MODO 501 Essential Training
Illustration by Petra Stefankova

Understanding resolutions and rendering


From:

MODO 501 Essential Training

with Dan Ablan

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Video: Understanding resolutions and rendering

After you've gone through all the painstaking work of setting up a 3D model, putting surfaces on, setting up lighting, well, you need to do something with it and that, of course, would be rendering. I have the scene loaded from the exercise files called RenderMe, which is basically the car from the Luxology assets, a flat plane with a nice desert ground applied. That desert ground is actually one of the presets you can find in your Browser toolbar here under Assets, and then go to Materials and you will find that ground surface. So what's happening here is that we have some global illumination lighting the sky and we also have a dome light that is creating a nice cast soft shadow on the ground.
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  1. 2m 21s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 26s
  2. 42m 37s
    1. Understanding the interface
      4m 30s
    2. Understanding the workplane
      5m 7s
    3. Understanding Action Centers
      4m 12s
    4. Working with the modeling tools
      5m 10s
    5. Understanding surfaces
      7m 12s
    6. Selecting elements
      7m 33s
    7. Understanding the elements of a 3D model
      4m 3s
    8. Understanding symmetry
      4m 50s
  3. 1h 2m
    1. Building a model
      8m 56s
    2. Editing geometry
      10m 39s
    3. Controlling geometry
      10m 31s
    4. Bending geometry
      6m 42s
    5. Adding detail with edges
      5m 37s
    6. Editing polygons
      10m 27s
    7. Extending polygons
      9m 34s
  4. 42m 53s
    1. Understanding subdivisions
      3m 49s
    2. Understanding Pixar-based subdivisions
      2m 48s
    3. Creating a basic model
      7m 51s
    4. Beveling with subdivisions
      6m 6s
    5. Adding detail to models
      8m 54s
    6. Deforming and shaping objects
      7m 48s
    7. Cloning
      5m 37s
  5. 49m 32s
    1. Creating with Radial Sweep
      4m 44s
    2. Working with text
      8m 40s
    3. Understanding replicators
      7m 22s
    4. Instancing objects
      7m 0s
    5. Working with Curve Clone
      4m 36s
    6. Working with Curve Extrude
      2m 25s
    7. Modeling with Array
      8m 50s
    8. Understanding Mesh Paint
      5m 55s
  6. 1h 4m
    1. Introducing the Shader Tree
      4m 32s
    2. Exploring layer-based shading
      4m 29s
    3. Creating surfaces for polygons
      7m 41s
    4. Editing surfaces
      7m 4s
    5. Applying procedural textures
      7m 38s
    6. Applying image-mapped textures
      6m 2s
    7. Working with transparent images
      5m 48s
    8. Adding bump maps for realism
      8m 49s
    9. Enhancing surfaces with specularity and glossiness maps
      3m 25s
    10. Creating a reflective surface
      3m 27s
    11. Working in glass
      5m 28s
  7. 39m 9s
    1. Building 3D scenes
      2m 49s
    2. Working with different light types
      8m 26s
    3. Lighting a 3D scene
      12m 51s
    4. Reflecting light
      5m 23s
    5. Lighting environments for realism
      4m 18s
    6. Blending light sources
      5m 22s
  8. 21m 1s
    1. Understanding the MODO 501 camera
      5m 39s
    2. Setting up a camera
      5m 42s
    3. Placing multiple cameras
      7m 11s
    4. Animating cameras
      2m 29s
  9. 29m 58s
    1. Understanding the timeline
      7m 16s
    2. Adding and controlling keyframes
      3m 22s
    3. Fine-tuning keyframes in the Graph Editor
      6m 17s
    4. Animating nontraditional elements
      4m 31s
    5. Animating colors
      4m 39s
    6. Animating displacement maps
      3m 53s
  10. 13m 57s
    1. Working with Hair Guides
      3m 18s
    2. Creating human hair
      4m 7s
    3. Creating the hair's surface
      1m 30s
    4. Generating animal hair
      1m 48s
    5. Building enhanced hair textures
      3m 14s
  11. 26m 21s
    1. Working with the painting tools
      6m 14s
    2. Painting on multiple layers
      9m 37s
    3. Sculpting models
      5m 45s
    4. Tweaking and finishing with the sculpting tools
      4m 45s
  12. 25m 56s
    1. Working with the Schematic interface
      1m 20s
    2. Understanding channels
      4m 9s
    3. Building a channel-based animation
      5m 51s
    4. Creating a schematic network
      6m 26s
    5. Setting up inverse kinematics
      4m 29s
    6. Adding the finishing touches on schematic rigs
      3m 41s
  13. 26m 47s
    1. Understanding resolutions and rendering
      12m 43s
    2. Setting up a render project
      4m 51s
    3. Rendering to movie files vs. image sequences
      9m 13s
  14. 3m 23s
    1. Exporting an object
      1m 2s
    2. Exporting a full scene for backup
      2m 21s
  15. 2m 2s
    1. Next steps
      2m 2s

