Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Crash of 2014

Tell me this, have you in your life, created a spectacular piece of work, be it in CG or VFX or Digital Art or any time intense field of art (not that there are any other kind, but you catch my drift!). Then taken a moment to hit the render button or go to full screen or even something trivial like change the view and suddenly the worst thing possible happens - your screen freezes!!! Have you then prayed on your knees to every possible God you know (yes even Loki counts…) to give you one chance, just one measly chance to hit the save button before the evilest thing technology can do to you happens – the file Crashes.

 Well I was a recent victim of just such an event. I had worked the better part of my night on this major exterior environment in CG, and for once it was coming out exactly the way I envisioned it. Like I was Michelangelo and I was creating my own personal David. One of those beautiful moments when you’re Midas and all you touch is Gold, only in a good way. All the modeling and textures had come out beautifully and I had started to get into the groove with the lighting. I spent 3 hours getting the scene to look just the perfect temperature of scary and decrepit when the thought that I hadn’t saved in a while and how awful it would be if it crashed now, crossed my mind. I cursed myself for putting that thought out there in the middle of a test render and bit my nail to the bone when the render seemed to get stuck at 89%. I prayed for the file to survive and magically it churned out the remaining render. Having the attention span of a teaspoon, I immediately got lost in the absolute beauty of the output and forgot about that small voice in my subconscious screaming save, save now you crazy person.

You would think something bad happened right about now… But no! When I learn a lesson it’s never just half-baked, the misery of my action has to completely scar me so I never forget the pain I go through. After getting the lights right, I did half an hour’s worth of experimental changes to the settings. Now any self-respecting artist will tell you that they always know exactly what values they tweaked, well the term experimental is used to cover up just that. There are times when you randomly tweak some settings over and over again and suddenly you get absolutely smashing results. Only after you see the result do you go back and check your stroke-of-genius changes.

I was glowing with my own brilliance and clicked on the minimize render button so I could check out what I had done with the settings, when things started to go wrong. I felt like my mouse pointer was stuck. I rattled (banged) the mouse for a bit and tried again. No response. Swallowing hard with a growing sense of panic I decided that I better hit the save button. I hit the save button about 50 times all the while saying “please God pleaseeeee..”. I made quite a few large promises to God about how I would be a better human being and eat all my veggies if only this work would get saved, but the tech Gods were not listening. Or probably standing by saying, "serves the bugger right."

After working at full throttle for a good 5 hours my machine had decided it had enough. Everything just stopped working. With the temperament of someone letting go of a loved one, I banged my head a bunch of times, cursed everyone and everything, threw some papers around the room but finally accepted that shutting and restarting was the only way to see if anything had saved. Nothing had. It was almost a career altering moment for me.

Needless to say I now save every 5 seconds. And no for once I’m not exaggerating..!

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