Trying to make 3D look unmistakably 2D brought some problems on 3D graphics software. Since properties such as the ones I’m looking for are seldom (if at all) used, even if they are very basic, it was rather tricky.
First of all, it was a pain removing all the light on the characters and the scene. Rendering software uses so ugly default lights which were hard to remove. Since the first part won’t be shaded whatsoever, this was necessary to make 3D indistinguishable from a sprite based game.
Also rather quirky to set up was a completely orthographic camera (pseudo perspective used in blueprints and the like, which has no depth). I had to highjack one of the available ones that are supposed to be for scene control only. Needless to say, this is the closest to true 2D. Now I’m only missing a pixel perfect way to render things, and I will TRULY have 2D in a 3D environment.
What I’m particularly proud of are the lightning-fast rendering times. Usually, one single frame can take anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes, or even more, depending on the software settings and the complexity the computer has to calculate. At 1024 resolution, production quality (read that as ultra souped-up), any one frame from my scene renders in 2 to 3 SECONDS!!!!! YES, SECONDS. Other lighting tests like final gather work nice and fast, but I can have a similar effect with far less resources.
I also started to work on the animation. The 2D character already has a lot of animation done, including a super fluid walk cycle at 30fps, which I almost NEVER use, except for action based animations. Well, come to think of it, many Wind and Water animations were 30fps, so I take that back. Look at all those frames for just a walk cycle! The 3D character has to be “rigged” which basically means equipped with a virtual skeleton that allows it to move. It sounds like a pain, and yes, it actually is.