I did this above to to see if I could save rendering time (it was very expensive!) and composite a shot using a single rendered frame from Maya - sort of those "fix in post" kind of stuff. But I realised that I needed to break down the render into layers, even though it could just be one frame, so that I could have control during compositing.
This is what the original frame looked like (direct render from Maya / mental Ray:
I brought this image into Shake and the first thing I did was to mask out the centre portion of the kerosene lamp and keep that in focus while defocusing everything else. Then, I needed to create the flame. For this, I thought I would use particles in After Effects, render it and bring it over in Shake. But I didn't want to go through the trouble of switching between programs. So I decided to create the fire procedurally in Shake using a few roto shapes. Here's the node graph:
Everything from the middle to the right makes up the procedural flame
The feedback I received was that the flame is moving too much and I need to tone that down. Other than that, the lighting was appreciated and I basically got what I wanted. However, Alan felt that he couldn't really read anything from this shot compared to that from my animatic. So I need to reframe the shot to enhance the composition. Feedback is most welcome.
Meanwhile, I started to animate. I', done with 9 shots (almost). I spent a lot of time working on the camera animation first before getting onto the character animation. I would set rough keyframes in the Maya timeline and then get into the graph editor and fine tune the frames until I get the result I want. This enabled me to stabilize my shot and know what I need to focus on when animating character. This helped me make decisions on which shots would I need to simulate cloth and which scenes can I fake it.
For instance, in one of the shots, I needed the composition to look like the one from my animatic:
But because of the way my scene was set up, Angela's father's head kept going out of the frame no matter how I adjusted the camera. So I had to cheat by moving the chair and the father down through the ground to get him in the frame.
I'm worried about the lighting. It takes ages to render, so I need to find a way to cut down the render times. I hope I have enough time so that I don't have to compromise on the lighting - after all, that's my primary aim for this project.