Monday, August 29, 2005

Rant! bad day.... thanks to some officers.

Well... today isn't much of a special day for me. I have a part time job as a lecturer in a local college. Could be admirable by a lot of fulltime worker, of course. I've just took off from work at 1pm. When I was picking up my car. I saw a fine ticket on the windscreen. This must be a mistake because I know precisely where I was parking and the amount of money of parking ticket I've bought. And the ticket was still on the dashboard. Man... This must be a mistake for the officer who issued me this fine ticket. Sigh... Oh well... maybe I should take the time to make an appeal to ask them to cancel this fine.

I've took the time to drove all the way to MPSJ (Majlis Perbandaran Subang Jaya). Took me almost 30 minutes even that it's just a 5 km drive. Curse the bad traffic! Once I've reach there, followed the unbelievably hard to recognize sign. I've finally found the counter for "Payment and Q&A". On my way in, I've saw big banners everywhere telling us that they are taking flat rate for all of the fine before the Merdeka Day. Great... more reason for me to visit this place today. Ha... I've took the liberty to queue up to wait for my turn. This part took me another 20 minutes. I can see angst in everyone lining up before me. Sigh... Why doesn't Malaysia government department do something about it instead of letting only 2 skinny looking (I doubt they've got such energy) Malay girl looking after the counter? ok... I've just shut the fuck up and waiting for my turn.

20 minutes passed... Wwweee! It's my turn! great. I can finally tell them how bored I was waiting back there. But since I was losing time from my limited hours in Monday. I'd rather just "kick right at the front door" to tell her my problem. She just showed me a blank face and commented that I was reversed the face of my parking ticket and put it somewhere instead of dashboard. Damn! I've quickly fired back and told her that I was placing at the same position over the few years I've been driving (since when? 8 years. Yeah, got to be 8 years). Without any delay, I've denied her comment on my parking habit and told her that instead of saying drivers can make personal mistakes. Could the officer who issued me this ticket also committed sin of judgment error? She's just pretend that she's looking elsewhere (hey, I hate this kind of people) and keep mumbling to herself that this is the kind of case that they don't take care of and she'd rather I write an appeal letter to their office. Sigh... I don't think we are making any progress here cause if the person with the valid documents (my parking ticket, right time, right value and right attitude) doesn't please her enough to process my appeal. They're definitely not taking me seriously for this case and rather just ignore me with "post" method to avoid looking at "angry" tax payers like us.

Ok... without hesitation, I took out my wallet and willing to pay for the flat rate instead of spending the time to go over all of the letter writing, phone calls, shouting and etc. Now, what she told me is "I'm not processing fine payment, you've to go to the other counter instead." God, is she playing me? Now I'm totally pissed off and rather just keep the ticket and let them come to me. Anyway, MPSJ doesn't really make much harm for us even if we don't pay out fine. A police ticket will cause more harm if we don't get it settled right away. So I've just drove off and make the way to Pos Malaysia at cargo area in KLIA.

It was a long way, roughly about 50km. When I reach there, greeted by the police at the guard house. They seem to be quite friendly. At first I had quite a good impression on them. Then they lead me the way to the collection area for my package from an anonymous sender. I wasn't sure who sent me that package and no one notify me what was inside the package. I was a little scare at first. Worrying that it was some sort of bomb or even Anthrax in it. The registration guy told me that it was a bunch of CDs. Now the feeling of fear has been escalated. What if there's a bunch of porn cd-roms or even pirated cds inside? It'll make my day for getting myself in to prison. The inspection officer ordered me to open it. ok... let's find out what's inside. Thanks god! you've really made my day. It was a bunch of operating system installer cds inside -Ubuntu 5.04. Luckily this won't make me any harm because it's a bunch of free open sourced Linux CDs that I've ordered from http://www.ubuntulinux.org . The inspector look at me at amazed and thought that it cost thousands of dollars. I've explained carefully to the inspector that it's open source and it doesn't cost me a dime. And also told him the benefit of using it in our pcs. He was also amazed that those CD distribution that I had has got Intel, AMD64 and Mac PPC packages. Which made him interested to try. I've gave him 2 copies of Intel and AMD64 CDs so that I can "bribe" him for future convenience. Haha...

Finally I can take off and back to my mom's curtain store to wait for her to go home. But, the police (guard) at the gate stopped me for the getting back the pass. And out of the sudden he burst out the most sensitive conversation came out a humble policeman, "Boss, boleh bagi sedikit minum teh ke? (Can you gives me a few buck for a cup of tea?)" He's looking for a bribe... oh man... this is not right. I just hate seeing this kind of beggar around dressing in uniforms. Without any hesitation, I just told him that I'm a poor kid with no extra money and just drove off and no look back.

What a disappointment. I thought he's the first nice person I've met today. Maybe there's just no more good, clean policeman in Malaysia anymore. Every police I've came across just happens to be well dressed crook begging for money. This is the part that I believe our government should have got the problem seek in to and get it solved fast. This is just one of the problem that polluted our society and ends up having an uncivilized country.

