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 !


An interview with Boris Sverlow about his short movie Gerontophobia

Monday, July 4th, 2016 by Nadine Obst

Boris Sverlow has been creating art ever since he was able to hold a pen. Born in 1986 in Antwerp, he didn´t think he would become an animator when he made his first drawings. But then, in kindergarten, he saw his first animation movie and a staring turtle named just like him, left a deeper impression on little Boris. Finally, when his father borrowed a Video Hi8 camera from a friend he started to work on his first clay animations: "The camera could be set to frame by frame recording and capture the images directly onto the tape. Because editing software didn´t exist back then, everything was by nature a one take." Then much later near the end of secondary school, Boris started with simple flip-book animations and continues: "Inspired by the magic of movement I made an animation for my final exam project the following year and eventually this led me to explore animation in higher education."

During his Masters at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent he worked as a trainee for "Walking the Dog", one of the biggest animation studios in Belgium. There he animated and composed a historical documentary series called "Kongo". As not much footage existed, their job was to create animations for the lacking parts: "After Effects was my main tool back then and it was here that my knowledge of this program expanded. Later on I used it extensively for my graduation project." He told us that this project, "Shattered Past" was basically a one man job except for the music by Jeroen De Brauwer. Afterwards he also animated a one hour movie for a theatre company in collaboration with the Red Star Line Museum: "And at the same time I finished a one minute short about peace for the commemoration of the first world war which was aired on national television and shown at Cannes Film Festival." 

Boris mentioned that he´s also a great fan of non-digital art but he believes digital software allowes much more freedom to alter and remove elements continously: "You might still argue about the authenticity of digital art, but I don´t tend to choose between one or the other. I think it´s more a question of weighing pros and cons and to follow your own personal artistic goal." Boris loves to create his reality out of a collage of single images. His latest movie Gerontophobia really proofs the complexity of this process: "I used a combination of animation, green screen acting and diverse film techniques. The environment consists of a collage of moving images and digital manipulation. The same applies to the sound score: the foley and sound design were also created digitally and broken up with images of dialogue, just like in silent movies." Boris added: "It was important for the film to remove the digital feeling and add some roughness by applying multiple filters and textures." 

Gerontophobia is a retro Sci-Fi movie which shows an illusion of eternal youth. A gloomy, apocalyptic, yet beautiful short film pointing out a major issue in nowadays society: "Whilst being young stands for perfection, vitality and unlimited possibilities, being old stands for decay. The fear of aging only reveals itself when you compare yourself to others. The inner self will always feel young!" The movie is set during an alternate period of Interbellum, a perfect stage for the story to unfold in. This period is fueled by enormously positive ideas and grandiose architecture. For the film Boris mainly used Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D for composing and creation and Adobe Premiere Pro for the editing. 

Creativity is a back and forth movement of being able to change elements of your image in realtime: "For our production there could not have been anything better than RebusFarm offering an online system for rendering. It allowed me to work with freelancers abroad without having a central workspace, create complex scenes and render them very fast. Before the use of RebusFarm we tried hooking up computers and use team-rendering in Cinema 4D but for such a long render it wasn´t flawless. The bottleneck, as we soon found out, became the rendering and RebusFarm took that bottleneck away."

We also asked Boris to give an advice to someone wanting to start a career in digital art and he replied: "Every film project takes a long time to develop, so at best you want those years to be worth it. Find something that makes you want to keep going. I personally could say that I approach every film as if it was my first and at the same time I approach it as if it was my last. It allows me to stay true to myself and still be surprised by my own creations. At the same time I keep in mind the caducity of it all, because you can never be sure if you might be able to make a next movie."

Many thanks to Boris for this eye-opening movie and interview!

We support MOAS with 500 post-rescue-sets

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016 by Nadine Obst

RebusFarm decided to support MOAS - Migrant Offshore Aid Station with donating 500 post-rescue-sets.

MOAS launched its third Central Mediterranean mission on the 8th of June 2016 with a fleet of two search and rescue vessels, four rescue launches and two humanitarian drones. The operation includes access to two on-board clinics, a professional and experienced search and rescue crew, including rescue swimmers and a team of medics. 

