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Tomasz Wyszolmirski – the creator of the “Dabarti Capture” tool, talked about his approach to 3d content creation and procedural shading with V-Ray GPU.
My name Tomasz Wyszolmirski and I’m the founder of studio Dabarti. We produce CGI stock animations and with close to 3000 videos we became market leaders. We sell those videos through various agencies and in spare time experiment a lot with different workflows, tools and work on improving our skill set. This business idea was born 7 years ago, when I a bit of spare time in between of freelance projects. Luckily it was to be the best time to start with microstock business and around 5 years ago I was able to afford renting first office space and started hiring artists. Currently we’re small team, based in Bialystok, Poland. My role besides shading and lighting is to make sure everything runs smoothly and in after hours I like to develop different tools that help with daily workflows. Around 2 years ago we moved our pipeline to fully GPU powered workflow and it helps a lot with getting good results.
I’ve been obsessed with rendering macro shots for quite a long time. As far as I remember I loved those detailed shots where you can zoom in and get perfect quality. I just love beautiful bokeh. I don’t think there is any secret other than it just takes time and hard work. Over time achieving to desired look gets easier. Real-time feedback of GPU rendering helps a lot.
For modeling we usually go with typical poly modeling in 3ds Max, sometimes there is ZBrush involved, but not in that case. We often add a lot of modifiers on top of the mesh to make it a little bit more realistic. For example we tend to use volume select to perform noise or displacement on certain parts of the geometry, but the real magic happens at shading stage.
There is a lot of procedural shading involved here with V-Ray GPU, mainly for bump maps, that add a lot of tiny details. Sometimes we needed real-life textures and actually as an result of trying to push ourselves to the next level I’ve developed in-house workflow for capturing very detailed surface normal maps from photographs using old technique called Photometric Stereo. If I need certain texture, or pattern I take my Sony A7RII and take number of photographs under different lighting conditions and than process those with our “Dabarti Capture” tool. I use it as enhancement to our usual procedural shading workflow and also to learn more about micro-bump structure of different surfaces.
Ultimately there is a lot of testing and looking for something that just looks good. I like to jump between different shaders in order to “clear my mind” and not focus on certain part too long. Also leaving something for a day or two can be very useful for detaching yourself from the artwork. I also keep different versions saved for future review and often rollback when needed.
I recently started sharing videos from my workflows on Youtube. Here is one on procedural shading:
…and here is “Salt, pepper, Basil” shading breakdown:
…and those shots in motion:
Lighting is usually quite simple, but I test a lot of options before settling. With V-Ray GPU I can interactively check different settings and possibilities. On top of that I use my little Maxscript tool “Dabarti Light Assistant” for placing lights. It allows aligning the light to certain parts of the geometry and It’s also available for free on my website. Together with real-time feedback of V-Ray GPU it promotes “happy accidents”. The only problem is deciding on when to settle, to help with this I set my self up with time limit.
I try to render everything out of camera. We work on animation so to save time in compositing We push for getting as close to final look straight out of the engine. We render real depth of field with lens effects like “cat eye” and anamorphic lens, motion blur is there. No post production shenanigans.
I try to push myself with more challenging projects and shots that I just want to create. Most of the time we’re our own client and for the contract work I try to push for projects with more creative freedom.
As long as I love personal project, with those it’s important to know whet it’s time to let go. And knowing when to just finish the damn thing and move on to the next one. Ultimately it’s all about just sitting down and doing the work, and often it may be the hardest part.
I think it’s good to practice different skills and trying to learn something new each day, even if it’s something small. It may sound trivial, but it helped me a lot with problem solving. And there is a lot of things to solve when running own company.