Envy spot historySAE Institute
Media Design School
The Chimney Pot
Prime Focus 2
Prime Focus 1
Customer Success Story :: The Chimney Pot, Sweden
16 June 2011
Interview with Ruslan Ogorodnik,
"Considering the pace of V-Ray development, I am sure that this product is confidently winning the market. Many people use it as the de facto standard in architectural visualization, and it is sweeping the multimedia and video entertainment markets."
The Chimney Pot is a large Swedish company which focuses on a comprehensive range of postproduction services from a multitude of capitol cities, including Berlin (Germany), Copenhagen (Denmark), Oslo (Norway), Warsaw (Poland), Kiev (Ukraine), and Dubai (United Arab Emirates). The headquarters are located in Stockholm, Sweden.
The company offers services in scanning, printing and processing both analog and digital materials. It also has its own sound recording, editing and color grading studios, as well as online and offline studios. The company disposes of industry leading software, such as Flame, Smoke, Flint, Arri Scan, Arri Laser, Nukoda, Da Vinci, and much more.
The Chimney Pot produces work for a variety of multimedia, including commercial videos, musical videos, and movies. It boasts who’s who list of musicians: Madonna, Robbie Williams, Rammstein, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Ozzy Osbourne, Roxette, Christina Aguilera, Cardigans, Moby, Lenny Kravitz, and many others. The company got MTV Music Award for Best Special Effects for Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” in 2009.
Recently, they assisted David Fincher in preparing visual effects materials for the new Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie filmed in Sweden. They are also participating in the filming of the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where they intensively use V-Ray to create CG interiors.
They have also used V-Ray to create a character for the Lakerol commercials, the new Sony Ericsson Xperia telephone, the Coca-Cola commercials for a Shanghai advertising agency, a commercial for Orange (a French mobile operator), as well as 3D stereo commercials and commercials to be shown in cinemas.
Would you please introduce yourself and describe your position in the company?
My name is Ruslan Ogorodnik. I work as CG supervisor at Stockholm office. I also often act as art director or creative director for many projects. For example, I did so for Ozzy Osbourne’s musical video project.
Please describe the project and your responsibilities within it.
Ozzy Osbourne “Let me hear you scream”. The task was to create a musical video for the main piece in the new Ozzy Osbourne’s album. The conditions were rather stressing: the director had only one day for filming in Los Angeles, so the only solution was to film both the band and the singer on a green screen, and then add virtual backgrounds. The director’s idea was to transform the band leader into a spider, a rat, and a bat, as well as to create certain virtual decorations, since there was just absolutely no time to construct and film any natural background. He described the general concept and asked us to help develop the visual part and product the clip as such.
Thus, in that project I had to combine the responsibilities of a creative director, an art director, and a CG supervisor, all in one, which was actually interesting.
I proposed a concept of making mechanical creatures in a steampunk-like style and also some alternatives for interior and exterior. The colleagues from our department helped me much with the development, generating their ideas.
The challenge was that we only had three weeks for completing the project, while the scope included over 400 shots. This is just a huge amount for such a timeframe. However, we decided to undertake the risk and divided all tasks into priority ones and minor ones (in case we would not be in time for the deadline). There were no alternatives: the finalized clip had to go on the air in three weeks, by the beginning of the new album promotion campaign.
How many people were involved into the project ? How long did the project last (including all tasks completed)?
Since the scope was really huge, we involved into the project our other teams, in Kiev and Berlin offices, as well as Red Screw + Production, a Moscow studio, and some freelancers from Ukraine and Germany to help us create models and matte painting. For some shots containing the destruction of walls, we invited the developer of the Ray Fire Tool.
Thus, averagely 15 people worked at the project in its different stages. The total human resource involved was approximately 25 people. They assisted in keying, rotoscoping, creating models and matte paint backgrounds, and compositing.
The entire project lasted 3 weeks. And we spent 2 weeks more to create our own version of the clip, having made the changes that we had not been physically able to add into the official version due to the strict timeframe. In our version, I changed almost all interior backgrounds, many shots with 3D characters, and the final color grading. The official version was released monochromatically, with green hints. I made our version more colourful and with insignificant cut changes.
