Monday, November 30, 2009

Behind the Art: Herbie Fully Loaded

Behind the Art: Herbie-Fully Loaded

I am often asked where do I start with an automotive virtual image so I have this brief outline of what I do to create an image of a virtual photo-real car.

Design Phase:

I am professionally trained to design a car from scratch, but most often, I build existing automobiles.

Unless the manufacturer hands you 3D data, you need buy or create the virtual model yourself, and having been trained in automotive design is what I use in this step. I also have owned over 40 cars and over 15 have been VW's so I have personally restored and wrenched on a lot of VW's which gave me a great advantage with a head start for Herbie.
This step involves both knowing every part of the car itself, inside and out, and knowing how it is constructed, and as a trained Transportation designer this is what I do best.

Build [3D Modeling] Phase:

Getting a 3D Model made involving a scan will run around $25,000.oo-$50,000.oo for just the exterior, and about the same for an interior. This does not include the engine, suspension or undercarriage usually, but an indication of them. I build from scratch to scale and "On Model" for around $8,000.oo and up.

I build part by part and start with an accurate measurement of the car and block out the wheelbase and overall bounding box so proportions will be accurate. I then move to all pieces needed for the work at hand. I always work bigger parts to smaller ones.

Materials Phase

As I have down time, I practiced with all materials needed to render out a typical car. Most are straight forward with glass and paint taking the longest to perfect. I have used Pre-made shaders, and find most are limited so I build my own. I have a library of automotive shaders ready to go for setting up a photo shoot quickly.

For the Mitsubishi pitch I helped win at The Cimarron Group for The Traffic Agency, I had weeks of time perfecting metalic paints that when I had just 4 Hours to create images for an end of day pitch, I was able to deliver for under $1000.oo. with an online 3D Model form

Virtual Photo shoot Phase

Setting up the virtual sound stage is a mirror of a real one. The techniques used are basically the same. A common misconception I have ran into is that clients sometimes think that you can buy a 3D model drop it into 3D program, hit render, and it is done. That would be like you going to Hertz renting a car driving on to a soundstage and taking a picture with your Casio for a photospread for a client. You would be fired! All automotive manufacturers use professional photographers for a reason, and virtual photography is it's best when you are consulting a professional photographer[ best thing I ever did RE: 3D cars!]

Rendering Phase

Once you have set it all up the computer calculates the lighting and materials on the geometry and renders out the image or movie sequence you have set up. Smart 3D allows for any image to be rendered out larger with exact contitions from the first, as if the photo shoot was perpetual.

Retouching Phase

Every car image you see in print is retouched. The art of retouching itself is a very specialized field and even vendor to vendor there are certain "techniques" that will be in all products from each manufacturer. As a virtual Image I give the Smart 3D channels and masks, so the time factor for retouching is always less expensive.

Cheers, THOM

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