Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Hardware Render Buffer

So you want to create a new reel and can't decide if you should just playblast a bunch of clips together or give your anims the full treatment of lights and render. You want to playblast because they're a lot easier and quicker, but you also want to render because everything looks so nice fully lit.

Well, what if there was happy medium--something in between? There is!


It's the best of both worlds. With the HRB, it's like playblasting with the added advantage of motion blur and anti-aliasing. Althought, it's actually slightly more work than playblasting, it's definitely a lot quicker than setting up lights and doing full renders.

Here's what you do:

Here are my settings. Use what you like.

Scale as you wish:

View the sequence with the Fcheck.

If you like what you see, import the images into Quicktime Pro and export an uncompressed clip. Then when all of your clips are exported, throw them into Premier to toss around as you like.

All of my previous reels have only been playblasts (HRB for future ones). My reasoning is that while it definitely is nice to have full renders, the time it takes me to set up lights and render, I rather use that time to polish my animation even further. Plus, if I just finished editing together a reel and realize that I need to fix yet another anim hitch, I'm more likely to make that fix if all I needed to do after is to re-playblast. And although I don't want to speak for everyone, I'm pretty certain that the animators that are looking at your work will be judging it by your characters' motion and performance, and not by their rim lights and cast shadows.

For future reels, I think I'll be using the HRB, unless of course I have a shot that have already been lit from a cinematic sequence.

While doing these "suped-up playblasts", these are my additional prefs:
  • All heads up displays should be turned off--just to keep things clean.
  • I actually like having the grid visible as a ground plane. I feel it grounds the character, and in a way, helps with weight because you can anticipate where the foot (for example) is supposed to hit. Without, it's like hitting an invisible wall that you're not ready for. This might be just me, but I find it a bit awkward without a ground plane. It's like the character's floating in space.
  • If there's camera movement, the grid acts as points of reference in the environment. This way, you get a better sense of how much the character is moving relative to it's environment and not the screen.I've seen animation tests from film studios and they are all rendered with some sort of a ground plane with a checkerboard texture.
  • Finally, I prefer the motion-blur to be subtle. I think it's one of those things that should be felt and not seen.
Here's a final tip--echo all commands in the script editor while setting up the parameters for the render settings and make it a shelve button. It'll save you time if you have 20+ clips to render.

Now remember as always, this is purely my preference--I have friends who like to render their reels, and I have to admit, it looks quite nice. But I'm stubborn:)--I'll still say that what extra time I have, I'd prefer to use it to nicen' up the actual animation instead.


Paul said...

Thanks for the great resource! I just posted a link to this on Animation Mentor's forums so you should get some hits soon.

Michael said...

Mr. Phan! Nicely done. Thanks for that quick tutorial on this.

TJ Phan said...

Hey Paul, thanks for the shout-out and link. And thanks for reading all of my ramblings! BTW, I'm curious--do I have to be enrolled in AM to participate in their forums?

Michael, what's up man! I see you finally got a Blogger profile:) Hey, your AM stuff's looking sweet!

Michael Richard said...

oh man... my site is so behind... like by 4-5 weeks. My dialog shot has come a long way. I will be sure to post it up very soon, though. I'm using your render technique right now to render my Car-poo shot. =)

TJ Phan said...

Cool! Can't wait to see the new anims!

Tristan Sacramento said...

haha, shoulda just read your blog earlier before calling you up for those settings. I think I'm gonna start using HRB at work a lot more, shows off the intended motion with that slight blur. I'm finding .30 to be the max setting for the blur. I used .25 most of the time. Great post!

TJ Phan said...


Pritish Dogra said...

Thank so much for this tutorial. You have no idea how many man hours I have saved when I finished my last shot. Wish I knew this earlier.

TJ Phan said...

Glad it was helpful, Pritish! And thanks for visiting!

Van said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Van Nguyen said...

Thanks for the great tutorial! An animation friend of mine showed me your render tutorial a while back, and it has helped to speed up the rendering process ever since, especially for those demo reels.

Nice reel by the way!

TJ Phan said...

Thanks Van! I'm glad you found the HRB useful:) And congrats on graduating from AM.