It’s hell sitting by a hot PC in this weather, especially now there’s no Olympic beach volleyball coverage to distract my attention. My trusty old six core Phenom II is only two hours away from finishing a mammoth 18 hour render to produce eleven seconds of animation. That will be 279 frames, which rendered at low quality (allowing myself only four minutes per frame) works out at 1116 minutes or 18.6 hours.
Those are crazy numbers – though old hands at CG will say it's nothing compared to the many hours some of them devote to a single image – and I’m not sure how I’m going to progress now I’m seriously trying to animate a CG short film. It might have helped if I hadn’t included physically accurate grass in my first shot (never again!) but if you’d told me two months ago that I’d be waiting 18 hours to see the results of my efforts at computer animation, I’d have thought you suffering from the heat stroke, had there been any heat around to stroke you. As it is, the summer has finally arrived and my PC is adding to the temperatures. I’ve also discovered a cruel fact about 3D animation and that is to produce seriously good renders, you need CPUs and lots of them.
At the beginning, when I began, I was fascinated by the Blender Cycles engine and the results it can produce on a good CUDA graphics card. Since then I’ve moved on, tried other rendering engines, but finally coming back to the fact that I think that I really need to invest in a CUDA card. 18 hours waiting for renders to finish is crippling my workflow.
I’m also beginning to wish that I’d stuck with the computer programming I did professionally a few years back. I never fully got into programming in C++ but I wish I had since Pixar have just released their source code for their new Open subdivision technology. There’s a long presentation here worth watching but, it you’re only interested in the results, check the ending where they animate a mesh inside Maya that has a subdivided geometry that contains more polygons than pixels on the screen. I think I’m just regressing to my earlier truer geekself.