That New Computer Thing

3D, Random

Previous babbling about the new computer is located here.

My computer bits arrived a couple weeks ago. They were promptly blessed by cat butts. And of course, they came in two orders, case first, then the rest days later.

In the middle of the week.

Sigh.

So there I was, with a fine collection of boxes. My kitten, Goon, decided to help me unpack.

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Then I got to look at my lovely pile of parts until the weekend rolled around. Note the presence of my kitten assistant.

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The processor, and AMD Ryzen 2700X, got special treatment. It got to sit on my desk, where I could look at it and touch it and take a picture of it that I could take to work with me. Yes, I am a weirdo, and I fell immediately in love with my beautiful processor.

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Pretty, ain’t it?

Eventually, the weekend arrived. I slammed a bunch of caffeine after work on Saturday and got busy, slowly and carefully. I’m both a wimp when it comes to screwing/unscrewing things (painful hands), and a klutz, so I was more than a bit terrified to work on this ferociously expensive pile of parts. I found a minor casualty of shipping: one of the supplemental fans had an owie. Shouldn’t make much difference, though, and certainly not bad enough to go through the hassle of returning it.

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Check out the fancy packaging on the power supply! It’s dressed better than I am.

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Naturally, I couldn’t get everything put together before I absolutely had to go to bed. It’s not easy working an eleven hour day, running errands, making dinner, then building a computer. I got most of it assembled, though.

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The next morning, I got up, finished assembling stuff, made all the power connections, and took some final pictures before plugging it in. Just in case it blew up, you know, I’d have visual proof that it had been pretty once.

And then the moment of  truth:

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There you have it, folks. Lots of pretty lights, and the beginning of the nightmare. It lit up. The fans came on. But nothing else happened!

I tried everything my nerdy brain could come up with to make the thing work. Long story short, I couldn’t do a damn bit of anything, because the processor was bad. That beautiful, precious processor, that I loved so much, was defective.

That sucks.

So back it went to Newegg, leaving me with a sad, partially built computer. One good thing happened. I was able to drop one of the new graphics cards, a Gigabyte GeForce 1080, into my old system. (I was so stressed that I didn’t realize at the time I could’ve shifted the old parts into the new case and run both new cards. Duh! But again, stress.) It worked great.

A word about graphics cards, this kind in particular. I’ve never had a problem with Gigabyte products, so that’s what I looked for. I originally wanted the 1070Ti, but when the 1080s went on sale cheap enough to knock the total price of the system down into the “possible” price range, I bought them without a second thought. More power, more CUDA cores, it’s all good, right? But then I read all the reviews, and saw all the bitching about how crappy and loud these particular cards are. Well, I can say for certain these Gigabyte cards are neither crappy nor loud. Okay, so they don’t light up. Big fat freakin’ deal! There are plenty of other shiny lights in my case, I don’t need the cards lit too. They function beautifully, and even under a full load, the noise just plain isn’t loud.

So anyway, I waited nervously for a week, checking the status of my return every few seconds. Yeah, I know, not helpful. It finally arrived at about 2pm on Monday, almost the end of my weekend.

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With many prayers to the computer gods, I reassembled my system, and…

It did the same fucking thing.

Power came on. Fans fired up, then wavered on-off-on-off. Angry red light on motherboard screaming processor problem!

Then the damn thing laughed at me, reset itself, and began to boot from the Windows disk in the DVD drive.

Whew! Talk about relief! I swear, I almost puked when I saw that glaring red light on the motherboard. But I finally got the dream computer together, running, all parts working together sweetly, and even all my drives communicating properly on the first try.

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Now it is sitting behind my monitors (have to stick it under the shelf to keep the kitten from using it as a springboard), quietly humming away. I’ve had a couple issues getting stuff to work right, but nothing major. I’ll be reorganizing all my 3D content and such for the next million years, and have yet to get my ancient Wacom tablet connected to the extremely modern motherboard, but it’ll happen. Someday. And until then, I’m enjoying the hell out of my lovely new system, and especially enjoying watching it render things incredibly fast.

