Even if you answer my questions I'll still need to experiment in order to make those answers part of me. Hollering for help does not bother me. I have no problem standing on the shoulders of giants.
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davdud101

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Re: 2 Possibly Dumb Questions
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2020, 12:50:42 am »

Hey Old Codger!

Hopefully @johnar can chime in as for users who are still around, he's probably one of the most familiar with the scene editor. There are a few things in Edit mode that don't match the Scene editor that just have to be sort of reckoned with. Certain things (at the moment) aren't really possible with built-in rendering, things like focal blur and motion blur and such - you'd have to use post-processing, a different software, or some highly creative workarounds for that.

For your second question, it can actually help a LOT to watch tutorials for other software. Getting a sense for how thing 'generally' can be done can help break down the underlying concepts for how to achieve something. With Anim8or in particular, texturing is a fairly big thing but I think the biggest contributor to realism is lighting in Scene mode. I'd say check out the manual for ideas on texturing, there's a lot of good info there.

Of course a lot of it depends on WHAT you want to make, because something like hair/fur (for which there are some nice scripts floating around), or skin for example, are going to be a lot harder to make look outright *realistic* in Anim8or than, say, the Utah teapot sitting in a kitchen scene.

Not sure if this is any help as this is very very 'general' knowledge and spouting thoughts as they come after my years of Anim8or. I definitely wish you good luck!
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johnar

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Re: 2 Possibly Dumb Questions
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2020, 07:05:39 am »

 I've not used anywhere near anim8ors full capabilities in scene mode.

 When you watch a movies credits, those responsible for setting scene, lighting and cameras are professionals in their particular tasks.
 There are general do's and don'ts, and some general rules for basic camera and lighting, but after that, there's specialised affects for specific requirements, and then, of course, there's trial and error
 Good advice from davdud. Search internet for pro advice on basic camera and lighting techniques, then transfer that knowledge into an anim8or scene.
 Research, trials and errors, are the ways to learning this game.
 The more time and the more imagination you invest, the more satisfying become the results. 

 EDIT: A handy thing for positioning stuff, and lights and cameras, is using 3 or 4 views, with one being the camera view.
 Changing camera views in scene can be done by moving camera OR flicking to another camera. Adding multiple cameras for animations, or different still views, is fun, and activated on and off by keyframes.
 
« Last Edit: December 07, 2020, 07:14:31 am by johnar »
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Old Codger

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Re: 2 Possibly Dumb Questions
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2020, 11:59:38 am »

Thanks for the replies, Dave (?) and John. Was hoping to be able to avoid all the empirical crap but if it is not avoidable then needs must.

Thanks for the multi-view suggestion, John. I can see where that would help in composing the shot I want. I will definitely work from multiple views in the future.
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johnar

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Re: 2 Possibly Dumb Questions
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2020, 01:03:01 am »

I've done little in regards to still shots, mostly concentrating on movies/animation.

When considering a still shot, then considerations of a photographer can be duplicated in the scene mode. By taking advice/tricks from photographers in regards to lighting and camera position you can achieve  decent and proffesional results.
 One difference between real world photography and computerised photographic images is the materials and texturing of your model. (important).
 But as far as correct camera and lighting settings go, these are all, theoretically, available in cg software. Including anim8or.
 And yes, using multple views is a good way of arranging things to look correct through your 'final' camera view.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2020, 01:04:08 am by johnar »
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RudySchneider

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Re: 2 Possibly Dumb Questions
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2020, 01:02:32 pm »

Old Codger ---
I agree with davdud101 and johnar, that while materials and texturing are important, much of the "realism" you see in renders is due to attention to lighting.  And in that regard, it's important to use "real" lighting.  That is, there is no such thing as "ambient" lighting in a photo shoot.  The type of light source, and the falloff of lighting --- that is, its intensity diminishes with distance --- are important.

I "used to have" several Anim8or projects (on a computer that crapped out) for which I also had some rather good renders, and I remember "in the old days" that a couple of Anim8ors had some excellent models and renders of automobiles, but here are a few hobby projects I did using LightWave some years ago.  Granted, each may not be in a realistic setting, but my intent at the time was to get a certain "look."
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johnar

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Re: 2 Possibly Dumb Questions
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2020, 06:21:41 am »

Hi there RudySchneider,
 Those renders are wickedly awesome.
 I especially like the glass jug, on the table with the blue plastic measuring spoon.
 All three are great examples of realism. I see you used lightwave for these, but, as you said, i've also seen some excellent 'realistic' renders done in Anim8or.
 Looking at your images, i see decent reflections and shadows also go a long way in adding a realistic result.
 Great renders.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2020, 06:23:36 am by johnar »
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ENSONIQ5

