I would be down for doing a texture, lighting, and rendering challenge since I dont have much experiance in these areas...though this last challenge I didnt have nearly the time I thought I would so there is a good chance I wouldnt finish this one to.
I'd highly recommend a 1 month challenge. I know it seems counter intuitive that more people would be able to finish, but it means people are less ambitious and manage time better... this is true for me and I'm sure I'm not alone.
I see there's a lot of suggestions on lighting challenges in this thread and it's something I've been thinking about as well for a while now. I really like the challenges Jeremy Birn hosts and how he posts up a gallery of the entries and the scene file which you can download on his own site once the challenge is finished. I wanted to try and do something similar to that on this site where you get a premodeled scene to light and shade, especially since we'll have a lot of lighting content on the new site which will be up sometime next week, we just have to finish writing the new forum.
My idea was this, how about we set the challenges to run for one month only and have a general challenge every two months and a lighting challenge in the month between? I think stwert is right about the bi-monthly thing that it doesn't really work because you see something and start on it but two months becomes a bit too long and the whole thing gets a bit tired and forgotten. Also I'd like to see the general challenges simplified, so that more people can enter. Suggestions for things like make a toy or that thing about a chair someone posted I think would make for good topics.
This way we could start on a new general challenge in the beginning of december and then start off the new year with the first lighting challenge on simply maya and i'll spend xmas modeling something up that we can use. And we could start simple like with a fruitbowl and move on from there as we release more complicated lighting tutorials on the site.
Yeah. I like the idea of some lighting challenges. The J Birn style idea, with the scene files at the end is good. And definitely agreed with the 1 month duration idea.
A couple of other ideas I've also had are.
1) Texturing challenge. I had an idea about a challenge that could test peoples texturing, the idea being to basically model anything, or perhaps everyone could work off the same model, but see who could make best use of materials and shading. Mental Ray materials, Shader trees, best use/combination of colour/spec/diffuse/reflection maps etc. So say you had...I dont know....a desk with some objects on, or a window sill, or just a single object like a picture frame, where you could go in and really go to town on combining maps for the best results?
2) I think CG Society does a brilliant thing by asking its challenge winners to put together a little overview including wips of the technical and thought processes that went into making a winning entry. Perhaps as a further learning aid, future challenge winners could be asked to do the same, and write a commentary on how they created their piece..?
We are indeed getting a new site, and the simply maya community will have a lot more space than it does on the current one so we'll have a good chance of making more of things like these challenges.
I agree that scene breakdowns are very useful and interesting to read, we will have some new forum categories and one will be on articles for featured work and what went into making it. Adding good final challenge entries to that is a great idea.
For a texturing challenge it does go hand in hand with lighting, what I was thinking if we did simpler scenes was that we could have monthly themes sometimes to focus on specifics for example it would only be allowed to use geometry based light sources and no indirect illumination techniques, or shade a full scene using only procedural textures, or make every shader based on the architectural material, or texture painting for skin on a premade character provided and so on. And we could add a sticky or create a free tutorial with some basic information to get you started and encourage more people to join. So I'm with you on that one Ben, as well I think getting restrictions can be quite useful sometimes not to get lost with too many ideas.
Another thing we could do sometimes would be to make the general challenge a clean modeling challenge where you'd have to finish on an ao render, for example it could be modeling an interior or a cartoon character and then we could use the winning scene (providing the winner was up for it of course) in a lighting and shading challenge after that. I think that would make it easier for a lot of people to enter a challenge as well, because I know I wouldn't enter a challenge that required modeling, shading and lighting a character because modeling takes me ages and I would run out of time to complete it. Also as there's a lot more people who model on this forum it would be a nice way of learning by seeing what someone else could do with a scene that you modeled.
I don't know, Dave, that seems terribly limited and boring. It has potential, if someone did one of those fruit hats, but I think the goal of a challenge, really, is to get a final product that you could use as a portfolio piece; a hat or helmet isn't that awe-inspiring to employers.
But that could just be me.
Maybe a small current-gen (or past-gen) environment?
Open-ended is generally the way to go if you want people to enter.
And, well, it would drive me to make a lovely environment. And others, I should think.