A lively interview with Adriano Zanetti, CG Artist, about his successful collaboration with Chello Creative.
Making the WORLD Cinema Promo
cebas: Firstly, would you be kind enough to briefly introduce yourself to our audience
Well, here goes ... my name is Adriano Zanetti, I'm a self-taught, all-round 3D/Motion graphic artist. After a short period in the post-production world of french television, 12 years ago, I moved quickly to interactive design and motion graphics; although I was always trying to integrate 3D elements in my work back then, it was only in 2002 that I decided to fully dedicate myself to 3D design and animation. It was truly the answer to the creative freedom for which I was searching, still exploring and trying to develop day after day.
I didn't have an artisitic education or a technical one; I liked to observe and learn from other artists and spend those long extra hours after work to learn new tools and methods. Ever since I've had to move around from one studio to another, mostly in the Netherlands where I've really done a bit of everything; honestly, architectural viz, character design and animation, vfx, motion graphics, and so on ... until a couple of years ago, when I decided to start my own thing, www.craque.nl, a dream of mine has always been to own a production facility. As modest as my set up is, it provides me enough comfort and personal luxury to go back being a dreamer, exploring and creating on my own.
The ability to create things out of absolutely nothing but ideas, entire environments, worlds, characters and stories, always astonishes me, whether drawing, painting or sculpting. To be able to bring the work to life in such way as today's tools allow and fool people's eye, the way some of us do, totally blows my mind. For that matter, I really have to give credit to the geniuses behind the scene, who develop and place the creative tools into our sometimes clueless, wannabe Artist's hands ... so, "my compliments cebas," as many of your 3D tools have become indispensable to accomplishing the amazing things that we do.
cebas: I think it's safe to say that WORLD Cinema promo was a very important project for you and your firm. Can you tell us how you were involved in the production of the WORLD Cinema promo?
This project was important creatively. After 2 years overworking myself, doing mostly "commercial" work, which was not always the most rewarding on a creative level, I really wanted to take a little break and do something purely artistic. Chello Creative approached me with a rough concept to promote the WORLD Cinema Channel. We decided to collaborate, in order to to create something original and visually appealing.
cebas: Which shots in particular were you involved in?
I created all the shots. I often hire freelancer friends to work on challenging projects with tight deadlines as I have the ability to host several artists here in my studio but I really wanted to take this one into my own hands and conduct the flow from scratch, to the very end. Not only was it challenging for me but also a good test for my little production pipeline, recently fully upgraded to finalRender R3 SE.
cebas: What Cebas software did you use in the production of the WORLD Cinema promo and why?
I used finalRender R3 SE. In fact, I have always used finalRender when working for other studios in the past and since I have been working for myself. My preference has always been to use finalRender over other render engines, even over Max's default render engines.
cebas: How did you use our software to achieve the effects?
Well, It's not unknown, that finalRender can provide quite amazing results and in no time, when using Advanced refraction and reflection. finalRender R3 SE was an easy pick for me since this project was mostly about "fluid" work which had loads of refraction and reflections. I worked on my own with an 80 core renderfarm, rendering out several minutes of HD Ready animation. This can take time and I really could not afford to sit and wait. I required a rendering engine that could not only handle advanced refraction and reflection properly, but also deal efficiently with the massive amount of polygons, fluid geometries that can add significantly to rendering time. On top of that, the flexibility afforded by finalRender in outputting pretty much any kind of Render element passes, was very advantageous for the production. It simply gave me more control in compositing what I actually needed ... or even what anyone could possibly want?! I mean, you can literally dissect your scene into thousands of passes, if you feel like it, crazy! :)
cebas: What features in particular helped you achieve your goal and how?
As I said, finalRender is a production savior, with render elements flexibility! When you don't have time to re-light your scenes, or remap an object ... but you've been cautious enough to render out normal passes and complete passes for most objects, separately and together, well, there isn't much you cannot accomplish in Post with R3 SE, a lifesaver and a major creative convenience when compositing.
cebas: What was the most difficult aspect of this project and how did you solve it?
Rendering massive amounts of geometry is not as simple as it looks. The fluid geometry used quite a large amount of memory at render time, not so much of a big deal on my workstation, but for some render nodes, which did not have as much Ram as mine, it was really a relief to see finalRender crushing the tasks with sometimes only 2GB of Ram and using the default Scene MSP.
cebas: Can you give us a step-by-step breakdown of a typical shot?
Well, a thing that comes to mind in this little clip are the abstract shapes, which float around while emitting fluid particles and then land on wires to form the shape of an alphabet letter. A simple method, which I have used on previous logo animations, is to work backwards. Start with the end result in your 3D scene and take things apart progressively; then play it backwards at post, to see how things build-up. No secret recipe here, so far, it has worked out pretty well for me.
Looking at this process in greater detail: I created particle/cloth/dynamic simulation forwardly, along the timeline... and then utilized the renders during compositing and reversed the sequence to play it backwards. For this project, I used pointcached cloth simulated object as an emitter for my particles to achieve a really organic feel and motion to things. The particles would then be wrapped in a PWrapper/Blobmesh and made ready to render out. At some point, for specific shots, I even cached out the geometry itself.
The advantage of pointcaching the sims was that I was able to reverse and refine the timing and speed using the Custom graph. Consequently, this process allowed me to obtain much simpler Pflow systems with which to realize the desired effect, more so than if I had worked with a forward workflow scheme. I wanted to make it look like the fluid was appearing out of nowhere, driving and dragging the shapes toward their goals, in a very "target oriented" manner, as if the fluid was dragging the shape forward through the air toward the destination volume on the wires. Surely, there are plenty of ways to do that with Pflow and TP, however, this was such an easy backwards moving work-flow, that I didn't feel like exploring anything else.
cebas: How did cebas's software integrate into your production pipeline? Was this straightforward?
Yes, it was very simple and literally took over ... even scary to think that I couldn't work without it anymore :) finalRender is quick and has a stable GI solution for animation. I can throw an AO pass and more, on top, in the same render task. There isn't a single project that I have worked on in the past 2 years where finalRender did not help to ease and improve my production workfow. I am not saying we never had issues with it, however, the responsiveness of the cebas support system, without fail, pulled us out of trouble in time, even sometimes at the cost of Edwin Braun's time and patience;) ... which was most appreciated.
cebas: What was the most fun or rewarding part of this project for you?
The coloring part at compositing is gratifying... believe it or not, the animation was supposed to be in black and white at first... I just couldn't resist playing around with the colored refraction passes that I obtained from the render passes elements. From one thing to another, I threw several color palettes in there, mostly correcting colors on refraction and reflection element passes and on the AO pass of the environment. When you achieve clean and useful render passes, compositing is always the most rewarding part for me; things come to life with their best look. For me, the fun is all about polishing and tweaking; you gotta love it.
cebas: What projects can we expect from you in the future? (Assuming you're able to tell us that is).
Unfortunately, I am not able talk about my next project, as it was cancelled prematurely. Besides finalRender, I am looking forward to utilizing volumeBreaker and thinkingParticles in future projects.
cebas woudl like to thank Adriano for sharing his experience with us and our community. Every one is welcome to post his or her best work or samples on our webpage at www.cebas.com. Please join our Galleries and Portfolios to help us build a strong community.