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Doing the happy dance!

3D, Random

Okay, I understand about 99% of anybody, anywhere, is not likely to give a crap about computers, or building them, or anything I’m about to say. That’s cool. But I’ve got to say something about this, or I’ll pop wide open. So if you don’t care about fancy computers, you might want to go away now, ’cause that’s what I’ve got to talk about.

Quick background: I love computers. The one I’m using now is the first one I built all by myself from start to finish. I made it seven years ago, when I only occasionally messed with 3D art and was more into games and video editing. So I built it mainly for games (okay, Skyrim in particular) and video editing, figuring that anything that can handle those uses could make it in the 3D world as well. But it was only in the middle of the pack as far as fancy computers go, and I still drooled like crazy over the big, expensive, custom machines some people could put together.

Even more background: I’ve had financial issues off and on for years. One of the things I did to improve the current financial situation is get a Newegg store credit card to rebuild my credit. Yeah, that Newegg. The one that sells computer bits. The one that likes me enough that they kept increasing my credit limit to the point where I could buy a really sweet pile of parts and build a computer to make other people drool over.

And one more major background factor: I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that if I exercise some willpower and stop blowing my money on energy drinks, junk food, and even more Daz stuff that will join the huge pile of stuff I haven’t used yet, I can afford a pretty hefty payment on that Newegg credit card. It won’t be easy, because I really like energy drinks and junk food while I’m working, and I really really like new Daz toys, but I can do it.

I don’t desperately need a new computer. This one is still working just fine… for everything except 3D, which is something I do a lot of these days. And the poor thing just doesn’t have the power to keep up with certain advances in Daz Studio. Namely, dForce. I can get around the lag in big scenes with sneaky tricks. I can use other sneaky tricks to try and avoid crashing my video card with Iray renders. But I can’t do diddly shit about not having enough memory, or even processor power, to handle dForce. And it really annoys the hell out of me when I’m trying to do what I normally do and work on several different things at once, and my poor, abused system slows down to the point where I do far more swearing than anything else.

So I did a lot of research, and assembled three wishlists. One was a practical, affordable, yet powerful system. One was a slightly too expensive, really powerful, holy-crap-I desperately-want-it system. And one was ridiculously overpowered, insanely expensive, and somewhat scary system, involving liquid cooling. It would’ve satisfied every crazy computer daydream I’ve ever had. But I’ve heard of horrific liquid cooling failures, involving thousands of dollars of destroyed computer bits, and want to avoid liquid cooling if I can.

And yesterday, the holy-crap-I desperately-want-it system had enough parts go on sale to bring it down to twenty-six bucks more than the affordable system, so I did it. I ordered the bits for an awesome dream computer! I’ve no doubt it’ll be a colossal pain in the ass to pay for, but I don’t care. It will be awesome with 3D, and will laugh at games on their highest settings. And if I get back into video editing, it will breeze through everything from effects to rendering without hesitation. I am doing an epic happy dance.

I am also driving damn near anyone I talk to bonkers by babbling about my computer bits. They’re on their way here, you know. The case shipped separately, for whatever reason, and is in Commerce, CA right now. Which is moderately scary, because the last time I ordered something online and it shipped through California, it got burned up in a wildfire. Not cool. The rest of the bits were just picked up in Indianapolis, IN. It made me laugh that the bits went there. My truck came from there. I spent quite a bit of time there when I was a little kid. And if my dad became a ghost, he’s most likely haunting the racetrack there.

In case anyone is still reading and actually does give a crap about building computers, here’s some of the good stuff.

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 8-core 3.7 GHz processor

Gigabyte X470 AORUS Ultra Gaming motherboard

Corsair Vengeance LPX 64 GB DDR4 RAM (yeah, baby! 64 freakin’ gigs!!!)

2 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 (only the 8GB version, but there’s TWO of the little bastards! No more overnight Iray renders!!!)