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Watch the Online Video Course MODO 501 Essential Training
7h 32m Beginner Sep 16, 2011

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In this course, author Dan Ablan walks through the process of understanding the MODO workflow while learning to create 3D models and animations. The course teaches fundamental tasks, such as modeling polygons and applying materials with the Shader Tree, while exploring scene building in depth through advanced lighting, camera, and animation techniques. The course also covers MODO's schematic tools and shows how to render animations for various playback media.

Topics include:
  • Understanding surfaces and symmetry
  • Editing polygons
  • Shaping, deforming, and cloning objects
  • Working with text
  • Instancing objects
  • Applying procedural and image-mapped textures
  • Adding bump maps
  • Creating reflections
  • Working with different light types
  • Blending light sources
  • Setting up and animating cameras
  • Adding and controlling keyframes
  • Creating hair textures
  • Working with the painting and sculpting tools
  • Setting up inverse kinematics
  • Exporting a full scene
Subject:
3D + Animation
Software:
MODO
Author:
Dan Ablan

Understanding resolutions and rendering

After you've gone through all the painstaking work of setting up a 3D model, putting surfaces on, setting up lighting, well, you need to do something with it and that, of course, would be rendering. I have the scene loaded from the exercise files called RenderMe, which is basically the car from the Luxology assets, a flat plane with a nice desert ground applied. That desert ground is actually one of the presets you can find in your Browser toolbar here under Assets, and then go to Materials and you will find that ground surface. So what's happening here is that we have some global illumination lighting the sky and we also have a dome light that is creating a nice cast soft shadow on the ground.

It works pretty well, and you can load that up and take a look at how that's built. But once this is done, of course we have our preview render right here, but you might want to go to print. You might want to go to video. How would you do that? Well, let's just talk about resolutions and rendering real quick. What I am going to do is go to the Shader Tree and I am going to select the Render at the top, and when you do that, you'll see all the properties down here that you can set up for rendering. So let's move this up so we can see what's happening, and we are going to work our way down. You're going to see the Render category, and what we are going to tell modo is what camera we are using to render.

Early in the course, I showed you how you can create two cameras and choose that to render. In this case, we have just one camera. So remember, anything you render out will actually be from the Camera view, what you choose here. If we have an animation, you'd have your first and last frames, and then you'd have a frame step, meaning how often that is going to render. So is it going to render every frame, every other frame, every third frame, and so on? Here we are rendering each frame, one at a time. If we set it to 3, we would have every third frame render and so on.

You might think, well, why would you do that? Well, let's say I've got a really big animation and you want to create maybe a visual storyboard for your client. Render out every 15 frames or every 20 frames and use those stills as part of your storyboard. Things like that are pretty useful. You can also do a negative frame step, like -1, and you can render backwards. A lot of times that works well if you have an animation that rendered for six hours and suddenly your machine crashed. Or your software crashed and you want to re-render those frames. Well, render from the back end and catch up.

