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    How to Create a Hail Phoenix with Cinema 4D and ZBrush


    Fox Talk

    Art Competitions

    FGT3D Santa’s New Ride Challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in November, 2020 and sponsored by our amazing sponsors, including XP-Pen, Corona Renderer, Redshift, TopoGun, Friendly Shade, Graswald, Raysync,, Texturebox and iCube R&D Group. In early January, 2021, twelve finalists were received votes by our jury and three winners and three honorable mentions were picked! Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to everyone for participating!

    One of the Honorable Mentions goes to Santa's New Ride: A Phoenix Hope, created by our dear friend Kay John Yim. The artwork is made with Cinema 4D, ZBrush, Redshift and Character Creator.

    “I was immediately drawn to this image. This work took the idea of a "new ride" to a very different level. If Santa Claus, who brings wonderful joy to all children, wishes for a new ride, it might be a supernatural one like this. It looks as if it can go anywhere beyond the speed of light. The sense of the three-dimensional space, scale, lighting, and details of the image are excellent, and they all contribute to the happy feeling of the scene.” One of our judges, Miho Aoki said, who is the Associate Professor of Computer Art University of Alaska Fairbanks.

    Here’s the interview between John and Fox Renderfarm, in which we can find out how he created this wonderful 3D render.

    • Kay John Yim
    • Chartered Architect based in London
    • CGI Artist
    • From: Hong Kong

    Santa's New Ride: A Phoenix Hope © Kay John Yim

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about winning honorable mention in FGT3D Santa's New Ride Challenge?

    John: I feel really honored winning the honorable mention, and thank you so much for having me for the interview!

    Fox Renderfarm: What inspired you to create the work Santa's New Ride A Phoenix Hope?

    John: In light of a turbulent and disruptive year, I believed Santa’s New Ride for Christmas had to be symbolic for 2020’s Christmas, a motif bringing hope across the world. Phoenix, a legendary creature well-known worldwide was well-suited for that particular role. This led me to re-imagine the traditional Phoenix in a more festive and seasonal form - the Hail Phoenix - made up of both ice and fire, it was an embodiment of warmth and cold, a personification of sublimation and reincarnation.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did you take to finish the work?

    John: It took me about 3 weeks to finish - a week on the backdrop buildings, a week on sculpting the Phoenix, and another week on set-dressing and designing the final composition and lighting.

    Fox Renderfarm: Could you tell us how you make the modeling so appealing?

    John: I set out to do quite a large scale scene at the beginning, so I knew I would have to focus on assets/part of the assets visible to the final view/camera or else I would easily run out of time.

    Part of the background building components were procedurally modelled in Houdini, part of them were from an asset library that I built up in the past, assembled with Houdini’s Building Generator.

    The Phoenix model took a lot of trial and error - although it was sculpted in ZBrush in reference to body proportions of an eagle and a peacock, the wings and the tails were exaggerated in scale to make it look more heroic and surreal.

    Santa's New Ride WIP

    Fox Renderfarm: We’re all impressed by the lighting and composition of the work, could you introduce how you make them? Any references?

    John: Glad you like it! The scene was created in reference to Paris high streets and Christmas Markets - I personally loved the abundant festive lightings found in a lot of European Christmas markets, which I replicated and had them scattered around the scene.

    Composition wise it was actually a reference to my own personal artwork, “Thousand Cherry Trees (千本桜)” - a centered main subject surrounded with a symmetrical backdrop and foreground character(s). Coming from an architectural background, I personally love using central perspectives - although not often as realistic - I think they leave the deepest impression and are the easiest to design and iterate on.

    Thousand Cherry Trees © Kay John Yim

    Fox Renderfarm: The shading and texturing are brilliant. How did you make it?

    John: The shading and texturing were done in Cinema 4D (Redshift) and they were relatively simple.

    I used mostly Megascans materials for the buildings and the street props with a bit of color correction and material blending.

    The festive and window lights were subtly randomized emissive materials - I originally lit a lot of them as diffuse lights but had to swap them out for emissive materials instead due to excessive render times.

    As for the Phoenix, it took a lot of trial and error to arrive at the final look without exact real-world references. I originally planned to groom it as if it were an oversized eagle, but I figured that the grooming would take up too much time on top of the sculpt, and it would have covered up a lot of the background lights and buildings. This was the primary reason why I ultimately made it a translucent “living ice sculpture”, shaded with an ice material mixed in with a lot of roughness noise for reflection and refraction.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve it?

    John: The most difficult part was managing rendering time. Refractive materials like glass and ice were computationally expensive to render - caustics in particular could easily double or triple rendering times. With such a large refractive object in the scene (the Phoenix), my original estimated rendering time would be well over 2 weeks (for a 4K image) with caustics on! I had to turn off caustics and place in some fake spotlights with caustic textures as a “cheat” to speed up my rendering time at the end.

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering services?

    John: I have tried a lot of rendering services and I think Fox Renderfarm is one of the most helpful renderfarms; the file uploading speed is particularly impressive.

    Fox Renderfarm: What do you think of the FGT3D Challenge, any suggestions for us?

    John: I think the FGT3D Challenge is great, as the topics are really flexible and thus allow for artists’ own interpenetration.

    Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any advice for future participants in the competition?

    John: To render a good image, I think it is most important to train one’s artistic sense, attention to detail and proportions, which could be as simple as watching good movies.

    Technical-wise, there is really no defined path for learning since CG softwares is advancing so quickly these days. In general I believe it is essential to practice effectively and regularly. I try to spare as much time as I could everyday on personal CG projects, and when I am learning a new software myself, I would pick a photo or an object that I really like and try to fully replicate it as a 3D rendering.

    Making a Cartoon-style Heavy Metal Santa with ZBrush and Maya


    Fox Talk

    Art Competitions

    FGT3D Santa’s New Ride Challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in November, 2020 and sponsored by our amazing sponsors, including XP-Pen, Corona Renderer, Redshift, TopoGun, Friendly Shade, Graswald, Raysync,, Texturebox and iCube R&D Group. In early January, 2021, twelve finalists were received votes by our jury and three winners and three honorable mentions were picked! Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to everyone for participating!

    The second place winner is Vinicius Villela! Congratulations! His artwork, Heavy Metal Santa, stands out for its appealing design and modeling, which received appreciation from our jury.

    “This one has a brilliantly funny general concept. The character design and modelling is very well executed and appealing. Excellent composition and very nice overall shading and coloring. Very well done! I wonder what kind of presents he actually delivers.” One of our judges, Kariem Saleh said, who is an award winning film director and animator based in Berlin, Germany.

    Here’s the interview between Vinicius and Fox Renderfarm, in which we can find out how he created this wonderful 3D render.

    Heavy Metal Santa © Vinicius Villela

    • Vinicius Villela
    • Character Artist
    • From: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Vinicius, thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Vinicius: My name is Vinicius Villela, I have been a 3D Generalist since I was very young, I was fascinated by inventions and technology, the universe of games fascinated me as if it was something magical. Since I was a child I had an artistic impulse. I liked to draw, disassemble toys, create new ones. So when I was 14, I started to study computer graphics. where it was for me the opportunity to delve into an unlimited field of creation in terms of image, it was where I met several tools and possibilities, my curiosity was the main fuel when I first heard about it in 3D in the mid-2006 and that there were programs capable of creating and rendering three-dimensional images like the ones I used to see in the great cinema films at the time and like everyone born in the 90s, I was fascinated by the increasingly innovative effects and it couldn't be different to see those images left me even more motivated and ambitious with my studies to try to understand that science and since then it has been a long process of studies, research, trials and errors to improve myself more and more in this journey of learning that continues today.

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about winning second place in FGT3D Santa's New Ride?

    Vinicius: It was an immense pleasure to have participated and reached the second prize. I was very committed and confident that I could reach the finalists, this was my fuel to complete the project. I do hope to participate more and more in contests like this so that I continue to challenge myself and evolve as an artist and as a person improving my criteria and my concepts because we always learn from each other.

    Fox Renderfarm: What inspired you to create the work Heavy Metal Santa?

    Vinicius: For a long time I already wanted to produce some image with the Christmas theme over time as the years passed and I never stopped to enjoy the occasion. The contest was an extra reason for me to dedicate myself this time. What inspired me the most were animations by Sony Imageworks like it's raining hamburger, hotel transylvania

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did you take to finish the work? Did you face any difficulties?

    Vinicius: It took me about 1 month to complete the whole project. My biggest difficulty in the conceptual part was to find harmony and composition between the character and the environment in the technical part, it was the hardware limitation to render the final image. Testing site until I could be sure that I would be putting Fox Renderfarm on my last rendering set.

    Fox Renderfarm: The cartoon look of Santa is so great, could you tell us how you make the character design and modeling so appealing?

    Vinicius: As for the design, I wanted to attribute more rustic features to the personality and the traditional figure of Santa Claus, so I chose to work with the concept of a metalhead as something more radical and cool, breaking a stereotyped view that we have culturally about Noel.

    Fox Renderfarm: We’re all impressed by the materials of the work, which are so realistic, could you introduce how you make them?

    Vinicius: In the lookdev part I worked all the texture part in Substance painter using part of your Source library. As for the render engine I opted for Arnold, as I was more familiar with my professional work.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long have you been into the CG industry as a Character Artist? Could you tell us about your CG education and career experience?

    Vinicius: I have been a character artist since 2014 but I started my studies at a young age when I was 14 years old I was researching everything on the internet looking for breakdowns, articles or anything that could add to the understanding of this universe of computer graphics over time I was conquering some opportunities and being able to invest in my training with mentors attending online workshops in the vast majority and so I specialized.

    Fox Renderfarm: Have you ever used Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering services previously? If yes, how do you feel about it?

    Vinicius: I used it for the first time for the contest itself. I found the service very friendly for a new user, sure about the error checking procedures before starting the render.

    Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any advice for future participants in the competition?

    Vinicius: I think it is a tip even for me to think about the storytelling of the image before any other aspect over time. I realize more and more the value of the image's message, because it is she who will connect with the viewer, this was a great lesson for me in this contest and I would like to mention how Shiju NK was fantastic in his perception and managed to transmit with mastery in his concept.

    The Paramount Ride © Shiju NK

    Stay tuned for our upcoming interview with Mr. Shiju NK, our 1st place winner of FGT3D Santa’s New Ride!

    How To Create A Nostalgic Alfa Romeo Racing Car With 3ds Max


    Fox Talk

    Hum3D Contest

    Alfa Romeo is a company with a long history in the automobile and motorsport industry. As a huge car lover, Jason Raptopoulos, the 3rd place winner of Hum3D Car Render Challenge 2020, chose a rare model of Alfa Romeo that few will know of as his inspiration.

    Alfa Romeo G1

    A hidden treasure © Iasonas Raptopoulos

    Made with 3ds Max, Substance Painter, Marvelous Designer, Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, the project took Jason about one and a half months, which brings a feeling of warmth and nostalgia. Let’s find out how he made the beautiful 3D artwork in the exclusive interview with the best cloud rendering service provider, Fox Renderfarm.

    • Jason Raptopoulos (Iasonas Raptopoulos)
    • 3D artist / Generalist
    • Greece

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi, Jason, could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Jason: Hi! My name is Jason Raptopoulos, I am 34 years old, I live in Greece and, specifically, in Athens. I have been meddling with computers since a very young age and for some years now, with photography too. At the age of 27, I graduated from SAE Athens’ 3D animation course and I have been working as a 3D generalist ever since. I love my job and I enjoy discovering new techniques which, later on, I apply on my projects.

    Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 3rd place in the Car Render Challenge 2020, how do you feel about it?

    Jason: Thank you very much. In a word...excited! At first, when the results came out I could not believe it. Haha. Learning that my project, in which I invested a sizable amount of time creating, stood amongst the top 3 qualifiers was a huge satisfaction for me.

    Fox Renderfarm: What’s the idea behind your artwork 'A hidden treasure'?

    Jason: Prior to the beginning of the project’s creation I had plotted a story in my mind from which I did not want to deviate.

    My goal was whoever viewed my project to feel very emotional and nostalgic but without the need to include human presence. I wanted it implied. These were the thoughts behind the descriptive text that accompanied my project at hum3d.

    An Alfa Romeo G1 1921 model, stored in a barn where its owner used to take care of. For reasons unknown, though, he had to stop.

    Fox Renderfarm: The car render shows your great level of modeling and texturing. Any references and how did you make it?

    Jason: 3ds Max was utilized for the creation of about 90% of the project. This includes the modeling of the scene, the car, the props and all of the scene’s materials. An interesting fact is that the car has been designed entirely using photos found on the Internet. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I wasn't able to acquire any blueprints for the specific model.

    Also, Substance Painter was used for the basic "dusty" look of the car. But, in the end, the material was evolved through 3ds Max.

    Fox Renderfarm: This render has so many details with all the tools, the dust on the old racing car and the light falling in the old barn, which make it look very nostalgic. How did you make them?

    Jason: I started the creation of the project with an image, a first draft if you will, in my mind in which I had given greater emphasis to the front part of the car, where the light would shed, in a tighter frame. But, while proceeding with the project, that image shifted and I decided to open up the frame a little bit in order to show a further view of the barn and, also, more elements in the scene.. At first, I started with the basic geometries of the barn, the “camera’s” angle and a source of the light too. I used Clay mode in realtime rendering in order to decide where to locate the source of the light. So, by using lots of references, I designed each element, studied their “behavior” when they age and that is when I met a huge challenge. To recreate them in the best way possible. As I have already mentioned, the whole scene was created from scratch using 3ds Max and I also used Redshift as a rendering engine. Pflow was utilized for the dust in the air, the general scene’s lighting is managed by a HDRI dome map and there has been one more light used so as to emphasize the volumetric light on the car.

    Fox Renderfarm: Which part of this work are you most satisfied with and why?

    Jason: Mostly, with the car itself. But I don’t think that I could say that there is something in the whole project that I am not satisfied with. Maybe I could have spent some more time refining the resulting version of the ground. But as it is natural I was always more focused on the main subject of the project, the car, to which I spent the most time designing and detail-refining. The second most important aspect of my project is the lighting which was heavily altered from my original idea trying to manipulate and create this nostalgic atmosphere.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you encounter any difficulties when creating the artwork? And how did you solve it?

    Jason: Of course, as anyone does, but…I didn’t solve it! Haha. To be honest, my greatest encounter was the rendering time (during trials) and in order to overcome this I needed new equipment. lol. When someone gets the rendering results quicker, they can notice and improve their mistakes a lot faster.

    On a more technical note, I devoted a big part of my time to the designing and refinement of the ground. I met technical difficulties with Displacemaps and, ultimately, I am not so satisfied with the result.

    Also, as any designer would agree, one of the slowest aspects, from a creative point of view, of the process is the pre-designing stage, the research for the history of the model and the drafting of a working plan.

    But after the first steps have been taken, everything gets in a flow finally.

    Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us your educational and work experience along your CG journey?

    Jason: In 2013 I decided to enroll in SAE Athens’ 3D Animation course and since 2015 that I graduated I have been employed by or collaborated with various companies. For the last two and a half years I have been working in an animation studio in Greece (Kent-Films, as a 3D generalist with a specialty in lighting and shading.

    Pannacotta CGI © Iasonas Raptopoulos

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you enhance your professional skills?

    Jason: I keep trying to discover and experiment with new software and techniques all the time and my goal is to apply those on my projects (if each project’s special conditions and schedule allow it). Social media is the ideal tool to keep track of all the field’s news, learn about new software from companies and, if someone participates in groups or fora, there they will find an endless “library” of knowledge in addition to discussions and queries of colleagues.

    Alfa Romeo Giulia in Iceland © Iasonas Raptopoulos

    Fox Renderfarm: Anything else you would like to share with CG enthusiasts?

    Jason: Above all, in order to have highly creative results we must love what we do. We must always try to discover and meddle with new techniques and never rush to deliver a project. Details (even small ones) are what make a project stand out.

    Airbus A320neo © Iasonas Raptopoulos


    How To Create A Realistic Doomsday in 3ds Max


    CG Challenges


    Have you ever imagined what the world will be like if there are endless pandemics in the future?

    As the 2nd place winner of Evermotion Challenge 2020, Neil Cross, a 3D Artist from London, hopes to warn us about the future world challenges by his artwork “Final Stand”. As he mentioned, ”We need to accept these challenges and learn from our mistakes before it's too late.”

    Final Stand © Neil Cross

    Using 3ds Max, Corona Render, Quixel Megascans and Photoshop, Neil took 2 months to finish this powerful and thought-provoking artwork,

    In the interview with Fox Renderfarm, Neil introduced in detail how he created the award-winning artwork.

    • Neil Cross
    • CGI Artist
    • Senior 3D Artist at The Boundary Architectural Visualisation
    • London, United Kingdom

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Neil, thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Neil: Hi Fox Renderfarm. I just want to thank you guys for giving me this opportunity. I also want to thank you guys for the service you offer. Cloud rendering plays a huge role in our community.

    My name is Neil Cross. I'm originally from South Africa where I started my career as an Architectural Draughtsman working in the construction industry focussed on delivering projects around Africa.

    After a few years starting off as a draughtsman I found draughting wasn't for me and wanted to be more creative, so I started to get into 3D. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity for 3D artists in South Africa so at that moment I decided it was time to pack my bags and move to London. I knew this city was filled with talents and moving here would only help me progress as a 3D artist. I'm currently working full time as a senior 3D artist at The Boundary. I also spend a lot of my free time working on my personal images allowing me to express my creative side.

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about winning second place in Evermotion Challenge 2020?

    Neil: After seeing all the entries, I'm very proud to have made second place. To be honest, I was just hoping for a special mention, so to make the top 3 means a lot to me. I also have a lot of respect for Evermotion. Their articles have helped me grow my skills, so to come second in an Evermotion Challenge makes it more special.

    Fox Renderfarm: As this year’s theme was "My own 2020", what inspired you to create the work Final Stand?

    Neil: 2020 has been a tough year for most of us. There's a good chance future pandemics will happen more often where more people will get ill which will wreak even worse damages to the global economy than Covid-19.

    This challenge inspired me to share my vision towards the future because If there's no fundamental shift in how humans treat nature, these are the things (my render) we could face. I might be over exaggerating but I wanted to send a message.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did you take to finish the work?

    Neil: I spent around 30 mins to an hour a day which took around 2 months in total. I was aiming for 2 days but that didn't exactly work out! haha!

    Fox Renderfarm: We’re all impressed by the strong lighting and composition of the work, could you introduce how you set up the lighting and composition?

    Neil: Thank you! Unlike modeling and texturing, I find lighting and composition less forgiving. It can either make or break your image. I have little experience when it comes to photography so I generally keep things as simple as possible to avoid destroying an image!

    I'm using Corona Sky (fully desaturated) with no Sun. I've also placed a plane light at the window to help light the interior. In addition, I'm using volumetrics. Regarding the composition I wanted to go with something simple but powerful. Getting the light set up correctly and having my camera focus on the girl was key.

    Fox Renderfarm: There are so many details in the image, which make the scene more realistic and attractive, could you show us how you make them?

    Neil: I'm always referring back to reference images to help achieve realism. I generally add chamfers and imperfections to everything.

    The biggest stand out for me was the floor. There’s no better way achieving this than using Real Displacement Textures. They are by far my favorite textures. I also push my displacement settings to the limit. I tend to drop my displacement screen size (px) as low as possible for the best results.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any challenges, and how did you solve them?

    Neil: My biggest challenge was having patience. When I first started working on Final Stand I realised I was in it for the long run. I didn't want to spend hours on the image and come back the next day tired. I ended up cutting my time down to an hour a day which actually helped.

    Fox Renderfarm: You work as a CGI artist for more than 10 years, could you briefly share with us your work experience along your CG journey?

    Neil: I started my CGI career at a construction company where I initially started as an Architectural Draughtsman. The company entered numerous tenders to try to win new projects. During that period I started to get more involved with 3D to try to impress our clients.

    5 years later I decided to join my first studio. I knew I had made the right move knowing I'd be working alongside other artists. It was crazy how quick my skills improved.

    I wanted to take my career further so I decided to move to London. I first started my career in London with a well known architecture firm. Working alongside different architects was a good experience. During my time there I spent a lot of my time attending events such as 3ds London which helped me grow even further.

    After some time there I realised that I was best suited to work in a studio so a year later I joined The Boundary where I have grown to become a Senior 3D Artist. Whilst working for The Boundary, I've had the opportunity to go to both State of Art and D2 which were both amazing events to attend.

    Night Time © Neil Cross

    Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any suggestions for CG artists to improve their CG skills?

    Neil: Choose a niche you enjoy and master it! Whether you enjoy using ZBrush sculpting characters, 3ds Max visualising architecture, or unreal creating blueprints. Don't try to learn everything unless you are a complete genius.

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    Neil: Just enjoy what you do.

    If you like my Final Stand Image please follow me on ArtStation for future images.

    How to Use 3ds Max to Create A Photorealistic Car Render Giving Fairytale Mood



    Hum3D Contest

    Hum3D Car Render Challenge, an annual render challenge, announced the winner of 2020 recently. As the long term partner of Hum3D, Fox Renderfarm is pleased to witness that there are more and more excellent car render artworks emerging year by year. This time we are honored to interview Phil Derbyshire, the 2nd place winner of the challenge and also the special prize winner from our Fox Renderfarm team.

    The Mini Dream © Phil Derbyshire

    Phil’s award-winning artwork, The Mini Dream, shows a fantastic and microscopic world, made with 3ds Max, Redshift, Quixel Megascans, Forest Pack Pro, ZBrush, Substance Painter, Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. Phil described the artwork,”No matter how small you may be in the grand scheme of things, there is absolutely nothing that can stop you from dreaming big!”

    Let's find out how he made the amazing artwork through the exclusive interview with Fox Renderfarm.

    • Phil Derbyshire
    • 3D Artist at TekVisual, LLC
    • America

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Phil, thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Phil: Of course, I’m happy to be here! My name is Phil Derbyshire and I am a 3D Artist with a passion for environment design. I am currently working full-time for Tekvisual – An Architectural Visualization studio based in South Florida and I’ve been a full time 3D Artist since 2014 when I graduated with a Bachelor degree in Game Art & Design.

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about winning second place in the Car Render Challenge 2020?

    Phil: I feel ecstatic! To be honest, when I saw some of the amazing submissions to the competition, I was going to consider myself lucky if I was placed in the top 10. There were some fantastic pieces of art submitted and I’m grateful to have been placed up there with the best of the best.

    Fox Renderfarm: With the dreamy feeling, The Mini Dream also gets the Special prize from our Fox Renderfarm team, so what inspired you to make the artwork?

    Phil: When it came around to starting this project I had three things in mind. Firstly I knew that I wanted to tackle a macro miniature render again. The first time being a few years ago when I created a piece that I called “December 25th 1am: Christmas Morning”.

    December 25th 1am: Christmas Morning

    When I looked back on it now it’s hard not to see the flaws like the empty room reflection in the bulbs and other such missing details, but I could also still see some potential in the direction I went with it.

    Secondly David Attenborough’s “Empire of the Ants” documentary was still in the back of my mind, and I wanted to incorporate these little buggers into my render.

    The third and final part that was on my mind for the render was, of course, the car! Back when I used to live in the UK, a teacher of mine owned a classic Mini Cooper S much like this one. It’s such an iconic car that I wanted to bring to life in 3D with my own artistic spin.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did you take to finish the work?

    Phil: I spent every spare moment that I could working on this piece! Working from home this past year with no commuting has given me more time to focus on what I truly love. I began with writing down a rough time frame for each part of the project, which I worked on in the evenings and weekends, and stuck to that plan as best I could.

    Fox Renderfarm: We’re all impressed by the great modeling and texturing of the work, could you introduce how you create the car so realistic?

    Phil: Yes, absolutely! For the modeling, I tried to stick to my references to the best of my ability and attempted to model every detail that could be visible in the final render. For the texturing, I found images of miniatures and real cars decaying. I did my utmost to place the rust in obvious places where it would naturally form. For instance,at the bottom of the doors and at creases/edges and for this process, I utilized Substance Painter. I had a couple of starter rust materials in painter which I then modified to create the color and style that I wanted and went from there.

    Fox Renderfarm: The harmony of colors and lighting is also outstanding, could you tell us how you made the artwork look like a fairy tale?

    Phil: Sure! So, this part was a tricky one that took a lot of experimenting during the project, I heavily took advantage of Redshift’s PostFX to adjust the Bloom/Flare, Bokeh and color controls to achieve the desired look, and it took a lot of trial and error before I was satisfied with the results. I also did something new for me for this project which was to convert and output all of my textures in a ACEScg color space to take advantage of the wider color gamut that ACES provides. The dust particles I made using TyFlow in 3ds Max, I feel that it also helped give it that fairy tale look that I was going for. Lastly, I took the final render into Affinity Photo and made my final color corrections there. I was really happy with the final product.

    Fox Renderfarm: The details of the image are wonderful, not only the car, but the grass and ants surrounding, could you introduce how you made these details?

    Phil: Making the ants made me a little anxious at first, as I hadn’t touched ZBrush in a couple of years and that UI always takes a little re-learning when coming back from another DCC, but after a late Friday night of sculpting, the ant mesh was done. The next morning I exported a high poly and a low poly version and brought them into Substance Painter for baking and texturing. That Sunday, I brought them into 3ds Max for rigging and worked on the final SSS material to bring them to life in the way that I wanted.

    The tree’s and branches are Quixel Megascan assets, I re-textured them inside of Substance Painter to add more mossy details and then converted those textures over to ACEScg. The leaves, grass and moss are 2D atlases I cut out and made simple geometry for, I then used Forest Pack Pro plugin in 3ds max to scatter them on the rocks/branches and ground.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve it?

    Phil: The only difficulties I ran into while working on this project, were the scene crashing during rendering. It turned out that some of my computer specs were aging a bit and causing me some trouble as the project became very demanding. My i7-4790k and 32GB Memory from 6+ years ago were now showing their age. I re-sized textures, optimized the geometry, and converted a lot of the objects in the scene into proxies which allowed me to render the project without crashing.

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering services?

    Phil: Yes I’ve used Fox Renderfarm in the past for work before we put together a small render farm of our own for our architectural visualization animations. I remember it being easy to use and had the plugins that we needed. Next time I run into rendering issues due to my hardware or if I need it to be done faster, I’ll be uploading my scene to Fox Renderfarm.

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    Phil: Never stop learning new things and experiment whenever and wherever you can. You never know where your ideas and dreams can take you and what you can create by just playing around in 3D.

    Reborn © Phil Derbyshire

    Day 42 of Isolation © Phil Derbyshire

    Find more artworks of Phil at ArtStation:

    Tribute To Bravehearts In My Own 2020: Introducing 3D Artist, Reyaz Alankandy


    Fox Talk


    For everyone, 2020 was a tough year.

    In “My own 2020” Evermotion Challenge 2020, Reyaz Alankandy, the champion of the competition, shows his own 2020 by creating the artwork “Bravehearts”.

    Bravehearts © Reyaz Alankandy

    In this artwork, Reyaz portrays a railway station that used to overflow with bustling life, but during the pandemic, it emptied all except the sanitation workers busy in the task.

    Made with 3ds Max, Corona Renderer, Photoshop, the award-winning artwork shows a proud tribute to these brave warriors for their selfless hard work. As Reyaz said, while the world hid, some rose to fight back, to stand a chance against the virus.

    As a freelance 3D artist specialized in architectural and interior visualization, Reyaz created many excellent artworks, and he adores every challenge and new opportunity along his archviz journey. In the interview with Fox Renderfarm, the largest cloud rendering services provider in the CG industry, Reyaz talked about how he created the work and his career experience.

    • Reyaz Alankandy
    • Freelance 3D Artist
    • 3D Visualizer

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Reyaz, could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Reyaz: Hello. My name is Reyaz Alankandy. I’m a freelance 3D artist based in India. Previously, I’ve worked as a 3D Visualizer at an architectural firm in Dubai for 5+ years. Being an ardent fan of the ArchViz industry, I’m keen on any updates and trends and strive continuously to better my works. My interests include photography and traveling.

    Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning first place in Evermotion Challenge 2020, how do you feel about it?

    Reyaz: Absolutely happy and humbled to my core. It was a brilliant subject Evermotion put forth and honestly, I couldn't afford to miss it. The results stunned me to see it topped the competition. Probably the best start to my own 2021.

    Fox Renderfarm: As this year’s theme was ‘’My own 2020’’, what inspired you to create the work Bravehearts?

    Reyaz: I’d owe the credit to my lockdown and quarantine experience. As we know, 2020 restricted our lives in the most uncomfortable ways possible. Even then, our social workers strived to control and tame the chaos. It helped me shape the concept and channel the visual as a tribute to them and their sacrifices.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did you take to finish the work? Did you meet any challenges?

    Reyaz: Approximately ten days. I was freelancing alongside. I wanted to keep the visuals as authentic as possible. So I went down to the particular railway station a couple of times to pick up reference images of textures and details one might miss at plain sight. And these work and visits were interrupted for a while since I tested covid positive. So my reference stack included a pre and a post covid collection.

    Fox Renderfarm: The train and the train station are so realistic, could you tell us how you built the station and the perfect details?

    Reyaz: I built most of the structures -including the train- from scratch since it was hard to find the specific models. So it was background and platform first, then props like benches and symbols and finally the train - which I modeled only the part necessary to the view and not the entire thing. I’d check in with my reference collection now and then to get the deets right.

    Fox Renderfarm: The atmosphere is so great which delivers a sci-fi ambiance, could you introduce how you make the scene full of sci-fi, such as the lighting and color?

    Reyaz: As I mentioned in my tutorial, I intended a cinematic mood for the scene. Hence the Corona Volumetric Effect came in handy. Moreover, I maintained a neutral temperature to the lighting and the naturality of the lights visually present in the scene. The coloring was more of a trial-and-error process with test renders and personal preference.

    Some test renders

    Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly share with us your work experience along your archviz journey?

    Reyaz: Even as a teenager, I was inclined to the 3D world and magical CG visuals via computer games. It guided me throughout my studies and helped me while starting as a visualizer. With the right perspective, props and lights, it's easier to predict the final results and that is my basic formula. I utilized my time in a Dubai based architectural firm to gain much of the industrial knowledge on the exterior, interior, landscaping and kept an eye open for any new software, technologies, and inspirations. Currently, as a freelancer, I enjoy the diverse, multicultural projects I’m approached with as well as any creative challenges on my way.

    A-Frame House © Reyaz Alankandy

    Fox Renderfarm: As a 3D Artist specialized in architectural and interior visualization, do you have any suggestions for CG artists to improve their CG skills?

    Reyaz: Observe and PRACTICE! Most of the responses I receive after any 3D post are queries on the basic how’s and what’s and shortcuts to a 3D visual. There is NO FORMULA or shortcut. One needs to observe the moments, colors, materials and mostly the ‘imperfect’ textures of everyday life to yield a realistic frame. Collecting photographic references and practicing the software are the most essential tools of a 3D visualizer. I’d encourage you to recreate photographs and old paintings to grasp the color value information. Staying updated on software and snatching tips from tutorials helps elevate the pace.

    After The Rain © Reyaz Alankandy

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    Reyaz: Creating the perfect visual is an ART. I’d suggest staying inspired and absorbing international CG trends regularly. There are many great platforms offering tutorials, tips and challenges - for FREE- to advance oneself. It is crucial to remember that this is not just about the tools, but about one's own creativity. And creativity and aesthetics flow free only through regular practice. Try a variety of scenes and play with different moods. Breakaway from continuous styles and discover your niche. And always remember to have fun with it.

    Retro Tram © Reyaz Alankandy

    Passion is Everything: Introducing Enthusiastic 3D Animator, Maynard Ellis


    CG Challenges

    Art Competitions

    What if Santa wants to be a superhero?

    Showing us a story about Santa saving a young lady in his heroic dream, Maynard Ellis’s 3D animation short Santa's Dream won third place in the 2020 Animation Holiday Contest of Renderosity.

    As the old friend of Fox Renderfarm, the largest cloud rendering service provider in the CG industry, Maynard Ellis told us his inspiration and how he made the animation.

    Fox Renderfarm: Could you tell us what is the inspiration for your 3D video Santa's Dream?

    Maynard: The inspiration for this video came from the contest theme 'Dreams of Peace'. I took the theme quite literally and thought it would be cool to have Santa dreaming of being a buff hero type keeping the peace for the local villagers near his South Pole home.

    My original concept was a little grander and a little better executed than the final piece but that mainly came down to time. Having said that I think I ended up staying pretty true to the original idea and the original story board narrative that I put together.

    Essentially I planned to have:

    • The opening scene with Santa falling asleep outside his home, including a cool effect to transition into a dreamstate.
    • The party full of young revellers in the village.
    • A monster charging in and creating some mayhem, throwing aside one of the young men and carrying off his girlfriend... very King Kong sort of style.
    • Another character running up to Santa's house and alerting him to what had gone on. This was dropped but I think it worked better with Santa in attendance at the party. It certainly cut some corners having him there witnessing it all.
    • An epic showdown in the monsters lair followed by warm accolades from the rescued young woman.
    • A return to the original scene with Santa waking up exclaiming that it was all just a dream. This too was dropped but I think it worked ok ending it the way I did and it saved on some time which I just didn't have a lot of.

    Fox Renderfarm: How much time did it take you to create your work?

    Maynard: Time!!!! Aaargh!!

    Anybody who does animation will tell you how long this process can take and when you are trying to do a full narrative style production and not just a moving montage there is a sooo much to do and you certainly need plenty of time. As I have a day job I generally only get to work on projects like this at night and on weekends, although I have been working from home during the Pandemic so I do get the luxury of kicking off test renders during the day and other little things I can do on breaks.

    I really wish I'd had 6-8 weeks to get all I had hoped for done but I barely had 3 weeks as I didn't realise the contest had started. Luckily I still had some time left when I checked for it. I guess I should have been looking for it earlier, and knowing it was coming I guess I should have been planning stuff but I hadn't heard anything and just assumed it would run closer to the end of December and not need to be done by the 10th of December!!!! So all gripes about my stupidity aside this was a tough project to finish in 3 weeks and the soundtrack, voice overs, the quality of animation and the overall content I included all suffered as a result of this. I was still pretty pleased with how it came together though and it is always great to see a concept grow from your initial idea into something that works out OK.

    Fox Renderfarm: There are many characters in your video, such as Santa, the snowman, the monster, and the beauty, could you introduce the design of these main characters?

    Maynard: Firstly I generally use high quality DAZ characters brought from DAZ to iClone and the main characters were mostly created this way, but the performance of iClone was getting bogged down so the villagers and the main beauty were iClone characters which are lighter weight than the DAZ characters. With more time and planning I could have reduced the resolution of my DAZ characters but I just dropped some people out of the village scene and substituted some of the DAZ characters for iClone characters and this helped enough to get something out.

    Just before I started this project Reallusion ran a sale on a Christmas character bundle so I had a couple of young girls in Xmas outfits although I originally planned for the main woman to be a DAZ character that I had prepared.

    The snowman character came from DAZ and I took his hat, scarf and glasses and put them on a traditional snowman model to help sell the concept of him coming alive. With more time he would have had a bigger role in the story but he still worked out OK.

    The traditional Santa was easy enough in DAZ and then I made his buff alter ego in a less traditional outfit. Doesn't everyone have a better looking, younger, sexier alter ego they see themselves as in dreams?

    I was very disappointed with the monster and really wanted a furry snow beast but had to settle for the pasty, hairless, albino abominable snowman type of beast. As my animations are very small and quick projects just for personal pleasure under contest deadlines there is no real time to model custom characters but I would like to do more of that for my animations in future. I have a bit more to learn in that regard though!!

    Fox Renderfarm: In the video, Santa has a wonderful fight with monsters, and also there are some people who dance in the snow. Could you tell us how these characters' movements are achieved? Did you use any motion capture?

    Maynard: I really wanted to use motion capture and tried to, but I didn't have a successful pipeline for this in place and in the end I abandoned those plans as the lack of time caught up with me. I have a Kinect and tried using that and I captured a couple of animations that both ended up on the cutting room floor as I ran out of time and fast tracked each scene. I motion captured Santa yawning before falling asleep and the monster picking up the girl and putting her on his shoulder. In the end I just had Santa drop straight off to sleep and I cheated with the snatch and grab by cutting to the monster running off with her already on his shoulder.

    I was thinking of buying the iClonect Kinect plug-in but I was not overly impressed with the demo and I have some software for Kinect capture that works in Unity but I had issues trying to get that animation into iClone. What I did end up using was a little capture app that was a freebie in the DAZ community. It writes out a text file of the motion capture data that is then imported into DAZ by a script and applied to a figure. This worked surprisingly well and was easy to get into iClone after I exported it out as an FBX. iClone recognises FBX files based on Genesis 8 so that would have been what I used if I persisted with motion capture for this project. I currently am looking at some solutions that work with Unreal Engine 4 as that has better integration with iClone and I have also downloaded some new iphone motion capture apps to try.... oh and who knows I might even win a Renderosity animation contest one day and get a licence for the iPi mocap studio.... one can only keep dreaming of these things :)

    Most of the animations were crafted from stock animations from Mixamo and from iClone animations that I have. In order for these animations to tell the story I tweaked them in iClone and created custom keyframe animation to string them all together cohesively where required. The fight scene was especially difficult in regards to this. I had hoped for it to be a longer and grander battle but that was just going to take far too long to animate. Luckily I think it fitted the theme that the dreamstate buff santa hero was able to dispatch the villain so easily :). The hardest part of that fight scene was creating something credible and despite it being short with the help of some sound effects I think I pulled it off ok. I was quite happy with it in the end and Santa really did save the day with his devastating roundhouse kick.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you use any new approach during creating the work?

    Maynard: I think you always end up trying new things when you are doing new projects. Something always comes up that you don't know how to do or you research new techniques, or your idea just makes you think outside the box. This is one of the great reasons to do stuff even if it is just for your own pleasure or as a contest entry.

    The following were new things I used, or tried to use

    • I really wanted to use Depth of Field (DOF) camera blur in this project, especially for the monster reveal. iClone has this feature but for some reason I couldn't get it to render properly. I am sure with some more time I could have worked this one out but I ended up just removing it altogether. I think this would have been a very cool little trick to have given some more sparkle to my video so I will investigate this again.
    • I used a toon shader built into iClone for the dreamstate. By not coming back to reality at the end it wasn't as effective as I would have liked as most of the video was dreamstate. It would have been nice though to see the video go into this rendering mode when the dream started and to come out of it when the dream stopped.
    • I used a friend for voice-overs. I sent her an email with some lines I wanted and chatted to her about the story and the emotion I wanted in the lines and she recorded them on her phone and sent them to me. This worked surprisingly well and I will hopefully use her again in future projects, although I am investigating AI based text to voice and may use that as well for future projects. I had to use my own voice for Santa (which I hated) and I had wanted the 'Gary' character to have a line and the snowman character could have had some dialog, so just one female friend willing to help with voice overs does not give me enough scope for a large project. I have found an AI Text to Voice service that is surprisingly good allowing you to add different emotions and emphasis to the dialog and it is far superior to other services I have looked at. It has a cost but given that when I investigated using someone from Fiverr they started at $15 USD a good paid service that is not too expensive may work for me. I highly recommend checking out the one I found. They sell 4 hour blocks of voice generation for $20 USD and with careful planning that should be good for a few projects so all in all I think they are dirt cheap.... and they have amazingly good AI text to voice so check them out!!
    • I learnt more about iClone which is great. I bought it last year when they had a big sale during our first COVID lockdown and I am starting to get the hang of it now. I learnt about auto switching between my cameras on the timeline while rendering which really helps in assembling complex scenes quickly and I learnt about using paths for more fluid walking and running animations. I also used their automatic lip synching from a sound clip for the first time in this project. If I had more time I would have tweaked the phonemes to get a better result but for what I was doing it was all I really needed. For something more advanced in a future project I think I will use facial mocap from an iPhone app.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties? And how did you solve it?


    • I had time difficulties as already mentioned and I just cut corners and simplified my scenes and soundtrack. This was not ideal but sometimes being leaner and tighter is better than what you were originally intending.
    • I encountered difficulties with the motion capture I was trying to use. Having a good and reliable pipeline is very important as no single app will do everything you need and I just didn't get a suitable pipeline worked out in time for motion capture. I will definitely persevere with this though as just using stock animations gets very limiting even though you can tweak them quite significantly in iClone.
    • I encountered problems with the DOF feature in iClone. I need to look into this more as I was not able to solve the issues and I just dropped it. I really wanted the background to be blurred during the village party scene so that when the monster is first revealed I could have blurred the foreground and brought him into sharp focus in the background. This is a cool technique and it actually worked well when I tried it but using the DOF on the entire scene left some strange artefacts in the background and I just wasn't happy with it overall. I have seen videos of DOF being used effectively in iClone so I need to try again for my next project.
    • I had major performance issues with iClone for the early attempts at creating the village scene. There were just too many characters moving in the scene and too many of them were high poly count models. I swapped a few of the villagers that I had prepared in DAZ out and replaced them with standard iClone characters and I reduced the overall number of characters in this scene and this helped immensely. When having just 2 or 3 characters in a scene there is not much issue if they are high poly count but for bigger scenes with more actors this really has to be considered. I use Reallusions Character Creator 3 (CC3) in my pipeline between DAZ and iClone and I did reduce some of the size of my main characters in CC3 as well but I was mindful not to push this too far as they were often focussed on in close up. In future I will take all my characters through CC3 and prepare them for their role by reducing the quality and amount of textures and also removing hidden meshes where appropriate. I may also try to use billboard crowds if I want to do scenes with large numbers of characters..... maybe that can be what I do next time... have huge crowds in a scene... an epic battle or a city overrun with zombies :) 

    Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any advice for future participants in the competition?

    Maynard: Here are some thoughts for aspiring animators:

    • Don't let yourself be easily discouraged.
    • Give yourself plenty of time and use good time management.
    • Try to tell an engaging story. I have seen some very simple animations brought to life with narration or with text so any project can aim to engage and tell a story.
    • Plan your animation and storyboard it. This can be as simple as a scene narrative in dot points or some stick figure drawings, but it will help immensely and will allow you to better manage your project if you need to make changes on the fly. A good story board can also help you see the overall picture more clearly and lead you to make better decisions about the project.
    • Don't be afraid to cut something you planned to add.
    • When you have a plan for your scenes don't always just create them in large linear blocks, have fun with how you tell your story and break scenes apart and intercut them with other scenes, you may be surprised at the results.
    • Try new techniques and don't always just use the same approach, I am wanting to do a stop motion animation soon which will be very different from what I have recently been doing
    • Never stop learning, there is a wealth of great learning material out there for anything from 2d keyframed techniques to stop motion against green screens to AAA quality 3D epic adventure sagas.
    • Check out as much stuff other people are doing as you can. Seeing what is being done by others should encourage you to create and may lead to some ideas you hadn't thought about.
    • Treat anything you are watching as being a potential idea playground for things you can create. I recently re-watched the film 'Memento' There is no other film quite like it and it is a story told completely backwards. Thinking about techniques like this could trigger a great idea for your own project and I am planning to try something like that one day with some sort of backward narrative.

    Dream Big and Fly High.

    There are no rules and you can make no mistakes. There are just the things that you imagine and the things that you create.

    A Happy Hobbyist Shows the Beauty of CG


    CG Challenges


    Sponsored by the cloud render farm Fox Renderfarm, Renderosity 2020 Halloween Contest with 3D theme, Costumes, Cauldrons & Concoctions, was successfully held. Congratulations to all winners and thanks to everyone who participated in this event. Each entry tells us a magical story.

    We are very honored to have the opportunity to interview the third-place winner, Morrigan Flebotte, who is a CG enthusiast from Canada. She used her spare time to create the work Ya Want Two Scoops, Sweetheart?, which was rendered in Daz 4.10, using 3Delight with a dab of PS postwork.

    Ya Want Two Scoops, Sweetheart? © Morrigan Flebotte

    This is how Morrigan described her work: “There aren't many places to eat out in the Unseen World, but hit the Woods and eventually you'll find Louwheeze's Malt Shoppe. No denizen of dark places can resist the luscious flavour of cauldron-fresh cockroach-cream and worm Eye-Scream! Treat yourself, you won't regret it... just don't forget to leave her a tip.”

    Here’s the interview between Morrigan and Fox Renderfarm.

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Morrigan, could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Morrigan: I am a happy hobbyist in digital art from Alberta, Canada. I live in a small town, where usually there really isn’t much to do – even before COVID-19! I actually have more work, now, since all my children are now at home for school which means I am a teacher by day as well as working part-time as a librarian. Computer art gets what’s left of me.

    Fox Renderfarm: Though it’s not the first time you win the contest on Renderosity, how do you feel about being the 3rd place winner of the Renderosity 2020 3D Halloween Contest this year?

    Morrigan: I am very pleased to have won third place; Halloween pictures aren’t something I am very good at. It was an exciting contest because there were so many interesting entries!

    Fox Renderfarm: What is the inspiration for your work Ya Want Two Scoops, Sweetheart?

    Morrigan: I think my inspiration was the waitress from The Emperor’s New Groove, which I had just re-watched recently with my son. It was her voice that kept whispering in my ear!

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did it take to finish the work?

    Morrigan: The piece took about three days – I was quite enthusiastic about it, so I kept sneaking away to work on it. The children are very supportive of my hobby, and would bring their work into my room so they could talk to me about school while I fiddled with the picture.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve it?

    Morrigan: Difficulties... well, for whatever reason, I was having a problem with the material for her eyes, and no matter what I did they would only render white. In the end, I just accepted it and moved on, using hand-painting to bring them to life in postwork.

    Fox Renderfarm: Since you often share your CG works in the community, and also participate in CG contests, what is the biggest gain in your CG art journey?

    Morrigan: I think my biggest gain is the feedback I get from the community. I find that if I look at my pieces too long I only see the flaws, or the things I wish I was able to do differently. My style is not photo-realistic as so many other people’s are, and I wonder often if anyone else out there will like the results from my choices. Overall just a few kind words (or 3rd place!) is enough to make me continue to share what I do.

    Good Horse Goes to War © Morrigan Flebotte

    Fox Renderfarm: Could you tell us how you improve your CG skills?

    Morrigan: My learning style is quite random! I start with an idea, then enter negotiations with my software and my knowledge to see how far I can get before I either have to compromise or manage to discover something new or approach my problem a different way. Occasionally I will find a Youtube video that helps or win a new piece of software that opens up new possibilities.

    Hatchling © Morrigan Flebotte

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    Morrigan: The beauty of computer graphics is that with work anyone can bring an idea to life and share a vision with hundreds of other people. It’s amazing and fun!

    Enjoy Creating 'Art for Your Walls' and Keep Creating


    Fox Talk


    With the theme of Costumes, Cauldrons & Concoctions, Renderosity 2020 Animation Halloween Contest received many great animation artworks. Congratulations to all the winners and everyone participated in the event. As the sponsor of the contest, Fox Renderfarm, the best render farm, is pleased to interview the second-place winner of the Animation Halloween Contest,Maynard Ellis, who is a long-time digital graphic artist and also an aspiring animator and game developer. Maynard’s award-winning work, Trick Or Treat, was animated with iClone 7, and the characters and environments were converted from Daz using CC3.

    “I had a great time making this and I am looking forward to doing more now I have worked out a good method for getting DAZ characters and environments into iClone,” said Maynard.

    Here’s the interview between Maynard Ellis and Fox Renderfarm, in which you can find out how he made the animation.

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Maynard, could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Maynard: I have been involved with CG art for over 20 years, primarily as a hobby although I have been involved professionally as a graphic designer on many occasions. I first joined Renderosity in 2004 and always aspired to be a vendor on their store which never quite happened, but this strange year of lockdown has seen me renewing that interest and I have several products that I am working on that should be ready soon.

    I have a broad range of skills that I have developed over the years and a real love for digital art and I am now spending time encouraging my teenage son to embrace some of this passion.

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about being the 2nd place winner of Renderosity 2020 Animation Halloween Contest?

    Maynard: There were unfortunately technical issues with this animation contest which I hope the team at Renderosity gets on top of in the future as I don't think everyone's entry was portrayed in the best light which may have affected the outcome. Having said that I was pleased to feature among the winners. A lot of work goes into animation and I am pleased to have received some recognition for the effort. The encouragement you get from doing well in contests like this definitely helps you to keep pushing yourself to create more and to learn more about your craft.

    Fox Renderfarm: What is the inspiration for your work Trick Or Treat?

    Maynard: I was inspired by the Halloween theme and the desire to tell a story with my entry. You should always be wary of knocking on the door to a witch’s house and always expect some form of trickery and the simple idea of a witch poisoning a child with her brew seemed to be something that I could achieve within the limited time I had available to put this entry together.

    Fox Renderfarm: What’s the pipeline for the work?

    Maynard: I created characters in Daz Studio. I focussed on a stylized look instead of going for realism.

    I selected a pretty standard cottage environment in DS that suited the exterior of the witches house along with a bedroom interior scene.

    I converted the characters and environments for use in iClone using Character Creator 3. CC3 does a great job bringing DS characters into iClone and preparing them for use as iAvatars.

    I found that 3DXchange did not handle DS environments well enough and that the resulting iProps it created were not very usable for animations. After some online searching and trial and error I worked out a good way to bring environments into iClone via CC3 which kept every individual element separate and animatable which allowed me to easily animate both the door and the gate opening.

    For the most part I used standard animation clips that came with iClone and some downloaded for free from Mixamo, however this was not enough for the full range of animation the story required and I had to hand animate a number of sequences using iClone animation tools.

    The required sequences were crudely story boarded in a textual narrative leaving me to create a suitable animation for each clip listed in the storyboard.

    My teenage son who has been using Premier for some of his high school projects cut the animated sequences together and created the sound FX, voices and background music. We did not fully agree on the soundtrack but I put him in charge of that and due to time constraints I was not able to make some changes that I would have made in a perfect world, however having said that some of the SFX he created were excellent and really helped make the whole project work.

    Fox Renderfarm: Which part of this work are you most satisfied with and why?

    Maynard: I think I am most happy with how both the characters and the environment transferred from DAZ to iClone. They looked good and animated well which was great. I was also very satisfied with the fact that I collaborated on this with my son who helped me plan the animation scenes required and he cut it all together for me in Premier and he provided the sounds.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve it?

    Maynard: There were many areas of difficulty that had to be overcome for this to work. I had to learn more about iClone than I knew and I had to get the characters and environments into iClone. The characters came in pretty easily with the tools iClone provided but the environment was more challenging and to get into iClone from DAZ keeping it looking great and also having the ability to animate things such as doors and gates etc. The traditional approach of using 3DXchange does not work as well as it should and I ended up taking a different approach using CC3 for both the characters and the environment.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long have you studied CG production, can you introduce your learning method?

    Maynard: I was a digital video editor back in the mid 1990's using sVHS and Hi8 tapes and digitising this footage to my PC. I also learnt a lot about digital design in the 90's which has held me in good stead as I moved into working with 3D to create art. I have not done a lot with animation, however I have created video and film based stop motion animations and in 2011 I did a few animations within DAZ Studio and one in particular one a contest held by DAZ. I have been self taught as an artist and love all aspects of digital art, film and photography and animation.

    Blue - Young red haired farm boy © Maynard Ellis

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    Maynard: I used to be very focussed on trying to produce photo real 3D art images and later I switched my focus to creating 'art for your walls' which is much more satisfying for me. Regardless of what you create and how you create it, just focus on creating art you enjoy looking at and that is all that matters. Be kind to your fellow artists and understand that art is very subjective and the important thing is to never stop creating and to always enjoy what you create.

    Morgan © Maynard Ellis

    Interview with Mike Seymour, an Outstanding Digital Humans Researcher


    Fox Talk


    What happens when technology has a human face? How digital humans will affect our lives? These are the questions that Mike Seymour is exploring. Mike is a Digital Humans researcher who researches on new forms of effective communication and education using photoreal, realtime computer generated faces.

    Mike Seymour @ SIGGRAPH Asia 2019

    Mike was Chair of Real-Time Live! in SIGGRAPH Asia 2019, organizing the program showcased the cutting-edge real-time technologies, from mobile games to console games to virtual and augmented reality from around the world. He is also the co-founder of MOTUS Lab at The University of Sydney.

    Mike Seymour at TEDxSydney 2019

    As the lead researcher in the MOTUS Lab, Mike is exploring using interactive photoreal faces in new forms of Human Computer Interfaces (HCI) and looking at deploying realistic digital companions and embodied conversational agents. This work has special relevance for aged care and related medical applications such as stroke victims, and those with memory issues.

    He suggests that we need to find new ways to provide interaction for people, beyond typing or simply talking to our devices, and that face-to-face communication is central to the human experience. At the same time, he examined some of the many ethical implications these new forms of HCI present.

    He is well known for his work as a writer, consultant and educator with the websites and which explore technologies in the film industry. These websites now have huge followings, as they provide an important link between the film and VFX community and the researchers and innovators who constantly push the limits of technology.

    Some films and TV series Mike has worked on

    In addition to and, Mike has worked as VFX supervisor, Second Unit Director or Producer on some TV series and films, winning AFI Awards Best Visual Effects for the movie Hunt Angels in 2007 and being nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards for the TV mini-series Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars in 2005.

    Fox Renderfarm was honored to have an interview with Mike Seymour in SIGGRAPH Asia 2019. Here’s the interview between Mike Seymour and Fox Renderfarm.

    Fox Renderfarm: Would you give a brief introduction to Human Computer Interfaces (HCI)?

    Mike: So I research Human Computer Interfaces or HCI, which is the idea of how we deal with computers. And if you think about it, most computers are just getting input from a mouse or a keyboard, but what if we could talk to our computers, what if the computers could respond to us emotionally. So the work that I do with digital humans or virtual humans is putting a face on technology, we’re putting a face there so that we can interact with that. Because after all, we work really well with faces, we respond to faces, we travel great distances to see someone face to face. So we think it'd be really interesting if we could take that idea of having a face, and put it on a computer, and allow us to work with that in a much more natural and human way.

    Fox Renderfarm: What are your biggest achievements of HCI so far?

    Mike: So one of the interesting things that's happened just in the last couple of years has been this amazing nexus of technology and approaches. We got this combination of things that are really blowing the doors of what's possible. Because we can start to produce very photorealistic digital humans, in other words, people that really look like us. Now, this is super important because if we produce something that looks not very good, we actually have a negative reaction to it. It's not like audio, whether you have sort of good quality, better quality, and then great quality. With people, we have either cartoons, or we need very very high quality. But if we have something that's not so good, people actually reject it out of hand. So we call it a non-linear response, in other words, as it gets better in quality, your reaction varies up and down a lot. So only recently, we've been able to produce this incredibly realistic faces. And most importantly for HCI, those faces can run in real time, so they can smile at you in real-time, talk to you in real-time, nod and gesture, just very different from a video or something you might see in a feature film, where they might have hours and hours to produce a clip. We need to produce these things in sometimes as short as about 9 to 12 milliseconds.


    Fox Renderfarm: Have you met any challenges in the HCI development process?

    Mike: One of the big challenges we have is actually we've done a lot of really great work on faces and on being out to produce digital humans. That work’s not done, but it's certainly advanced tremendously in the last sort of three or four years. We're now having the grapple with how do we solve some of the issues over voices. If I'm actually talking to someone in China and I'm in Sydney, and like my colleague is from China, and of course he speaks the language that I don’t. So if we're on a conference call, and somebody at the other end doesn't speak Chinese, like I don't speak Chinese. We have this problem that I have to solve the language. Now, if I've got an avatar, something that I'm puppeting, then I would be able to speak in English, and have a version of me speak in Mandarin, and be able to understand across barriers. That’s good, and that's great. But what if I'm not puppeteering it, what if I actually want the computer to talk to me. I now need to make a synthetic voice. And the challenge right now is to see if we can do what we’ve done for faces to audio, to voices. It’s kind of a thing you may not expect. But of course, what we want is the computer to speak in a really natural way, to have the right cadence, the right kind of tone, the right kind of attitude. So getting that natural sounding and audio, it's not that it's harder than it is to do the vision. But we actually are a lot less tolerant of problems with audio. If you're watching a movie and the vision isn't quite right, then you can hear everything, you’ll be really happy. But if you were in a situation that the vision looks great, but you couldn't hear what the actors were saying, you'd switch the channel or go do something else. So what we're trying to do now is get the audio to be impeccably good so that it can go along with what we've been doing in vision.


    Fox Renderfarm: How do you think our life will be changed by HCI, with deep learning algorithms, GPU graphics cards rendering, and 5G?

    Mike: The astounding thing is that now, we actually have more compute power than we need to do some of the functions we want to do with the computer. We can afford to spend some of the compute power, producing these amazingly interactive user interfaces. That's part one, and that's obviously been influenced enormously by GPU, and the much faster graphics. And on top of that, we've had a new approach to how to use the graphics which is AI or deep learning. So now we have the second part of the jigsaw puzzle which allows us to do incredibly clever things by letting the machine learn my face, and then synthesize a plausible version of my face, again, in real-time, because of that GPU. And then the third part of that jigsaw puzzle is that we're able to do that now increasingly with 5G. Now, 5G is obviously very new, but what it offers us is not just bandwidth, which we imagined it would be able to sort of transfer more data, that's part of it. But one of the real secrets for 5G is low latency. So, in fact, we can have interactivity, so things come to live when they are realistic, and rendered quickly. Because we've used actual faces to construct them, and then we have this very low latency, so we can interact. All of that is just going to change how we do communication education, even in areas you might not imagine, such as health.

    Fox Renderfarm: Fox Renderfarm is going to provide online real-time rendering services, is that possible to cooperate with you on the HCI research?

    Mike: We are really keen to work with people all over the world, and it's the mantra of our lab that the research that we do, we actually don't own the IP, so we give away all the data. We work with companies around the world so that we can give back to the community. Our interest is seeing that this moves forward. And one of the great things about rendering on the cloud, and the idea of being able to have a really good infrastructure that's on a global basis is that, with high-speed communications, and with 5G, we are increasingly seeing this being something that we can adopt into things that general people can use. So, at the moment we’ve got a history where I might be using a render farm if I'm a really big company. But what we're seeing now is this move to the importance of being able to do things that can be democratized, and I think we're gonna see this vast explosion where we want to have quite a lot of power on our personal device, but actually tapping into a broader deep learning, AI kind of environment to provide this great interactivity. And as that happens with low latency, and the kind of infrastructure we're seeing. The ability to scale up is just going to produce sensational results.

    Fox Renderfarm: As the Chair of Real-Time Live! in SIGGRAPH Asia 2019, what’s your biggest surprise?

    Mike: There are a lot of submissions to Real-Time Live! this year. But Real-Time Live! is a little different from other things because you need to actually mount a performance. It's a bit like volunteering for a stage show. If I am coming here to do a show, I will bring my powerpoint on my laptop. But if I'm coming here to do Real-Time Live!, like the Matt AI project, and a number of other projects that are being seen, you actually have to bring a whole lot of computers, a whole lot of gear and actually mount a live presentation. You have nine minutes to sort of wow the audience, and of course, it's very unforgiving because, in nine minutes, you can’t afford to switch the computer off and start again. So we've been really impressed by the variety of the projects, and the variety of applications that they’re addressing. So we have teams that are addressing making digital characters talk, which is one of my favorites, I love that one. But we've also got ones that people are looking at how to use VR and real-time graphics for science research, for communication, as well as just artistic pieces that are very much just producing a really amazing show in their own right.

    Real-Time Live! in SIGGRAPH Asia 2019

    Fox Renderfarm: You were doing VFX before, and you are a researcher and also Co-Founder for, what’s the biggest influence along your multi-dimensional career path? What do you do to keep yourself inspired and motivated?

    Mike: I was in the visual effects industry for many years and got nominated for Emmys and AFIs, and that was all great. I enjoyed that and it was terrific work. What I decided a little while ago, having done quite a lot of research and teaching and increasingly doing consulting work to companies around the world, which we still do, I thought it would be really interesting to up that research component and get more involved with hardcore research. So I still come consulting, I do work for major Hollywood studios, and I enjoy that work tremendously. But what I'm interested in is can we, in addition to that work, in the entertainment industry, take that tech and apply it to these other areas. So, for example, my research area at the moment is seeing if we can take some of these digital human technology and use it for stroke victims. So, people that have had a stroke and have trouble forming short-term memories, are very good with long-term memories. But they literally find everything that's going on around them today a little unfamiliar and disconcerting. As an extraordinary high level of stroke in the world, a lot of people have strokes, and quite a high percentage are actually under the age of 65 and wanting to still continue to contribute and work, because they are of that younger age. Now, of course, we want everybody to benefit from this, but particularly those people that are still trying to work in the world, if you have problems with short term memory, all technology starts to become a challenge. And we expect someone to use a computer just (as) to use a phone these days. Well if we could put a familiar face on the technology, a face from their past, a face that is I don’t think is a real person, but they are familiar, reassuring. Then this new thing, this new technology whatever it is, suddenly no longer seem quite so harsh, so unfamiliar, so disconcerting. And we think that's a really good way of being able to help with rehabilitation. So this is just one of the areas that we are looking at, taking this terrific tech from the entertainment industry, which I love to death, but just seeing if we can help people that are less fortunate, that have been through really hard circumstances.

    Fox Renderfarm: Who or what projects inspire you most in VFX and Interactive Technology respectively?

    Mike: So it's been really great work done in technology around the world. Obviously, some of the big film companies like Weta Digital and ILM have been doing terrific work. The research that I've been doing, we've managed to partner with companies around the world. So when we were doing a digital version of me, for example, we are partnering with Epic Games, but also with Tencent, which is terrific. And companies in Serbia, in England, and so it's an international kind of collective. And one of the things that really inspires me is how open these companies are working together and sharing what's going on. Because there's a lot more to be gained by expanding what we can do, than people worrying about individual bits. So the community that's doing this work has been really generous and really open with their work.

    Fox Renderfarm: What’s your comment on Gemini Man?

    Mike: Gemini Man is one of the most startling and just groundbreaking pieces of production that I've certainly seen, I was really impressed by a number of things. Firstly, they were doing work at Weta Digital, where we really knew the character very well at both ages. We know Will Smith as he is today, and Will Smith earlier in his career. We know from our own research that the more you are familiar with the face, the harsher you are. So if you have a younger version of someone you didn’t know, it may look great to your eyes, but their brothers or sisters would be very upset by that wouldn't feel right to them. So what we're trying to see is if companies like Weta can produce very familiar faces in a way that we find acceptable, reassuring, entertaining, and I think they've really done that with Gemini Man. The second thing that really impressed me is that in that film, while it's an action film there are a lot of slower emotional scenes, where there is really no way to hide. The young Will Smith is on screen and the camera isn't flying around. Sure, there are bike chases but there are other scenes he is really acting so that the audience can buy into that performance, I think it's terrific. I really applaud the work that the team of Weta Digital have done, it's absolutely well breaking.

    images source:

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with CG enthusiasts?

    Mike: I think one of the things that I've been really happy about is how internationally the community has come together. There are teams now have got like pockets of excellence. There's a couple of teams in China that are just spectacularly good. And obviously, what we've seen with the work in China, I’ve actually lectured up in China, and visited many times, is we've got a real depth of both technical expertise and creativity. So it's really great to see the infrastructure being built up, things like the render farm and so on. So that they can provide that technical support that will match the creativity, I think that’s been really good. Now there are two teams in China, I can think of, there's a team in Europe, a team in New Zealand, a team in Serbia, and in London, and of course, America. And so what's great is to see that this is a very balanced international effort, and I love the fact that here at SIGGRAPH Asia, we’ve got all of the teams coming and presenting their work and sharing things. Because, as I said earlier, there’s so much can be gained by people cooperating and working collaboratively together. And from all my years in the film industry, it's a thousand people that do the visual effects on a film. So you need this great collaboration of artists this great infrastructure from companies supporting that. And then, of course, you need people willing to be open and share their ideas, as they're doing here at SIGGRAPH Asia. So, it's really great.

    Interview with BoBoiBoy Movie 2, the Highest-grossing Animated Film in Malaysia


    Fox News


    3-6 September 2019, Fox Renderfarm participated in Kre8tif! 2019, an annual digital creative content industry event in Malaysia aimed to spark innovation and exploration of major trends across the creative sector. We received a large number of CG enthusiasts and had good communications with them regarding our powerful cloud rendering service.

    In Kre8tif! 2019, we were honored to have an interview with Mr. Kee Yong Pin, COO of Animonsta Studios in Malaysia.

    Kee Yong Pin

    COO of Animonsta Studios


    Animated series BoBoiBoy (2011-2016)

    BoBoiBoy Galaxy (2016-present)

    BoBoiBoy: The Movie (2016)

    BoBoiBoy Movie 2 (2019)

    Animonsta Studios, a Malaysian animation company that produces creative content for the Malaysian and international market. Its second computer-animated film BoBoiBoy Movie 2, which is the new No.1 animated feature in Malaysia.

    Below is Fox Renderfarm’s exclusive interview with Mr. Kee Yong Pin. Let’s check it out!

    Fox Renderfarm: Can you introduce yourself?

    Kee Yong Pin: My name is Kee Yong Pin, from Animonsta Studios, an animation studio from Malaysia.

    Fox Renderfarm: Can you introduce BoBoiBoy?

    Kee Yong Pin: BoBoiBoy is an animation created by Animonsta Studios since back in 2011. And our latest movie for BoBoiBoy, it’s just completed and released in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam at the same time. So, we are happy to tell that our BoBoiBoy Movie 2 is currently the highest-grossing box office animation ever shown in Malaysia of all time.

    Fox Renderfarm: What’s the interesting part when producing BoBoiBoy Movie 2?

    Kee Yong Pin: One of the biggest, interesting things about this movie is actually the production, the whole production only takes 12 months. Most of the animated movies need to take 3 to 4 years. And then our team is actually not very big. We have only around 100 people with around 60-70 people from production.

    Fox Renderfarm: Any challenges of making the movie?

    Kee Yong Pin: The challenge is the time itself, so, as much as we worked very hard, there is still a lot of obstacles, for example, all the technical stuff, the rendering processes or the animation processes. So, the biggest challenge for us is actually the race against time for the rendering. For rendering it needs to be done by the computer. We need to do a very proper calculation, so that we can speed up the process without sacrificing the quality.

    Fox Renderfarm: What do you think of Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering service?

    Kee Yong Pin: In order to meet our timeline, one biggest thing that we changed is actually going into half GPU, which is using Redshift. And then we find out that even that is not enough. Throughout the movie, we can deliver according to timeline. But towards the end of the movie, that's when things become difficult, because the deadline is getting closer and then the scenes are getting very heavy towards the final part of the movie. So that's when we start to engage with Fox Renderfarm. And then we are really impressed actually, especially on the support portion of Fox Renderfarm. Because it's so easy for us to get in touch with, you know, just using WhatsApp. So everything just is direct communication, whenever we need anything and then everything is actually quite fast and, more importantly, when it comes to the last minute, it is hard for us to get the finance portion, budgeting portion to meet according to our criteria, and timeline also needs to be meeting. So, Fox Renderfarm, luckily for us, managed to meet our criteria in terms of pricing, in terms of delivery.

    Fox Renderfarm: Will you distribute the movie in China?

    Kee Yong Pin: We are actually trying, because China has a very small quota for foreign movies, but we are actually trying our best to get into China’s market. Good thing for us is that our animation series is already broadcasted on China's platform, which is Tencent. And it gets quite a good amount of views, which is more than 40 million views already up to date. We want to continue our footsteps into China's market if possible.

    Fox Renderfarm: Any plans for next step?

    Kee Yong Pin: We are doing our next animation, moving forward. And unfortunately, we cannot share anything in detail yet, but definitely I would safely, at least say that project has more challenges than BoBoiBoy Movie 2. So we want to get more market after this release in more countries and all those things, and so definitely, we need more support in terms of technology and also various partnership in the near future.

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    Kee Yong Pin: We just want to share that animation industry in Malaysia has been more than fifteen, twenty years. We might not be the most famous animation content hub in the world yet. But definitely Malaysia is going to be one of the best, not in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality, one of the best animation providers in the world. So, we really hope that the world will be able to really pick up our animation, have a look on what we can achieve in a more practical way, high quality, efficient, because we have a lot of good talents in Malaysia.

    Let's look forward to the new development of Malaysian animated films.

    Green Book VFX Veteran Raymond McIntyre Jr. Shares Production and Careers Insights


    Fox Talk

    Green Book

    Nowadays, with the development of computer graphics technology, VFX plays an incomparable important role in sci-fi blockbusters, live-action movies or animation films. Behind these stunning VFX, there is a group of professionals & specialists. Raymond McIntyre Jr., one of the legendary VFX Supervisors, who has been working in the film industry for more than 30 years, has been involved in the production of films including Green Book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Spider-Man, X2, Blood Diamond, Men in Black 3, The Conjuring and so on. Let's take a look at the scenes behind these Hollywood blockbusters through Ray’s story.

    Raymond McIntyre Jr.

    VFX Supervisor and President of Pixel Magic

    VFX Supervisor and Producer for ABC, Netflix

    Works Rim of the World (2019) , Green Book (2018), 22 Jump Street (2014), The Conjuring (2013), Men in Black 3 (2012), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1&2 (2010/2011) and more


    2004, Visual Effects Society Award, for his work in THE LAST SAMURAI 1998, International Monitor Award, for his work in CASPER MEETS WENDY

    Raymond McIntyre Jr. is a Visual Effects Society (VES) Award winning Supervisor that brings 30+ years of experience in the film industry and oversees all creative operations at Pixel Magic, an award-winning VFX & 3D animation studio with credits including: Blood Diamond, The Guardian and the films mentioned above.

    An impressive production pipeline, combined with deep expertise in both visual effects and 3D stereo conversion has allowed Pixel Magic to tackle some highly visible projects. And their capabilities in 3D stereo conversion has landed them work on the Chronicles of Narnia, as well as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

    As the President and VFX Supervisor of Pixel Magic, Ray brings extensive knowledge and expertise to the company. Also, he has frequently served as the primary Visual Effects Supervisor for feature film productions. In that capacity, he provides on-set supervision, plate/element photography as well as 2nd / VFX unit direction. Ray has been recognized for his achievements as Visual Effects Supervisor.

    Ray and his team offers a wide array of visual effects such as compositing services, including CGI creation of objects, animals, smoke, fire, and matte paintings to many Hollywood blockbusters.

    (Pixel Magic VFX breakdown reel)

    In the film 22 Jump Street, Ray was called on for 2nd unit VFX supervision supporting Edwin Rivera, the film’s overall VFX supervisor. The Pixel Magic team was tapped to create all of the visual effects for the establishing action scene of the Metro City Port and other 100 VFX shots in various scenes throughout the movie, such as the CG gantry crane and CG netting that tangles up the heroes, CG windshield cracks on the 18 wheeler truck and CG octopus tentacles.

    What’s more, they completed over 400 visual effects shots for the film My All American. "Production wanted the ability to move the camera all the time. This eliminated the traditional approach of locked off cameras and tiling practical people in different spots in the stadium, hence the need for CGI crowds. A full digital crowd was mixed with extras shot on green screen and composited with the few extras available on set. Shooting HDRI's on set allowed for realistic and accurate lighting for all the digital crowd and stadium shots. This is the real advantage of CG crowds, an exact match of lighting." according to Ray.

    In SIGGRAPH 2019, Fox Renderfarm was honored to have Mr. Ed Lantz, President/CTO for Vortex Immersion Media & Chair of Los Angeles ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter, to do an interview with Ray.

    Here’s the exclusive interview with Raymond and Ed Lantz.

    Ed Lantz:

    Hi, my name is Ed Lantz, from Vortex Immersion Media and Chair of SIGGRAPH Los Angeles. I'm here with Raymond McIntyre, and Ray why not just tell us a little about what you do.


    Hi, my name is Raymond McIntyre. I'm a visual effects supervisor and visual effects producer. I usually get hired by studios and companies to do the visual effects for movies like Netflix, Warner Brothers, CBS, ABC or companies like that. I also have my own company called Pixel Magic and I am president for Pixel Magic and we are a visual effects house, a small visual effects house that's been in business for more than 30 years now. And what I do is, I create and budget and produce visual effects for features, generally, I'm known for creating photo-realistic work. Most recently, I did the movie Green Book which won Academy Award for Best Picture and Academy Award for Best Screenplay. I did the visual effects for that, and my company did as well. And visual effects we did on that movie is the actor Mahershala Ali who did not play the piano in that movie at all, so everything he did was a head replacement. So we had a piano player play the piano on set and then move the piano player out once we were happy with take, and move Mahershala Ali in, shot him in the same seat, and the computer later on composited his head onto the piano player's body. So that's the kind of work I do, we create a basically seamless visual effects that hopefully you watched, the movie like Green Book and ever saw one of the 2 or 3 hundred shots we did for that movie.

    The film Green Book

    Ed Lantz:

    That's incredible. Could you tell us a little about the process in Green Book to replace the head? Was that volumetrically scanned or you're working with 2D plates?


    Sure. To replace the head or do the head replacement on Green Book, we actually get it in a more traditional approach. We did not create a 3D model of Mahershala Ali or anything like that. We actually shot him on location, either at the piano or wherever the shot or scene was and composited via rotoscope. We did not put up green screen because the green screen changes the light value on the actor pretty substantially. And so when you're looking for absolute seamless work, we decided that the green screen change the light too much to make that work. So we shot him in the scene with the exact same light that was on the piano player and then tracked and rotoscoped, and composited Mahershala's head onto the body of the piano player. So it was all done with a more traditional approach instead of either a 3D approach, or you know something like that.

    Green Book VFX breakdown

    Ed Lantz:

    I especially like the shot of the White House (in the movie LBJ). And you actually shot a caravan of cars, and you could see (White House) through the windows. How did you pull that one off?


    Well, for this movie called LBJ, that was directed by Rob Reiner and it stars Woody Harrelson. Rob wanted a shot in 1960 presidential motorcade was driving out of the White House down Pennsylvania Avenue to go off and whatever their business was for that day. But you cannot get a permit to shoot in front of the White House and plus Pennsylvania Avenue is closed to all car traffic except for presidential car traffic. So it's not something you can go and do. In order to create it, the movie was being shot in New Orleans. We shot the motorcade driving on a parking lot in New Orleans, because of the camera move, the extreme scale of watching them drive out the front driveway of the White House and then panning to follow them as they drove down Pennsylvania Avenue. That was a really big camera move, so we were unable to put up a green screen for the size and scale that would have been needed for that. So the approach had to be rotoscope, and that's something we're very familiar with, fortunately. It was really the talent of the artist that put the shot together. His name is Patrick Trahan and he was responsible for all this. His ability to make us believe that as we saw through the window of the motorcade as it was driving in the Louisiana parking lot, he had to roto and create transparency and create glass basically for his own (distortion). When you go around a corner especially those curves have to be rounded pieces of glass, it would distort the image, so he actually created pieces of glass, created his own distortion. So as the car rounded the corner and you as now seen the White House background through there he distorted and created exactly. And then we generated a Matte Painting for the White House based on photography that I did at the White House today and then painted out everything that isn't period or doesn't look correct and added in movements for trees and things like.

    LBJ VFX breakdown

    Ed Lantz:

    Very impressive!Why don't you tell us a little about what software tools that you use in your work?


    We used a lot of software to complete the visual effects, and a lot of different tools. First off, you usually have to match move or track your scene or your object, or whatever it is, what that means is if you have a moving camera and a person in the shot that's moving and you want to add something to the person, you need to know what that movement of that person. Let's say we want to change my badge to something else, and I'm walking and the camera is moving, so you need to know what the movement of that is in the computer. So we call it a match move, which means we're going to match the motion of what the physical object in the real world does in the computers. Then the computer can recreate its motion exactly in pixels, and in dimensions in the computer. And then we can replace the object, change the object, do whatever it is. So we use tools to do that, which is called match move. We use SynthEyes and tools like that which is our primary matchmover. And then whether you create something in 3D to change the object, you have to composite it, so we use different compositing tools. But primarily we use Adobe After Effects and Nuke for our two primary compositing tools, and they both have features and feature sets that are unique and different than the other, and both have pros and cons that the other one does or doesn't have, so we use those two. There are others that are very similar, but those are our two main tools. And then for creating 3D objects like the cars in Green Book or the creature in Rim of the world, or the snowfall in Green Book, to create those kinds of things that have to be generated in a computer, they are solely made in the computer. We use several different tools. We use LightWave 3D, we use Maya, some of our people use Houdini for certain things. Again the tool that you choose should be based on what its strength and or weakness, isn't that you don't want. So if something is really good at doing water, for example, a CG ocean or CG water, then you use that tool, not all 3 software tools sets create water equally as good as the next. So you choose a tool that's best for the project.

    Green Book VFX breakdown

    The film Rim Of The World

    Ed Lantz:

    And why don’t you tell us maybe one of your most challenging projects that you're most proud of?


    Well, I think the project I'm most proud of right now is Green Book, because it's a recent project that won two Academy Awards, and the actor won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. A lot of People would probably say that they thought he was playing the piano, even though he did not. So that's something we are very proud of, and I'm proud of that the sense we made something that (hopefully) no one had any idea that we actually modified a change.

    Ed Lantz:

    Certainly I didn't, that was very impressive.


    I learned something I've been doing this. I've been in this business for quite a while, and I've been doing this for a very long time, but I learned something basically on every show, I learned how to improve or what I should have done better or what I can do on the next one and so there's many shows like that. Recent ones come to mind for me, Rim of the World. We had to design and create two different creatures, three or four different alien vessels and ships and things like that. And that's always fun for a different reason because when you're designing and creating something you're trying to make something that hasn't been seen or hasn't been done before, which is difficult in today's world, especially when it comes to aliens and spaceships and things like that. And then implement them in a way that they look like the real in the shot, that are realistic and photo-realistic in the shot. And so that's always fun, you need challenges, but always fun.

    Fox Renderfarm:

    Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    Ed Lantz:

    My work involves projecting on large domes and we're creating shows with a-list talents. We did a show with Childish Gambino, otherwise known as the Donald Glover, and a 160 foot dome out in the Joshua Tree Desert, and we had 12 video projectors covering the dome blended together and produce the whole concert. 5 shows over 3 days, 2500 people per show inside the dome. And we also did an event at the Coliseum, here for the founder of Minecraft. He invited 3000 of his closest friends to come to party and with Skrillex and Diplo and some big DJs. And that was 24 video projectors blended together to create one big image. So now there's project in Vegas, Madison Square Gardens Entertainment makes LED dome that will hold twenty thousand people. So now we will have an arena that artists can graduate to. My company is building five-hundred to twenty-five-hundred-seat venues, so we hope CG artists get into the format creates spherical not just for VR but also for dome.

    MSG Sphere


    As a visual effects supervisor and producer, and as a company owner, I've been doing this for a long time. It's not a good way to say is going to be, most of my exposures is US-based, but I travel all over the world for shooting and for production and things like that. The post production end of things is in the last ten or fifteen years really started to become worldwide. But I would say now that's really expanding, even more so with China and India and Australia. I'm all for the worldwide visual effects input because there's lots of reasons for that. The more brains you have figuring something out, the better it's likely to get and the result will be. So it's always nice to involve people who either look at something a little bit differently with a fresh perspective. As opposed to a perspective that I may have or colleagues may have looked at for a long period of time. When we go down one path when there is really another path that might get something done. So I actually enjoy traveling for production and I enjoy being on shows now where you know you have five, six, seven hundred, even more of those movies that have two and three thousand shots. You have to involve companies all over the world in order to get them done, and that's a challenge, but it's a good one.

    As Ray said, challenge helps us to step forward. Looking forward to more possibilities of CG creations.

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