greyduck.net

Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Geekery (page 1 of 84)

Come On, See The Noise

I started learning Blender with two goals in mind. One centers on toy ducks, as one might naturally expect. The other centers on music visualization.

Since my earliest days “tuning out” (sitting and listening to music with big headphones on, letting my mind wander) I pictured patterns and colors and what-not. Perhaps now that I have tools to do so I can try creating some of that effect in video form. Perhaps.

This is an early test of my ability to play with lights and colors to music:

Keep in mind that this is literally my very first anything-at-all along the way toward my actual goal. The camera is static, I rendered at a super-low resolution to get the frames made in a reasonable timespan, and I clearly need to experiment with the attack/release values when baking sounds to F-curves (hence the jittery quality of the oval lighting changes). But hey, it’s a start.

Technically speaking: I intend to actually carve up and pre-process my source audio going forward. It’s one thing to tell Blender “hey, use 250Hz to 500Hz for this bit” but perhaps better to say “hey, use this copy of the audio file that’s been pre-tweaked to get the best results from this material node.” Also? Every tutorial I’ve watched so far about doing music visualization in Blender has ignored the fact that stereo exists. I think I can bring something to the table in this regard.

Downloads Zero

Perhaps you’ve heard of Inbox Zero. The idea being that one’s main email folder can become unwieldy rather quickly and the best way to stay on top of it is to aim for nothing remaining in the Inbox that hasn’t been processed in some fashion, be it by deletion or delegation or sorting into a “do this later” entry elsewhere.

I’m pretty good at keeping my work email under control. (Let’s not talk about my Gmail and my Google Apps accounts, because those interfaces are absolutely terrible if you want to manage your email in a non-Google-approved way, ugh.) The rule at work is, if I can see a scrollbar in my Inbox, I have too many messages in there and I pare it down one way or another.

On the other hand, I’m very very bad about maintaining another popular dumping ground: The Downloads folder on my computer. Judging by what I’ve seen in the course of my job I’m not the only one, mind you, but I can’t do anything about people who download the same Excel sheet twenty times and end up with ‘Critical Company Accounting Data (15).xlsx’ and so forth. All I can do is start looking after my own pile of mess.

There’s no mystery as to why this happens, really. A big part of what we do online is take stuff offline for our own use. Documents. Software installers. Media files. We download it, we run it or look at it or watch it or whatever, and then we’re done with it. “I’ll have to remember to put that in its proper place later,” we tell ourselves.

Ha! As if.

Let’s be honest: The bulk of it is Recycle Bin fodder. By the time you need to install that program again there’ll be a new version, or the program will be obsolete and you’ll have to download some other program’s installer anyway. You watched that video once, got a good laugh out of it, and… there it sits, undeleted and unsorted, until you get a new hard drive probably.

Don’t call it a “new year’s resolution” because ha ha no we don’t play that game in this household, but I started getting my main Downloads folder under control this weekend. Music is sorted where it belongs, installers are organized for safe keeping (or deleted), and so forth. My goal: Downloads Zero.

(Oh yeah and I have a stack of old hard drives with their own Downloads folders to work my way through as well. Whee!)

Let’s see how it goes.

Yay Food

I didn’t expect this to take nearly an entire week, but here we are. Please enjoy the short video, “Yay Food“.

It started with a pun, of course. Then I had to jot down enough lyrics to be worth the effort. Then I had to source a MIDI. Then I had to turn that into a WAV file. Then I had to go into Blender and add more ducks to a copy of the old donut tutorial workspace. Then I had to learn to do HDR lighting. Then I had to sort out the animation. Then I had to do the render… which took basically five days. Then I had to put it all together in Adobe Premiere Elements, which took several hours. Then I had to upload, etc, etc.

All that for a two minute joke video. Note to self: Stick to still images from now on, eh?

Another Blender Video Incoming

On Christmas Eve I was struck by terrible, marvelous inspiration. Before bedtime that very day I kicked off rendering animation frames in Blender, having already sourced and prepared the music and text, then assembled all the elements in the 3D environment. My original plan was to post the completed video this month but it turns out that rendering ~3300 frames at 1280×720 resolution will take longer than expected on my poor GTX 1070 graphics card. Maybe for New Year’s? Maybe.

Layout view in Blender of objects for current animation project

Yes, I am reusing the donut and coffee cup from the Blender Guru tutorial. It’s work I don’t have to redo, okay?

