Wax render like in B-movie

Most of what you see in wax is the light encased inside of it; some light gets through and some gets reflected back. Light passes through, creates a glow on the edges and illuminates the far side. Cooper and his team came up with a transmission shader which essentially was a shortcut using depth maps, instead of the particle system normally used for subsurface scattering, allowing depth maps to calculate the density and transmissive qualities of the surface.

”The cheat turned out to have a fair amount of control over how dense objects were,” Necci explained. “The other cool thing was that we could control the transmissive quality on an asset basis, but also on a light basis. We could make a light more or less transmissive, which was really beneficial when you wanted to add some here or take some out there.”


Do you guys think this is possible to make in blender only by using node materials? :eyebrowlift:

I bet that in the movie it must look great but it doesn’t look like wax to me in those pictures.

yes. See SSS (sub-surface scattering) in wiki.

Give the compositors the power… I think you mean the SSS look without the SSS overhead:

This also uses the z-buffer

I don’t think you could get this effect with Blender SSS. For one thing, Blender SSS can’t handle internal faces, so subsurface scattering on translucent objects won’t work right. Also Blender SSS is pretty slow to render on high-poly objects. I have no idea how close you could get by using a clever combination of material and render nodes, though.

I think that the old method actually with using shadow buffers gave fast and great results. But I was wondering if it is possible just by using nodes, and maybe radiosity…

which render software did they use? did they code something new? an enhancement ? a shader? i would check this first.

but i do not think that it will be that easy for Blender.

From the article:

The wax tested the pipelines’ limits and the teams’ ingenuity, considering how much wax was in the movie. Though DreamWorks was familiar with subsurface scattering, they certainly hadn’t built an entire city out of it before, and the rendering challenges were enormous.

“We realized we needed to come up with a different approach, so we came up with a new proprietary, and therefore still under wraps, technique,” said Cooper. “We wrote a new set of shaders to handle the way light transmits through a wax type of material that was efficient enough to render the entire city.”

Read as: “We got a small army of coders to write us a set of specialized RenderMan shaders.”

I’m not really up on funky material techniques, but I bet you could get something close in Blender. Everyone moans about the Blender internal renderer (Me especially :yes: :o ) but its really quiet good. The big problem is that you really have to screw around with it to get it to look good. But if you REALLY know what you are doing - or you arse around with nodes set-ups like crazy - you can get some stunning results.


you have to screw with a lot of systems to get good results. C4D material system is still a joke in my opinion compared to what you can do with MentalRay in Maya. Maya has for me the best user friendly shader system. Very good NODE system - the way it should be.

if you use renderman well you have even more power. but you can also code shaders for MentalRay as well - or with COFFEE for c4d but which 3D artist also knows that?

I wish I would - but sadly my brain doesnt work that way …

I have high respect for 3d math coders.

a lot of the motion pictures movies do not use standard software/shaders. the coder department often creates soltions for them. with a flexible pipleline it works well. maya or 3dmax are not famous for what they can do build-in, they are famous for how much you can extend those softwares. i am not sure how easy it would be to add new shaders/or modified light model shaders for blender. the texture plug-ins seem to be easy to build in.

My brain dosen’t like doing calculations. It works well with images though. I’ve been told to “Get into coding” with C or a similar variant many times, but with the amount of stuff I’m having to learn to do 3D fairly well, there just isnt the time in a day or even the room in my brain to take up programming. That goes double when you think how far you’d have to go down that road to be able to do something meaningfull. Juggling that many hats in your life and actually being able to say you lived a little as well, is (for me at least) not a viable option.

same here.

i would love to be able to use python more to code tools or create macros, but well …

i know what juggling many hats mean. when i was a student I wanted to learn everything. today I gave up - but focused on what i am good at. makes me more happy.
there is so much out there to know - today you cannot know everything anymore.

years ago 3D software were pretty simple - today? hu …

if you actually look at the B-movie you see how many steps scenes go through. it is not one person job. today you even have a separate person who does the color.

Well, maybe using ramps would help. I remember it wasn’t too difficult to obtain wax-like materials with ramps.

my 2 cents :slight_smile:

for those not liking math too much, there’s always “shaderman”

Dreamworks don’t use RenderMan. They have a completely in house renderer, developed all the way from when they were Pacific Data Images. This is why Dreamworks can leapfrog Pixar on features - otherwise they’d just be stuck behind them permanently, which blatantly isn’t the case.

Same goes for Rhythm and Hues, although I’m not sure how much that one is in use these days.


thx for that note. I did not watch that project since a long time.
I am glad to see he continues working on it - having a new road map.

ShaderMan … lets see where it goes to