Did I mention my new book?

Lampstack-SoftcoverOver the last few weeks I’ve written a book. It’s about how to run web applications in the comfort of your own home.

Yesterday it went live on Amazon! I have an author page and everything!

Turns out that writing was the easy part: formatting it so that it looks good on Kindle devices was a bit tougher. It’s a tech book after all, which means there are several screenshots and code snippets which need to be formatted to stand out from the rest of the text.

Before I call myself “best selling author”, let me describe how this book came to be.

 

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How to export a single frame from your timeline in Adobe Premiere Pro

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There’s an extremely handy shortcut that allows us to export single frames from the playhead’s current position in Premiere’s timeline. It’s not available via a menu command, it’s not particularly advertised, and it saves having to go via the File – Media – Export option, potentially downsizing the original footage.

Take a look at your Program Monitor and find the super tiny camera icon at the bottom right (just next to the Lift and Extract icons we’ve never seen or used before). Click it, and a still image in the format of your choice is created, in the full resolution of the source footage!

Position the playhead anywhere you like and create as many stills as you want. Using the File – Export – Media option will also work, but it will resize your image – and if your source footage is much larger than your target media then that’s not a good choice.

This isn’t meant to be for image sequences of course (for which the Media Encoder is a better option), but it works a treat for quick images you want to pull off your project.

Cardozo Textures for Peplum Dress – now available at Hivewire3D

Take Stephanie’s Peplum Dress and Blossom Shoes for a walk on the town with our brand new Cardozo Textures: 10 brand new outfits for the dress and the shoes, all carefully crafted with love from Miami Beach!

This gives you a total of 40 Material Presets for both DAZ Studio and Poser (via DSON Importer). This is our second release on Hivewire3D, and something tells me it ain’t gonna to be the last :-)

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I’ve rendered the promo shots using Stephanie 6 (it is her dress after all, even though it fits all the Genesis 2 Females) and Stonemason’s fantastic Streets of the Mediterranean.

In the background you’ll find 3D Universe’s Jason and Amy walking up the stairs, the Millennium Cat licking his paws and the Toon Mouse fleeing in panic (and presenting the shoe compilation too). The red bike is courtesy of Carrara.

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All these things and the Peplum Dress are available from DAZ 3D.
In this article I’ll explain how to get the most out of our texture pack.

Continue reading Cardozo Textures for Peplum Dress – now available at Hivewire3D

Breakwater Textures for Frilly Triangle Bikini – now available at Hivewire3D

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Summer Time means Bikini Time – unless you live in Miami Beach, where it’s Bikini Time all the time. May I present with pleasure a brand new texture set from Team V:

Breakwater Textures adds 10 new Material Presets for the beautiful Frilly Triangle Bikini by Nikisatez. Take your Genesis 2 ladies out for a dip in the lake or a stroll at the beach and give the Frilly Triangle Bikini a whole new spin (watch out for little green monsters though).

The set is now available from Hivewire3D.

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All the above were rendered in DAZ Studio, but separate Poser Material Presets have been carefully crafted from scratch. The backdrop was made in Carrara using HowieFarke’s beautiful Secret Lake scene, and the little green critter is another 3D Universe classic called “Monsters in my Cupboard” (both available from DAZ).

Our models are Victoria 6 (left) and Lilith (right, and in single shots), featuring textures designed by my wife Julia. Right on!

Let’s see how to use those Breakwater Textures.

Continue reading Breakwater Textures for Frilly Triangle Bikini – now available at Hivewire3D

How to change the launch image in DAZ Studio

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Did you know that you can change the splash screen / launch image that comes up when you start DAZ Studio? It’s nothing major of course, but just in case you find the default image too distracting you can make DAZ Studio launch with something more plain, as pictured above.

Head over to Preferences – Interface and change the Splash Image option from Default to Alternate. You only have these two choices though, so you can display your own image (sorry).

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The Alternate has just been a plain DAZ Studio slogan for the last few versions, and the Default is usually a render for the latest generation Victoria. My favourite so far was the image of the blue haired girl in version 4.7. I’m not so keen on the new Iray Victoria with the green crystals (pictured below).

But that’s personal preference for you, and at least we have a choice how of DAZ Studio can welcomes us when it launches.

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How to enable Hardware Acceleration in DAZ Studio

Are the viewport movements in DAZ Studio getting you down? Does it seemingly take forever to make a small camera adjustment, despite your decent hardware?

Check if Hardware Acceleration is enabled – because it isn’t by default. They do this so that most hardware will work with DAZ Studio out of the box, but they don’t really tell you where to enable it if you’d like to try for a much better user experience.

Head over to Preferences – Interface and take a look at the OpenGL section.

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The biggest improvement can be achieved under Display Optimisation. It’s set to “none” by default, which means no hardware acceleration is at work and your CPU does most of the calculations for the viewport. Try “better” or “best” and see how your hardware holds up. The change will be effective immediately, there’s on need to save anything or restart the app.

There’s a slider labelled Texture Resources that lets you move from Quality to Performance, it’s something else to play around with for smoother responses.

You can also take a look at the Hardware Details to get a list of features your system supports. If your hardware supports Pixel Buffer, turn it on too.

And lastly there’s Per Pixel Shading and Hardware Anti-Aliasing. The latter is switched on by default, while the other one is not – it’ll make your scenes look even better if your hardware can cope with it (otherwise, leave it switched off).

