The sharp-eyed among you will notice some obvious flaws with the environment. The trees look strange because the leaves are the wrong color for the time of day; I'll replace them with less autumny trees in the final render. The moon is too bright because, bizarrely enough, the stage lights are reflecting off the stage and the chairs and illuminating it. (edit: fixed) For comparison, here's the environment without the stage (without the trees, since rendering them brings our computers to their knees):
Too dark, of course, but that's to compensate for the brightness of the stage lighting. Apparently I compensated too much. Going to have to fix that. I am pleased with how the moon turned out, though.
I like how the bumpmapping on the sand clips through the texture for the road. Normally that would be a bug, but it creates a nice effect where sand sits in little piles atop the concrete.
The starfield image was stolen off Google somewhere. Though you can't really tell in these screenshots, they actually glow because their color is linked to their incandescence. Seeing how they turned out makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Here's a closeup of the stage in its new home:
And a panorama shot, with raytracing, trees, the works:
Eek. Looks like I need to make the moon a little dimmer. (edit: fixed; the moon is too close to the ground now, though :/)
And here's an audience-eye view:
Lisa and I have hit a major productivity breakthrough (as money men in the glass buildings like to say). It used to be that every time we wanted to see how something looked, we'd hit the render button in Maya and pray (in vain) that it wouldn't crash. Computer science voodoo magic determined that the cause of the problem was that our computers were running out of memory. What to do? Well, it's Winter Term and the labs are full of computers sitting around doing nothing. And you know what that means: MORE POWER TO US. Now we have saruman and pippin sweating themselves to death turning our designs into pictures while we continue to work, unburdened, on gollum and boromir. This scheme also offers us a little crash protection--if gollum or boromir crash, we lose everything we haven't saved; if any other computers crash, we merely put an unused computer out of commission. Take one for the team, slaves!
We're also doing all our animation on the stage and then importing it into the environment, because there's no point rendering the trees, chairs, moon and sky over and over if we're not going to change them. That should save us a boatload of time.
Also, few things I've done in CS compare to rendering the same Maya scene--complex enough to push any of these poor desktops to destruction--from three different camera angles on three different computers, at the same time.
(edit: better render of the stage close-up)
(second edit: much snazzier renders)