In its first two weeks of this operation the Migrant Offshore Aid Station rescued over 2,000 men, women and children in distress at sea bringing the total number of people saved and assisted to over 16,000. Once on board all beneficiaries receive post rescue assistance, medical treatment and supplies like dry clothes, rations and water. 

RebusFarm has donated 500 post-rescue-packs including food, water, dry clothes and a blanket to MOAS´mission in the Central Mediterranean. 

MOAS´Matthias Dentler says: "MOAS is a 100% privately funded charity and relies on the support of private donations like this one to keep operations afloat. This latest donation from RebusFarm helps enormously and their ongoing support gives the team motivation. We thank them for their contribution and hope it inspires others to act."

MOAS Twitter Page

MOAS YouTube Channel

MH Tutorials Interview

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 by Nadine Obst

We´d like to introduce to you Mike Hermes, creator of the very useful YouTube channel and blog MHTutorials. Whether you are looking for videos on 3D modeling, rigging, lighting, or texturing and animation, you´ll find here. Mike took the time and gave us a interview on his passion of making videos. 

Hi Mike, thanks for taking the time. So, let´s go way back. Where were you born and raised? What was young Mike like? Where are you now? What sparked your interest in digital art and what inspired you?

Well, we will have to go back more than fifty years. I was born in Holland but at the very early age of two years my parents decided to pick things up and move our entire family to Canada. Being so young I had no recollection of Holland and in my mind I was Canadian. I didn´t speak Dutch either and had no idea what a "Holland" was. In the late 60´s and 70´s I would watch "The Roadrunner" on TV, "The Jetsons", "The Flintstones" and of course "Sylvester and Tweety". So it is fair to say that my love for animation started at an early age.

I have always been a bit of a dreamer and due to my parents moving house over 18 times before I reached the age of 18 you could say that I didn´t have a lot of friends. So I would spend my youth sitting in my room drawing on a piece of paper. Anything from spaceships (child of the 60´s) to vehicles or buildings. For some reason I was never into drawing characters but always trying to figure out how things were built mechanically.

In my early 20´s (now living in Holland again) computers started to become popular and I jumped in with a vengeance. Now keep in mind that this was in the early 80´s so the capabilities of hardware and software were limited. I decided to choose a different route and did not end up in modeling or animation at first. I got trained in mechanical engineering and computers and ended up spending most of my adult life in the procurement and logistics in the IT industry. 

But during all these years I have always kept my love for drawing. Now what really triggered me to get into the digital side of things was John Lasseter. Now for those of you who don´t know who he is (I can´t imagine), he´s the driving force behind what is now known as Disney´s Pixar. In an era where animation was done traditionally he decided to start using computers. A bold decision that hurt his career more than once. He has always been my great example and he is the reason why I got into digital modeling and animation in the first place. For me he is the real deal and a true pioneer. 

For me a computer is nothing else but a new brush or pencil and as computers and software became more powerful, more opportunities started to pop up to do cooler and better things. 

What are some of the projects you have worked on?

As I make the majority of my money as a business consultant I am free to work on whatever modeling or animation project I feel like (no financial pressure) and this has led to some interesting projects. 

As few examples: 

  • I have modeled for commercials
  • I have created models and scenes for kids TV shows 
  • I have created models for manufacturers of miniature toys
  • I have created models used for medical purposes
  • And obviously I create tutorials, my main passion! 

What tools do you use? Any preferred software?

Yes, I have a preference for Autodesk Maya but I also use ZBrush, Photoshop, Keyshot, Blender, Marmoset, 3DCoat etc. etc. 

How did all start making tutorials?

Well, I found that there are a lot of young (and not so young like me) people out there that would love to learn how to model or animate in 3D but simply do not have the opportunity to do so. They either can not afford college or private tuition or they simply live in a country where training is not available. Now Autodesk Maya can be downloaded for free as a student version so if you have a PC and an internet connection you are ready to go. That is why I decided to invest the majority of my time into free modeling and animation tutorials. My videos are free and they always will be! I love it when someone starts to follow my videos and a year later I receive an e-mail that they landed their first job at a studio. When things like that happen I smile all day long. 

