Creating a good depth pass is going to make a big difference to the overall look of the film. It gives me a great deal of control and the ability to change things up a lot more in compositing by mixing it with openExr’s. A good setup here is well worth the time invested in it as I cn change the look and feel of the film quite dramatically without rerendering.
Since I’m using renderman as the engine, I run into some difficulties as renderman prefers to let maya take care of the depth of field within the camera settings. I don’t want this as it dramtically increases render times and the overall finish is not as nice with the rendering limitations I have. It also means every decision has to be perfected within maya during production. I need the wiggle room essentially.
Although it took some figuring out and I lost maybe a week in total to trial and error and incremental changes within the renderer settings, early on I created a working depth pass. However I am now running into several issues with the same workflow and needing to start from scratch. Below is the first test that worked well, it allowed me to isolate the scene based on depth whilst in post, aswell as adapt the depth of field on the fly.
And here is the first of the new tests, whilst the composition is better and assets more polished, the technique for the depth pass differs and doesn’t work quite as well. I lose the ability to isolate as cleanly and the focus is more clumsy overall. It can work in a pinch if needed but I would much prefer to fix the previous workflow for the advantages it brings.
The biggest issue ive been faced with is the lack of support in adobe programs for EXR’s. I primarily use after effects for compositing, however the programme doesn’t interpret the AOV channels that I need from the renders very well. the above gif worked as I separated the depth pass and used that as a mask, but the results just don’t work as well. So I decided to try Nuke instead, which has great EXR and 32 bit support included. Nuke is node based and luckily with all the texturing work I’ve been doing for this project I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable using this kind of interface.
Though this is by no means final, it’s reassuring to know that with Nuke I have the ability to rework the look of the film easily, and have the control I need in post. Though it is a risk to switch programmes from one I have grown used to mid production, After effects simply wasn’t serving the desired purpose.