Anatomy of one of my renders

So here’s a quick breakdown of one of my renders using my current system. I’ll give some system specs at the end.

I do all my 3D work in Lightwave 3D. I started using this on my Amiga back in the early 1990s. Then when I worked in the film & video industry it became my favourite piece of software. I’ve tried the other ones out there but I’ve always come back to Lightwave 3D. I guess it’s better to know a lot about one program instead of little bits here and there about others. Here is what the scene setup looks like.

(click image to open it in a new tab)

LW_image_1As you can see there are 63 objects in the scene. Even though you can only see the console room in this image the library and the lab are also loaded into this scene. There are 5,724,189 polygons loaded. I use instancing a lot to keep memory overhead down and I don’t think that the polygons of those objects is included in the total. The object memory takes up a little over 2 gigs of ram. Almost 2100 surfaces!! and finally 294 images for those surfaces. To me the most interesting thing is that there is only 1 light in the scene. In Lightwave 3D you have to have at least the one default light. I’ve used this light as the sun shining in through the giant library window. I commonly use the rule of thirds or golden spiral when laying out my scenes. In this case I didn’t because it’s setup for a 360 panorama render from various locations around the room.

For rendering I switched over to the octane 3D render engine from the default Lightwave 3D one. In it’s current version right now octane is 100% GPU based. So while I’m rendering my CPU is not bogged down in the slightest! This is amazing really as I’ll be streaming music, watching videos and browsing all while my machine plugs away on the image. But sadly it also means all the money I spent on putting my system together is rather wasted. Oh well it’s the final results that matter I guess and I put my machine to work in other areas as well. Anyways for this particular image I had the machine render away for 6 hours. The longer you let it render the less noisy the final image. But there’s always noise sadly.

Final untouched render (for those technically interested I used Octanes PMC render kernal with 32samples, Diffuse Depth of 8 bounces and Glossy Depth of 12 bounces)IPR_image5_2

I also render out various passes to help me in photoshop with the final image.

Here’s the ambient occlusion image with an occlusion distance set to 1 meter.IPR_image5_AO1

As well as a Z-depth mapIPR_image5_z

And finally the Texture ID image. I  use this to help with the selection and masking process in Photoshop. One of the problems with the Ambient Occlusion image is that it really darkens the roundles which are supposed to be giving off light. Being able to quickly select the surface ID and remove that part of the image saves me a lot of time with hand erasing the parts that are causing problems. The texture ID image is also known as the Clown Pass for obvious reasons.IPR_image5_MID_1

OK. So thats most of the images I use. The only other ones I really use are Ambient Occlusion ones where I set the occlusion length to different lengths (from .5 meters to 5 meters).

Then in Adobe Photoshop I’ll take the base image and de-noise it using a few plug-ins like Topaz Labs De-Noise 5. I’ll adjust the levels/saturation and maybe play around with the Color Lookup Adjustment Layers. Once I am happy with that I’ll add the Ambient Occlusion image as 2 different layers. One set to Multiply and a low value (10-25%) and the next layer as Color Burn (again 10-25%). Daniel Reed and I spent a lot of time working on figuring out the best ways to use the AO (Ambient Occlusion) layers to our liking. I’m not sure if it’s the correct way? But it works for my stuff at least.

Then I’ll use the texture ID image to select the areas that are emitting light and delete them from the AO layers. I’ll add in fake lighting elements like light beams through smoke or extra bloom around light sources. I’ll also add or remove light bleeding or colorize areas that are not to my liking. In this case the blue light bleeding onto the spider-web glass floor and the orange glow of the under-room. Then adjust the levels so the top part of the console room is not overly dark (but not overly bright either)

Finally I’ll overly the z-depth image and play around with the layering and opacity. It can either bring out detail and lighting in the back of the scene or make it darker. I like to make it a little lighter and simulate the effect when you look through the air at distant sights and they fade the further away they are because of light scattering.

And the final image..IPR_image5_1


So this is pretty much my process. There are a few other little tricks that I might do if I’m feeling so inclined. I’ll keep those one secret 😉

Finally I said I’d give you my machine specs. I’ll give you all the details as they are pretty impressive I think and I do love to boast about them 🙂

Motherboard:  ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS
Processors: 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2687W @3.10GHz (first Gen chip with 8 cores each and multi-threading for a total of 32 cores)
Memory:  64gbs (8 x 8GB Corsair Dominator DDR3-1333 sticks)
Primary Video: GeForce 880 w/4gb ram
Monitors -Main: Dell U2711 27″ 2560×1440 (pre LED = HEAT Generator!!)
Monitors – Secondary: Dell E2209W 22″ 1680×1050 (LED yes but not IPS screens) x two (one on each side of main)

Current Video cards only used for GPU rendering
Nvidia GeForce 680 w/4gb ram
Nvidia GeForce 770 w/4gb ram

But I’ve just ordered 2 replacement cards!!
2 x EVGA Nvidia GeForce 880 Ti w/6gb each.
Just one of these cards is two times faster than my current setup. So I’ll be four times faster. Can’t wait for those to arrive in the mail

Keyboard: Corsair K95 RGB backlit mechanical keyboard (great keyboard… horrible interface to program keys)
Mouse: Logitech G700 gaming mouse
Sound: 5.1.2 all optical sound setup (the .2 means 2 front left and right speakers. One set up high and the other low)
Logitech Z906 Dolby Digital for the 5.1
AudioEngine 2+ speakers for the .2 low front speakers

Ram Drive: A:\ Self resizing partition (default 8gb) – Mirrored backup to D:\ in case of power failure (or my stupidity)
Boot Drive:
  C:\ OZC Revodrive X2 PCI card – 240gb
Work Drive: D:\ WD 4Tb 7200RPM
CD Drive:  E:\ Plextor CD\DVD burner
BD Drive:  F:\ Plextor Bluray burner
NAS Drive: U:\ – Z:\ Synology DS410 with 12Tb storage (9TB usable because it’s Raid 5)

OS: Windows 7 Pro
Adobe CC 2015: Mainly for Photoshop CC and After Effects CC
Lightwave 3D 2015.3
Octane Render (currently testing 3.0 Beta for Lightwave)
3D-Coat 4.5 (used for UV mapping and texturing)
Quixel Suite 2.0 (Bought it on sale.. not used much so far)

Um.. yeah. That’s about it.

Hi there! My name is Rob Semenoff. I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. this website is mainly for me to post my 3D renders of images that relate to the BBC television program known as Doctor Who. I've been doing 3D work since 1987 when I first got my Amiga 2000. Since then I've done it professionally for a few local film companies. I've been hired on and off again to supply work for various Doctor Who related products like magazines, posters, album covers and of course the Classic Series DVDs released by 2|entertain in the UK.