I've done that many times. Resolution, we are going to render in pixels, pretty much all the time. However, you can do it in inches, if you're rendering out for billboards and posters. But for most part, I've always had pretty good luck rendering in pixels, and most of our stuff that we do at our studio goes to video and pretty much these days we are at 1920 x 1080. Almost everything is HD. And that's something you're also going to set up before you set up your animations. You want to make sure that resolution is there so your camera actually has the right frame.

The DPI settings, now this is, I don't want to say controversial, but I've had people in the past take images and say that they're not 300dpi. Dpi means dots per inch. For print resolution, you do want 240 or higher for print. When you're rendering video, you really don't need to worry about that. You need to worry about the pixel size. Even then, this is still here. So what I recommend is just leave this alone. Leave it at 300. If you're rendering to video, you're not going to need it. If you're rendering to print, that will then be embedded in your image and when somebody loads that up in Photoshop, checks the image size, they will see that it's 300dpi. But even then, you're still going to need the right inch or pixel size.

So always check that with your client and make sure that you have the right resolution. The Aspect Ratio is the size of the pixels, and in this case we have square pixels at 1.0. Every once in a while you might be something like 1.2 for more of a letterbox look, and that's going to change the aspect ratio of those pixels. For our render, we are going to go 1.0. Now the Bucket Width and Height, you can change this depending on the type of render you're doing. But in all the years I have used modo, these default values work pretty well. The Bucket, if I press F9, are these little squares you see running all over the place.

Those are the buckets. So you can change if those are larger or smaller, and it might affect how your render happens, meaning it might render a little slower, might render a little faster, but in this case, that doesn't actually need to really change for us. And also to keep things a little faster for our render, we are going to come back down 720x480 DV resolution, just because it will render a little faster. And you can write the buckets to disk, which helps saves memory. It caches them and then reuses them, especially if you're doing more repetitive renders.

The Reverse Order, you can put on there as well. It will render opposite of the standard. So let's click on that, and I'll show you what that looks like. And it just goes from the bottom up where the render is reversed from our initial setup. We don't need to finish this at this point. Finally, you have a Render Region and this is actually quite handy if you have a really large scene, or maybe your system is a little bit slower. You can bring that in and if you look over here, you can see it happening. I am actually just rendering just a portion. And I'll press F9, and so now I am only rendering that region.

So it's good for two things. Number one, just unique creative renders, if you want a square render perhaps, or if you need to render just a portion, maybe you just want to update through render with just a quick preview of what that headlight would be. You can do it with that Render Region. Just remember to turn that off when you're not using it. When you come over to the Settings tab, there are additional properties that are extremely important to set up a render. Antialiasing, a lot of times you will get renders and you'll see kind of just some chunky edges around each of your models.

That's the antialiasing. It defaults to 8. I generally render somewhere around 64. And when I press F9, you're going to see it's going to slow down a little bit, but what will happen is that these nice edges in here will be much, much cleaner. And on a simple level, antialiasing is like a blurring of the pixels on the end. It smoothes them out. So that's something you're always going to want to put on. It's a matter of what kind of model you have, what size your render is, to what antialiasing value you're going to set.

Again, 32, 64 usually works pretty well for most things. Sometimes I have gone higher, depending on the quality of my model. But it looks very clean, so that shouldn't be a problem. The Filter type > Gaussian, well, if you're familiar with Photoshop, Gaussian is a blurring. Now you can try the Catmull or the Mitchell versions and see if those render a little bit differently. And the difference is, rather than a simple typical Gaussian, they are just different equations, different mathematical functions that change how that antialiasing happens, how it's applied.

So test those out and see what works better for you, but again, in most of my situations, somewhere around 64, I've gone to 128, generally works best. I leave it at Gaussian. The Refinement Shading Rate, this is going to help you get a cleaner render, especially when you have things like this soft shadow down here. If this were set up higher, to like 2 pixels--and we'll render this out--my render will go a little faster, but I am going to get this noise in here. So if you see some noise in your image, especially when you're using Global Illumination and down under here--I don't know how visible it might be on the video, but you can actually see all the shading.

