Well, it appears I managed to brainwash some of my 20 visitors into up-voting my Reddit post. I mentioned here that I got -4 votes. Now I think I have +2 votes. At least I’m not humiliated and I can browse through the internet with my head and epenis held high.
Most of today’s work has been split between working on shaders and research.
I’m trying to create the best material I can for lightmapping. Lightmapping is basically a process whereby certain properties of the materials are pre-computed before getting into the game engine. It’s also called baking. I like the term baking actually.
You can bake shadows and lights into the textures and give the graphics card some breathing room. So it’s a very important process performance wise. Unfortunately it has the effect of complicating the graphics pipeline. Normally the graphics pipeline goes like this: texture->material->engine. This means all the shadows and shaders are computed in the engine.
With baking, you create materials in your 3d application (in my case Maya) then you render and bake your materials into textures. Next, you return to the original pipeline. I’ve simplified the process a bit; you may need to bake other things such as cube maps for getting reflections right etc. This whole complicated pipeline is worth it because it enables the Gfx card to work on other things while playing the game, which in turn enables players to play with better frame rates. This means that, as a developer, you can squeeze more stuff into the game. Another plus of this approach is that you can keep the look of the game consistent across multiple platforms (XBOX, PS3, MAC, etc.).
The other part of the day was spent on looking for software to make my life easier. I have looked into solutions that may speed up rigging. Rigging is simply a process whereby you create a skeleton for your character so you can animate it. The animator animates the rig and the rig in turn animates the character. It’s mostly an ugly process so I can use whatever help I can get.
I’ve also searched for some quality webcams. I find that webcams are really great tools for capturing reference footage. For example, let’s say that you, the animator, want your character to walk a certain way. You get up, start your webcam and act out the walk while it’s recording. Now you have a reference that you can look at anytime you want. Combine that with multiple webcams, and you get a great reference from different points of view. I don’t know any animators using multiple webcams to record themselves but almost all of them use a webcam to act out certain parts.