And there’s an SSD, and a cool case, and lots of fans, and a 1000 watt power supply… and none of it will get here in time for my four day weekend. Which sucks, but that’s the price one pays when one must wait on the Labor Day sales. So I’ll only have two days to build it and play with it. Who cares, it’s going to be mine for a very, very long time. My current computer lasted since 1/1/11, let’s see if this new, crazily overpowered critter can make it a full decade.

 

The Agony of dForce

3D

(For anyone who’s not immediately up on obscure references: check out the beginning of the Wide World of Sports from the ’70s. The title is a variation of “the agony of defeat.”)

Okay. So, a couple days ago, Daz Studio released the new version (4.10 if you’re interested). It includes a new feature, the dForce engine, which allows actual dynamic cloth right there inside Studio, without having to buy anything extra. And everyone’s been playing with it and posting their results, which has had me extra-bouncy and excited, waiting for the weekend. Aka today.

A little note here: I have terrible bad luck with dynamic fabric. Like, I don’t know if I’m terminally stupid or what, but I can almost never get the stuff to work right. So I started out with pretty low expectations.

And oh boy, did I ever meet them!

First, I set up a scene. Then I ran out of time, saved it for later, and went to work. That sucked.

Fast forward a bit to today. I forgot about my original scene and set up a new one. I made sure there wasn’t a bit of poke-through anywhere to be found. I made pretty hair, nice lights, good skin, the whole nine yards. See? This is what it all looked like before I pooched it.

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Okay, doing good so far. I used that particular hair because a friend of mine from deviantArt said dForce works better on older hair models without loads of strands. Fine. No problem. I’ve always liked the Radiant Jaguar hair, it’s pretty.

So… add the dForce modifier. (Actually, spend a freakin’ long time looking for the damn thing, because as you can clearly see from the screenshot, my Studio looks different from anyone else’s on the entire planet. Found it, though. And if you’re looking for it too, right click the Simulation Settings tab.) Blithely assume it will work. Click “Simulate”.

And… freak out!

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I forgot simulations start from the default pose. *blush* Oops. Thought I’d already screwed something up.

Which, of course, I did.

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Yeah, that looks like shit. Right. On to the next thing. I’ll fix the hair later, time for the dress.

CRASH!

Yeah. Blew up my computer. Daz Studio and Photoshop both went kablooey.

Okay, fine, I don’t expect this dForce thing to work with every piece of clothing out there. So I pull up the other file, the one I started immediately after upgrading my Studio.

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Crap. Forgot to give her a lantern. I get the scene all fixed up and ready to go, although I didn’t bother with any fancy materials or lighting. I add modifiers, make sure the dress will ignore the lantern, hit Simulate, and…

Not a crash, but still swear-worthy. Studio suddenly can’t locate any OpenCL device on my computer. I have one. I have a very nice one, in fact. But apparently it’s gone invisible.

Crap, crap, crap.

So I do the usual stuff. Restart, blah blah blah. I even updated my graphics driver. Why the hell not, never hurts, especially when you’re doing crazy 3D stuff.

Crash, crash, crashity crash crash!

Fine. You want to be a piece of crashing shit? I’ll fix you!

New scene. G8F, the clothes they sent out specifically for the dForce update. Boring. Mundane.

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Hey, look at that, it’s doing it! Wow! It’s working! Even past the point where it crashed before.

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Success! Too bad it’s a freakin’ boring, mundane, utterly uninteresting image. Bleah.

But I got it to work. So… back to the cool stuff.

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Much more interesting outfit. And look at that, no crash yet!

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I can see her butt.

CRASH!

Aw, hell. Here we go again. Finnegan, begin agin.

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By the way, this is what the scene looks like before the sim runs.

And…

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This is what it looks like after the sim runs. *sigh*

I guess I really need to spend some time with this thing, figure out what exactly is making it blow up. But for now, no more. I’m in the middle of an Elder Scrolls experiment, and must go play Skyrim.

If you’re curious, the experiment is this: Can I determine which game is better, Oblivion or Skyrim? To test whether this question is answerable, I started new characters in both games. So far I’ve completed the main quest in each, built a nice home in each, and am about to embark on the mage guild/college quests. And guess what? I ain’t got an answer. I love ’em both!

