Art Wanted! Featuring: Bryan Talkish

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016 by N. Herget

 


Over the last few weeks you might have noticed, we have the new “Art Wanted” campaign up and running!
Joining forces with our community, we want to show & share what we can achieve together, with each other at their best!

This time, we'll take Art Wanted a step further, as we'd like to introduce to you talented RebusFarm user Bryan Talkish from Already been chewed studio a little bit closer.

Check out his Art Wanted submission "Bog Scallops" — a personal project rich in detail and with a funny story behind, rendered at RebusFarm:



You can also find Bryan on behancevimeo an instagram.

Despite his tight schedule, thankfully he found the time to answer some questions about his personal background and the story of "Bog Scallops".

Bryan, thank you so much for giving us an insight on your work and who you are. So, let’s go way back. Where were your born and raised? What was young Bryan like  and how come he became a digital artist in the end?

I was born and raised in a small town in Northwest Pennsylvania. Young Bryan was an outdoorsy kid — catching fireflies in the summer, and sledding in the winter.
I remember drawing a lot, keeping sketch books filled with drawings ranging from landscapes, to characters inspired by the old-school marvel universe, to sci-fi scenes inspired by NES box art.
It wasn't until later when I got my first computer that I found my fascination with the digital world.
I recall buying a bare-bones editing software that was more for audio than video, but it came with an importer that allowed 320x240 clips on the timeline.
I kind of hacked it to export very low res mpegs and avi files. From here I collected clips from my favorite movie scenes and edited them into trailers, or cut a sequence of drawings together to form animations. I think this was the very early steps into where I am now.

Fast forwarding several years, after graduating with a BFA in Cinema and Digital Arts, I started working as an editor at a production studio located in Pittsburgh, PA. The job was part-time editorial at first, but it soon became a full-time position with motion design work added into the mix.
When After Effects came into the picture I shifted gears to design and animation. The software gave me more creative freedom and opened up a lot of doors into the motion, design, and VFX world that I wasn’t getting from an editing standpoint. It created this realization of where I eventually wanted to end up — working with 3D.

I remember becoming overwhelmingly inspired by artists posting their work to sites like vimeo and behance, and reading behind-the-scenes articles on community blogs and in magazines.
The research inevitably brought me to my true software of choice, Maxon’s Cinema4D. It was at this point that I saw how 2D, 3D, and post compositing worked so closely with each other in the production workflow.
Over the years of venturing through the world of motion and design as a full-time and freelance artist brought me to Dallas, TX where I work at Already Been Chewed as Lead Motion Designer.
Here we create visuals for clients such as Nike, Nixon, and Vans, to list a few.
One of my favorite campaigns I’ve worked on in recent history was the Nixon and Star Wars collaboration. Nixon had sought out Already Been Chewed to create a full animation campaign showcasing their new line of watches revolving around the Star Wars universe (C3PO, R2D2, Vader) .
We worked closely with Nixon and Lucasfilm through the whole creative process, developing several animated teasers and trailers to promote the light and dark side sets.

In my spare time I continue to work on self-initiated projects when an idea sparks, ranging from :10s micro shorts to longer animations between :30s and :60s.
Doing this allows me to get things out of my head, flex some ideas, play out scenarios, and creates this nice contrast between client work.

How would you describe your art style?

I like to keep my art style flexible, on it's toes, and ready to tackle the challenge of whichever style a project calls for, whether that be a 3D cel animation feel, in the realm of detailed-realistic, or even stop-motion. I don't see myself as someone with one distinct art style, but more like someone who can assess the techniques involved to get a certain look, then put it into action. I can say I do enjoy 3D surrealism and the stark graphic novel look.

What movie/and or game from the past do you wish you had worked on and why?

There's a beautiful game that was recently released called 'Inside' by PlayDead games. The artistry involved is absolutely stunning. The style has this dark storybook feel that creates an unsettling, yet luring sense of mystery during urgent and dire situations, and at the same time a certain stillness or calm. I found that the frame compositions, colors, use of light, and rich atmospheres led my eye to exactly where the creators intended me to look at any given moment. It's really cinematic. The way events unfolded, and the way the camera followed characters through this world allowed players to stop, look, and appreciate the art behind it.