What´s special on your website/channel? We really like the section "Tutorial requests". Can you tell us more about that?

It is hard for me to compare my channel with that of others but I always try to bring things back to basic. Once you understand the method you can start to create anything you want. I cover a wide variety of topics from modeling to FX and from animation to lighting and rendering. And as for the tutorial requests: Well, that is the coolest part of all! Interaction with my viewers and subscribers. I help them where I can, however I can. Seeing their skills grow is my reward. So for me it is not just about putting videos out there. 

Is there something you are currently working on or are exited about starting?

Well, yes there is. In the last few months I received several e-mails from high school teachers asking me whether they can use my videos in their classroom. They are now even putting videos requests. And again, helping others to grow their skillset is what I love. 

What would be your main advice to someone who wants to start a career in digital art?

That´s a tough one...The first question you should ask yourself is "Why? Why do I want to do this?" If you want to go out and make a living doing this it is very hard. Not everybody will be hired by Pixar or Dreamworks. There is a lot of financial uncertainty and you never know where your next paycheck will come from. My first advice would be diversity. Create 3D logo´s for small companies, do modeling for websites and so on. Anything that will help you to develop your skills and bring in a paycheck. And my second advice would be "Get out there". Nobody will hire you if they don´t know you. Use any method you can think of to promote your work. If people can´t find you they won´t hire you. 

Anything else you´d like to say or add?

To all you aspiring artists out there, never give up and ask yourself every day "What can I do better?" I know for a fact that I am far from being the best modeler or animator out there. But that is not the point. The point is whether there are people out there that are interested in what you are doing. Every artist will doubt his or her skills or ability but that is normal. That will be the fuel to drive your progress.


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Cogswell College Logo Challenge

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016 by Nadine Obst

You might ask yourself what this title is all about. Well, it´s been a while now since we kind of secretly started this little project with a group of students from the Cogswell College course "MediaWorks". The Digital Media School is based in the heart of Silicon Valley in California. "Media Works" is a collaborative program that brings together students from the Audio and 3D Departments. The aim of the project is typically to create a short audiovisual piece for a partner organization. Students are asked to produce animated logo short movies or sequences that include sound design, original music and animation. They must work through the entire production process, complete with real-life client meetings, creative briefing, concept generation, participation in the approval process, project and time management, deadlines and full-scale production individually, in teams and cross-teams.

Together with Anthony Dias and Julius Dobos, the co-directors of Cogswell "MediaWorks" we challenged the students to create a short animated movie sequence of our RebusFarm logo. While Anthony focused on leading the visual students, Julius directed the Audio students. Together, they helped them discover the needs of the client and develop original concepts that were submitted to the client for feedback, refinement, execution and delivery. The whole production was sponsored by RebusFarm and Maggie Kitel, our Marketing Manager, who also had the chance to visit the students personally during her educational stay in the US. 

Anthony Dias will give you a short overview about the student module and their storyboards: "At the beginning of the project, we wanted to get ideas out very quickly. The entire team of about 16 people separated into smaller teams of two to three consisting of at least one audio and one visual team member. Each sub-team then came up with one or two ideas and then presented them to the rest of the group. We then voted and by process of elimination came up with four concepts that everyone really liked. The teams then separated into new groups consisting of the main concept writers and a dedicated artist for that team to be in charge of the storyboard. The four concepts received written audio direction and storyboards in color created before the week´s end. They were then sent over to RebusFarm to review." Julius Dobos adds: "On the Audio side, to create a healthy competition and real-life scenario, students worked individually, each trying to gather as much information as possible, to win the client´s approval. They had to start from a blank canvas, and create original sound design and music from scratch. Their most challenging task was the synthesis of lightning striking, which everyone accomplished in a different way."


