DJS CGI @ STATE OF ART ACADEMY DAY #5
It's been a week since we flew over to Venice for the #Academyday5 and thought it was time we share our experience.
Speakers this year included DBOX, MIR, iToo Software, Peter Guthrie, Chaos Group VRay 3.0, C+S Architects, Corona render and more.
State of The Art Academy is fast becoming the place to be for CGI artists to learn the processes involved in creating leading CGI imagery. They frequently have courses, aimed at all levels, and open to anybody that wants to learn. In 2009 they held their first academy day and according to Roberto it was a small affair, with just local Italian artists in attendance. 5 Years on it's gathering pace quickly, and attracts the worlds best studios to showcase their work. People fly from all over the world to attend and according to most, it's the go to event on the Arch Vis calendar year. Above that, what I loved about it more than seeing the inner workings of studios like DBOX and MIR, was the family vibe and friendly atmosphere at the academy. It's a place to learn, a place to talk and a place to share knowledge with fellow professionals and discuss where the high end visualisation market is going.
DBOX - CHRISTIAAN KLAASSEN - "We don't say we are photo realistic. We are illustrators"
What can I say about DBOX? WOW. They are more than a CGI company, capable of offering everything to their clients on a project from Brochures and Websites to Visuals. Christiaan showcased work from a few projects including 432 Park Avenue which he showed a show reel for that blew us away, such a shame it's not public. The detail they go to in delivering the perfect package is exquisite. Photography is key here and as a keen photographer himself Christiaan is able to bring this to the table and in turn it adds to DBOX's ability to be one, if not the best illustration companies globally. It's clear to see why they win awards! Looking forward to seeing what work they do this next year. Thanks Christiaan!
TROND GREVE ANDERSEN - MIR - "MIR is a restaurant"
We were keen to see MIR. Their style of work is highly emotive, and oozes a sense of pride in what they do. Trond made it clear they have a vision at MIR. They aim for their work to look naturally lit and to be honest to the architecture. He didn't speak about how they do it, but about what it's taken to get where they are. Relating MIR to a restaurant. You can go anywhere to get food, some places are quick and crap, some are more expensive, offer less on your plate, but look and taste fantastic, they also cost more. They book their weekly work slots, and that's it. If it takes longer, they negotiate. They have worked hard to be able to pick and choose their clients and they are in a happy place. Daily ping pong sessions take their mind away from work and even though they are in a remote part of Norway, its clear the scenery accessible to them, helps them immensely in producing their unique style. No high rise, concrete masses to get lost in there. Just nice woodland walk, lakes and skies to admire!
ITOO SOFTWARE - PAUL ROBERTS - Rail Cone and Forest Pack Pro
At DJS CGI we use both of these plugins in our workflow so were keen to see what was on offer. This hour flew buy it was so interesting. Paul had taken the liberty of showing off the ability of their products by modelling the entire Move hotel, which was odd because that's exactly where we were sat. To watch him creating the building that we were in was quite inspiring, half expecting him to show himself modelling himself, modelling himself. I wouldn't put it past them. The ability of using the two plugins together to randomize things was not something we had implemented and it's incredibly powerful. As academy attendees we were given special access to download the files to see how he modeled the hotel. Thanks iToo for sharing these! It was quite a technical piece but a great insight in to modelling in the parametric world. We will definitely be upping our usage of these products. We even gave them a request to add in to Forest Pack Pro which they have said they are adding in to an update that will be released soon. For those of you familiar with it, we requested the option to individually scale objects within forest pack as the current method is a little cumbersome. They are looking at it now (we hope) so feel free to thanks us for it's development once it comes out.
C+S ARCHITECTS - ALESSANDRA SEGANTINI
Alessandra spoke about two projects and the philosophy behind their creation. It was interesting and she portrayed a great love for her work. The philosophy behind TranslationArchitecture™ on their website is a very interesting to design. They collaborate closely with their clients and their results are striking. Simple in looks, but innovative spaces that relate to a purpose. I particularly liked that they listened to children at a school they were designing and implemented features that help the children learn, but with an architectural twist.
