We sat down for a small tchat with Victor Dufayard, a young and talented Digital Matte Painter currently working for MPC in Montreal. Victor answered our questions and kindly shared some special insights on how he used Clarisse on his personal project, “Expedition”, a complex 3D environment inspired by the beautiful landscape of Iceland
Hi Victor! Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your VFX background?
Hi! I come from Gap, a beautiful small town located in the South-East of France. Passionate about 3D, I graduated from Bellecour, an Art School specialized, among other things, in 3d Animation, FX and Concept Art. After leaving school I spent half a year working for Fauns, a transmedia studio based in Lyon, and then moved to MPC Montréal where I’m currently working as a Digital Matte Painter.
How did you first hear about Clarisse?
While studying at Bellecour, my training gave me a strong foundation to work as a Generalist and taught me a certain way of working. Step by step, I specialized myself in Environments, learning the tools on my own, until Stéphane Stradella, my Compositing teacher at Bellecour, told me about a powerful software that would completely change my workflow when it comes to creating massive and complex scenes - this is how I met Clarisse! Since then, Clarisse has become an essential tool in my workflow.
How would you describe Clarisse to someone who doesn’t know about it?
For me Clarisse is a powerful software that allows to create and manage very complex scenes while giving the artist complete artistic control of his work and offering an almost instantaneous visualization of the final rendering, making any artistic changes very easy!
What did you find the most surprising when you started using Clarisse? What did you like the most at first ?
My biggest surprise was the speed and responsiveness of the 3D view, the instant visual feedback is hugely beneficial! But what I like the most is the control of the scatter and the incredible number of objects it can generate! It really makes the difference when creating massive environments!
How smooth was it integrating Clarisse into your workflow? What’s the learning curve like?
Clarisse’s integration in my workflow was very smooth! I taught myself Clarisse at home on my spare time, watching Isotropix’s tutorials online. Picking up the software was fast and easy: I learned Clarisse’s basics in just a few days! Clarisse is a really intuitive tool, easy to learn and, very quickly, it helped me set dress complex environments in no time!
Talking about our Learning Hub, what do you think about our learning resources?
The Clarisse Learning Hub contains all the needed tutorials to learn Clarisse’s basics plus several tutorials to explore key features more in depth! For specific parameters, the Clarisse user Guide is also very handy! Otherwise, the forum is a great source of information!
Which tutorial do you prefer?
My favorite tutorial is the one explaining the Particle Paint tool! Being able to interactively paint billions of polys in Clarisse was a must-have addition to the software!
Where did the inspiration for your project "Expedition" come from?
I had the opportunity to travel to Iceland a few years ago. It’s the memories of these amazingly beautiful landscapes that gave me the idea for this project.
Can you give us an overview of the tools you used on “Expedition”?
For this project I used a variety of different tools including the Scopes, the Particle Paint tool and the Cryptomatte. It allowed me to blend different textures on the floor so that I easily get a maximum of detail in the foreground. I also intensively used the Particle Paint tool combined with the scatterer to add details on the ground such as pebbles or herbs. In addition, Cryptomatte has become an invaluable part of my toolkit. Having the ability to create any matte in Nuke according to assets, objects or materials and adjust grading without having to worry about motion blur or antialiasing, as well as its seamless implementation within Clarisse, make it a go-to addition to any of my renders!
What are the main challenges you faced when beginning this project?
The biggest challenge for this project was to keep details on the ground texture in the foreground of the scene since the mesh of the ground extends from the foreground to the background of the image!
How did Clarisse help you in the process of making “Expedition”?
I make extensive use of the 3D View. I start my work in Previz Shading Mode and Fps Driven Refresh Mode to move around trillions of polygons freely and layout my assets. After that, the Progressive Rendering shading mode, combined with the Sampling Quality and Refinement Count dials, is then the fastest, most effective way to lookdev my assets, adjust my lighting, and camera, and get the exact look I am going for. For this project Clarisse helped me to quickly set up my lighting and global ambiance. The Image Gallery was also really handy and helped me to easily create different lookdevs of my scene!
Which Clarisse feature helped you the most on this project?
Being able to import high poly models directly out of of Zbrush or Worldmachine, was a real game changer as I did not have to use a displacement map to add details.
How did you create the volumes? With Houdini? Or directly in Clarisse?
For volumes, such as the smoke of the wheels, I used Houdini. I then exported the VDB to render them directly in Clarisse. For all the atmospheric effects I directly use Clarisse’s volumetric effects which are very easy to set up and highly configurable!
How was Clarisse essential to your workflow on this project?
Clarisse was a real time saver on this project! Its instancing system that allows to quickly update the scene and always have the latest version of the assets was particularly useful! Not only does Clarisse streamline my workflow, it also helps simplify my work while creating environments as it allows fast iterations while keeping everything really easy to manage!
What type of computer did you use?
I used a workstation with decent performance. (16 GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070, Intel Core i7-7700) And Clarisse runs perfectly even with the heaviest scenes!
How fast do you feel Clarisse is evolving? How are you moving forward with Clarisse?
I've been using Clarisse for over a year now and since then, it has evolved a lot! There are regular updates, lots of new tools and lots of new tutorials! I have planned another big project with Clarisse! I hope you will like it!
Which feature would you like to see implemented in Clarisse?
I love to create cities and streets - it would be great to have a tool that easily allows to generate traffic!
What would you consider a dream project?
I love science fiction and my dream would be to participate in the creation of a huge futuristic city!
What advice would you give to aspiring VFX artists?
For a person who would like to become a VFX artist I would advise to start by learning all the 3D basics and then specialize in an area of interest. But, the real secret is to always keep up to date with 3D news. We’re working in a constantly evolving Industry and we must constantly stay up to date with new tools!
Big thanks for your time!