Now, I'm sitting at Starbucks of Summit, Subang Jaya. Great... With free Wifi Access (something to cheer me up atleast). I've sat down on a comfortable soft laying my precious laptop on the table. Holding "Davinci Code" with my left hand and I've typed this blog just right here at precisely at 5.33pm right now. Finally I can have a good rest reading a good book and enjoying a thick refreshing Rumbha Frappocino coffee.

At this state of mind, I can safely shouting in my mind. "Fuck you! fuck all of the idiots I've met today!!"

Thank you.

(I'll post some photo when I've got home)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

KFC's Secret Maya Recipe 3 - Multipass Skin and Relighting

Follow up to my previous post

KFC's Secret Maya Recipes 2: Doodling with Channel Lighting

Here I've started a new research on seperating pass from Misss Fast Skin Shader in Maya in to different passes and composite the passes in After FX by using the Walker Effects Plugin. Advantage of using Walker Effects is that it came with a filter called "channel lighting". I can prepare a directional RGB pass (normal pass) and use it as a lighting info input to the filter in order to add diffuse over the color pass.

Here's the passes I've used for this skin test.



Color Pass - Slapping the color map on a surface shader. No lighting in the scene was used.


Directional RGB (Diffuse Normal) Pass - This is easy. Using the original Miss shader. Took out the SSS effect, specular. Make diffuse white and emit lights from 3 direction (bump on). Basically according to 3 point setup.



Directional RGB (Specular Normal) Pass - Almost the same as above. Only difference is this time I've made the diffuse in Misss shader to black. Only leaving Specular enabled in this pass. (Bump on)



Ambient Occlusion - This is just a basic MR ambient occlusion texture applied to a surface shader. No lights needed. (Mark reported to me that using "Dirtmap" for this pass can be alot faster and it has got more option to extract nice diffuse pass and environment reflection pass)


SSS pass - This is the Misss Skin shader with black color for diffuse, no specular and only leaving the SSS effect.



Ok... basically what I did here is simple. 1st, I've put the color pass in to the composition. Then follow with a Normal (diffuse) pass. Normal is hidden because I'm just going to use it's light normal info in the "Channel Lighting" filter. It's applied on the color Pass. After this, I've put the SSS pass on top of it by using screen over the image (Level adjusted for subtlety). Next, an Ambient Occlusion pass over it with Multiply mode (Gausian Filtered).


Now I've layered another Specular layer on top of those layers mentioned above. This specular layer has got it's own composition in order to extract the specular highlights individually from the RGB. Screen mode was used on this layer.


Ok... with a little tweaking around like Color balance and etc. You'll be able to create an output almost like this with 1 light on in the channel light option (Red channel). Beautiful part is we can add/minus light in the composition on the fly. Adjusting the light intensity, Colors of light, flipping direction of light and etc can be done in real time. I bet alot of artist will be happy to see this happen straight in compositing stage rather than waiting for hours of test render in 3d application.


2nd Light enabled (blue channel). Tweaking around with intensity and lights. Notice that the back light is enabled now.

Enabling another light from Green channel. Now we've got a light from above.


Ok.... I guess that's it for now. Hope everyone of you will benefit from this tutorial. For me, this is the method I'm using on my current short film in making. It's greatly speeds up my working progress. Compare to before when I was doing all of this in single pass output with FG and etc. It took me about 3 minutes for rendering only the skin. Imagine I have to wait for 3 minutes everytime I did a little adjustment on any attribute. This is taking forever cause only adjusting the skin with the nicest looking value can easily takes me up to days. And FG to me isn't always the best solution because it will introduce artifacts and flickering in the final output.

KFC's Secret Maya Recipes 2: Doodling with Channel Lighting.

I've just happens to got a chance to play around with the After Effects Plugin from Walker Effect.
It's rather cool to know that I can implement a kind of lighting technique created specially for 3d artist where we can change lighting on the fly in compositing stage. It's uses a method which is called "channel lighting" where we can use RGB light at 3 different source in order to let the software to extract the directions of light.
In order to test this new plugin. I've made a simple maya file in a few passes. Color, Diffuse (AO with imaged based light), Specular, RGB (3 directions),Ambient Occlusion and reflections pass.

Color Pass

Diffuse Pass (IBL Light)

Ambient Occlusion

RGB pass (sometimes I call it Normal pass)

Reflection Pass

Specular Pass



Now..... here's a little result after playing around with random settings.
Something I came out with accidentally with all of this pass. It seems quite cool tho. That's why I rather keep this instead. I've manage to tweak lighting on the fly and beable to match lighting to real footage pretty easily. I guess I'll be sticking to After Effect a little longer since I've got this nice little plugin here which can do all of the trick i need in shake.

I do have a few things I wanna do experiments on this plugin in this few days. Thinking of the simplicity of the rendered pass I need and also the time I can save from doing rendering output from maya in this way. One thing for sure is it's taking alot more hard disk space than usual. Someone might starts thinking about using jpg as the solution to this. But we definately needs to add a string "AW_JPEG_Q_FACTOR=100" to either our environment variable or maya.env file. Without this string is not cool because maya by default output with lower jpeg compression. So you ended up with lower quality results from compositor (bad antialiasing and etc).

