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Old 10-12-2012, 10:29 AM   #1
iLEZ
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Starting up an in-house 3d department...

Hey CGtalk.
Extremely long time no see. When I lurked this place the last time, I was in school studying game development. This was almost 10 years ago. Now I'm a graphic designer, working mainly in InDesign and Photoshop, for a Swedish company. The thing is that I've been doing this job for five years now, and I love it, but I just can't let 3d go. I'm convinced that this is possible. I want to start an in-house 3d department at the company where I work.

I haven't touched 3dsmax in many many years, before I went to school. We used Maya there, and for low-poly stuff. No rendering, just game engine stuff. Now, I have convinced my boss' boss to purchase 3dsmax 2013(!) for our in-house department, and he wants to see what I'm capable of, so in my spare time I've started making some models and rendering them in Mental Ray as best as I remember. It feels like riding a bike for the first time in years to be honest, I hardly notice that I've been away.



This LED-worklight is one of my first models that I've shown my colleagues.


Now to the questions:

How do I go about with this whole thing so that it doesn't tank before it's airborne? There are suits to be convinced, much learning to be done and probably some conflicts with ancient traditions and practices.

How did you manage to start a 3d-department from scratch?

What were your good arguments to convince the suits?

What was the biggest difficulty?

Can you show me some good examples of photo realistic 3d rendered product images like mine. I'm collecting ammunition for those old dinosaurs who'll inevitably claim that they can spot the difference.

I've been setting up meetings with a 3d department at another company where I know people. What more can I do? Am I missing anything? It's probably easy to figure out what company I work for if you dox me, but I figure that this is not really classified company info if we talk about it openly with other companies already.

Last edited by iLEZ : 10-12-2012 at 10:32 AM.
 
Old 10-12-2012, 11:22 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iLEZ
Can you show me some good examples of photo realistic 3d rendered product images like mine. I'm collecting ammunition for those old dinosaurs who'll inevitably claim that they can spot the difference.


The Moment Of Inspiration Gallery has a lot of nice examples of photoreal product renders:

http://moi3d.com/gallery/

If you are after photorealism, and you're doing images rather than animation, it would be wise, imho, to invest in a physical rendering engine like Vray, Octane or Maxwell Render.
 
Old 10-12-2012, 11:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DePaint
The Moment Of Inspiration Gallery has a lot of nice examples of photoreal product renders:
I love MoI but I have to politely disagree with this

We're always being asked to create 'photo-real' renders, and while I don't purport to have ever actually achieved this, our work seems to strike a happy middle ground between reality and the slightly false uber-reality that is popular in the commercial market.










http://mdi-digital.com/pages/category/products

We're a dedicated studio however so I can't really offer any advice on the other points. One thing I would say is that if you're willing to show your employers work of a standard beyond your own capabilities, make sure you are 100% honest that this isn't something you can currently achieve, but will need to work toward.
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ
... our work seems to strike a happy middle ground between reality and the slightly false uber-reality that is popular in the commercial market.

... make sure you are 100% honest that this isn't something you can currently achieve, but will need to work toward.


Good points, both! Thanks!
 
Old 10-12-2012, 12:44 PM   #5
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MR is the worst choice you can make. Vray, and ideally, also a fast previewer like Vray RT. Though it still isn't too fast or capable...
 
Old 10-12-2012, 01:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mister3d
MR is the worst choice you can make.


Really? I know that IKEA uses MR for their rendering of both product images and scenery. It can't be that bad, can it?
 
Old 10-12-2012, 01:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iLEZ
Really? I know that IKEA uses MR for their rendering of both product images and scenery. It can't be that bad, can it?

For Viz Vray is the king. and for the rest of tasks a small team can have. I regret I didn't listen to a guy who said use Vray instead of MR. Just try rendering displacement with GI and DOF in MR and you will see.
 
Old 10-12-2012, 01:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iLEZ
Really? I know that IKEA uses MR for their rendering of both product images and scenery. It can't be that bad, can it?
http://chaosgroup.com/en/2/vray.html - have a look at the 'studios using v-ray' on the left hand side
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ
http://chaosgroup.com/en/2/vray.html - have a look at the 'studios using v-ray' on the left hand side


I've worked at ICOM though, have friends in the 3d department. I thought I was pretty sure, but now you've got me doubting. Perhaps they have switched? I need to check. =)
 
Old 10-12-2012, 01:51 PM   #10
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In all honesty, it doesn't matter if they use it or not (but they do), V-Ray is genuinely faster/better for visualisation work than Mental Ray with 3ds Max. Of course you'll still need to learn how to use it and it won't magically improve your renders so if you're familiar with MR it might be more economical to stick with that for now.
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ
We're always being asked to create 'photo-real' renders, and while I don't purport to have ever actually achieved this, our work seems to strike a happy middle ground between reality and the slightly false uber-reality that is popular in the commercial market.


Those are nice stylized CG renders, AJ. Good modeling. Nice eye candy. Pleasing colours. But they are only about 70% photoreal in my opinion.

If these images are used for marketing products, then, well, you are kind of cheating the consumer because the real product won't look like that in daily use in the real world at all (the only exception might be placing the products in a very carefully set up lighting-setup in a photography studio and doing some post work on the camera images)

Have you guys ever tried doing those renders with Maxwell? As far as I know, Maxwell does the most convincing photorealism of all render engines straight out of the box, although people always complain of course that it is kind of slow compared to Vray and others.
 
Old 10-12-2012, 02:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ
.. it won't magically improve your renders ...


Truer words have never been spoken!
 
Old 10-12-2012, 02:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DePaint
Those are nice stylized CG renders, AJ. Good modeling. Nice eye candy. Pleasing colours. But they are only about 70% photoreal in my opinion.
Hence why I said this :
"I don't purport to have ever actually achieved this, our work seems to strike a happy middle ground between reality and the slightly false uber-reality that is popular in the commercial market."

Quote:
If these images are used for marketing products, then, well, you are kind of cheating the consumer because the real product won't look like that in daily use in the real world at all (the only exception might be placing the products in a very carefully set up lighting-setup in a photography studio and doing some post work on the camera images)
I think we're getting confused between photo-real in the sense of 'looks like reality, warts and all' and photo-real in the sense of 'shot in a studio under controlled lighting' - the majority of commercial work falls into the latter camp. You'd be hard pushed to find high end product photography that hasn't been manipulated within an inch of it's life
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ
I think we're getting confused between photo-real in the sense of 'looks like reality, warts and all' and photo-real in the sense of 'shot in a studio under controlled lighting'


To me, photoreal means "as close to reality as possible". Yes, preferably imperfect, with warts and all, and some grain and some grit.

I don't mind stylized CG in a narrative context (Pixar kids movies et cetera).

But I don't like CG renders of products that are, basically, "computer-generated, art-directed fantasies".

Especially with expensive products like cars, for example.

I want to see the car as it really looks in real reality, under ordinary light, not some arty, farty, heavily manipulated fantasy.

In the same vein, I like to see famous people like actors depicted in a natural way, with no heavy makeup or major Photoshopping and skintone smoothing.

I guess I like "Reality", warts and all.

This is not a criticism of your renders. I just personally prefer hardcore "photorealism" in renders where possible.
 
Old 10-12-2012, 02:35 PM   #15
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I totally get what you're saying but unfortunately in the commercial world this hasn't been the case since advertising (and film) began.

I could spend time adding fingerprints and scratches to a render of new phone which would make it much more convincing but I don't think the client would be best pleased
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