I’ve been back to messing about with Blender when time permits.
Inspired by the Hawaiian sunsets, and then the fact I’ve been noticing the local sunsets lately too, I spent a few hours piecing together a fairly simple animation:
It’s a silhouette of some text and trees (all unique 3D objects) casting a subtle shadow as a sun-like light source rises in the background above the horizon. It’s not as complex as you might imagine… except for those damn clouds.
I spent 90% of my time trying to get the clouds to light, refract, and act like real sunrise clouds. They are these complex masses of interacting virtual particles, so complex in the model that the scene would take about 3 seconds per frame to render without them… but takes a minute and a half per frame with them included. That eight second burst of animation above took seven hours to render… because of the seemingly simple clouds.
I was walking to my office yesterday and the sunrise was squeezing between the downtown towers, and lighting a wisp of venting exhaust from an office building heating system. Billows of orange and purples, catching against the azure backdrop, and all of it reflecting and refracting from the mirrored surfaces of the glass-faced high-rises. Amazingly beautiful. And it struck me just how incomprehensibly complex it would be for me to copy, even crudely, inside of a piece of software. And when I did — because I think I probably could — how long each fraction of a second of that paused moment would take to mathematically compute and appear on my screen.
Yet all of it so simple…. and completely ignored by the dozens of people walking to work with their coffees in hand.
The moral of this story is: don’t ever let anyone tell you that sitting in an uncomfortable chair in a dark basement while manipulating three-dimensional vertices in the voids of digital space doesn’t fine tune your appreciation of the universe.