Is there something you are currently working on or are excited about starting, that you can tell us about?

There are two projects I'm working on right now that I’m pretty excited about. I can't go into too much detail, but one revolves around virtual reality and the other is a super short involving volumetric fog, clouds, and wind streams careening off, flying by, and enveloping a high speed car in a stark, retro inspired style.

An early concept frame from 'Abyss Vaulter'

You used our render farm service for rendering this project. Have you used RebusFarm before and what are/were your experiences. What would you say are the advantages about using a render farm?

In the past I relied solely on network rendering and single machine rendering. As the projects grew in scale I saw how taxing it was not only in time needed, but on the machines themselves. Rendering put them in high-temperature situations over multiple days and nights, creating a massive strain on each one. Rebus freed them of that intense sprint to the finish line and shaved days off the turnaround.
One of my favorite aspects of using Rebus is the plugin. Sending scenes to the farm and then getting them back is a breeze. It’s incredibly helpful to see which files are uploading and which files are downloading as they render in the corner pop-up screen. A nice real-time feature. It reminds me a bit of dropbox.
After crunching some numbers on 'Bog Scallops' and coming up with some lengthy render times, it was pretty clear to go with Rebus for the rendering. I didn't want to put my machine through the gauntlet over that much time, so I uploaded all the scene files and had the entire project rendered in a matter of hours.
At Already Been Chewed, we looked towards Rebus' services to render some of the Nixon x Star Wars collaboration spots. Going this route lifted the render-time versus deadline scenario. We researched a couple other render farms beforehand, but once we tested Rebus, it was a unanimous decision.

Thank you, Bryan!

Now, back to "Bog Scallops" and its making-of. As we already mentioned, there is a nice story behind.
Let's follow this trip from the depths of the sea of inspiration up to
the final result.

The origin story of Bog Scallops is on the ridiculous side. It began after a conversation about a menu item (sea scallops) unexpectedly escalated into the questioning of what other types could exist if not from the sea. This, in turn, somehow evolved into a story about a rare species of mollusk found only in the remote reaches of swamp-like climates that were said to contain a powerful alternate energy source. An energy source so potent that just one could power an entire city for years.
The conversation ended there, but I couldn't shake wanting to see this story happen in some form.



Before jumping into the software I created a sequenced shot list describing the action in each frame and the type of camera angle/move. After I locked down the shots, I started designing key elements, such as the main characters and important objects from sketches I had mocked up.
I remember starting with the boat because it was the easiest to visualize trolling through the lit-up bog and would create a nice center point for the following elements. I then moved onto creating the environment — first underwater, then above, placing the boat I had created into the scene to get the right scale.
After this came Bob, the robot caretaker, and so on. When all the main elements were designed and ready for final placement, I created a series of style boards for all the key moments. With these finished and in the can, I finally moved onto animation.


The animation process was divided into 2 types of files: The master scene/shot file that acted as my final render, and sub-scenes, which contained only the objects that needed to be animated and any objects that interacted with them while keeping everything else out. This allowed me to preview the animations much faster in my viewport, make detailed changes, and then transfer them into my master scene —swapping out the static objects with the animated ones.

After Effects compositing


Preview Scenes



When all the scenes were animated and previewed as a full lo-res edit in my timeline, I sent them off to Rebus. After getting them back I swapped the lo-res preview renders out with the hi-res, applied all the compositing, and kicked out a final.
The final was then sent out for sound design — done by my friend and partner in crime, JM Cifonie, who has been doing all the audio for my animations for the past 4 years. Along the way I sent him style boards and preview animations so he could get a feel for the scenes. This helped him create, prepare, and collect sounds while the project progressed.

You'd like to join our Art Wanted campaign? Send in your work, rendered at RebusFarm to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ! Check Art Wanted for details.

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3D Artist of the Month September 2016

Thursday, September 1st, 2016 by N. Herget

 

New month – new Artist of the Month at RebusFarm! Rostislav Nikolaev from Moscow is September's lucky winner.

He originally created his winning image for the architectural rendering competition “Project Soane” earlier this year.
Given only a simplified 3D model of the building, Rostislav and his team created their version of the Bank Of England – built by Sir John Soane at the end of the 18th century and won Best Video! Congrats!

