Tuesday, March 30, 2010

VFX Guild vs Union

The VFX town hall brought up the idea of a Union or Guild for VFX. Neither is a horrible idea, but in practice it's not always the best idea.

First no union until the companies get their act together, with a trade organization or something. Unions will only hurt. ILM stopped being a union shop not too long ago. I was/am still in the ILM and DreamWorks union IATSE.
I like the idea of a guild b/c it can be much less invasive and more like VES, but with a different goal. Guild could enforce legal practices, like no unpaid OT. Set some standards for artists, and smaller things to make some people lives better, who can't seem to make it better themselves... well that would be the idea anyway. In practice it'd probably be some b/c hassle that made it harder for new artists (like actors) to start working. 

A union to me... get read for a negative review... Union to me feels like the charge a lot of extra$ to the company like pensions that are complete BS, and a lot of artist never see that money. They get crappy health-care, charge you $3k or more to join, and feel like they do nothing. Think about who runs a union, full time union people. Lame. For every full time employee that's the union/the artists who pays for them. Are they worth it? That's money that could be in your salary but its not. "Oh but unions get us better wages" No they don't. You still negotiate your rate, but now there is less play for the company b/c they already have and extra $15k/year on top of everything for union crap, most of which you will never see. They will make sure you get holiday and vacation days (or get paid extra for not), which is nice for sure. But a guild could do that too. 

Another thing, I don't think the most Sr artist want or need the union/guild. The mid and jr level need it, b/c its easier for them to be taken advantage of. Basically I'm skeptical, and think artist should manage themselves, but that's another blog post.

Lastly a union will never happen, so its not really worth talking about. It only takes a few big companies to say we're a non-union shop. We don't hire union people, during hard times, and you'll see people fleeing the union in droves just like the editors union now. Guild can start out soft and build in power and influence... but the moment it becomes a negative on the resume, is the moment it's hurting not helping.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Rendering Fluids with higher than 1 Dynamic Attrs


Rendering Fluids with higher than 1 dyn attrs. from destruct007 on Vimeo.

Its not uncommon to sim and render fluids with dynamics attributes higher than 1, but that tends to lead to issues in shading and rendering since maya's internal fluid shader defaults to 0-1 value mapping. Yay! I mean, YAY there's a workable solution!The draw backs to this is not being able to see your ramps entirety, altho you could write a MEL script that just displays your ramp on another ramp...

The FX Process

Here's the thing. Its not about how did I or why did I do something in a scene. Its a process. I start with 1 fluid 1 emitter kinda low rez (50x50x50'ish) I turn everything on, b/c I know what I'm doing and what I want to make ;) I set only 3 attrs damp 0.01 swirl 10 temp turb 5, the second 2 are just the sliders all the way up. Playblast. Hmm looks like the fuel isn't burning fast enough, turn up reaction speed and turn down ignition temp. playblast. Hmm looks like temp isn't fading out now. Turn up dissipation. playblast. Nope not enough, turn up more. playblast. Hmm looks too regular.

make hypothesis.
I wonder if I separated the temp into a smaller emitter it would react differently with the fuel?

test, playblast, nope settings off. tweek, playblast.

ok thats kinda better not much but it's better. hmm uprez. playblast. ok now it needs more bouancy or something, tweek. playblast. Still looks kinda regular.

hypothesis
what if I make the fuel emitter separate and give it a really high value and strong turbulence?

test. ok all my settings are now off. Tweek playblast, tweek playblast, tweek playblast. Hmm ok that looks better.

the point is, why did I do something and is it "the way to do it?" is hard to say and very case by case. Thats why I think of it as "playing" its not a real shot, its kinda general R&D. No rules, try things. sometimes they work other times epic fail.

I can't talk and play at the same time b/c my mind is totally focused on, what settings have I changed? What settings are the animating settings/strongest influences to velocity? Where is the balance of fuel to temp? What are the last 20-50 changes I made? (not THAT much of an exaggeration) if I make 3-4 changes then playblast what were they, and what were the last good numbers? Remember you can't really undo too much with fluids b/c the timeline change will jack your computer.
If I'm at work doing tests and someone talks to me, it could be the end of that test. I can't remember what I was doing. Now I just see a bunch of settings, but I don't understand why I did that, hah.

So play, have fun, test out you ideas. Only experience will make you better. Keep testing and playing. Guess at how it works, test that guess and see if you are right. A failed test doesn't mean you are wrong it just means the test failed. I find a lot of times what I thought was wrong was right later, I just didn't do the right test.