Adobe's Pierre Maheut and Laurens Corijn talked about partnerships with schools and colleges, discussed the future of VR, and shared their thoughts on how the new tool, Substance 3D Modeler, can help artists to streamline production.
80.lv: Please introduce yourself. How did you join the Substance 3D team? How is the team organized now?
Pierre Maheut, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships at Adobe Substance 3D: I joined Substance back in 2016 when it was still Allegorithmic. Adobe 3D & Immersive division is organized through product, engineering, labs, and Art & Development and connected to the rest of Adobe on Research, Marketing, and Sales...
Laurens Corijn, Lead Technical Artist at Adobe’s Art & Dev group: I personally deal a lot with learning and training, visiting customers, and schools, and helping new and experienced users make better use of our tools. I’ve been working with Substance 3D Tools for nearly 10 years, and haven’t looked back since the first mindblowing introduction.
Substance's Mission and Education Approach
80.lv: Could you share some details on Substance’s current mission and strategy? How important are education and beginning artists to your team right now?
Pierre: Substance’s mission is to democratize access to 3D and use it to convey emotions to people. In this matter, we always have been very excited to engage with the new generation of users at schools, whether it is game developers, VFX artists, Industrial designers, or Architects. For instance, back in 2018, we did our Substance Days in LA at Gnomon School: Substance Day 2018 - Substance Suite Master Classes with Allegorithmic
Substance Modeler for Beginners
80.lv: Why is Substance 3D Modeler perfect for beginners in your opinion? What makes it an ideal tool to get started?
Pierre: 3D Modeling has always been a challenging part of the pipeline because you don’t know where to start: empty space and have a natural way to interact with your creation. With Modeler, we are introducing a natural way to interact with VR and Desktop. You can create, bend, and expand the matter like a sculptor with Virtual Clay. We are looking forward to engaging with a new generation of designers that won’t be stuck in former mouse, screen, and menu interactions and are keen to explore new User Experiences and interactions more intuitively.
Laurens: From an artist's point of view, I’ve always found modeling the most tedious, least creative aspect, especially compared to how fun and fast material creation and texturing have become thanks to Substance 3D. Modeler definitely solves that problem for me. I actually barely modeled anything for 7+ years, but since getting into Modeler I crank out more than one project a month. It’s addictive, sometimes I can’t stop thinking about it and just want to make more stuff. I think it’s the speed and ease of use that do it; you can get from an idea to a usable 3D model in such a short amount of time.
Partnership with ISD Rubika
80.lv: Please tell us about teaming up with ISD Rubika. What was the goal?
Pierre: We were very excited to team up with ISD Rubika and the Le Cycle creative agency led by Matthieu Lanternat and Simon Defoort. We had a passionate exchange with Matthieu and Simon on a creative workshop and how valuable it is to exchange with new generations of designers. Internally we know that Modeler was great for character artists such as Gio Napkil but we wonder how relevant the software was for Industrial designers. So best is to test with the new generation of digital 3D modelers for this goal the best school is ISD Rubika and the best partner to organize the workshop, Le Cycle.
Laurens: I personally like visiting Rubika, they have some very high standards, and students are very skilled, and in my previous visits to teach workshops it always felt advantageous thanks to enthusiastic students, who were keen to learn. This workshop was no different, better even than my past visits.
Modeler Workshop for Students
80.lv: How was the Modeler workshop organized? What tasks did students have?
Pierre: The workshop was split into 2 weeks, with a theme: Helmet Design. Animated by a team of designers and experts from Le Cycle, Students did go through the Industrial design approach: User scenarios, concepts, sketching (pen & paper, digital (Photoshop)), and or directly 3D Sketching with Modeler. That’s where we expect Modeler to be very efficient in going from the idea to the first 3D model. And then we let students pick their tools for material and render some using Keyshot, other Substance 3D Painter + Stager, and also Blender for Animation and turntable. Final delivery is in most cases 3D renderings but also turntables and even some user scenario videos in Aftereffects. Everything you need to explain your concept and how users with interact with it.
Onboarding Students to Modelling and Sculpting in VR
80.lv: How difficult was it for students to get used to modeling/sculpting in VR?
Pierre: For some of the students, they had to move away from their existing way of modeling especially if they were using CAD/CAS tools such as Solidworks or Alias. So they may have to “unlearn”/ have a fresh start but then it did go pretty fast! We also started the first week in Desktop mode and the second week with the headsets in VR. So it was a good way to ramp up with the tool.
But Laurens, who was on the campus can probably tell more!
Laurens: Students didn’t have an easy task, as they were using some rougher, pre-release builds that weren’t as polished as 1.0 is today. They worked on desktop only first, and definitely struggled more there, compared to when they tried out VR. It is definitely a mindset shift, especially when coming from CAD modeling or doing surfaces with methods like NURBS. Once you get past that, it's kind of freeing.
Feedback on Modeler
80.lv: What feedback on Modeler did you receive from students? What did they like about the tool? Did they help you gather info for future updates?
Pierre: We had really great feedback from the students and to be transparent this project was focused on the key needs of the students. We expected to hear what the students need, what is missing, and what is difficult to achieve. So we had a full Miro Board with Students' feedback classified by family: Bugs, enhancement requests,… We did a final presentation to the development team of Modeler led by Lydia Choy to shorten as much as possible the feedback loop between Students & developers.
Future of VR Workflows
80.lv: How do you think VR workflows will influence game development in the future? How will tools like Modeler help artists streamline production?
Pierre: VR Workflow is introducing an immersive experience that is incomparable to the mouse & screen experience. You are living and breathing with your 3D model while sculpting it. This is very exciting! But we also acknowledge that it might be tiring for the eyes and body to spend hours with a VR headset on that’s why we developed the desktop mode you also enjoy a mouse or graphic tablet for more details and precise tasks. So we worked a lot on going back and forth between VR & desktop mode, making the transition as smooth as possible.
Laurens: Faster, more accessible tools that get you creating with fewer barriers are definitely the way forward. Apart from the VR aspect and its many advantages, there’s something to be said about the extreme attention to UX that our designer Joshua put into Modeler. Not having an interface with hundreds of buttons, built on late 90’s legacy tech like some other 3D applications, makes a huge difference.
Substance's Plans for Working with Schools
80.lv: What are your current plans for collaborations with schools? Is there a way to get in touch with you and launch a similar workshop on Modeler/other Substance tools?
Pierre: We have definitely more plans and we have already made another collaboration that we would like to share soon. The idea is also to have a “product” focus workshop so it might be on Modeler again but also on other products such as Painter, and Sampler, … especially when we have a new scope and or feature.
We are also happy to engage with students through contests organized on our end like MeetMAT or with partners such as the Rookies or Pixar.
The best way is to start to exchange with the team and see how we can work together!
Pierre Maheut, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships at Adobe Substance 3D, and Laurens Corijn, Lead Technical Artist at Adobe’s Art & Dev Group
Interview conducted by Arti Burton
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