As it's always interesting to know the story behind, we asked Rostislav to tell us something about his background in general and his amazing project.

Rostislav, thank you for taking the time! We'd like to know more about yourself and your work. Your skills, what kind of subjects you like most to create in 3D, your experiences and so on. Go ahead!

Thank you! I started working in 3D visualization by the end of 2010. I got an architectural education but unfortunately, the institute didn't really inspire me to become an architect. Anyway, I've always liked to make beautiful-looking projects, so I got into learning visualization. Finally, I moved to Moscow to start working full time.

At the same time, I studied at the State Of Art Academy in Italy, which inspired me to officially found my own studio.
This enabled me to do both, commissioned work and my own creative projects.
In the studio, we offer all kinds of services, concerning the field of 3D: exterior and interior visualization, videos, 360° panoramas, interactive visualization with a full immersion in Unreal Engine.
Please, check our portfolio on Behance and Vimeo.

Personally, I'm into doing the small, natural details. Enriching a project with this breath of life it takes to become even more realistic.

 



Let's now talk about your winning image. Which software did you use for the work? Is there something special to mention about the creation process and the programs?

We used a standard set of programs to keep the workflow smooth: 3dsmax, Corona, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects, that's it. Concerning the process of creation, we wrote a small making-of on Behance, check here.

What is the idea behind the picture you've handed in for our Artist of the Month contest?

As usual, I did an extensive research, as I wanted to create a very detailed visualization. I looked up archival photographs and drawings, watched movies. I even played “Assassin Creed Syndicate” as it has one mission to be completed in the Bank of England.
To memorably distinguish my works from others', I filled the hall with ghosts and animals and flooded it with water.
I like to see historic architecture being put into modernized contexts, as e.g. “La Iglesia Skate” in Spain.

 

For the video, I originally had the idea of a ray of light, sliding over the architecture. Making it new and renovated instead of old and abandoned. But there was just not enough time for this. The main task was a straight reconstruction, so my final video doesn't have this memorable “twist”.


You've worked with Rebus Render Farm in the past. Please tell us more about your experience. What do you like about rendering at RebusFarm?


We've worked with RebusFarm a couple of times as big projects always need to be rendered fast. We use top assembled computers which do not have enough capacity for large projects, though.
Fortunately, there's RebusFarm. You can always run a test render in advance and see if you set up the scene correctly, which is very convenient. I like the fact that everything is automated, the entire process can be monitored online constantly.

In conclusion - is there anything else you'd like to add about yourself and your projects?

About a year ago, I participated in the competition "Vineyard”, wherefore I studied Unreal Engine.
I'm a fast learner and I really like this program.
Interactively walking through your project is amazing. Especially with virtual reality glasses by Occulus Rift - I did not expect the effect of the glasses to be so realistic. So now in the studio, we can also implement projects in Unreal Engine and virtual reality.

I always wonder how other visualizers manage their personal projects. I know myself that in the middle of doing a commercial job, there are no resources (time, energy, inspiration...) for personal work. For me, each personal project means working a few months in the evenings and at weekends. I'm very lucky to have my wife supporting me. She also works in the studio and tolerates all these crazy schedules.

Coming back to the “Project Soane" contest, working on it was extra-challenging for me, as I was also preparing for a big triathlon! :D

Thank you, Rostislav!

You want to be our next featured 3D Artist of the Month during the upcoming month of October and win 250 Renderpoints? Then, just visit our facebook page, upload one of your self-made 3D images and send us a personal message containing your email address. We'll choose the best image and contact the winner.


 

3D Artist of the Month August 2016

Monday, August 1st, 2016 by Nadine Obst

 

We´re pleased to inform you about our 3D Artist of the Month August 2016, the very talented Fabian Flenker with his magical image of a girl riding a bee.

Fabian is a 26 year old 3D artist and motion designer from Germany. From a young age he wanted to express his ideas and creativity, wanted to make it touchable and share it with others. Initially, it was wild tinkering and mostly pen and paper were his tools. Then later, these tools were often replaced by spray cans till he finally discovered Photoshop. He first started with composition and stop motion clips till there was a "Big Bang" at an age of 19 years. He attended his first 3D animation course and soon realized that this is what he wanted to do in the future. He told us that he´ll never forget the first time he rotated a simple cube in Cinema 4D. The same evening he downloaded the trial version and watched tons of YouTube tutorials.

