ryuuyasha - The Panorama Project: DAZ Studio Settings and difficulties

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Software used:
DAZ Studio 3 64bit
Cubic Panorama Image Combiner
MakeCubic (for QTVR examples only)
Painter X (for showing the issues with rendering seams)

Projects 1 through 3 created on MacOSX and rendered on WinVista. Project 4 created/rendered on OSX.

The camera settings are as close as I've gotten so far. 17.5mm seems closest, and the FOV doesn't seem to affect anything...

DAZ Studio 17.5mm Camera
Cube Faces X-Rotate Y-Rotate
H-1 0 90
H-2 0 0
H-3 0 270
H-4 0 180
Top 90 0
Bottom 270 0

For the first file, I used Baroque Grandeur Celebrations, and the lovely lightset from Dreamlight that comes with it (hey, my aim here is unfutzing the camera settings first... I'll take the time to get original later on).

The real difficulty that can't be expressed here is that the cubic panorama made with the tools for the game doesn't end up looking like this. Instead, there's a disconnect between the ceiling and the four walls. I tried reshooting the whole thing, setting the camera FOV to 90, incrementing all the way between 17.45mm and 17.55mm focal lengths... none of it worked. However, the best it gets is at 17.5mm. Argh, what am I doing wrong?!

I took screenshots from AdventureMaker for comparison. You can see the problems here, here, and here.

I tried another set to compare, a Starship Corridor from a fresh file. Although the corridor hides the errors a lot better, it's still pretty noticeable. Frustratingly enough, the MakeCubic seems to have no problem fixing this for QTVR. I will continue to bang my head against the wall on this one.

As a control method, I imported the Rabbit Hole project test file that I had used with no problems in Poser, created a brand-new camera and - NO SEAMS! WTF?! Yeah, I know it's hard to tell when the MakeCubic + QTVR fix the problems in the Cubic Panorama adjuster... but just check out the comparison checks I did in Painter for the BaroqueGrandeur test and the RabbitHole test for Poser. Note the strong white line of pixels that occurs in the Baroque Grandeur renders. This may be what's causing the problem with the Cubic Panorama Image Combiner, while the MakeCubic program seems to be a little more robust with stiching.

Thoughts on the potential causes of pixellated lines: Baroque Grandeur and Starship Corridor have several lights with shadow maps. RabbitHole has no shadow-casting lights. Could this really be the cause? More to follow soon.

Test 3 - This time I created a lighting scheme from scratch. The set used is a combined modular set, the Vault. All lights done with simple spots. Lighting is aimed straight down, from near the ceiling, with 200% intensity. Duplicate spots created below at 50% to "bounce" light back on the ceiling. The over-brightness is deliberate, to better see the errors in the seams. Testing focuses on the difference between 1) no shadows, 2) shadow mapping, and 3) raytracing. Note that the QTVR versions do not successfully capture the errors that occurred in the AdventureMaker tests. Blown-up screen-caps are used to highlight the flaws in the chained renders.

The vault, no shadows.

The vault, shadow-mapping.

The vault, raytraced.

And the flaws:

Floor flaw, no shadows.

Floor flaw, mapped. (I didn't include a grab of the raytrace flaw, because it is exactly the same.)

...what the hey? Well, at least I proved it wasn't the shadow presence or quality doing it. Drat it all. Time to start investigating other render settings. But why does it only affect the top (Baroque Grandeur test, Starship Corridor test) or the bottom (Vault test)? Definitely weird. So, the next step - look up stuff on advanced render settings in the DS manual. Two minutes later, download the Renderman Spec, which reads pretty much like japanese translated into English by someone who speaks both as a second language. ...just kidding. Instead, it reads like it was written by someone who does calculus for fun. (Psst! Not much better!) I now suspect that perhaps it is the fault of pixel filtering... a step that looks at the pixels and adjusts them after the fact seems suspect, based on my experience with what effed up my Vue renders. So I set the pixel filters x and y values to 1 and:

Floor flaw, no Shadows, pixel filter x=1 y=1.

Well. (Sits down and reads the DS manual for a bit.) ...remarkably unhelpful. The manual referred me to the Renderman Spec, a resource that is now on my top ten list of user-unfriendly manuals. Fortunately, there's always wiki. Check the link for better references on what's going on in your advanced render settings. So, let's try setting the Pixel Samples to 8, the Pixel Filters to 8, and let them play together in the render. The result?

Just look at the image above. SAME, SAME, SAME! I will go weep now.