Tuesday, 9 March 2010


I recently read through an article about the lovely work done by MeindBender creating some Cartoon Network spots. Creating surfaces and textures that look malable and pushed around by fingers is a favorite area of mine - whether its clay, plasticine or shiny surfaces with grubby finger marks. Such subtlties add an immense layer of realism to your renders.


A number of artists have successfully created plasticine and putty like materials before - though this one stands out more than most due to its humour and great animation....done in Maya i believe.

I was stunned to read that they had spent 6 hours a frame rendering with Maxwell Render 1.7.

6 hours!

Some things take longer than others to render obviously, but for some red blobs in a studio lighting environment, this is clearly the wrong approach and the wrong renderer for the project.
Sure, it looks pretty - but if i told my boss....or even fellow workers that it was gonna be 6 hours until we could see a clean crisp render....well, i dont think i would have a job anymore. I would love to have 6 hours to spend on a frame.

Maxwell is of course an unbiased renderer - meaning its a hands down, brute force physically correct render - respecting the exact information you give it from real world values.
This is great, amazing and gets beautiful results - but im amazed the guys at MeindBender could spare this amount of time to generating the imagery.

As an example and comparison as to this crazy decision to use Maxwell - i created a plasticine material with the Brazil RS inside of 3DSmax. Brazil is an amazingly advanced QMC based renderer - with a powerful balance of quality and speed.
It also comes with its own optimised photometric lights for accurate Kelvin controls etc

The first render was done in just over two and a half minutes. There are two GI/indirect illumination bounces, two photometric lights with varying temperatures and full, bi-directional sub surface scattering. Oh - and theres also displacement and bump in there, an HDRI reflection map and anti-aliasing/sampling at Min 1 and Max 2.

The second render is exactly the same, except for the sub-surface is turned off. It still looks respectable and we have a considerable time saving. Note the warmth and softness the SSS brings to the first example however - spreading light around inside of the fingerprints and recessed areas.

And ill point out again the render times, as noted on the renders.

Heres a blob with eye balls.


  1. Agreed, 6 hrs / frame is a bit nuts. I think Brazil, Mental Ray or Vray could have all pulled those spots off. I am curious as to how they used multi-light though. I thought ML could only work off one still and then generate an images sequence of light value changes. Not change light values over an image sequence. If it could that would be great!

  2. Interesting point abotuthe ML you have raised there - and also maybe the reason they went with Maxwell. For the stopmotion/exposure popping per frame, perhaps the imagesequence approach was ideal for this and they could edit such data externally before rendering. Though this again seems crazy - as post work would acheive the same results...and i think they did mention post work in AFX. Oh, and thanks for joining my blog :)

  3. Are Brazil and Arnold essentially the same thing? I'm just about to embark onto a plasticine project myself..

  4. Nope. Not at all. There was a renderer called Arnold around 2001/2 - though i never used it back then.
    Arnold now is Sony Imageworks renderer of choice, used on Monster House and that weird titled movie with the word meatballs in it....

    Its being developed for Softimage & Maya by a company called SolidAngle. I heard that Platige are developing a 3DSmax port.

    Brazil is whole other renderer - years ago known as Ghost. Id recommend taking a look at Brazil if you are using 3DSmax.

  5. I'm on the beta for both Vray and Arnold for XSI...haven't had time to play with Arnold yet but I think I'd have an easier time rendering Plastercine with one of those then Mental Ray.

  6. yup = you'll love Arnold. Its refreshing to see something so fast and reliable to be working inside of XSI - though its an unbiased renderer again, so like any render solution...there are strengths and weaknesses.
    Arnold is blazingly fast though.

  7. oh man i love this texture, it looks fantastic.
    I can't see the fingerprint texture you talk about on jeffs blog?

  8. Wish ?I could get this working in VRAY!!
    Matt, has anyone seen a tutorial matching this for VRay and Max ?

  9. oops. sorry guys - didnt notice your comments until now. Il see if i can put together a vray scene/shader for this :)

  10. Hello, any luck putting the scene together? I would be more than happy to know how to make such material. Thanks in advance.

  11. By any chance , can i get a copy of you scene made for Brazil r/s ? im not an expert and i have tryed for 3 day with no result so please, preatty please can i get your plasiticne?
    my mail is kuhein@yahoo.com
    or post a link on your blog .

  12. blimey - i need to check my old blog postings more! Apologies i didnt see these earlier. Il see if i can dig out the old scene file from somewhere - or maybe il just make a new one