The effects of these settings will best be noticeable in medium to large scenes, anything with a couple of characters and a full background set. With Hardware Acceleration enabled you should be able to move your camera much quicker and smoother though the scene. And if it ever gives you grief, turn it off by switching it to “none” again – at least you’ve tried.

There’s no “one setting is best” approach here because every combination of hardware is different, but I can tell you that on both my Mac systems the “best” setting without anything else has increased performance dramatically – and it didn’t even cost anything.

How to reduce the Depth-Of-Field frost effect in DAZ Studio

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Something that’s always been bugging me is the “frost effect” that DAZ Studio introduces on renders with depth of field. The above picture is a perfect example of it.

Where does it come from, and how can we avoid it? I’ve mentioned two approaches in an earlier article that discusses how to setup depth of field, but neither of them are particularly satisfying.

Thanks to Paolo Berto Durante’s super helpful post over on the 3Delight forum, I finally understand the setting that can smooth away the frost effect: simply increase the Pixel Samples under Render Settings.

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In DAZ Studio, the default is 4 (for x and y). This is a good compromise between fast render times and good results. But this default is not so good for depth of field renders.

The screenshot at the top of this post was rendered with the default, 4 and 4. The grain is very noticeable and seriously ugly. But the following one was rendered using 8 and 8, barely increasing render times:

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While a little frosty grain is still visible, it can be completely eliminated by increasing the Pixel Samples further. Here’s one I’ve made using 16 and 16. This did have an impact on render times though (added 50% give or take), but eliminated very trace of grain:

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I’ve been using DAZ Studio since 2006 and have always hated this frost grain in DOF renders. I just never knew what to do about it. I wish those basics would be explained alongside tutorials that tell you how to do DOF in the first place (perhaps, dare I say it, the DAZ Studio User Manual is a good start).

Kudos to Paolo Berto Durante, in whose honour 3Delight Version 11 was named I believe. Check out his article on sampling noise to learn more about this scary topic:

How to render DAZ Studio RIB Files on another computer

I have previously described how to render DAZ Studio Scenes without DAZ Studio. This is done by rendering to a RIB File (RenderMan Interface Bytestream), using the standalone 3Delight Studio to create the final render. The procedure frees DAZ Studio up and allows you to work on your next scene without having to wait for the render to finish.

I’ve been looking for ways to transfer such RIB files to another computer which does not have the content or even DAZ Studio installed, and I think I’ve found one!

When used as described in my previous article, DAZ Studio creates a RIB file that references temporary files as well files on the local system. Neither of those can be used on a different computer because they most certainly don’t exist. This means your render will likely be missing a few textures.

There’s a handy command line tool that will collate all those files needed to render the image. The drawback is that – depending on the size of your scene – this may result in a rather large file (1GB or more). However the approach is great if you’d like to render that super long animation for several weeks without blocking your regular office computer.

Here’s how to do it.

Continue reading How to render DAZ Studio RIB Files on another computer

How to batch render RIB Files on your Mac

If you’ve read my previous article about rendering DAZ Studio files without DAZ Studio, you already know that I’m big fan of batch rendering my images. For this I mainly use the excellent Batch Render Script by Draagonstorm. It allows me to queue up several scenes, and while I do something else, DAZ Studio will load up one after the other and render like a champ.

Windows users have a special treat that can have the same script create a .bat file, allowing the 3Delight standalone renderer to work on a batch of files without using DAZ Studio. Mac users don’t have such luxuries, and will still “block” DAZ Studio until all renders in the batch have finished.

I have good news: for the hackers among us, we can create such a batch queue on the Mac manually, using a simple Shell Script. In this article I’ll show you how to do it. Some Mac/Linux command line experience is necessary to follow along.

Continue reading How to batch render RIB Files on your Mac

How to save Layer Effects as Style Presets in Photoshop

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To apply a carefully crafted Layer Effect in Photoshop to more than one layer or group, we can save it to the Styles Swatch for easy access later. It’s that little palette I never quite take seriously – mainly because it’s impossible to decipher which effect does what from the tiny preview icons.

Nevertheless, the styles palette is a handy tool to bring back such effects in other documents. Great for things we use on a regular basis. In the above image for example, the Layer Effect is the white border around each small inset image, as well as the drop shadow. Next time I create such a collage I may want to bring the same effect back with a single click. I can do that by using a style.

Here’s how to save a Layer Effect as a Style in Photoshop.

Continue reading How to save Layer Effects as Style Presets in Photoshop

How to render a multi-camera animation in DAZ Studio

When you’re rendering a multi-camera animation, chances are you want to change shots from one camera to another. This means that you have to render your sequence from all camera angles and then employ an editing application to stitch your shots together.

There are several drawbacks to this approach: for one, a lot of render waste will accumulate for the images you don’t want to include in the final animation. Another is the time it takes to render an animation several times – as if one pass doesn’t take long enough already.

Thankfully there’s a free script that can help us render much more efficiently, and create the whole sequence in one pass: it’s called CamSeq by the amazing mCasual / Jaques (thanks, Jaques!)

Here’s how to use the script in DAZ Studio 4.8, step by step.

Continue reading How to render a multi-camera animation in DAZ Studio