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Iron Sky – Day 22

I’m pretty sick today after I started to feel my annual sinus and ear infection coming on. It’s early this year. The last really bad one was in December so I guess it must be the apocalypse or something. It could also be delayed from the incredibly horrible plane ride over here on Air Berlin. It was as hot on that plane the entire ride (11 hours) as it has been here in the office for the last two weeks. Nasty stuff.

Anyway, Luke is passed out back at the flat and I returned here after doing laundry and thinking about render times and starting to freak out a bit on how much of the rendering process is spent, wasted completely on 10K and 8K resolution maps for these models. We are going to have to do another down sizing, and you what? It wouldn’t impact the quality at all if the textures were done the way we needed them to in the first place. It seems that in maya land that nothing can look good unless its some hugemassivegigantor painted texture map – and then they still need to write mental ray shaders on top of that. Ok thats fine, sometimes that’s how it is in LW (except for the writing shaders part, we have cooler toys in LWs surface texturing system), but can we have that stuff broken down into layers please? No… Oh, ok no one told you needed to be like the way we are asking… But its all flattened down in PS to the point where it can’t be separated again… hmm. Do the layers in PS actually have names for what they do? Nope. Luke’s nightmare last week was dealing with this. Thankfully it’s more or less resolved even if the assistance provided was reluctant.

Note to other VFX production staff:

1. We wouldn’t ask you for something if we didn’t really need it.

2. Assume nothing from here on in. EVERYTHING needs to be top notch from all angles and in all scenarios. Remember, in the “European” system of doing movies, directors (including art directors) will tweak and tweak and tweak and tweak and tweak until someone like me tells them they are cut off and puts them in a cab to go home. Most of the time they are right and the changes are a good idea, but they will change their minds so build things to be flexible, dependable and organize yourself so that if you get hit by a bus someone can make sense of what you were working on. The show must go on after all. Or something like that. This is what a good friend of mine calls “Covering your ASCII” (cover your ass).

It seems there is a bit of a disconnect on another front – and this isn’t really anyone’s fault here. It’s just how it goes but its a slippery slope. They want to push to get stuff done, but have a tendency here to put stuff into the production pipeline before its ready. Sure, its good to see how its going to come out and fix what you see, but at a certain point the continual “concept process” needs to be cut off and things have to be locked. It’s hard on the guys building the stuff when they are told it has to be done at X day and then someone comes along, who was before them in the chain of events and says – “well you know I would really like it to be like this”. Uh…. No, you had your chance, it was your responsibility to speak up and actually do what it was that now seems to be missing and pass it onto the next guy good to go and approved. The concept of assembly line is confused here and I have experienced this else where in the UK/EU over the last 5 years during my working trips to this area of the world.

You would figure that with high-end companies like Nokia and BMW and others in Finland and Germany next door practically that the idea of putting a defective or untested, un-authorized, or unapproved part would send shivers up the spines of 5 year olds having grown up in a culture that prides itself on craftsmanship (generally speaking of Europe of course) let alone high-tech, skilled artists working on a feature film.  Personally I think it has more to do with outside factors than anything else not directly related to the VFX creation process but impacts it anyway. I have my suspicions, but I think that once again the European film making “mind set” and how it works business wise here, compared to the studio systems or even the independent film making methods common in the USA and Canada are impeding not only the creative process but the assembly line itself.

On a more positive note (yes there is good news – actually lots of it but I can’t really speak about it). I can’t wait for Lt. Cannon Fooder (Tuomas) to show up from Helsinki on July 1st. He’s going to be working with Luke and I on the LightWave3D team and then hopefully Phillipe Corne from UK/France will be he shortly after. We have a lot of clean up and testing to do for this big huge space battle and the clock is ticking. We are effectively the second last process step on the assembly line which can be good and or bad. If something is going to blow up in our faces, its going to happen to us and we will likely have to deal with it as it comes, however if we get everything the way we need it to from the people before us who have put in the hard work, then we can take that material and make it look freaking awesome and make the compositors lives a lot more comfortable and enjoyable because they will see immediate kick-ass-ness when they start to composite these sequence.

That was in a way Henry Ford’s dream I suppose. “You can have any color you want, so long as it is black” he said at one point when talking about the Model T. For us the same is true. You can have anything you want pretty much, so long as we get done on Time.

More soon. I have to test a network theory of mine right now before everyone arrives (got an early bird composting guy here today… Good stuff!) to try and boost the rendering process even further.

Joy =^..^=

 



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