Dungeon Displacement and Occlusion

Learning the ins and outs of displacement in Maya has been an interesting challenge.  I have continued to do the sculpting of the individual pieces in ZBrush and exported the maps out as 32-bit TIFF files.  I then convert those over to OpenEXR files just for the sake of memory reduction (truthfully, since I have Maya converting and caching the files as MAP files before rendering, that step probably doesn't matter).  The normal maps are the same method, except I convert those to PNG.

I also added an orange ambient light to the scene to try and mimic what was happening with Final Gather turned on.  There wasn't much that turning it on added to the scene except for render time.

I also had to make individual occlusion shaders for each of the pieces of geometry, but that was fairly easy to set up since all of the displacement shaders I created before for the gray models can just be connected right up.

I was struggling with render times, which I can probably blame the approximation editor for.  I decided to try out turning on the "View Dependent" setting for my renderings, which helped out tremendously. With that setting turned on, Mental Ray determines how much to tesselate your model based on your current view.  It is determined in pixel samples of the final image, rather than actual geometry length.

Occlusion helps define the scene a bit more, but I think something is going a bit crazy with some of the displacement shaders.  Maybe it's the way ZBrush exported them or the way that Maya is reading them back in.

 Either way, I'm set to finish this one up soon enough.  I just have the floor and the ceiling to complete the sculpting on.  Those will be the most memory intensive to work on, just because of their sheer size and how much detail needs to be in them.  In total, I think the floor will have nine displacement maps alone.  I learned recently that ZBrush is still a 32-bit program, which really surprises me.  ZBrush on my computer is pretty snappy at handling millions of polygons, but I am surprised that Pixologic hasn't written it in 64-bit yet.  I can easily max out the dedicated memory for the program, so let's hope I can finish this project up soon.

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