This pretty scene drove me nuts

This scene was going to be at the beginning of the Ama book-trailer, unfortunately, it did not make it into the final cut. Why? Because my sanity was in serious danger of being obliterated.

It was supposed to represent a healthy nature scene, with blades of grass glistening with evening dew, trees gently swaying in the wind, and flowers in glorious bloom. I worked for over a month creating all the elements in Blender: clumps of grass, which were added to my sculpted landscape; puff-ball dandelions, with individually crafted and carefully placed seeds; and fully animated trees, complete with fluttering leaves. The final cherry on top was a flock of birds that slowly flew over the mist-covered hills in the background. I tested each aspect of the scene, by which I mean I ran individual ten second animation cycles on the grass, trees, flowers, and birds, etc. Oh my God! I thought. It’s going to look bloody amazing.

I readied my computer; Days, possibly weeks, of rendering time (30 images for each second of film) lay ahead. After clicking the ‘Render’ button, I sat back and watched my computer monitor with excited interest as each frame of fully rendered film gradually materialised. The first few hours looked good: each frame rendering well. Then, just as I was about to leave my computer to its work and go to bed, I noticed something odd about the current frame. I put my face within smudging distance of my monitor, squinted my eyes, and observed as the madness began.

The flowers in the scene were not just swaying in the simulated wind, they were taking off! All of the leaves on the trees had also decided to take to the air. What the hell was going on? Going to bed was no longer on my list of things to do. Do I stop the rendering process? I wondered. About two hours, and ten cups of coffee later I killed the render. I didn’t sleep that night, instead I dissected the scene, looking for the problem. But no matter what I tried, the scene literally fell apart, with trees, flowers and blades of grass flying off in all directions. When things were on their own, they did what they were suppose to do, but when accompanied by something else, all hell broke loose; it looked as though I was simulating a tornado smashing its way through the landscape… Not good. The only damn thing in the scene that did what it was supposed to do was the flock of birds. They happily flew over the mountains in the background, while the foreground was being demolished. I have since learned what the problem was: something to do with where I had placed the wind force generators in respect to other force generators. Blah…blah…blah… Whatever!

The images above give an idea of the evolution of the scene, before it all went to shit.

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