Captain Howell - Episode 3 - Eaten!

Episode 3 of Captain Howell.
Hope you enjoy!

I used a lot of blender fluid simulation but my laptop struggled to make them high enough resolution.
I also used far too many reflections/lamps in my animation which slowed the rendering to nearly 30 mins per frame for certain sections- So quite a lot of my animation is “Good enough” rather than done as well as I would have liked it .
Also I appologise for the stilted acting!
Hopefully Episode 4 will be better, I’m learning as I go - I’ll try blender 2.5 next time

It is ver well recognizable the amount of effort put on this short episode. It came out very good, lots of work. One way to cut considerably your render time is to use Blender’s command lines, in a batch file, for example:

blender -b C:\ARCHIVE\CurrentProjects\mydirectory\myfile.blend -S Scene2 -o C: mp\renders\ -s 0 -e 360 -a

Search for “Blender Command Line” Also, If you have other computer, you can easily create a small Farm, using placeholder and deselecting Overwrite. If more info is needed, let me know.

Nice episode, I like your greenish fluid, looks like Radioactive, Congratulations !

Very well done!!! it takes a lot of work to put together an animation of that length. you’ve definitely got potential to put together something amazing. and don’t be so modest about your shortcomings Ive been using blender for about 4 and 1/2 years and I havn’t gotten close to finishing an animaiton of that length with a story. youll get the hang of the lighting and what will save time and what looks good… my advice, try using Ambient Occlusion +add so your scene will light itself then you can just add 1 or 2 lights to help accent the scene. instead of having to put lights all over the scene !).

i have eight computers, now how do you do this farm thing? my animations take forever cause i never use more than my laptop…
tellll meeeeee

i have eight computers, now how do you do this farm thing? my animations take forever cause i never use more than my laptop…
tellll meeeeee

when you don’t need 100% accurate reflections just use a spherical matcap image of the environment and set the map in to ‘Ref’ to fake it. This is especially good if you haven’t modelled enough of an off-camera environment and reflections are showing this. If you need reflections of an animated character in the water then you will have to use real reflections, but if you just want that shiny look then a lot of times a matcap will actually do a better job if you have minimal modelling.

For water sims - you can get round needing to do sims on the character interacting with the water by baking out AO on the water object to an animated texture (using Jahka’s animated bake) and then using this as a displacement map on the subdivided water to give a more meniscus effect where the water reaches the character - you can make this as subtle as you want. You can combine this displacement effect with any texture based ‘ocean’ sims which might be more appropriate for the body of water you’re trying to simulate. You could always use particle sim with metaballs to simulate spashing and if you’re clever with renderlayers and masking you can make them hide as they pass under the surface.

You could even get better integration between particle sim and mesh based water by baking the particle motion out to ‘real’ empties and adding displacement textures to the mesh which use the particle objects as their ‘map in’ and a spherical blend texture so that when the particle approaches the mesh, the mesh swells towards it and joins it like metaballs do.

hope this helps with render and sim times in future!

Hi Evil Moon

I’m not a very technically able with networks etc so this might not be the best way, but I have got it to work and I’ll try and explain how I did it…

i’ve used my laptop (where I do my blending) and my PC to render together

On the network allow sharing of the directory your blend file is in (and where you render to)

Pack all the textures into the blend file
(I think you can change blenders file paths so that they are relational to the blend file rather than their full path on the PC but I havn’t tried this yet!)

Set the animation settings to “touch”, “no overwrite”

My laptop is a dual core machine but I set the animation off using only 1 thread (if you use all the cores the 2nd machine falls over while waiting to access the laptop - if you have lots of pc’s you should have 1 low spec machine to hold the blend file and save the renders and render the files on the others)

On my main PC I mapped the laptop’s blender and render directorys on the network.

I open the blender file - (by packing the files any images should be accessable, but if you use baked partical and fluid systems you need to make sure blender is pointing to the bake files correctly)

Also make sure the renders will go to the correct directory (on the laptop in my case) so that all the renders from both computers are stored in the same directory on the laptop.

set it off using all your threads

With “touch” “no overwrite” enbled the PC’s will render the next unrendered frame and they won’t both work on the same frame
If one PC crashes just start it again from the start and any missed frames will be rendered and already rendered frames will be skipped.

N.B. I render my animations as a series of PNG files (rather than a movie) and then I use VirtualDub to stitch them together into a movie (i’ve had too many crashes half way through a long animation!!! Also I can pause rendering on my PC to play “Left for dead” for a few hours and then set my rendering off again when I’ve finished :slight_smile: )

well there is not need of using VirtualDub for this, unless you are using a specific codec for quicktime or avi with audio. Within Blender’s VSE you can add audio, mix it, create F-curves for volume, add visual effects etc.


About setting a small render farm, the first thing to go trough and the most painful if you have no network experience is to set a communication between at least two computers. Steps to follow depends of what operating System you have. Windows 7 is a piece of cake. Vista and XP, a bit more cumbersome. Linux, no idea.

You must map a drive, because it is not the same to share a directory than mapping a drive. You must set for example: c:/temp/renders/ as a Z: drive. So that directory will behave as a “Physical Unit across the network”. So any system can have access to that “drive” withing their saving options. Once you have accomplished this, then specify the output on the batch file to be run on each computer as z:/whatever.

will you PM me for a little while so i can learn to set this up?..because i seriously have 8 computers…which means my blends will pass super fast :stuck_out_tongue:

Already know how to set up connection between two (on has XP and one has Win7)
dont know how to map a drive though…when i was a webdesigner i didnt have a need for it :stuck_out_tongue:

Hi Evil Moomn Moose

I’m assuming you have Windows…
If you open “My Computer”
Under “Tools” there is the “Map Network Drive” option
Select a spare drive letter (e.g. ‘Z’)
select a folder by clicking on “Browse” button, navigate to the Directory on the network you want to map to and press “OK”

yup i am running windows :stuck_out_tongue: