Corey Bastiaans is well known in the community for his incredible movie recreations and fan art projects. A CG Generalist, based in Vancouver, and currently working at FuseFX, Corey’s projects cover many genres, although a firm favorite for him is sci-fi. Whether it be dedications to Transformers, Mad Max, Star Wars, The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Ghostbusters or Batman - he's got us covered. In this interview we learn about Corey’s workflow for creating such phenomenal CG work, his personal experience with Clarisse, and his background in VFX. Enjoy!
MAD MAX FAN ART ANIMATION - Corey Bastiaans
ARGONATH - Corey Bastiaans
DUNE ORNITHOPTER ANIMATION - Corey Bastiaans
Hi Corey! Thanks for sharing your experience with Clarisse and elaborating on its place in the workflow of your many incredible projects. Can you tell us a bit more about your background in VFX?
Hi! I got involved with Visual Effects in the late 90’s when I purchased a computer for logo design that I would do on a freelance basis. It had a copy of 3ds Max, and I started playing around with 3D Animation. I had a lot of fun creating spaceships, and making short animations starring my friends. I got hired by a couple of entrepreneurs working on web customization software. They hired me as a web site designer, and creative director. My bosses really saw the potential for VFX and Animation as a marketing tool, and I ended up creating VFX sequences for the company and their clients. From there I was able to make the leap to VFX, and I now live in Vancouver, Canada working on VFX for television.
You’ve created so many amazing movie inspired projects, do you have a personal favorite?
It’s too hard to choose one in particular. I really enjoyed making the Lord of the Rings scene of Gollum. It's not a crazy environment or anything, but when you put a character into a scene it becomes a story. Most of the projects I do I try to involve some storytelling.
GOLLUM'S CAVE ENVIRONMENT STUDY - Corey Bastiaans
How were you introduced to Clarisse?
A friend of mine that I met at FuseFX left to go work at DNEG. He told me about this tool they were using called Clarisse. I had never heard of it, but I looked at some videos online, and it seemed interesting. I downloaded the Clarisse PLE, and did what everyone does; I made a forest with some mountains and a big crumbling statue among the trees, and grass.
JURASSIC PARK PTEROSAUR ANIMATION - Corey Bastiaans
How would you describe Clarisse to someone who hasn’t used it?
I would say that Clarisse is a great scene assembly tool that allows you to visualize your final output as you work on it, and before you hit render. I really like that you can see the displacements and geo without rendering test frame after test frame.
How did you find the learning curve of Clarisse after integrating it into your workflow?
The learning curve is pretty minimal for anyone that has a foundation in VFX software. I was able to get the basic shader workflow working with shading layers, and alembic caches figured out pretty quickly.
What resources did you use to help you learn Clarisse?
Mainly the Youtube videos from Isotropix, and user created tutorials. There is a lot of content out there. That, and reading the manual.
Now let’s talk about some of your projects. Starting with one of our favorites 'STAR WARS CLARISSE'. The detail of this scene is incredible. From the vivid outer-space atmosphere, to battleship assembly, to Darth Vader’s ever so eerie presence - Can you walk us through your workflow for this project? including elements created and finalized in Clarisse?
STAR WARS CLARISSE - Corey Bastiaans
I started out with a couple of models I found on Blend Swap for free, an X-wing and a TIE fighter. I used Substance Painter to give them textures. I animated the spaceships in Maya flying over a Star Destroyer I had modeled previously. To up-rez the Star Destroyer with details, I used some Kitbash gak models, and scattered them on the surface in Clarisse. Then I found some more fighters, and some capitol ships, and ran them through Substance Painter, and hooked up the textures in Clarisse. I exported the alembics of the spaceships, referenced in the lookdev, and rendered a new layer. I would add more details and render a pass. As each pass finished, I composited it and moved on to the next pass. By doing that, and filling in more and more spaceships, it's pretty easy to build a complex scene. Most of my personal projects evolve in this way.
What Clarisse features do you find most beneficial when creating epic VFX projects, such as ‘Star Wars in Clarisse’?
I really like the way Clarisse handles render layers and lighting. It’s flexible and robust so I can work however I want, and I don’t need a beefy pipeline to support me. Then there's the incredible viewport. It can handle a lot of geometry detail without freezing, or crashing on me.
Another one of your projects that we love is Lord of The Rings 'MINAS TIRITH'. This project was originally built up from an STL model of Minas Tirith for 3D printing. Is this typical of how you start your projects?
MINAS TIRITH - Corey Bastiaans
Yes. Most of my projects I'm Kitbashing, or sourcing models from Turbosquid, CGTrader, Blend Swap, you name it. With Clarisse it’s easy to incorporate different software packages into my workflow. Having textures created in Substance Painter, I can speed up my look dev with the shaders coming across 1:1 with what I do in Substance.
Can you tell us what your normal process is for taking hero models and turning them into epic scenes, and how Clarisse helps in this, specifically for this particular piece?
Usually free models, or even some of the paid models come with textures that I need to replace or tweak quite a bit. With Minas Tirith I unwrapped the UVs in Maya, and set them up as UDIM tiles. I then textured the city with Substance Painter and Megascans for the rocks. For the background mountains I used World Creator to generate OBJ's that I textured with Megascans, and procedural techniques in Clarisse. I used the Disney Cloud VDB for the volume clouds in Clarisse. To texture the mountains surrounding the city, I used Clarisse's texture nodes to add snow based on slope, and mixed in with the Megascans textures.
As a fan of film art with a knack for scene recreation, what makes you choose Clarisse time and again for this type of work?
For me Clarisse is a game changer. Clarisse is thought of mostly as an environment tool, but I think of it as a tool that you can use to assemble any type of scene. I can use Clarisse for a haunted house on a moonlit hill, or a retro robot exploring an alien landscape, or a creature in a smoky corridor, or a velociraptor tearing through a hallway.
RAPTOR ANIMATED SCENE - Corey Bastiaans
We’ve noticed you’ve been using Clarisse for quite a few years now. How do you feel the software has evolved over time?
Clarisse has had a lot of improvements since I first downloaded the PLE. The addition of adaptive sampling in the raytracer was pretty cool. I like the direction it’s going.
What other software do you use and how easy is it to integrate them with Clarisse?
I use mainly Maya for geometry cleanup, rigging, and animation. I use Substance Painter for texturing and shaders. I use World Creator for terrain geometry, and Megascans to texture landscape assets. It’s super easy to hook up a model from Substance Painter and assign the materials with shading layers. Using shading layers for a group of spaceships for example is great, because I can animate more and more ships, and just drop them into Clarisse as alembic caches and all the assets find their shaders automatically.
STAR WARS MILLENIUM FALCON CHASE SCENE - Corey Bastiaans
Which features would you like to see implemented in Clarisse in the future?
Having a way to tessellate displacements based on camera depth would be a nice feature.
What project, personal or professional, is up next?
I'm currently working on a new Star Wars scene, and going back to older projects and making new content for them. Maybe I can find some more dinosaurs.
What would you consider a dream project?
A dream project for me would be anything with huge space battles and explosions. Those are always good!
Any advice you would give to artists out there who are thinking of creating such ambitious personal work?
Start small and keep working on it. It can seem daunting to start something big, but if you break it down to smaller, easier to digest tasks, you can keep going and before long, you have something epic.
Thanks again Corey for sharing your background and lots of great details on how you use Clarisse for your epic projects. We can't wait to see your next creations!