Aqsis

Aqsis 1.6.0

Aqsis 1.6.0 is in the Phase 1 stage of release

phase1.png

Aqsis 1.6.0 update list is HERE

Aqsis Links


Since we are using the Aqsis renderer for this we should do as much testing as possible to fully record the strengths and weaknesses of Aqsis itself. From shader development to final renders Aqsis should be used, though depending on the work needed some people might no even need to have Aqsis installed.

Uses for Aqsis in pipeline :

  • Modeling (make sure topology is correct, creases and seams)
  • Shader Development
  • Texture creation (make sure the texture is correctly applied to object)
  • Scene Previews
  • Animation tests (No cloth animation test)

As a test, Dan and I had used a complex scene to see how long it takes to export and render. The scene is roughly 1.4 million polygons, with a mix of SDS and polygon geometry, some of it quite detailed and complex. The scene had basic shaders and one sun light with no shadows. On my machine (a lower end system) it took over 4000 seconds to render %60 of it, before I killed the Aqsis process, while on Dan's system it took 350 seconds (finished %100). Between the two machines there was quite a bit of difference in the hardware so it's not a solid accurate benchmark of how long any given shot would render. It did however give us a better idea of how to construct models, in turn it will also help when applying full shaders to these objects.

The next thought of the Aqsis portion of the pipeline is are we going to be testing development versions of Aqsis, or are we going to stick with the current "stable" version available on SourceForge? The idea that we can use this short as a testbed for the GSoC projects seems pretty nice, however it might also hinder finishing the short since it has not been tested, nor many of us have the ability or the desire to compile Aqsis from source.
According to Aqsis developers it would be a far better idea that some of us, including myself, use latest builds so that any bugs can worked out, as well as testing out the latest updates to the render code. So I have updated my version of Aqsis to 1.5.0. From now on I will be testing out builds as they are made, it is not required at this time that everyone use the same build but eventually as the progress continues it may be a good idea to do so. It is also a good idea to start placing render bugs on the Aqsis bug tracker as they are encountered, that is the official spot for them and having bug reports all over the net is not a good idea.

Piqsl

Also do note that a new directory in the project folder has been made. It is a "TEST" Piqsl directory. The idea is that certain imagery, be it beauty shots or bug shots, can be placed here instead of uploading to an image server and linking them to a post. Since there is quite a bit of room left in DropBox this can serve as a more immediate purpose, also the images can be deleted or moved to another location over time, in fact it is recommended that we follow a weekly "clean up" routine for this purpose (upload images to FTP perhaps?). I want to take advantage of Piqsl, since it is quite a neat tool to use for such purposes, plus it would seem to serve the Aqsis team better having a direct connection to a buggy image along side the buggy RIB archive.


Animux

Recently the developers of Animux have expressed great interest in the Blender to RenderMan pipline and tools, currently they are trying to implement this into the base install for future release. I am offering technical assistance to this Linux distro and in return they are letting our short be rendered on the 20 node renderfarm. This gives us a chance to swap skills and cross promote each others efforts and goals.

Also due to some problems using Windows XP I have decided to start using Linux, in this case I am going to be using Animux for my workstation OS. This way I can also help test out this pipeline on that distro, making changes to the developer build of Animux as needed. Another reason for this is to keep environments the same, any asset made for Project Widow will be reflected on the renderfarm to keep inconsistencies at a minimum. While this is not such a problem using Mosaic as the script will process internal assets like shaders and textures and place them in it's own directories, it will be useful to keep things the same.

Recently I have been in the process of setting up the Animux Dr. Queue renderfarm. The physical renderfarm consists of 20 render slaves, however the current render queue software is FarmerJoe, since the last rendering project they did was the Mancandy DVD animation. For our purpose we will need something that has been proven to work for other productions and that can handle Aqsis, Dr. Queue is the only one that can. I will have to talk to the main developer about upgrading the current build of Aqsis to the latest version.

Latest Development : Animux Renderfarm is operational


OpenEXR

It has been decided as the final frame image format for this short. The main reason is that it is a very versatile image format that can be worked with later in post. Aqsis can export this image format and Blender can use this format later on in the composite stage, thus making it possible to use Blender later as a compositing tool. With OpenEXR we can also save AOV information that can be linked automaticly in Blender without too much trouble (???).
The second reason is that it is a file format developed by ILM, so it has quickly become an industry standard and has been inserted into most CG and VFX apps in recent years. This second point is more of a bragging right than practicality but for a giant like ILM to provide such a powerfull image format to the masses is something that we should take advantage of.

http://wiki.aqsis.org/doc/display#exr

OpenEXR website

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