The Woe of King Midas

The goal of this assignment was to convey the theme "Fools and their money shall soon be parted" through Pixar's Renderman. Mine is based upon the tale of King Midas. Here Midas is represented as a trapped "Jack" who is chained to his "Box", his castle which is viewed as a prison. His hand is weighed down by gold coins, the very gold he saught after is preventing him from reaching towards a figurine in the distance. This figurine is dressed in an annoynomous manner, as in the viewer cannot tell who that person is. The figurine represents all of the individuals, whether family or not, Midas can never come into contact with unless he gives up his power. An unimaginable loneliness haunts Midas, however he is solely to blame for bringing this punishment upon himself. If Midas does reach out for another person and turns them into gold, he would suffer an unbearable combination of solitude and guilt. No matter what, Midas simply cannot win. Gold can never offer the warmth and love that humans do. If Midas does not sacrifice his golden touch then he will live out his days in misery and desolation.

The assignment was done for the VSFX course Programming Models & Shaders I, taught at the Savannah College of Art & Design by Professor Malcolm Kesson during Fall 2013.

Where there is King Midas, there is gold.To successfully execute the scene a convincing gold shader was required. It was created from the RMSGPSurface shader, with much tweaking and a warm colored ramp application to get the golden look. To add detail to the closer shots of the gold coins, a bump map was applied. The gold shader is found on the coins, chains, jewelry, archway, flag poles, and windows of the castle. Below are low resolution images rendered while creating the golden shader.

Being an outdoor scene, grass was a required portion. The color of the grass was altered by the RMS Hair shader. The default color is much too bright, the darker greens work better with the scene's atmosphere. The thickness of the grass was also played with. The background HDR image is included within this sequence, it was also used as grass reference.

The hand is a major portion of the scene, representing Midas's curse of the golden touch. The hand wears golden jewels as well. The lighting aids in conveying Midas's inability to have physical contact with anyone. A common problem of Renderman's lighting capabilities is the washing-out of texture maps, this was especially evident upon the hand. By default the hand was incredibly pale, practically looking like it was not textured from a distance. The texture map for the hand was developed using seamless skin textures and careful shading within Photoshop. Below are renders developed during the texturing and lighting processes, as well as it's texture map.

Renderman is an incredibly powerful tool that can produce incredible results. If I had more time I would have created more scenes that utilize depth of field and show off the details. I encountered multiple issues that drained much time away from perfecting the scene. Rendering was deifnitelty an issue that also contributed to taking time away from tweaking; and rendering took somewhere on average between one to two hours. I'm fairly satisfied with the final output, but as said earlier if I had more time I would have been able to make it better. This was my first experience with using Renderman in all aspects - shading, lighting, etc. I rather enjoyed it, but I still have much to learn.