Saturday, October 31, 2009


What is Smart 3D?

-Smart 3D describes the multiple advantages that a 3D render offers when used as virtual photography, over against the two traditional means used in actual photography, namely that of Stock Photography, and doing a custom photo shoot with a staff Photographer.

-Every advertising agency is using both the above photography solutions in their production for many decades, yet virtual photography has so many advantages, once the industry is properly educated to them they will shift over and use as much virtual photography as possible because the cost and time factors cannot be matched.

-What are these advantages to using a virtual photograph[ 3D Render] over a real Photo, you may ask. Well there are many as follows:

-First up is they are rendered with an alpha channel so cutting them off the background is instant, vs. the hand masking that for larger images takes many hours for each mask. This cost savings is not readily connected to the 3D asset, but any finisher or retoucher that has used the SMART 3D image knows full well they can spend more time on the art, and every producer sees less money being spent by high dollar artists doing masks.

-Second, besides a general alpha channel to cut out the 3D object, you can ask for a channel mask for as many objects or surfaces as needed. In the above example the retoucher asked for the glass, paint, and chrome to have a channel mask made, and that along with the other channels provided, this cut the retouchting time to 25% of a normal photographed car. Saving 75% on retouching in this economy is a make or break situation for many companies trying to cut costs.

-Third as explained in a prior post the Z-Depth channel, gives dimensional pixel information for artistic staging and effects applied to the "virtual Photograph".

-Fourth, when using stock photos there is usually some kind of schedule to buy out the image or paying for each use, that with a custom built SMART 3D asset, is eliminated as you own the image outright.

-Fifth, the SMART 3D asset is saved out as a live stage. Image a photo shoot that is never taken down or the lights moved forever. This in essence is what you get with a virtual photo shoot. You can go back and produce more masks in the exact position as the original image has.

-And Finally, the render itself can be output with components of a single render output on separate layers like the shadows and reflections. High dollar artists spend hours "painting" out a shadow or reflection from a photograph to make it right for the job at hand, but with a SMART 3D asset , you merely delete the shadow layer or erase the section without changing the image below.

-3D Illustration is always thought of for a big shiny metal 3D extruded logo like I did for X-MEN, but for a generic shot of a chair, photography is the fall back position, and 3D does not usually come to mind for a "mundane" task. But, if you want to save time and money in your production by everyone who uses the image once the 3D Designer has handed off the work and is done, use a SMART 3D image. The savings of time and money stay with that image each time it is used.

Cheers, THOM

Friday, October 30, 2009

Common Misconceptions about 3D

Common Misconceptions about 3D

1. 3D is a tool to draw in perspective.
FALSE-This is a very common misunderstanding that 3D is akin to drawing in perspective which is an illusion of 3D done on a flat surface to simulate space. In 3D we build using three dimensional geometric objects in a 3D workspace like Cones, Boxes, Spheres, and Cylinders. We can look at the scene from any angle or perspective or simply a top view with no perspective whatsoever. Think of 3D like this: it is not drawing, but building. If you look at the above image I used a curvilinear perspective technique perfected by M.C. Escher to give the illustion of a wrapping perspective 360.

2. 3D requires those funny glasses.
FALSE- 3D stereoscopic is a film and print technique that allows the viewer to view a stereoscopic image from two angles simultaneously so that your eyes together produces a combined vision that it has depth to it. Though 3D geometric objects work great in a 3D Stereoscopic view since they already are truly 3D, they are used primarily in standard imagery, and most of what is seen as stereoscopic is converted film footage.

3. 3D is always the most expensive solution.
FALSE- 3D should not be considered “the be all, end all” tool to use. Some things in 3D are very expensive and if 3D is the only tool used then yes 3D can get expensive. 3D is merely a tool that has the ability to produce certain results very quickly which would be near impossible in any other medium, and when used properly can be more economical in the long run.

4. 3D takes a very long time.
FALSE- 3D can be very quick to set up and with my existing library of pre built models , I visit the “Virtual Home Depot” and put together a scene with existing parts in a rapid fashion.

Cheers, THOM

Studio UPDATE!

The Home studio grew today and yesterday with the arrival of the two DELL Precision workstations for the mini Renderfarm set up. They are both Dual Quad Core with 8GB RAM each so I now will have 24 Processors of 3D computing power. I also received my HD monitors and Drobo with Droboshare today for my shared storage solution. I will have 2.5TB's of redundantly backed up storage shared across the mini network!

The full network rendering set up will be active in short order, but 3D Conceptual Designer is OPEN for business! Many thanks go out to many people, you know who you are!

