This month TheCGBros have the pleasure of interviewing Jules Faivre, CG project manager for formaDisseny, the studio responsible for creating the new intro for TheCGBros YouTube channel! In addition to 3D Character Animation, they also specialize in creating 3D Infographics, 3D Virtual Simulations, 3D/360º Images and Videos, Interactive 3D, Real-Time 3D, 3D AR, VFX, and App creation.
CGB – Can you briefly explain the history of Forma Disseny and its origination?
FD: Forma Disseny first opened its doors in October 1997 in Barcelona, Spain by three licensed 3D designers. Using 3D Studio 2.0 for MS-DOS they started creating Architecture renderings, for several high profile luxury brands and the business grew steadily from there, and in 2010 Forma Disseny became a leader in Spain for Architecture Visualizations.
CGB – How large and competitive is the CG/VFX industry in Spain?
FD: There are a few but nothing compared to U.S., France or England, most of the studios in Spain are strictly dedicated to Architecture visualizations. That is one of the main reasons we created different departments at formaDISSENY was to fill this growing need as well as meet the demands of other emerging technologies. Currently, we have 4 departments, FormaCG which focuses on Visual Effects & Animation, formaARCH for Architecture Visualization, formaVR Virtual & Augmented Reality, and formaSCHOOL for 3D training.
CGB – Do you feel there are any advantages or disadvantages to having your studio located in Spain instead of the US?
FD: Both have advantages and disadvantages. In the U.S. there are great opportunities to work on many top-tier projects alongside very talented people, however, there is a strict hierarchy and the workflow feels much like an assembly line which I truly believe restricts much of your creativity. In addition, you also have to be prepared to work a lot of overtime hours. In contrast, working in Spain you have much less pressure and more flexibility in your workflow, and because of that, a very small team of talented artists can produce a large quantity of high-quality output in a very short amount of time. Spain also happens to be a very relaxing country which really helps to be more creative.
CGB – What are the main 3D software packages your studio utilizes and why?
FD: It’s difficult to say “Main” programs because we use so many different software tools, and have more than 40 licenses in 3D/2D software, from Zbrush, C4D, to Adobe’s software. We use all of these different tools in order to build final scenes, launch renders and makes effects, but I if I had to choose I would have to say we use all of the programs from Autodesk because they were the first on the market when we started 20 years ago.
CGB – What renderer do you use for the majority of your projects and why?
FD: At formaARCH we use Vray because of its realism and we spend months with clients like Cartier, Gucci, Tous etc… to validate lights set, shaders, Global illumination and render settings. For luxury brands, it is crucial to have all of the 3D renders of their stores looking like exactly how they will be. Simply for this reason, we would be hard-pressed to ever switch to another render engine at formaARCH.
At formaCG we use the Octane Render because it’s basically the fastest GPU render on the market. The workflow for using Cinema 4D/Octane render is really impressive. All the settings within the program are easy to access and adjust, and the shading and lighting are simply the best I have tested. Coming from Maya and VRay, after a couple of years I learned that with C4D and GPU Renders you can do more with less and faster. However, if there is a project that needs to render huge open range shots with massive polycounts in the background, I will definitely use Clarisse.
CGB – Do you hand-key the character animations in your productions, or is motion capture primarily used?
FD: For Humanoids/bipedal characters, we like to use motion capture for the body and facial animations. For cartoon-like animation, we also use motion capture data then we hand key-frame on top of that via animation layers and add some extra Morphs. For animals/quadruped characters, it’s strictly all hand keyed animation and we add automatic IK (Inverse Kinematics) dynamics for a character’s tail, hairstyle, and accessories.
CGB – How many people were involved with creating the new CGBros YouTube Intro and what was the inspiration for it?
FD: When we were initially contacted by TheCGBros about the possibility of creating a new Intro we were very excited by the challenge, so it was decided that I was going to personally head up the project myself. I came up with the original concept using stills, sketches, movie, and game references from the web. I then started thinking about a making a full “CGI making of” from the point of view of a film set scene to the final comp.
CGB – How were TheCGBros Intro character models and environments created?
FD: Most of the assets were created from scratch in Zbrush and others from Photogrammetry.
I then made a Matte painting for the background using an HDRI photo from the web and the ground surfaces were then created using displacement textures from our reference libraries All of the 3D models of the trees and plants also came from our library, and the mountains, house, bark, and rocks are photogrammetry processed with Recap, then decimated in Zbrush then reprojected with color corrected image maps. My typical workflow for any project including TheCGBros is Zbrush>Topogun>Cinema4D>Unfold3D>Xnormal>Substance Painter>Cinema 4D>Motion Builder.
CGB – How were the particle fire and smoke VFX created and what software package was used?
FD: The snow is simple Xparticles sets in Cinema 4D using emitters, Turbulence, and Colliders. For the Muzzle Blasts and some of the other effects, I used After Effects with animated noise and alpha footage from Libraries. The fire is VDB animation in Cinema 4D using a Turbulence FD, and then used the Physical renderer for the fire and smoke and lastly, brought the generated frames back into After Effects for post-production in order to get more control of them.
CGB – What renderer was used and how many individual passes were used and what were they for the final completed piece?
FD: I used Octane renderer 3.05 for the opacity pass, light pass, texture pass and almost all of the positions from elements and cameras were imported to After Effects. Personally, I really like post-production, where I can play around with the tones of layers, flares, alpha footage, Rotoscoping, and particles inside After Effects or Nuke. Although TheCGBros intro/Making of is short in terms of the actual time length of the piece, many things are happening visually. So more than 50 Layers are contained in the final rendered shot.
CGB – Did you create the music and sound effects in-house?
FD: We used an outside source for the TheCGBros Intro. The sound effects were created by http://www.bcntracks.com/ and the music by the talented Dutch composer Joris de Man (Helghan Forever).
CGB – We want to thank Jules Faivre for taking the time to answer our questions and give us some insights into Forma Disseny!
More about Forma Disseny:
Official Website – (http://www.formadisseny.com/ )
Facebook – (https://www.facebook.com/forma.disseny/ )
Twitter – (https://twitter.com/formadisseny )
Vimeo – (https://vimeo.com/formacgi)
Watch the the CGBros Intro Making of : Click HERE