After the first small successes the next few years Fabian continued his education always driven by his passion: "Gradually I improved my skills, got some bigger projects and the chance to work for top brands. Today I turned my passion into a career and do work as a full-time 3D artist for the design agency "ideengestalter" and also as a project based freelancer. Sure, after some time there is a basic knowledge, but what I love about my job is that it is so versatile that each new project is accompanied by new technical challenges. Maybe that´s the reason why this job is so exciting. You never stop learning, never stand still."

Fabian also told us that Maxon, the creators of Cinema 4D, are using some of his artwork for their marketing material. And by the beginning of this year he also won the "German Design Award" for his showreel created at "ideengestalter". He was definitely surprised: "The project, which makes me the most proud is the one I did for Adobe last year. The guys of Adobe asked me to make a customized 3D artwork for their 25th Anniversary TV commercial. It was really a lot of fun to work with them and see my work showcased next to the ones of the world´s top artists!" 

In 2016 he took the spare time to start a new personal project: "I took all the spare time to put my focus on product design and founded the label looma. The job as a 3D artist is great, but if you always design keyvisuals or doing some animations there is only an digital output or a flat print. But to see your 3D designed object in real life, to feel it and hold it in your own hands, this really brings a different aspect to it. It´s really nice to create innovative new products and continue using my 3D skills for the construction or website renderings."

We asked our 3D Artist of the Month August to tell us about the creation process of his winning image: "I mostly used Cinema 4D (Bodypaint 3D, Sculpting, Vray for C4D) and Photoshop for post production. Next to the daily business, it´s sometimes nice to do your own thing. This specific project was initiated as a spare time project. I wanted to make something completely different with lots of modeling and texturing work included. Something quite colorful and fantasy like. After my daily journey through the artwork on Behance and some quick scribbles the idea of my image "Wonderworld" was born. The project was splitted into different phases. Each element was modeled and textured as a single piece."

"First I started modeling the creature. A mixture of a motorcycle, airplane and a bee. For modeling anatomical parts I took many reference images from the web. After the basic shape of the bee was finished I added the details like the seat, engine and the wings. The second part was the girl riding the bee. I had a short shooting with my little sister and took images of her head and face as modeling reference and for painting texture maps. The basis mesh was adjusted using C4D sculpting tools. To make her movable I built a simple character rig."

"As one of the last steps I created the environment, modeled many vegetation objects like mushrooms and stones. And for the light setup I used a simple sun and an hdri for more depth. I also used some models of libraries like Evermotion.

All in all I cannot say how many hours I spent on this project, but there were many long nights with only me and C4D, spread over many weeks. I was so happy when I finished each single model and scene and was finally able to celebrate the wedding of each separate component." 

The image was created last year, but Fabian never had time to publish or share it in a reasonable way, so he chose to enter our 3D Artist of the Month contest at last: "I thought this contest would be a great opportunity for me to share details about my work with the RebusFarm community. I often receive the newsletter from RebusFarm and read the winner interviews of this contest. It´s always nice to see the work of other artists and get a closer look into the making. And I am a huge fan of your service. I have used your render farm for some years now. As a new user I received some free Renderpoints and when I first rendered I was really amazed about the easy installation and fast rendering. For me as an first time user the speed was inconceivable and opened whole new possibilities. Today I still use your service for commercial projects with tight deadlines. Renderings like 30000x10000 pixel or animations: No problem for Rebus! And if my clients understand the process and necessary power needed for 3D visualizations, there is also no problem to forward the render costs. All in all: Great support! Fair price! Fast rendering!"

You want to be our next featured 3D Artist of the Month during the upcoming month of September and win 250 Renderpoints? Then, just visit our facebook page, upload one of your self-made 3D images and send us a personal message containing your email address. We'll choose the best image and contact the winner.


