Creating a gold shader in V-Ray for Maya with a metalness workflow

We are at that point again when blog posts I’ve written in the past are obsolete again. For a long time, I was happy with my metal shading workflow and didn’t see the need to update. And I was slow to embrace PBR and didn’t see the need to implement it. But after some encouragement from my colleague, I did some long-overdue research and quickly realized that it was time to re-invent my workflows again. So to test this new workflow using Metalness, I created a gold shader and compared the method to my old approach. 

My old method consisted of using the Complex fresnel OSL shader and feeding values from https://refractiveindex.info. So basically you needed to type in values for the n and k coefficients for the different wavelengths of light. It was a little bit tedious, but I only had to do it once and could then save them as presets, so it was okay.  

If you, for some reason, want to read more about the old method you can do that here: http://www.magnus-olsson.se/creating-mastering-v-ray-shaders-in-maya-lesson-02-materials-101/.

But now on the new method. With this, you don’t need any external files at all. All you have to do is punch in values provided in a chart from this article in a standard V-Ray Material: https://www.chaosgroup.com/blog/understanding-metalness#. (Worthwhile reading the rest of it as well). 

As soon as I came to terms with the fact that it was okay to have color in the diffuse slot for metal materials, I quickly grew fond of the approach. It’s quicker and simpler to set up and also takes about half the time to render compared to a gold shader with the OSL method. 

A note is that this workflow is only possible in V-Ray Next since you need the Metalness checkbox in the material. If you haven’t already upgraded, I highly recommend it. 

Back-to-back VFX supervision, tutorials hiatus and winning the Amanda Award.

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I was encouraged by all the response I got to the tutorials I wrote here and had plans to do even more in the future. I bought gear to be able to do video tutorials and all! The hard part has always been finding the time and energy to do it since I work fulltime in the visual effects industry. When I went from being an artist to a supervisor, my plans for this got put to a halt altogether.

Back in spring 2018, I got the chance to be the supervisor for Filmgate for a project called ”The Quake,” a Norwegian disaster movie featuring an earthquake hitting Oslo. Our part was to create set extensions and full CG shots featuring an elevator and a shaft. It was my first time being the primary visual effects supervisor on a project. It was a bit stressful at times, but in general, I had a great time working on this project.

After a few weeks off during the summer, I jumped right back into supervision for another Norwegian project called Amundsen. A story about the famous Norwegian polar explorer from the director of Kon-Tiki, Espen Sandberg. The movie featured a massive amount of visual effects, and Filmgate took on a large chunk of it. We had several CG assets to build and some very complicated full CG shots. So even though I shared supervising duties with a college, the workload got increasingly higher the further we went into the project. And the pressure was by far the most I’ve ever felt in my professional life. During the last stretch, I worked like crazy to keep everything together and only stopped to eat and sleep. I was at the office for 32 days straight after coming back from a short Christmas break and logged 70-80 hour weeks. Eventually, we got everything done in the end to everyone’s satisfaction which was a huge relief.

After the project, I took almost a month off and was trying to rest and find my way back to a healthy life. That was easier said than done after being so focused on one specific goal for such a long time. Eventually, I got back to work and had a good work-life balance just being an artist, working regular hours, and not thinking about work after leaving the office. But I didn’t find the energy and passion that made me want to do tutorials and such in my spare time that I had before. So even though I had the time to do it, I didn’t pick up where I left.

When they announced the nominees for this years Amanda Awards (the Norwegian equivalent to a Swedish Guldbagge or Academy Award), I got some great news though. I got nominated for Best Visual Effects for both projects I supervised along with the supervisors for the other vendors. So I got to attend the ceremony in Haugesund on the Norwegian west coast and wear a tuxedo for the first time in my life. In the end, it was ”The Quake” which won the award which I got to share with the supervisors from Gimpville, Storyline, and Storm.

It was a great experience to work as a supervisor for these two films, and I learned a lot even though it was overwhelming at times. And, of course, it was great to be rewarded being nominated and winning an award for it. So I guess writing about it here is a way to close that chapter of my life for good (and brag about the award a little bit). Not sure if anyone will read it though, but that doesn’t matter that much. Hopefully, the next time I post something here, it will be something cool about creating shaders in V-Ray or something like that.

That’s me to the right. The only one of the winners who properly followed the tuxedo dress code.