November 30th, 2008 . 5 comments

It’s getting to the end of the year and things are getting busy. There’s been plenty on at work – quite a few projects have been running concurrent for a while, including a new Bridgestone gecko spot that’s out now, and the still in-progress project I’ve been working on the volume rendering for.

We’ve been getting around a bit too, four of us headed down to Melbourne in October to attend the first ‘Melbourne Blender Society‘ meeting. We gave an informal presentation about some of our work, much of it involving character setups, and then headed out for some ‘beer r&d’, meeting some fun and interesting people (Hi Glenn, this only took a month ;).

Jez, James and I also gave a presentation at the Digital Media Festival in Sydney , on the topic of ‘an open source pipeline’, talking about our use of Blender in production. Some of the parts that interested the audience of mostly 3d/vfx/design people most were existing features like the library linking system, but also the ability for us to do custom development, such as contracting the ocean sim tools for the Lighthouse project. I also showed off some work on the volume rendering too 😉

The volume rendering tools are at the point now where it’s going to give acceptable results given the timeframe. Although it’s still lacking a bit in some areas right now that aren’t a priority for this job, for my purpose it’s going pretty well. Raul has now picked up this code to work with too, and I’m looking forward to seeing his implementation of voxel data sets. A couple of the improvements I’ve made since last time posting include:

  • Particle rendering

    There’s now a new 3d texture called ‘point density’ that retrieves density and colour information from point clouds (either particle systems or object vertices). It uses a BVH tree to store the points, and looks up what points are within a given radius of the shaded point, with various falloffs. It also has a few methods for simple turbulence, adding directed noise to give the impression of more detail. It’s also possible to use this texture on solid surfaces too.

  • Light Cache

    In order to speed up rendering of self-shaded volumes, there’s a new option to precalculate the shading at the start of the render into a voxel grid, which gets interpolated later to generate lighting information, rather than shading the lamps directly. You could make the analogy to raytraced occlusion vs approximate occlusion in Blender – it often gives around a 3x speed up with similar quality.

  • A few other small things such as internal and external shadows, anisotropic scattering with various phase functions, integration with the sun/sky system, and various fixes.

Kajimba‘s also rolling along nicely. We’ve released several more animation tests with audio (and plenty more sill in the pipe), the voices for the first episode have been recorded, and the animator dudes have started working on lipsync tests to begin some animation on ep 1 soon.

And on it goes…

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