 

Interviewing Nicolas Chaverou about Golaem

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 by Nadine Obst

 

RebusFarm is happy to announce that support for Golaem 5 is about to get real. And right on time we took the chance to talk to Nicolas Chaverou, Product Manager at Golaem about their latest invention in crowd simulation. 

Tell us something about you and your work at Golaem, please.

My name is Nicolas Chaverou and I´m the Product Manager at Golaem. My job is to ensure that Golaem customers get things done easy and on time. I´m visiting studios and chatting with artists on a regular basis to learn more about their production needs, get feedback on our tool or even give advices on the best way to get their shots done. When at the Golaem office, I ensure that artists´ feedback influences our products by explaining their experiences to our developers and making sure that we have the most efficient workflow.

How did it all start? What was the original idea behind Golaem?

It all started during a Siggraph exhibition 6 years ago. We talked to a renowned VFX studio and they were telling us how difficult it was for them to handle stadium crowds because they did not have any in-house specialists and the existing software back then were too difficult to use and to learn. We were a team of animation and AI specialists and our previous jobs precisely involved making populated 3D worlds and describing characters behaviours understandable to non-specialists. We thought that we could do something for them and started working together. In May 2011 we then released the first version of Golaem. 

However, our vision has always been that a procedural animation tool like Golaem could be used not only for backgrounds (like a stadium), but also for mid-grounds (like a city street), or even foreground. Our first customer used Golaem to populate airports for a TV Show. We discovered that they were using it even for placing and animating only 4 people in the middle of a shot. They were confirming our vision, but we still had many things to do before it became real. Year after year we improved Golaem and added features to make Golaem characters more realistic. We are only getting close to our vision with Golaem 5!

Can you tell us more about Golaem 5. What is special about it? How easy can I place a crowd into my 3D scene? Are there any limits?

Golaem helps artists populate 3D worlds very efficiently, from one to hundred of thousands of characters, from ArchViz projects to the most famous TV Shows, Feature Films or Game Cinematics. The main cases where Golaem is used are populating stadiums, city streets and creating battles. However, our notion of "character" is very large. It can be of course humans, but also animals (horses, spiders, birds, fishes...) bikes or even trees, tents, rocks...

Golaem lets artists place these characters, make them navigate around the environment and animate them without repetitive and manual work. All they have to do is to provide a library of character props as well as a few motions (or use the ones provided by our Character Pack). Then they can control their characters very easily by dragging and dropping built-in customizable behaviours. For example, you can quickly get your characters to walk around a city by just dragging and dropping 3 behaviours: go to (find a random target and go there), navigation (avoid other people and obstacles), and locomotion (determining the best blend of motions to match the character direction). 

The strength of Golaem is that it enables to introduce variations at every step. For example, it will randomize props to create as many unique characters as possible, or mix motions so that even if performing the same behaviour, every character is animated slightly differently.

But what makes Golaem 5 special is the introduction of the Layout Tool. It gives a lot of freedom to artists because it lets them build a quick simulation and tweak it to get exactly what they want. They can literally select a guy and change his clothes or slow him down or even edit his trajectory. This is kind of word-processing for scene population software. With typewriters, even if only one character on your page was wrong, you had to retype everything. With word-processing software, like with Layout Tool, you can always easily modify what you have done to have a perfect result. 

Actually, this tool is so powerful that since we launched it, many users have reported creating a library of simulations with just one character and creating a full scene by duplicating these characters and modifying them using the Layout Tool. This is a whole new workflow which will make populating 3D scenes even more accessible to anyone. To use the Layout Tool, you really only need to know the basics of Maya, nothing more. 

Which software & renderers does Golaem support? Are you planning more for the future?

Golaem´s main platform is Autodesk Maya. Because often when dealing with many characters (> 5000), you cannot just generate all polygons in your Maya scene and render like this because the scene would be way too heavy. It would take ages to load/save and the viewport would not be interactive any more. 

So Golaem has its own display to generate the character´s geometry on-the-fly both at previz and render time. This way the scene stays really light and easy to work with. It also means that, for example, if sending your files to RebusFarm for rendering it would be very quick. You would not send a scene with millions of polygons, but just a Maya scene with a Golaem Proxy object, a template character and a Golaem simulation cache file which stores the position of characters and animation curves so that Golaem can regenerate everything in renderer´s memory. 

