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Customer Success Story :: Mackevision
Interview with Dieter Morgenroth
30 March 2008
My name is Dieter Morgenroth. I am lead research engineer at Mackevision. I studied Media Engineering at the “Hochschule der Medien” in Stuttgart. I have a programming background and have been working as a 3D artist for 8 years at Mackevision.
Mackevision is an international premium service provider in the area of 3D visualization & Post-Production. Our core expertise lies in the creation of visualizations of the highest quality for all media – web, film and print. We are thus able to offer our clients all the advantages of full cross-media production and to successfully carry out the most complex instructions. Our team is made up of nearly 60 specialists working at three locations –Stuttgart, Munich and Detroit, USA.
I am responsible for the technical aspects of 3D production work. With a team of 2 full-time programmers at Mackevision we are constantly refining the toolset and pipeline for the artists.
Mackevision had an immense growth in the past. We changed the way we work from project teams to specialized departments. We divided the 3D team into several departments like modeling, scene setup department, shading & lighting department etc. This enables us to run dozens of projects in parallel. As a consequence we are looking more and more for specialists for specific tasks than for allrounders.
Our core expertise lies in automotive visualization. The company has been working in this segment for ten years now and we have a learned process for projects that include vehicles. Every needed step from CAD data preparation to rendering is optimized as far as possible so we can concentrate on the creative part of the project.
Every project starts with sketches on paper.
Most time consuming mostly is working around bugs of the used applications. For example when the shot of one artist wouldn't render on the renderslaves. That is usually the moment when things get nasty. Checking all the layers is also a task nobody is very fond of. Especially when each image has several channels that have to be checked also. But we are testing Pdplayer now that might help in the future.
We established an approval procedure in the past that tries to reduce the “render to trashcan” times. We always try to get approval for the overall look and feel before production starts. For car projects we have a long list of questions that have to be answered in advance. That goes from the right model year of the car to the text on the radio display.
The Dodge Journey was our first animation project where we had to incorporate a CG car into shooted footage. The plates were shooted without a stand-in car. At time of production the car didn't even exist, so we never had seen the real car. Interaction between CG and live footage was another problem we had to master. For example people sitting in the car, exit the car, etc.) In the meantime we did several versions of the film with different cars and configurations. That's normally the point when the client gets the idea of cg...
Basically all of our work is rendered with V-Ray. One of our latest projects is the car configurator for Mercedes Benz. We have set up an automated pipeline that enables us to produce all possible configurations of a car line. And this goes into several millions of combinations! We set up a database based rendering pipeline. A database is remote controlling 3ds Max and sends the needed jobs to the farm. We made extensive use of Vrays Render Elements and programmed several additions to be able to render different configurations with one pass. One of those additions, the multimatte renderelement was made public and was sent back to Chaos Group and is part of the V-Ray package now.
My favourite project is always the next project to come. But from the technical side the configurator projects offer a lot potential for optimizing.
2004 • World-Media Festival Globe Gold, Kategorie Animation Globe Silver, Kategorie Animation • Animago Platz 1 Platz 2, Kategorie Professional/Animation Platz 3, Kategorie Professional/Animation 2005 • World-Media Festival Globe Grand, Kategorie Animation Globe Gold, Kategorie Animation • Animago Platz 3 x Platz 1, Kategorie Professional/Animation Platz 2, Kategorie Professional/Compositing Platz 3, Kategorie Professional/Animation • Integrated TV & Video Association Gold Award 2006 • HD Festival for Digital Film Golden Artist Award, Kategorie Automotive Film • World-Media Festival Globe Grand, Kategorie Animation Globe Gold Kategorie Animation Globe Silver, Kategorie Animation • Animago Platz 1, Kategorie Professional Still Platz 1, Kategorie Professional/Animation • US International Film and Video Festival Silver Screen, Kategorie Animation/Computer • Internationale Wirtschaftsfilmtag Wien Grand Prix Victoria Gold, Kategorie: Messefilme/Events 2007 • Autovision Festival OttoCar “Gold”, Kategorie Product Presentation Films OttoCar „Silber“, Kategorie Informational Films • World-Media Festival Globe Gold, Kategorie Animation • US International Film and Video Festival Silver Screen, Kategorie Animation/Computer
Speed and reliability were the key arguments for using V-Ray. V-Ray was the first renderer that offered GI and glossy effects in adequate speed and quality for both stills and animations. The various renderelements became core part of our pipeline. Being able to add custom functionality to V-Ray using the V-Ray SDK is another important feature for us.
V-Ray is our core renderengine. There was no need to switch to another rendering package in the past.
V-Ray is our standard renderer. We haven't used any built-in renderers of 3ds Max for the last 4 releases.
Just keep on doing what you do!
Automotive Visualization is a highly dynamic segment with lots of innovations in the past. The trend goes to realty
Render cache/render region. Tweaking of shading settings often is a time-consuming task on heavy scenes. It takes ages until the geometry is prepared for rendering even if you are only tweaking the light intensity. XSI has this nice interactive feeling when tweaking things. It starts rerendering as soon as you grab the slider. Mixing different AA Sampler. For example rendering everything with adaptive subdivision except for the glossy parts that are rendered with DMC. If that's possible at all. We are looking forward to the announced BRDF shader. We have been researching in this area and did our own BRDF measurements of different car paints. It will be interesting to be able to use that data for rendering.
We are expecting an increasing demand for configurable car footage. We optimized our pipeline for that purpose.
The V-Ray forum is an excellent place that every V-Ray user should visit on a regular basis. The community there is great and you can always learn new ways of getting the best out of V-Ray.