Spider: Rough Draft 4

Moving on to number 2 on the list, depth of field!

There are several ways of pulling off depth of field in 3D animation. One of the more popular ways is to do it all in post. Rather than calculating the depth of field during render time and cranking it all out in every rendered frame, you simply render another pass (a z-depth pass which measures distance from the camera and outputs it as a black and white image) and composite the resulting image with the regular beauty pass to get your depth of field. This method is usually quicker than rendering it all together (since you’re breaking the calculations into separate images, each of which take a lot less time than the combined DOF render) more flexible (you can change things like focal distance in post-production rather than being stuck with whatever got rendered out). That’s all well and good, but as someone interested in learning more about Maya and its depth of field settings, I set about doing things the slow and steady way.

It’s been tricky getting the proper settings to pull of a good shot. I’ve lived most of my educational life in the computer so I’m having to do a lot of research about the different factors that contribute to depth of field in physical cameras. The results can be disappointing, especially when keyframing focal distance, but things are slowly coming together.

Right now there are only about 20 shots that have depth of field in them. I’m focusing my efforts on the shots that require focus pulls or the shots that benefit from using dof to separate foreground and background. Eventually I hope to have the whole animation benefit from dof. Other things that have changed include combining shots 970 and 980 into a longer dolly-out shot that emphasizes the smallness of the spider, an extension of shot 150, and a couple of minor tweaks to shot times here and there.

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