It’s only a two minute video. Among other things, this suggests I won’t be doing Cycles-based animation in Blender as a regular thing. (Now, music visualizer videos with the Eevee renderer? That’s another story…)

Render of duck, donut, and coffee cup from just before the midpoint of the video project

The duck is new, actually. I started over after making the one in the previous video. Meet the Mk4 plastic duck toy!

This video won’t even be done when Blender is finished with the rendering because then I’ll need to load it all into Premiere and add subtitles. (Look, it’s either subtitling or you have to listen to my singing voice. Subtitles are the better option, I assure you.)

So yes, there’s more 3D stuff coming. Eventually.

Final Exam For The Blender Donut Tutorial

I completed the Blender Guru’s new version donut tutorial sequence just before dinnertime on Thanksgiving.

The duck’s a bit janky but hey, I made it entirely on my own, building on what I learned from the donut videos and reading/watching bits of other available how-to material. There’s something still a bit glitchy about the coffee cup, specifically some of the “liquid” contents. The “autumn leaf” sprinkle idea didn’t work out like I’d hoped on the donut but it’s not too awful, I suppose. I kind of wish I’d gone with a different brick texture for the wall since I never did find a color that looked good for me (hence the gray). And so on, and so on.

Part of the point of all this was giving myself permission to be bad at parts of it so I can learn, so… you know what? I’m pretty happy with this.

To be clear, I had to render this at 640×480 in order to get done with the animation in a reasonable (for me) timeframe. Which, sad to say, rules out the possibility of animated duck-related projects in the near future. Nothing’s stopping me from making any kind of wackadoodle still-frame imagery I want to, however!

Next time: More ducks, hopefully.

Will It Blend?

I tried the writing thing for a while. That didn’t pan out, as evidenced by the death of the 3WA project.

I thought I’d take up photography again. Turns out I bought entirely the wrong camera for most of the uses I wanted to try, and I can’t really afford to throw tons of money at that solution. Never mind that our living space is cramped enough without trying to carve out a workspace for that sort of thing.

I still want to exercise my creative impulses somehow. So, what next? Turns out that a friend on the bird site suggested I look into some tutorials by a guy who bills himself as the Blender Guru. Thus began my immersion in the wonderful world of fake-donut creation.

The hardest part was agreeing with myself to allow myself to be bad at something at first. Seems obvious, but I carry some deep-seated mental baggage about trying something, doing poorly at it, then never being able to try that something again. And boy howdy have I not really matched the tutorial for the type and quality of results. But that’s not the point, the point is to learn, I must remind myself every time I tackle another video.

It all started modestly enough.

A 3D donut mesh complete with 3D icing

Yum, sure looks tasty, doesn’t it?

Then I learned a tiny bit about working with materials. Too bad my sense of color was a bit off.

3D donut with 3D icing, in color

I was aiming for the look of chocolate icing… and missed.

Vyx suggested an improvement to the color scheme, which when paired with my lessons in making colorful sprinkles resulted in a vastly superior donut-looking image. Lighting’s still a mess, though.

3D donut with chocolate icing and multi-colored sprinkles

Right about at this point in the process I started craving a donut. Heavy-duty craving.

Then came the coffee cup section of the tutorial, which was easier than expected in some ways yet annoyingly fussy in several others. It doesn’t help that I completely missed one important part of the instructions so my cup ended up a bit… frosty.

3D glass (frosted) coffee cup on saucer

I actually really like this frosted-glass effect, but it’s not what I need to finish the tutorial properly. Whoops.

I also found a better “de-noise” add-on than what comes in Blender 2.8 natively, which truly improved the quality of my renders. Once I sussed out some of the problems along the way I was able to stage and render the not-actually-final product. (This is as of the end of the third “stage” of videos, with one to go.)

3D donut and 3D coffee cup on 3D saucers

There’s still a weird glitch with the coffee cup but you know what? I’m pretty happy with this so far.

Additionally, after each section of the tutorial I’m re-watching the videos and taking notes that I put into a wiki for later reference. It feels like the process of taking notes after having done the work is helping reinforce the learning somewhat. And what learnings aren’t reinforced are at least documented!

Now, let’s be clear: I’m not doing all of this so I can render snack foods. I have something a bit more… on-brand… in mind.

3D test render of a "Rusty" type duck toy model

I created this model entirely from scratch, though the rust effect involved following a tutorial video (not from Blender Guru).

Yeah? Yeah.

« Older posts

© 2020 greyduck.net

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