Cheers, THOM

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to use a Z-Depth Channel from a 3D Image

Daily Planet 3D Render Color Pass

Daily Planet 3D Render Z-Depth [ Distance based] Pass Original

Daily Planet 3D Render Z-Depth [ Distance based] Pass Leveled A

 Night at the Museum Color Pass Key Art for One Sheet

  Night at the Museum Color Pass Key Art for One Sheet

 Z-Depth Render Pass
Distance based masking

In the world of 3D, X,Y and Z represent the three dimensions. Z_Depth is the third dimension that is represented as a distance going into a 3D image or 3D Animation from your camera viewpoint. X and Y represent what every 2D Designer uses on a daily basis in any Vector or Bitmap program of Height and Width, and with 3D, Depth is added via a Z_Depth going into the Depth of an image.
One great advantage to a 3D Illustration is that the Z_Depth is a pixel for pixel representation of where the object falls in the scene based on 256 levels of a gray scale. So staging your image based on distance, like adding fog only in the background can be achieved in 1/10th the time.
Another advantage to the Z_Depth image, is that you can adjust the levels in Photoshop and virtually move the distance plane through a scene and get even more custom depth selections. The finished still for One Sheet comps was built for Superman Returns in 2005.
Just one more advantage to a SMART 3D image.

Cheers, THOM

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Single Point Bevel

By far one of the most beautiful 3D treatments to take a font to is that of a Single Point Bevel[SPB]. This is where the Characters are beveled to a single point that falls in the middle of the letters width rather than leaving a large flat surface on the top or "face'. It is extruded in thickness like a simple bevel but requires hand modeling for each letter to achieve the look of hand tooled metal. The tiny ends of the serif can be fine tuned as well. Also the profile on the large bevel has many options in that it can be simple and remain flat, or it can have some added surface movement with concave or convex bevels to help paint the light reflections better on the sides of each letter.

Also if time allows build the letters in Quad Sub-D's so they can be increased in resolution for a variety of projects. My first SPB was the title for TROY, and each letter took well over an hour to model. I have a techniques down now where I was able to do the entire Trajen font, letters, numbers, and punctuation, in 6 hours, and they are build Sub-d so they go from very low resolution to high resolution quickly.

Cheers, THOM


The Etiquette of the Art Critique

1. Never Critique without asking the artist first for permission, it is not your right unless you are personally paying them yourself. [ i.e you are the client].
2. Always aim the critique at the art not the artist, don’t get personal.
3. Frame your criticism in a constructive manner as you have a better chance in the artist hearing your criticism which should be the goal.
4. Be clear, and frame your comments in artistic terms rather than emotional terms that require interpretation.[ i.e. lighter or darker, not magical!]
5. Always keep in mind the time frame the artwork was done in so you are not criticizing a one day project with the standards of a month long one.
6. When entering a critique late ask what has been said so far as to not duplicate what has already been said.
7. Always have the artist repeat back what you have suggested to ensure that it was communicated correctly.
8. If you are not a professionally trained artist your chances of committing “foot in mouth” are drastically higher so leave the critiquing to the artists if at all possible for best results.
9. Be aware a critique is not a free for all, since anyone can give a critique, but not just anyone can give an accurate and proper informed one.
10. Be willing to be challenged in your critique as most comments contain some level of subjectiveness, and with some crit's, that is all they contain.

Cheers, THOM

I know, I know, IF ONLY!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A view of the Studio

Everything is all set up and ready. I am getting two additional 8 processor PC's for a mini Render-farm within a week with about 3TB of server space.

Cheers, THOM

WIP: 1955 Porsche Speedster

Here is a personal work I am doing building a 1955 Porsche Speedster nut by nut. It is truly a labor of love, as this is my favorite car and I love alot of cars!

This particular model will be built entirely as a subdivision "quad" model for ultimate usability. I am also building all parts two sided front and back so the entire model can be disassembled .

Cheers, THOM

Monday, October 26, 2009

Vector Magic- a real timesaver!

Converting bitmaps to vector files is almost a daily need in the 3D world. Many clients build a design that needs to be constructed in 3D and start with a bitmap which will need to be converted to a vector path and conversion can be costly in time. Most software converters that I have used end up with too many artifacts. I highly recommended using this tool, and it is available online [ per month unlimited use]or as a desktop application download. Do check it out!

Cheers, THOM

paste in:

Home Studio set up is Going well

Good Day!
I am setting up my home studio getting all my ducks in a row for the main launch on Monday November 2nd in one week.

Just storing them here for link reference.  :o)