PEDRO FERNANDES - ARQUI9
Pedro has a wealth of experience, he's cleverly held on to all the tips he learnt as a freelance artist and setup his own studio - Arqui9. Pedro's messages were clear. SIMPLIFY everything. Nothing you do is wasted, if it's not right for one project, keep it, you can reuse it on another. A happy artist is a good artist and its important to take time out to do the things you love. For him it was surfing. These are the moments he uses to clear his mind and in turn that spurs on his inspiration. The reason he works the way he does, is because that's what he enjoys, matte painting. If you don't like doing something, don't do it. Do the things you like and you will get more enjoyment out of it and you'll probably improve. He referenced the 80/20 rule. That 80 percent of your achievement should be made from 20 percent of your input. This was refreshing to me and a valuable lesson.
On day two he did a live matte painting session. He showed us this starting point.....
Over the next hour Pedro worked up the image. Showing his process and the way his brain ticks. I could almost hear he brain analyzing as he worked...........no, that looks naff.............yes, yes, that looks great........that grass is annoying me, it's a tiny thing, but i need to fix it. His attention to detail is also evident as he kept telling us he didn't want to get bogged down with the details as he only had an hour, but he couldn't help himself. Constantly desaturating the image to check it's light and dark spots was clever. Flipping it horizontally and back to see what looks better and eventually coming up with this...........
JURAJ TALCIK - TALCIK DEMOVICOVA - Corona Render
Corona renderer really hit the spot. We were keen here to do some tests to see if we can utilize it in house and Adam was kindly dishing out the latest release to anyone that wanted it. Initial tests are promising but still a little way off before we roll it out on a job. Coronas ability to progressively render in an unbiased mode, similar to Brute Force in VRay, and support for a lot of software was evident. They were using a 64 core machine and as it uses CPU not GPU power, the more cores you have the better! They were only rendering a small resolution so it was perhaps a little deceptive but he still copied 10,000 cars around each of which had 700,000 faces and it was still rapid. That's 7,000,000,000 (billion) faces rendering at almost real time..........impressive. ( I hope I've got those numbers right....I'm writing all this off my notes)
Juraj showed us around his most famous project to date, a house in Iceland. He also keeps things simple and using Corona gives him the freedom to keep moving around the scenes to find the best angles, with Corona quickly updating his viewpoint so he can see what it looks like. He also showed us a bespoke project he made purely for his presentation. It was also producing very nice results and Corona performed well, but it was clear that Juraj has a good eye for materials and that you still skills in other fields, even if your rendering platform simplifies your creation process.
PETER GUTHRIE - Mighty Tiles and The Boundary
Peter returned for his fourth year in a row. This time it was all about might tiles. A plugin he has heavily been involved in the production of, through his relationship with it's developer. We use a similar plugin called Walls and Tiles but Mighty tiles has a new feature which enables you to cut out multiple tiles from a larger image, to create the smaller tiles needed. it then automatically creates bump, displacement and reflection maps for you and randomly mirrors and rotates them on to your geometry. This was a great feature and made things so much quicker!
He also announced his new venture The Boundary @theboundaryuk and that from 2015 he will be an official Academy Day teacher. This drone footage from a DJI Phanton 2 that @henryjpgoss was flying around the hotel and venice is awesome! Well done Peter, an exciting year ahead for you.
SIMEON BALABANOV - CHAOS GROUP - VRay 3.0
We use VRay with 3dsmax on a daily basis so were interested to see what would be shown. His presentation was aimed more at a basic level, but still there were a couple of features that stood out. One being the ability to adjust white balance through the VRay frame buffer (VFB) and also to change the background image directly in the VFB to test out different background before committing to saving the image. Both of these are coming out in a future release, hopefully it's not too long away!
This was my first appearance at the academy day but it was well worth while. I've wanted to go since i heard about the first one and to be given the opportunity was fantastic. Access to the best artists to talk to, learn from and study is a must if you want to grow as an artist and as a company and these are the kinds of events to go to.
Our aim is to be sat on the stage at an Academy Day in the future and showcase our work there. So watch this space!
Thanks to David Connolly for the use of his images. Great photographs save great memories.