3D artwork drives me bonkers.

3D

Nothing of substance here, just some whining.

The last couple weeks I’ve been slowly returning to my “real” life, the world of writing and 3D artwork, after my attempt to buy a business got thoroughly flattened.

(Side note: That’s probably a good thing. Had I succeeded in purchasing my van, I’d be utterly screwed right now, and most likely doomed to failure. Because the van is completely incapacitated. It’s been sitting at the mechanic’s place for three days now, unwilling to shift into gear, and they can’t figure out what’s wrong with it. Can we say massive relief? As in, I am massively relieved that I don’t have to pay for that shit. It’s likely to cost my boss thousands of dollars in repair bills, lost revenue, and a bit of vacation pay for yours truly. That would’ve sunk me right off the bat, as I’d planned on starting out with about a $1600 emergency reserve. Not $5K.)

And… I’ve rediscovered something. Poking around in image galleries, getting a feel for what’s going on in the 3D world, paying attention to all the 3D artwork on deviantArt, looking at what my friends have been up to… Yeah. That’s cool, and all, but it’s also about to drive me screaming bonkers.

Because, you see, it’s all about the boobs.

Now, I have nothing against boobs in general. I even have a pair of my own. They’re fine, part of life, an easy identifier of a female body. But I sure do get tired of the boob obsession! Everywhere I look in the 3D world, there they are. Covered, uncovered, the size of watermelons, or maybe even normal size, with lights shining on them or sparkly things to draw your attention to them… Come on, people. There’s more to life than boobs.

What’s that you say? There’s also revealing costumes and highly impractical so-called armor? Argh!

Not to mention women in high heels and sexy dresses doing highly impractical things, and porn thinly disguised as pseudo-art, and all those fetishy images…

Sheesh. Totally makes me want to go render half-naked men in impractical outfits getting rescued by strong women in full armor.

Okay, frustrated ranting over. I just felt the need to blow off a little steam. I love my hobby. I just don’t love all the hobbyists that feel the need to constantly sexualize women and post their inner fantasies for the world to see.

Volumetric Rays

3D

I ran across a post on deviantArt the other day, asking how to produce volumetric effects using the AtmoCam for Iray. That got me wondering why the hell I’d never done that myself, since I adore volumetric effects in all their forms. So I made an image of a big kitty laying in the light and shadows, and then explained what I did for the person with the question.

And then, like a doofus, I didn’t bother to do anything else with the information… at first. It took a couple hours, but I finally remembered I have a blog, and on this blog I sometimes post 3D stuff. So here it is, the image and the way I lit it, just in case anyone else out there is wondering how to get light rays in Daz Studio with the AtmoCam.

What I used:

Daz Studio 4.9

AtmoCam for Iray

Daz Big Cat 2

Sun Hall

iRadiance Light Probe Expansion 2

Iray Ghost Light Kit

What I did:

(no, this is not the only way to do this stuff. This is just the process I used to get this result.)

I set the Atmo Cam to “SunRise” and “MedHeavy.” I also used one of the iRadiance Light Probes and set the draw dome control to “off.” The HDRI happened to make two visible bright blobs that worked for suns. Then I took a spotlight, dragged it out beyond the mountains, and positioned it so it looked like it was coming from one of the HDRI light blobs, the larger one. I set the temperature to 10000K (super bright white) and the luminous flux to 10000000000.0. Yes, I know that’s an insane number, but that’s what got the sunlight effect. I tried a distant light, but it never did produce any kind of rays. The spotlight could be focused a bit, I put the spread angle at 90 and that kept the light where I wanted it. I also added a big, weak Ghost Light because the shadows were too thick around the throne area. I rendered in Iray with spectral rendering and caustics turned on, but I don’t think that affected anything. Sun Hall doesn’t have glass in the windows.

So, there you go. That’s one way to get a decent volumetric effect. (And yes, before anyone mentions it, I know the image is noisy in the shadowed areas. It was an experiment, not an attempt at perfection.)