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Re: 2 Possibly Dumb Questions
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2020, 10:12:56 pm »

Achieving 'realism' in a CGI image is not easy, but it all boils down to attention to detail.  We all have pretty good built-in bulls&%t detectors and can tell when something doesn't look quite right, but in some cases it can be difficult to know exactly why.  There are a bunch of elements that all need to be considered when attempting to create a realistic-looking render:

1) The model: Using Rudy's excellent examples above, the 'Knobs' image in particular, notice the tiny gap between the knobs and the font panel, the rounding of the edges of the front panel as they meet the case, the gap in the case suggesting it's made of two halves.  In the MorseKey image, notice how the shiny metal armature is a bit convex on top, just as would happen when polishing a piece of metal like that.  Notice how its edges are not perfectly sharp, which is easy to achieve in the digital world but much harder (and more dangerous!) in reality.  This sort of attention to the reality of engineering is important and when it is overlooked the image can look too 'perfect', a sure sign that it's not real.

2) Materials: While Anim8or's materials are relatively simple compared to other 3D packages they are still complex with a massive range of possibilities.  Getting to grips with the ART parameters is critical, it has its own set of instructions and permits things like complex reflections, glossy surfaces, dielectrics, refractions etc.  What makes glass look like glass, considering it's effectively transparent?  Again, using Rudy's Vase6 render above, it's the complex interplay between transparency, dielectics, refraction and reflection that makes it look so real.  The best advice I can give is to learn what the material settings do, reconstruct the samples in the literature, and do a bunch of test renders to see what's going on.  There's really no trick to this, it just takes time.

3) Lighting: As has been said before, lighting is one of the most critical things to get right.  For example, consider a render of a comms satellite in Earth orbit.  Technically there will only be a single light source (the Sun) but it will also be illuminating the Earth below, which will be acting as a second, diffuse, bluish light source from 'below'. Parts of the satellite hidden from both the Sun and Earth will be totally black with nothing to illuminate them (other than starlight I guess).  However, a scene in a room lit by sunlight streaming through an open window will be very different, as the sunlight will be bouncing around the room banishing most shadows and casting different shades of light on the objects.  This 'secondary' illumination can be simulated in a rudimentary way with the ambient light setting and some more complex systems can simulate secondary (tertiary etc.) lighting, but well-considered positioning of fill lights in an Anim8or scene can go a long way towards improving the realism of a scene.  Having an understanding of how light behaves in different situations is critical in the accurate positioning of these fill lights.

4) Filth: As I said above, perfection is a sure sign that something's off.  Looking at Rudy's MorseKey image, imagine if there were fingerprints on the shiny metal part and the Bakelite knob or a bit of rust pitting; if this was the case I'm not sure I would have recognised it as anything other than a photograph of a real object.  Imperfection is everywhere, from the rough and damaged edges of a desktop to rain spots on a window pane or machining marks on a polished metal surface.  Simulating imperfection can go a long way towards achieving realism, mostly it will be done in the materials but thinking about it at the modelling stage is also worthwhile.

There are other things that can destroy the perception of reality, such as movement in an animation that doesn't respect physics, but I would say these are the main ones.  I don't believe there are 'tricks' to achieving realism, every realistic CGI image I have ever seen (here or elsewhere) has been created by someone with lots of experience and folders full of earlier renders, many of which they would be embarrassed to share now.  It's a learning curve, every render you do will be better than the one before it.  The best advice I can give is build, render, post in forums like this one and take on board what others say.
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johnar

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Re: 2 Possibly Dumb Questions
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2020, 07:26:14 pm »

thanks for that excellent and insightfull explanation of what's involved in creating realistic images.
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Old Codger

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Re: 2 Possibly Dumb Questions
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2020, 09:33:21 am »

Thanks for all the sage advice, everyone. I will definitely keep it in mind. Funny thing is I was looking for insights into how to make a model look more "real". I am nobody's visual artist - don't really think in visual terms although I did almost ace the Navy's Visual Apperception Test (didn't have time to complete the final question but got all the others right) in '71. Did okay in Raven's Progressive Matrices but not well enough to qualify for Mensa (Wexler's did that for me - maxed the Verbal but Visual/Perceptual part "drug me down" to only a 10 point pad). I am unlikely to be pursuing making pretty pictures in rendering.

I just wanted some suggestions to improve my models. What I got here helped a lot. I also learned a lot by looking at models for sale on Daz 3D website. A lot of the models include shots of the bare model sans textures. That helped a whole lot. I was able to analyze the parts model complexity and textures play in producing a commercial quality model.
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