Founded in 2017, Recom Blacksmith is a CGI and post-production studio that offers creative imagery on fine art, fashion and still life to full CGI architecture and automotive visualization. The company currently counts around 50 employees with offices located around the world going from Bulgaria, Germany, London to New York and Los Angeles. Recom Blacksmith is internationally known and works with top advertising agencies and photographers for renown brands from the Automotive sector.
We’ve had the chance to sit down with Ivoslav Stanev, head of CGI and managing partner of Recom Blacksmith for an exclusive interview about their use of Clarisse in the Automotive Advertising industry.
Hi Ivoslav! Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the Automotive Visualisation industry?
Hi! Well if I wanted to summarize, I was initially struggling on deciding what I wanted to do in life. I was passionate about different subjects. I spent 5 years with a more technical background as I did computer science even if I am not a mathematical guy. One day I opened Maya, and a couple of months later I was studying at the University of Bradford in a computer animation and VFX program. When I graduated, I started to work directly for 3D production.
What has been your progression in the automotive industry? What packages have you used and what are some of the challenges that you face in the industry?
My progression was long even if I mostly always worked for the automotive industry. I started by doing (online) configurators for Mercedes. (Editor’s note: an online configurator generates a faithful render of a car with user configured options based on all the different render variations). Then, I moved on to advertising rendering. I am very lucky as I was able to work for many different big companies.
At Recom Blacksmith, we’ve used VRED as it is very powerful for automotive renderings. It was the first time that I saw it was possible to relight in real time, but it had its limits. Those limits are mostly at handling large CAD data or vegetation. VRED is great when you have a backplate from the photographers and you want to integrate a car in it. Unfortunately, if you want to render a tree, rocks or something else, the software crashes because it can’t handle this type of geometry. We’ve also used Maya and V-Ray as base softwares in the last few years. V-Ray can render in large resolutions at an amazing quality, but rendering an environment is very slow.
In my opinion, the main challenge artists face when making something in 3D is that about 80% to 90% of the work is purely technical and only 10% is about being creative. Having so little time for the creative part is a struggle for us.
Another challenge that applies to my particular field is working on big backplates above 10 000 pixels. With such resolution, it is difficult to generate scenes where everything looks perfect. Tuning up the materials or lights to look real can also be laborious on a daily basis.
How did you first hear about Clarisse and how did you get into it?
I first learned about Clarisse a couple years ago, I was impressed at how fast you could duplicate geometry without having any issues. If you try to do similar work in Maya or V-Ray, you reach the limits of the graphics card which forces you to put your creative mind aside and take care of technical problems.
I first tried using Clarisse with a car model coming from CAD data. This model was about 20 million polygons which I copied 200 times in Clarisse. I also had made a rough matte glass shader on that car, which is very heavy, and that was no problem for Clarisse. Once I trusted the software, I chose to further test Clarisse with car paints, tires, smoke and stones and it still worked perfectly!
How did you use Clarisse iFX on the MB X-CLASS project?
I wanted to have a solution to our technical problems and enjoy creativity. What I like about Clarisse was the amount of geometry it could work with, that it was user friendly for people who didn’t want to focus too much on the technical aspect. I tried it on the X-CLASS project and was happy because I could import Quixel assets very fast, which meant that I could do layout very fast. I was really curious to see how much geometry Clarisse could eat and see the textures and high detail it could provide. It was the best solution and I was happy with the results.
MB X-CLASS project - Greyscale render of layout
MB X-CLASS project - Final render
How has Clarisse affected your work?
We are living in a world where everyone wants projects to be done as quickly as possible. They want to see results right away. For an artist this can be counterproductive. You can’t afford to take the time to make a grey shade render to see how the details look. It’s pretty difficult because you are forced to anticipate issues before rendering. When I work with Clarisse, I can see everything interacting with everything and I can make a couple of lighting scenarios in a day, which wasn’t possible to achieve with other softwares.
What would you tell people who might be hesitant about using Clarisse?
This is my personal experience using Clarisse during the last commercial project I have done. My work was around 14 000 x 14 000 pixels and I was able to check and see everything before rendering, and Clarisse worked perfectly and was very easy. You can trust the software and trust the outcome. You can finally take the time to be creative without wasting it on technical problems. It’s really a gain in your daily work routine.
What do you think about some of the alternative rendering technologies for the automotive industry?
The automotive industry is concentrated right now on Unreal, which is difficult as the resolutions in it are limited. Managing geometries complexity is a lot of work even if it turns out nice, but most people don’t know how much GPU power you need to make a good image.
What is the position of Clarisse iFX at your studio?
In my studio we are actually completely switching to Clarisse right now. We are currently working on a couple very big commercial productions where we are fully using Clarisse along with SpeedTree, a software to generate vegetation. Clarisse allows me to think creatively and bring more ideas to my scenes. Often, the creativity for a project is taken away by the technical aspects and errors you have to deal with. And this can cause visual damage within a project.
Now that you have experience using Clarisse, would you say it allows you to be more creative or even think out of the box? Do you work on different jobs now that your work is simplified?
Yes, the customer wants more because I am so much faster! It creates a different kind of problem. But globally it allows us to be more visual, adaptive and create very good scenes.
You can watch the live interview of Ivoslav here.