Well... I can see that using this method, we can easily match lighting or even light our characters/objects in compositor very easily. Sometimes it's even easier than doing it in 3d software.

More info about this will come when I found time to use it on an actual production.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

KFC's Secret Maya Recipes 1 - Fake Particles Flow In A Vein Loop

ok... here's a stupid maya technique that I've came out with playing around with maya at starbuck (what a nice place to find inspirations). It's actually a technique to make particle flow inside a vein in a loop. Well... I was trying to achieve something like that for a project I was doing. But unfortunately It wasn't successful.
So what I did was trying to do it with another method which is faked by textures and surface which move along a path.



Here's how I do it.
Ok... Let's starts by creating 2 nurbs curve. Arrange it like the thumbnails. So that we can create a torus (rim) with history on.



The beauty of using history on is, we can later change the height ratio of the ring by scaling the smaller nurbs curve we've used for creating this ring.



Now turn to component mode and view the vertice mode. Drag select all of the vertices of the ring. And assign a cluster on all of the vertices above.



Animate this cluster handle with rotation of 0 at frame 0 and 360 at frame 500. Play the animation now the ring will turn in circle.






Now create a simple shader of noise texture on a lambert shader. Plugged the noise textures in the incadescence in order to eliminate the need of using any lights in the scene.


After assigning the shader to the rotating ring. Use the "Soft Modification Tools" to deform it to the desired path shape.
Now play the button and all of those small little white spots there will runs in full loop over time along the path.
Well... with this, u can render a sequence of mask for your favorite compositing sofware to prepare layers to fake flakes flowing in veins or tubes.

Enjoy...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ok... Here we goes.

Ok... here we goes. This is my first blog.
As a 3d artist, I do feel that I've the responsibility to make a record of my life. Since blogging seems to be starting to be a hit for everybody. Maybe it's not such a bad idea to start recording some technical research I've found along my daily job.

Now here we are. Reading much blog might going to be wierd for some people cause most likely I'll be talking alot about Art, 3D, games, Linux, Computer stuff and movies. ah... If I've the time. I might add a little review on everything I ever touched and tried.

Ok... Let's start with my brand new Acer Ferrari 4000

Sexy.... isn't she?
I've bought her 2 weeks ago at a rather good bargain from a shop at Pyramid. Well... that salesman was rather nervious when I talked to him in english. for a moment he was rather scared to answer me and lose control on the bargain. At the end, I've got this sweetie at the price of RM5500 (another RM50 for 1 percent credit card tax). Originally most computer shop in Malaysia charges credit card user for 2 percent. But due to his in-mature salesman experience and his soft hearten nature. He just charges me 1 percent for tax (afraid of losing a customer I guess). Ha... Well... I've further pushing him more on discount (poor guy), he even told me about the skim of promotional machine they got and the lowest price he can give. due to the reason i knew that I've already got a rather good bargain, I rather allow him to earn a little money for being generous on the bargain. I've asked around at shops nearby (one of the shop keeper is my old classmate, this fella don't even gives me a discount), lowest price they can give is RM5800 not including tax.



Oh God... She's sweet isn't she?
AMD 64 Turion processor, X700 ATI radeon (eventho i'm not an ATI fan, more of a Nvidia fan. I even own a Quadro FX 4000 desktop).

I'm trying to fully exploits this baby. But due to some restriction in Winxp x64, I can't manage to change quite alot of stuff and software. But other than this, it Roxx!! interms of performance and stability. I've even installed suse 9.3 64bit and Vidalinux (gentoo) 1.2 64bit for a spin. Currently I've some problem with APIC timer under linux. But I've found this http://www.triplenet.dk/~xerne/linux/Ferrari.htm
Written by Martin which is very helpful in helping me to get the problem solved. including x700 installation under linux and etc. Currently i'm a litte bz on jobs so apic timer patch is something that waiting to be done on weekends or after the completion of my freelance job.

Oh well... under winxp, it's running Maya 7.0 (and 6.5), Modo 102 and Zbrush very smoothly.

Speaking about 3d art. I've had an interesting "arguements" with Mark Soon (super talented 3d artist) over the messanger about how to seperate passes for Misss fast Skin Shader (Mentalray Shader came with Maya) in to Color, diffuse, reflection, SSS (tranlucent), Ambient Occlusion passes. Our discussion involved in to Steven's method of Skin shading (old school but works), Confusion in Misss of being rendered good as single beauty pass where we doubt it might look different if we seperate the passes and comp it back together again. But due to the our strict believe in speed up our workflow by render passes instead of (tedious) single beauty pass method, we are planning to do such test in order to prove our points in extracting multipass for renderings.

Oh wel... Again, Let's pray for more time. (I wonder whether there's a temple dwelled by a "time god" where I can worship to gain more time.... Haha...)

Oh Mark... One Utama's old phase Starbuck doesn't have free internet excess anymore. This suxx!! my new spot for Wifi access is Ikano's Starbuck.

Well... getting a little tired for now. Maybe I'll start blogging more about it tomorrow.

Cheers... I hope I'll still have enough time to sleep after completing the freelance job. And make it up for tomorrow's lecturing job in college. God.... Please give me a little more time.