Now comes what is for many the most harrowing part of the process: rendering. Depending on your project, rendering can take you anywhere from a couple minutes to a couple days for a handful of frames. I ended up being surprisingly fortunate here: because I had to use Maya's own software renderer, I was unable to use a lot of fancier settings like sub-surface scattering and global illumination. On the other hand, this - along with using cel-shading and relatively simple textures - meant that my renders went by startlingly quickly. I was the envy of my class, but I admittedly was jealous that they could use things like V-Ray sun and sky, and I had issues of my own. After some render tests, I realized that depending on the lighting - whether it was cool or warm in hue, whether it shone directly at the model or not - meant that the appearance of the textures could vary wildly between shots. And in many cases, I ended up recreating specific lighting for almost all of the shots, making maintaining consistency one of the hardest things for me to deal with.

For every shot, each layer that you see in the final film is its own render layer. The character, the tree, the background, the foreground, and the sky are all rendered in separate passes at 24 frames per second. My movie being around 2 mintues long, this means that there are close to 2880 frames in total - not counting the separate render passes. So multiply that by each separate pass (character, background, etc.) and you have a lot of frames, each at high definition 1920x1080p, meaning that it becomes especially important to stay organized here to say the least.

At the same time, the insane amount of render passes here means I had a ton of creative freedom in the compositing stage when I layered all the passes together. In fact, the final composited scenes look substantially different from the renders that came straight out of Maya because I had too much fun messing with post-processing color correction, lens settings, and special effects.

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