THE BACKSTAGE EXPERIENCE
Why did you choose V-Ray for that project ? What is the role of V-Ray in the workflow ?
The project contains a lot of interior and some exterior shots, and V-Ray is an absolute leader in solving such problems. We had a large amount of high-polygonal geometry and we also had multiple objects. One of the advantages of V-Ray is its ability to “digest” such amounts. Thus, all 3D elements of the clip were visualized using V-Ray. The only issue that had arisen while working at the project was the complexity of visualizing the fur of our rat character, using V-Ray shaders, since the Fur module only supports its own shading (which is not quite manageable) and mental ray® shaders. However, the conducted tests helped in solving that problem. We replaced the mental ray shader slot with the V-Ray material and translated the fur algorithm into the geometry transformation mode. That worked perfectly. Again, due to the ability of the software to process large amounts of geometry, we could work with fur, using all native parameters of V-Ray, material settings, light source parameters, etc.
Was there any significant difference between this project and other ones?
All projects are unique, and usually no task turns out to be the same. However, the experience gained allows us to solve most new tasks in shorter time. V-Ray provides enough tools to solve everyday’s problems, so we did not really face any significant difficulties in using V-Ray for our purposes.
How did V-Ray help you implement this specific project?
In this project, we used the main advantage of V-Ray – fast and easy adjusting of materials and lighting, as well as rendering large amounts of geometry with GI and HDRI.
What shaders (including your own) did you use?
We gradually accumulate our own shaders library which we use in our current projects.This helps us save time and accelerate project development. We rather often use the SSS shader from standard settings. However, we prefer to adjust all other shaders or use existing libraries.
How many render passes, in average, did you use? What kind of elements did you utilize for rendering?
We usually apply such elements as RGB, Diffuse, ZDepth, Velocity, Reflection, Refraction, Selfillumination, GlobalIllumination, Shadows,
Material ID, Render ID, Alpha, Total Light. However, we often use the entire set available. This facilitates the composers’ tasks providing
them with a wide range of elements.
What key features of V-Ray were especially valuable in implementing that project ? (Gi, Displacement, Proxies, DOF, MB?)
In our projects, we don’t tend to use DOF and MB, and we only rarely apply Displacement. It is easier to make DOF and MB using postproduction tools. This helps save rendering time and provides more flexibility and more opportunities for manipulations at final compositing stage. Displacement also still impacts the rendering time; it is not so intuitive in its settings, and it is still feature-limited. So, as of now, we use it more frequently as an alternative for the standard Bump, for more correct displaying the three-dimensionality. However, as compared to other tools, Displacement in V-Ray is still a little behind such tool as Renderman.
As to V-Ray Proxy, we use it very often. This one is really very friendly and necessary. Within that project, we actively used the ZDepth channel to reconstruct the DOF effect at the postproduction stage, since we had had many macro shots requiring smaller depth of field.
How much time did rendering of one frame take, in average?
It depended on the scene. The renderer resolution was 1280 x 720. Some frames rendered within about 6-7 minutes, while others took 25-30 minutes to render – for example, close-ups of a rat, a character with very intensive fur geometry. To render it, we used the remote render farm with the sufficient amount of nodes and V-Ray licenses.
What new functionality would you like to add to V-Ray?
I would like to have a more comprehensive automated solution for working with animations in scenes, using GI. As of now, it’s still a kind of voodoo. And it is this problem that, in my opinion, hampers making this product popular with postproduction studios. You should consider that the fast GI is the zest that distinguishes this renderer from any other products of the kind. Every time an issue of applying animated objects within a scene using GI occurs, everyone starts groaning. :)
We would also like to have more advanced Displacement features and no such a critical difference between the renderer time and the use thereof.
Except the above, the current functionality of V-Ray is quite sufficient for the most of our existing tasks.
What is your general feeling of the final result? Have you achieved your intended goals?
As to using V-Ray, we are quite satisfied. It allowed us to perform our job at a good quality level and within the intended timeframe. However, there were no doubts about that – just consider our preceding experience with the product.
V-Ray shows great results in absolutely different tasks and projects, whether with short commercials or musical videos, or visual effects for movies.
Are you planning to use V-Ray in your future projects?
V-Ray is surely the best solution for daily operations, and it has no equal in this area.