It's kind of noisy. That's that shading rate. Without getting into mathematical explanations, I am just going to press .001, and this brings us down to the very bottom, which is .1. When I press F9 again, you can see my render is a little bit slower, but you'll notice that a lot of that noise now has been removed. I don't often change that, but for most final renders, we are bringing it down. And then when you do, you can balance that threshold to see what works best between the right shading rate and the right antialiasing.

So we will stop this. If you're rendering depth of field, you would click this on, any motion blur. Remember, if you're doing depth of field, you have to set up your camera properly. In this case, we're going to come in here, and we have to set the focus. While you can click Autofocus, you can very easily just press Y command and you'll get a little focus knob right there, and you can just drag it to the car. Once that's set up, you need to go into your Camera Settings and set the F stop so that the background will blur and the front will blur out of that focus area.

As a default, it usually does a pretty good job just setting that focus and rendering, but in these properties, in these settings, you just want to make sure that the Depth of Field is turned on. You can globally turn on or off shadows for your render, and you can increase the depth for the reflection and refraction so that the system calculates finer details when it comes to those. I've never had much trouble with any of the reflection or refraction values, but if you find some artifacting when you're rendering, try upping those values.

Now Adaptive Subdivision, when we were putting on the Multiresolution, we are going to want to use some of these Adaptive Subdivisions and the micro-polygon displacement. We didn't talk much about that, as it is some of the more advanced tools, but this is always on by default. What that means is when you go ahead and render something with a displacement map, there's a lot of times you can actually have finer displacement details within that, and that is with the micro-poly displacement. Lastly, when we get to Global Illumination, if we are rendering with Global Illumination, we could turn that on.

Now in this case I have a dome light simulating that global illumination. If I didn't want that dome light, I can make sure that in the Item list, it's just turned off. So now I'm using just my environment which has a high dynamic range wrapped around it as the indirect illumination. And as such, we need to make sure that our Shading Rate back in the Settings is set down pretty low, because that gives finer quality in between each of the pixels. The Shading Rate is applied in much better with that finer detail, rather than a higher value.

If you're doing subsurface scattering to make light transmit through surfaces, you can determine it here. We had earlier put on volumetrics on one of our cars to have the light streak out. You can put volumetrics, how they affect the indirect light, and you can increase the number of bounces. Now by default 1 works pretty well. When you have indirect illumination, what you're telling the system is, have that light, have the indirect light-- in this case the environment--bounce off of all the surfaces, and that's how you get this nice environmental lighting that, while our background has bluish image in it, it's actually tinting the ground and the car.

The color of the ground is popping up into the car, and so on. All of that light is bouncing, and in turn bouncing the colors around. You can increase the amount of bounces, but I'd be careful with that, because it will slow down your render times. Good trial and error there. When you're doing Global Illumination, you're going to want to play with the Irradiance Cache. This is directly related to Indirect Illumination and the Global Illumination, so you can change these values of how it's sampled. So again, if I bring this down to maybe one, that rate is actually going to change a little bit and give us a little better quality.

If you go to the Luxology site, they have quite a good listing of very specific ratios you can put in for different types of rendering, whether you are rendering for video or for print. Lastly, the Walkthrough mode. This is really good to put on, especially if you're rendering for architecture. Well, let's say we are just moving our camera only. What that means is, once this data is calculated for the render, you put Walkthrough mode on, the system knows that. It's not going to be recalculating and redrawing all this bounced rays of light.

It knows that okay, well, we've rendered this once. Nothing in the scene is moving like the car, which would then need to be recalculated to move those colors. Instead, we are just flying the camera through, or walking the camera through in this Walkthrough mode. So, that's something you'd definitely want to turn on to save render time, especially when it comes to architecture. So, just a quick overview of some of the settings you will need to go through to set up a render. Now I know we've got a little bit long with some these values when we are using Global Illumination, but just be sure that in your settings you've got your Antialiasing on, you lower your Shading Rate so that you get much finer detail in those shadows, and then make sure your frame size is correct.

In the next video, I am going to show you how to render out and then save, so that you can apply it somewhere else.

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