The Project Management

We also took the chance to talk to some of the students about their experiences during the project. Jimmy Henry Frando, Project Manager, was one of them: "One of the biggest highlights for me was being able to use and integrate your rendering service into our pipeline. Not only did it help us increase the speed and efficiency of our project, but it allowed me to really understand the power and service that your company provides." Jimmy also told us about some challenges he had to face: "One of the challenges I faced during this project was working with the  Paint Effects Tool in Maya. Once you get the object, in this case a lightning bolt, in the 3D scene using this tool, you can tweak an enormous amount of settings for it. It was extremely overwhelming at first and it took me a while to really understand how certain attributes changed it." He also mentioned that he absolutely did benefit from the whole set-up: "As RebusFarm is located in Germany it was really quite unique working with a company outside the United States. This experience was completely different from my class projects where I usually work alone and the range of skills developed are small. In comparison, working with RebusFarm gave me an opportunity to collaborate in a team and allowed me to develop a larger spectrum of proficiency."

Charlene Teets, Jr. Project Manager, described her role as follows: "I was the Assistant Project Manager and my role was to ensure that communication within and between the audio team and the visual team was clear, consistent and acknowledged. I also worked on any art aspect that needed to be completed or helped with. I personally got to work hands-on with the technical director with the creation of the particles forming and I learned a lot about dynamics. This project also required a large amount of rendering and I learned a lot about that aspect as well." Charlene was actually managing the organization if the whole team and faced quite a few challenges; "Any time something was going wrong I would need to help to find answers. Since this was my first project management role I was working on better ways to communicate what the team had to do and in what time span. One of the challenges we faced was learning how to render efficiently by messing with settings and render layers." She told us that the best moment was when they saw the last render altogether with music. "The audio just made it come to life! It made me feel like we did a good job." Media Works is a completely different experience when compared to the average class offered at Cogswell College. The studio gives the students a real world experience with how to complete a real project with a real client. 

Sound Design and Music

Mitchell Lincoln was the student responsible for the chosen sound design and music and aimed to build a completely futuristic sound. "The main challenges I had were trying to emphasize the weight in parts of the objects on screen, along with digitally designing the sound of thunder. My favorite part was recording myself throwing a metal trash can to use as a sample for the lightning. It was a great experience to be able to sit down with Maggie Kitel from RebusFarm and go over the early concepts. My intent with the sound design was to create a unique environment that properly represented what you see on screen. Given that it´s more of a science fiction related idea, it took a lot of thinking to fully put together the audio for the final piece." The audio students were assigned to against eachother, each one aiming to create the perfect sound effects and music for the animated logo for RebusFarm. "For me, since I had been a member on the Media Works team for six prior projects, the biggest difference was the competitive nature along with the aspect of it being a solo project. Each member created their own version and we aimed to keep complete secrecy of our ideas until the final presentation day." 

Nicolas Hall, another shining sound designer-composer found out about the importance of soft-skills: "Working on RebusFarms project was a truly gratifying experience. During my time with the project I´ve learned things about myself and others that I never would have got from anywhere else. This project opened my eyes to the fact that the human element is just as important if not more important than the professional work itself."


David Forbes Feldstein was the Art Lead for this project. "My role was to guide the team to match the aesthetics of the concept. One of my biggest learning experiences was overcoming the technical challenges we faced during production. Most of the members from the visual team were inexperienced with 3D dynamics, which was a very important aspect of this project of course. We turned to Peter Mo, our technical director, to learn all about it and help us through to the end." David also experienced that having the correct settings when it comes to rendering is very important: "During the final stages of production, we started to do final renders through RebusFarm´s render service and once we initialized rendering we hit a problem. We didn´t have enough credit and went over 1200 negative RenderPoints. We were shocked, but were told that this is totally normal and RebusFarm helped us out to perfect our settings." David actually created the concept that was finally chosen by us. "Since I created the concept that was chosen, I had a particular sound in mind that was appropriate for a digital environment. We had plenty of audio students who went above what I imagined and my favorite piece was in fact the one that was chosen in the end." 

We´re happy to show you the final result created by this ambitious group of students. Thanks to all of you for your effort and hard work you put into finalizing this project.

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