Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tip-toe Through Plastic Tulips

The crystal pond lighting test.
I have been very slowly working on the Arts Scene lately (also known as the White Room).  The main reason for it being slow is that I'm lazy.

In addition to that, it has been a frustrating process.  This room is INSANELY complicated compared with every other room in the building.  If most rooms were a 4 and the Dreamfinder vehicle was a 10, this room is easily a 35.  There are no 90 degree angles anywhere and the room is just packed with objects.  My first draft of the flowers was as accurate as I could get, but once in the simulation, the animation dragged badly (even with instancing).  I had to go back and simplify them... and may have to again.  

Original version of the flowers.
One of the biggest issues is the lighting.  The "White Room" is actually very colorful.  While most of the scenery in the room was white (some of the clouds on the walls are actually blue), most of the lighting was made up of small spots of saturated colors.  Each one of these spots adds another level of computer processing complexity.  I will reduce some of this eventually by "baking" the colors onto the scenery then turning off the lights.  That's how most of the lighting in the simulation works already.  However, for test and adjust, the lighting is all live.  The screenshot at the top of this post was taken just before my computer crashed, and the rest of the room and lighting was turned off for this test.

One of the ways I'm hoping to simplify things is by straight up cheating.  I do not have good enough reference material to actually recreate this room object-by-object.  I'm aiming for getting the "feel" and experience as close as possible.  To do that, I'm starting to build foreground objects (closest to the vehicle or important like the carousel and figment) in 3D, and I'm making background objects 2D.  In a way, the real room was kind of built that way too.  I think all of the white on white layering will allow me to get away with this too.  If you watch videos of this scene, the objects don't stand out individually.  It's just a jungle of organic chaos.  I think I can do that.  But it will be slow.  Organic and chaos are both hard things to do with ones and zeros.  

I appreciate the patience and support many of you have shown with me putting this scene off for so long.  When I release the next version, it certainly won't be complete, but I think it will be a nice addition.  And hopefully, I will have figured out how to make it run smoothly.  We'll see.  Until then, here are some of the work in progress shots...


  1. Mike... I LIVED in this show for months before it opened, and I wish I could tell you the effect your efforts have had on me. You've quite literally taken me back to the days when I could stroll through the attraction-in-progress. I'm so grateful and so impressed; so here's a major ATTABOY, for what it's worth, from me and the dragon.

    1. That's worth a lot to me. Hearing this from you is a huge boost and I really appreciate it. I'm glad you're enjoying this as much as I am. Thanks, to you and the dragon. :-)