Thursday, April 05, 2012

shaking through

"rendering" is the step in computer graphics were all of the information for a scene is processed and the actual image is produced.
"shading" refers to the look of objects in the scene. it's what makes jeans look like denim, sidewalks look like concrete, and e.v.e. look like she was designed in cupertino.
"rendering and shading" is the class i have on tuesday and thursday mornings.

while neither of those are departments i want to ultimately end up in, i believe that the more i know about other departments, the better i can do my own work as part of a studio team. and i'd just like to know how to do that stuff, so i signed up for the class.

throughout the semester, we were to create a scene and improve it each week. the assignments would build off each other; one week we'd just compose the scene with basic objects and simple appearances. then we'd add light and shadows, then textures, reflections, refractions, fur/cloth/hair, and sub-surface scattering, hopefully producing something at the end that would impress dr. ergun akleman.

the key was to not fall behind, yet somehow i did. my first week looked, meh, ok, but so did everyone's, since we were all just getting started. my shadows were alright and i probably thought they were better than they really were, since i like to think i'm good at lighting, but i got it done and made it home sometimes around 6 a.m.

textures were a disaster. once again, i found myself getting off work the evening before they were due and knowing i would not be sleeping that night. i tried to break down my night and pace myself, giving myself an hour and a half to look through the tutorials on how to use the software then another hour and a half for each part of the assignment due at 10:20 the next morning. i stumbled out of the lab again when the sun was coming up and made it back to class a few hours later in time for my work to be critiqued. i had addressed each requirement of the assignment but knew it didn't look good and my teacher agreed: "this looks like c.g., but CG c.g. like 1980s c.g."

he was right. i was ashamed of my scene and i cringed whenever we looked at our work in class; i was clearly in the bottom percentile for quality of work. maybe that computer science kid who had no real aesthetics training might be rivaling me, but i more or less sucked.

i wanted to drop the class. it would give me more time for other classes and projects and i wasn't really showing any promise here, anyway. but i didn't. and when "reflections" were due a few weeks ago, i attacked it. i threw out everything in my shot that wasn't contributing, considered what i could add to make it better, and by the time the sun was creeping back into the lab, i was feeling good about what i had.

yes, there were still plenty of things to be said that needed improvement when my turn for critiques came up, but i didn't shirk in shame. i liked my glass elephant and actually started work on the refractions a few days before they were due, so that last night i only had a few hours of work to do and had some pretty sweet rainbow refractions.

in short, i'm glad i didn't quit when i wanted to.
because it got better.

1 comment:

kwistin said...

this is a really great post.


I. it was interesting to hear the stripped down version of these complicated shading/rendering processes. i didn't get lost in technicalities but you shared enough to help me learn a little more about what you learned.

II. "the key was to not fall behind, yet somehow i did." i think i just found the theme for my entire college career.

III. i really like your blatant honesty in the tone of this post. not pessimistic, just realistic.

IV. you were also very matter-of-fact as well in your success. it makes sense: when you want something, you work hard for it. when you work hard for it, you often find success. or failure and therefore knowledge. and sometimes both.

V. i really like that idea of working through things that are difficult. because i think that, as unfortunate as i see it sometimes, most of the best things in life are obtained through hard work. but that makes them better.

i know you know this.