Telling the Legendary Story of F1 Driver Ayrton Senna through 3D Artwork
Sixth annual Hum3D competition for the best Car render, one of the largest awards event for the car 3D modeling and visualization industry, showcased plenty of creative designs from 3D artists around the world.
Fox Renderfarm is grateful that we have a chance to interview Mr. Daniel Vesterbaek, who described a dramatic F1 story through his 3D artwork “Courage” which won the second place in the competition.
Courage by Daniel Vesterbaek
As the challenge judge Calvin Bacon said, “A single image can tell stories and this one says it all. A great act of kindness and selflessness showcased in a beautifully composed render.”
The piece tells a story about Ayrton Senna, a Brazilian racing driver, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time. Daniel did a lot of research about the career of the legendary F1 driver and when he learned about the accident that lots of people might remember Senna for, he knew straight away that he had to make a scene illustrating it.
On the challenging 1992 Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the French F1 driver Erik Comas crashed heavily during a practice session. Comas was knocked unconscious, still holding down the throttle. As the engine was roaring at high RPMs, while more and more oil and gasoline was leaking from the car, the situation could easily have resulted in an explosion. Ayrton Senna drove by and stopped as soon as he noticed the situation and ran to Comas' car to cut off the engine. Comas believed Senna saved his life that day.
The accident at 1992 Belgian Grand Prix
This story had a great impact on Daniel and he thought it showed what the life behind the helmet is like. How much of a connection the drivers have - teammates and opponents alike.
“The render is based on this event but is not totally true to it. In reality, the engine of Erik Comas’ car was not on fire - This is a detail I added to communicate, what the real danger of the event was,” Daniel said.
Let’s learn more about Daniel’s creation process through the interview between Daniel Vesterbaek and Fox Renderfarm.
Fox Renderfarm: Hi, Daniel! Could you give a brief introduction of yourself？
Daniel: I am a 22-year-old guy living in Denmark working at a motion design studio in Aarhus. I have always been fascinated by film and animation and during the last 7 years have been spending a lot of time doing 3D related artworks.
‘Ready for the Apocalypse’ by Daniel Vesterbaek
Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about winning the 2nd place in the Hum3D ‘Car Render Challenge‘?
Daniel: I felt very honored and happy when I saw the results. It's always awesome to get feedback from the people, who I am looking up to.
Fox Renderfarm: Could you tell us the making process of the cars, especially the broken on with scratches and fragments?
Daniel: For the cars, I did some very rough modeling at first and added details with booleans. I actually used this car mesh for both of the cars, but recolored it for the blue one. All the scratches and fragments were made in the shader. I also put a deform modifier on some of the objects to make them look like they were bent during the crash. The node network for the material of the blue car ended up being very complex with multiple layers of texture and painted masks for the holes in the body and all the scratches and dirt textures.
Fox Renderfarm: Could you introduce the camera angle and composition design a bit? Any ideas behind that?
Daniel: I wanted to create the feeling that people looking at the picture were on the track - in the action, so I put the camera pretty low. This was also the actual camera angle the crash was recorded in, in the real world.
Fox Renderfarm: And at the back of the broken car, we noticed the distortion because of the heat, could you tell us how did you make it?
Daniel: This was a compositing effect made inside the Blender compositor. In the file, I added an additional render layer, that had some simple planes with a color noise texture on them. At the areas with a lot of heat, I made the noise very strong and for the background, I added one big plane with a very low contrast noise. This way I could control in the 3D scene which areas would have more and less heat distortion. And because everything was set up on planes in the 3D scene, the depth would look correct as well. In the compositor, I used a displace node, that displaces the image based on a factor input. I input the noise render layer and got a very distorted look where the noise had a high contrast and a less distorted look for places with less contrasty noise. Additionally, I also made the noise render layer drive a blur node, which blurred out the areas with lots of heat.
Fox Renderfarm: How long did it take to finish the artwork?
Daniel: I worked on the render from day one of the competition and finished it around a week before the deadline. So about 2 months.
Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use to make the artwork?
Daniel: For the render, I did almost everything in Blender - Even compositing. I used photoshop right at the end to do a bit of retouching and make the final color adjustments. To simulate the clothes I used Marvelous Designer and to create the characters I used MakeHuman.
Fox Renderfarm: What’s the most unforgettable experience in the production process?
Daniel: There were a lot of roadblocks and also a lot of small successes in the process, so it is hard to pick out one. It was the first time I used Marvelous Designer and it was pretty easy to get into and the result was great. That was a pretty good experience.
Fox Renderfarm: Have you met any difficulties? How did you solve it?
Daniel: A lot! One of the biggest ones was when I realized the image was too messy. There was too much visual information fighting for attention. I tried to solve this by adding a lot of mist/fog in the scene to "gray out" the background, which is less important than the foreground. This proved to be quite effective.
Fox Renderfarm: How did you come up with entering into the CG industry?
Daniel: I always just did CG as a hobby, but one day I got contacted by a German company, who was starting to use Blender as their main 3D package. They wanted people who knew the software and hired me to be a part of their new team.
Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us about the education and career experience along your 3D journey?
Daniel: A lot of what I know came from a trial-and-error-approach. Apart from that, I learned a bunch of things from online learning platforms and video tutorials. At the two studios I have been working at, I have also learned a lot - Especially about pipelines, efficiency and about how to organize my files and time. I never went to a school specialized in 3D, but learned a lot from other people.
‘The Travel Companion’ by Daniel Vesterbaek
Fox Renderfarm: Who or what project inspires you the most in the industry?
Daniel: I am very inspired by the CG storytellers. I think the medium has so much to offer - Not just flashy VFX and big explosions - but a whole new way of telling stories, that could not be told with a physical video camera. Of course I am very inspired by Pixar like most other CG artists, but I am also a huge fan of the work that Unit Image in France is doing. The way they tell stories through their game trailers is amazing! Apart from that studio, I love Don'tNod, who is making video games with great storytelling as well.
Fox Renderfarm: What do you do to get inspired and motivated? And how do you improve your professional skills?
Daniel: Often times I try to take in all the inspiration I can from other people and artists. The more you see, the more ideas you get. However, I think the best inspiration is something from your own life - Something that is relevant to you in some way. I try to force myself to improve every single day by working on one of my own projects - at least a bit of time. Even though you won't make a masterpiece every single day, you will improve and one day you will end up with something you can be really proud of.
‘A Merry Little Christmas’ by Daniel Vesterbaek
Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you wanna share with CG enthusiasts?
Daniel: Hard work pays off. I know that it kind of cliché to say, but I have experienced that it is true. The road might be long and you will have to put a lot of hours into it, but even when it feels like you are getting nowhere, you are improving. That is what I am reminding myself, when I get stuck and can't find the motivation to keep working on a project.
‘The Arctic Explorer - Blender Animated short’ by Daniel Vesterbaek
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