PPJ #14 – Team

Everyone has been putting in  a lot of overtime to get our deliverables ready for the all-faculty presentation. We want it to look good! Everyone has been tasked with continuing to refine their animation and work toward polished shots so we can send off to the Renderfarm.

The Renderfarm is its own behemoth. We’ve run into quite a few errors, including Renderman refusing to acknowledge our outliner hierarchy, double transforming the man in batch renders, although he’s absolutely ok in smaller renders and stills. We fixed this with a Renderman attribute called Evaluation Frequency, applying to each piece of geometry. We’ve had similar problems with geometry not subdividing in its render, and the most recent bug is that the man’s pants disappear in a few frames randomly in Anna’s Starry Night scene. We’re hoping that’s a result of the server being buggy, but the Renderman forums suggest it’s a problem with the denoise attribute. Same with the specular render pass. More research to come.

*Cue Titanic Song*

The Good – Everyone has experienced the next phase of the pipeline – rendering and lighting. People have run into different problems and bugs that we are addressing as a team. It’s better we have these issues now, and we’ve been (surprisingly) rapidly been working through them. The animations are in a better spot. Our render tests are starting to look really nice. A big challenge next term is to bring all the shots together to be more cohesive in lighting and feel — that will involve creating a camera preset for everyone to use and making sure textures are lining up from scene to scene. We had a communication error earlier this term, which means that some of our textures are still not updated to Renderman 21. We’re working through it right now — our priority being to make our animation look polished. The environment and such comes later. It has to. The animation, however, is looking very nice.

The Bad – The servers have been scary recently. Over the past week, they’ve gone down twice for a few hours. They’re spontaneously been dropping out for 30 seconds at a time, sometimes knocking off and ruining people’s renders, caches, etc. The drives are filling up and IT is doing desktop wipes on Friday to try to clear up some space. It’s very nerve-wracking. We have backups of everything, just in case. If you are reading this, whoever you are, back up your most precious files now.

Anna ‘s scene needs matte paintings. Really badly.

As project manager reading through the team’s PPJs, the pessimism is fluctuating every week, but still very present. It’s killing me, and I really want to bring up the team’s morale. I’ve been bringing breakfast for our meetings, candy, fruit, and juice boxes for people while they’re working in the labs. I, personally, have been having 12-15 hour days recently (after taking a leave of absence from work), and I see the energy get sucked out of people. Poor health and personal upkeep is something that can be taken care of. Our project isn’t hopeless. We’re making good progress. People just need to pull their weight and throw in a few more hours of work.