We created procedural rendering plugins for the main renderers on the market. We have plugins for Arnold, Guerilla, Mental Ray, Renderman, V-Ray and 3Delight. Of course, if your renderer is not supported you can go the slower way and export full geometry via FBX or Alembic files. For some renderers we have extra-integration in other platforms. For example, we worked with Chaos Group to create a bridge to 3dsMax and Vray. This is what Blur used in the Halo Wars 2 cinematic they released at E3.

This is kind of a scoop, but we are working with the RedShift team to add a RedShift plugin. We are also working on a new Renderer/Platform couple, but I cannot disclose it now. 

I read a lot about the behaviour editor, can you go a bit more into detail about this tool?

The Behavior Editor is the heart of Golaem. This is where you can describe what your characters will do. Maybe you read a lot about it because this is something unique about Golaem. Before Golaem, crowd simulation software had a bad reputation because people using them needed programming skills. 

The Golaem Behavior Editor is a node-based canvas where you can drag and drop built-in behaviors to play motions, reach a target, keep a formation, animate clothes, control some bones with a curve and so on. You can assemble these behaviors together to create a sequence (go there, then say hello), conditions (if you are near another enemy, attack), loops, etc.

So tell us the big secret: Who uses Golaem?

Everyone! Golaem is used for commercials, TV Shows, feature films & game cinematic. So the range of our users goes from a single freelancer taking a one month rental to work on a commercial to teams at top studios like Framestore, Milk VFX or Blur working several months on a movie or a game cinematic. 

Starting from 650 Euro for a monthly rental, Golaem is the most affordable population system you will find on the market (both in terms of money and time needed for training). But we also have options for studios relying intensively on Golaem, like the site license, which is very popular among animation studios working on series or TV Shows. We also offer a 30-days free trial for everyone and a non-commercial version for students. 

Are there any special productions Golaem had been used for you can talk about?

Well, the one I would like to talk about is the "Halo Wars 2" cinematic made by Blur but unfortunately I cannot do it yet. These guys are testing every option in our tool and are doing incredible things with it. You can get a glimpse by watching the trailer that was released at E3.

So because it is summer, let´s talk about "The Program", a Lance Armstrong biopic, directed by Stephen Frears. VFX have been done by Union VFX, a studio in the UK. They populated the roads of the "Tour de France" with spectators: mountain roads, house roofs, balconies and even Paris Champs Elysées. But the best part is, as they couldn´t hire 200 extra to ride the french mountains like pro, most of the riders and bikes are done with Golaem. On some shots the whole pack is made with Golaem and even at the foreground very close to the camera. It may not be the most well known productions Golaem has been used for, but to me it is the one which best represents Golaem philosophy: easily create an ambiance in your shots whatever it is you have to animate. Golaem has also been used for many TV Shows: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Falling Skies,...

You also have a user gallery on your website, can you tell us more about that? What kind of work do you post there?

We love to follow what our users are doing. We are really involved with them, whether at the beginning of the production to help them think about the best way they can get their shots done, or during production as technical support. However, they always surprise us, doing something new in a shot or using Golaem for something we had never thought it could be used for. 

This is also a way for studios to get more crowd jobs. As I said before, there are not many trained artists who can quickly populate a 3D world, and not many studios with crowd experience. So by showing our users´ work we are also helping people with production needs to find the right studio. We also have an artist profile page where we feature the best Golaem artists. We know that several studios use it for recruitment and several students found a Crowd TD job, thanks to being featured on this page. 

This is the part of my job I love the best: Helping good people get together and perform great work. 

Anything else you´d like to mention?

We are very excited to work with you guys and we can´t wait to see what our users will do with the extra horsepower they can get from RebusFarm! 


 

Siggraph 2016 - Render the Possibilities

Wednesday, July 20st, 2016 by Nadine Obst

 

The 43rd International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics & Interactive Techniques takes place 24-28 July 2016 in Anaheim, Carlifornia. This year´s motto chosen by SIGGRAPH, "Render the Possibilities", is a perfect match and we´re very happy to be a part of this great event! 

We´re looking forward to meet you at our booth No. 370 !