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Felipe Pesántez talked about the modern 3d production tools, including his work with Mandelbulb, Megascans, and Houdini.
Hello, I’m from Ecuador, currently living in Spain, I have been in the CG industry for 7 years, I have worked on so many big and indie projects, from video games, short films, advertising, etc right now I’m working on 3 feature films which I can’t talk about due to NDA but if you follow me I’ll post all that info soon.
Current state of 3D tools market
Yes, I use everything due to my position as a freelance generalist, it depends on the production and what is required for the job, in film the main tool I think will always be Maya, but there is a heavy use of Houdini, Katana and Nuke of course for compositing, at the end depends on your job if it is film or video games, etc as for plugins I would recommend whatever makes your job faster and productive there is so many plugins for everything, some I have in mind are: crease plus, quick pipe, Mesh Blend, Fb wire jumbler, Sp Paint, all of this are for Maya.
For natural environments the best thing is to have a good reference so you don’t get lost with so many elements, some renderers have volume scattering to add that nice atmosphere, or you can use the Zdepth AOV, Clarisse IFX is an awesome tool for real-time preview when you work with landscapes, I also try to use VDB clouds and volumes that I do and export from Houdini and of course work a lot on the light rigs, use good HDRS and distant lights.
Scanned data is the future or actual pipeline of most studios, I honestly feel that Megascans are quickly getting old because everybody uses it and you see the same scans again and again, also anyone can download a scan put it on any dcc and done, so that’s why I try to scan my on assets or use the Megascans in a different way, I mean I use it to create aplhas, mix that data in Substance Designer, use it as brushes, etc but they will save you if you need details very fast, as for Speedtree I think is the best tool for create your own assets, thinking procedural is one of the best things in production, Speedtree even when it’s procedural you still have a lot of control and art direction, you can place a branch or leaf exactly where you want and it’s still keep going in a non destructive workflow.
Work with Mandelbulb
Mandelbulb is really awesome, I love that app, you can go really crazy with those fractals, the way I use it is how WETA uses it, with photogrammetry, unfortunately you can’t get a decent mesh out of that app so I render a 360 turntable of the asset and then scan it, then you can retopo, I use Maya to transfer the textures to a new mesh with proper UVs.
Houdini can make you crazy, but once you get it is one of the more amazing tools you can get, some pople don’t like the word procedural but trust me I think is the best approach, think it as an infitine modifier stack like 3Ds max but it never fails, is not like the horrible history in Maya, I had to learn and adapt to Houdini due to it was required for a film that I’m currently working on, so I’ve started using it for everything,not only for effects and volumes, I use it for lookdev, lighting, rendering, rigging and it has that amazing terrain tools, the height fields are so fun to play around and create environments. To start in Houdini the best advice is to not be afraid to code, if your going to use it you have to know that you will be using code at some point, start with the basic tutorials and try to understand not memorize why do we code in many attributes.
In production I’ll use the render engine that is required by the studio or client, personally my favourite renderer is PRman, if you working at home and it’s something personal try to invest in something that you can use, I mean it’s more likely that you won’t be able to afford a 4000 cpus render farm, but you can invest in a fancy or powerful GPU, so I will go to GPU renderers such as Redshift, Octane, etc. If you are aiming to work in a studio, find out what render they use, Arnold, Vray, etc and learn that.