David Wu

Hello David, tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Godiva - Created by Art Director: Ruth Ong / 3D Modeler: Gnatt Reagan / 3D Render, Photoshop, Photography: David WuGodivaWhen I was at NYU studying Music Technology in the early 90's, I got exposed to a lot of Multi-media software, and started playing with Infini-D on the Mac. At the same time a friend of mine got a Video Toaster, and actually asked me to figure it out so I could teach him how to use it. That's how I learned Lightwave 3D and got into 3D animation. A few months after that a few friends and I started our own business doing TV commercials and also graphics for print advertising, and our first job was to create two 30 second 3D animations. The schedule was very tight. We had to create all of the models, paint textures, animate, and render 60 seconds of CGI within a week. We used Lightwave for that since I was already familiar with it, but right after we finished that job, we brought EIAS 1.5 and FormZ, because the computer system we used was 100% Mac based.

Can you tell us a little about the MINI website winning the JD Powers award?

About five years ago, my friend Alonzo Von Threet, whom I knew from the NYC EI User group, asked me to help him with the MINI renders because he was tied up in another project. We had to deliver a large number of photorealistic car renders for the MiniUSA website. There were 360 spins, hero shots, the car in different settings, plus interior shots, etc.

The bulk of the renders were for a car configurator, where the user can choose all of the different options to add to the base car (such as body paint, wheels, head lamps, sport kits, navigation system, upholstery). Mini claimed the number of combinations were over a million! So we had to render the base car exterior and interior, then all of the different accessories that could be added. Keep in mind that there are multiple models of MINIs. So the amount of renders were huge.

All the 3D models were provided by BMW, and they were huge. Just the exterior was millions of polygons, and the interior another few million. So we had gigabytes of Maya files. At that time, most 3D software including EI, Max, Maya, were 32 bits only. So we had to jump thru lots of hoops just to get the 3D data loaded.

Did you use EI for that website?

Mini R58 - Front - Created by 3D rendering: David WuMini R58 - FrontAs you know, the job was huge, and I divided up the work among different members of my team. All the exterior shots were done with Max, Vray, and later modo while everything interior were done with EI. And everything was rendered in passes and composited together and fine tuned in Photoshop.

Do you find EI is good when collaborating with other 3d artists on larger projects?

Collaboration is very important. I work with a small team of 3D artists and they all have their favorite tool, and many clients will provide us data as Maya files. EI has matured a lot in terms of working with other software, the new obj import engine in v9 is very fast and it imports those MINI cars with millions of polygons with ease. And one of my main hardbody modeling artist uses Modo exclusively, and getting his models into EI thru obj is a breeze. Of course there is still lots of room for improvement. All the 3D packages on the market were never designed to talk to each other very well, so I hope EI can take the lead and make the process more seamless.

What do you find Electric Image is best at?

DISH Network- kid Learning - Created by DISH Network- kid Learning3 things - Speed, Quality and Ease of use. Most people should know that EIAS has one of the fastest renderer on the market, especially when dealing with very large data sets. There are other fast rendering engines but most of them slow to a crawl when you have millions of polygons. And the look of the render is top notch. It is not just about realism, Camera has a certain look to the output that is artistically pleasing. Another not so obvious advantage is how easy it is to use. I think it is probably the easiest 3D software to learn and use.

Do you have any EI lighting tricks of the trade that you would like to share with newbies and salty veterans.

When using a HDR map to light a scene, I would render a 2-3 second animation with shaders, textures and anti-alias off, and with just the HDR map rotating 360 degrees around the scene to find the best looking angle for the light.

I also use blurred reflection in almost every material. Most materials in the real world are reflective to a certain degree, even rough surfaces. Even very matte materials like a piece of paper can be reflective, they are just very blurred and at a very small amount. The devil is in the detail, adding the right amount of blurred reflection to things can make a big difference in realism.

Do you have any general advice for our readers

Anti Smoking Campaign - Chinese - Created by Created by Art Director: Steve Lam / Modeling: Gnatt Reagan / 3D Rendering: David Wu / Retouching: Dolores ZorreguietaAnti Smoking Campaign - ChineseA lot of 3D artists tend to be technically inclined because of the complexity of the software. A good art or photography background is very important. Study great paintings, photographs, and try to see why they are good. Being artistically pleasing is more important than being technically accurate.

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