Peoria, IL, U.S.A. – MultiAd, a central Illinois firm specializing in marketing and advertising services production, was seeking a cost-effective approach to 3-D modeling and rendering. It was determined that a hybrid approach of open-source modeling software, Blender and a popular commercial-rendering solution, V-ray is the best approach in a rough economy. As client demand continues to grow for MultiAd’s 3-D production process, the company is seeking well-rounded Blender artists who are enthusiastic about an adventure into a hybrid 3-D production pipeline.
MultiAdÂ® KwikeeÂ® creates advertising images of retail consumer-packaged perishable and non-perishable goods for approximately 500 companies. The images are distributed to manufacturers, ad agencies, newspapers and the retail industry. Kwikee’s workflow relies traditionally on digital photography and supplements the image creation process with 3-D modeling.
“We selected Blender as the primary polygon mesh modeling tool because of its powerful modeling and animation capabilities which are competitive with several commercial alternatives,” says Christopher Hovey, of Kwikee 3-D research and development. “Blender’s modeling power is a result of close collaboration between the Blender artist community and independent Blender developers. The tools were developed with efficiency in mind.”
For instance, there is no need to browse through countless nested and hidden menus to execute simple polygon editing functions. Commonly used tools and functions are available with little effort. Time consuming drill-down menu operation is kept to a minimum. Blender’s initial user-interface learning curve may be steep for some users, but its workflow is quite streamlined once an artist gains proficiency.
“Blender’s flexibility further benefits our production with its ability to be customized with Python scripting for external rendering applications,” says Hovey.
In order to meet the rendering demands of a large base of manufacturers, MultiAd chose Chaos Group’s V-ray Advance Standalone to work in conjunction with Blender. According to Hovey, it offers rendering quality that is competitive with the slower, non-biased, physically accurate rendering competition.
“A significant amount of credit must be given to Andrey Izrantsev and his hard work on developing a Python V-ray export script for Blender. His development work will benefit a large number of Blender artists who require the use of a professional, biased-raytracing engine with global illumination,” says Hovey. Izrantsev may be contacted through the website, http://blender.bevice.ru.
A typical modeling job begins with receipt of a client mechanical file. For instance, if the client is a cereal producer, their marketing or branding team provides MultiAd with either a vectored Adobe Illustrator file or a flat raster product mechanical. The product mechanical file forms the basis of the UV texture map. In the cereal box modeling scenario, the mechanical file contains all of the necessary die line and score mark information to assist with construction. Irregular shaped containers, bottles and cans require additional mechanical orthographic schematics or electronic CAD files for the necessary modeling information.
Once a product is modeled and the UV map data embedded, Izrantsev’s Python script assigns the material, shader and global illumination attributes to export a scene file for V-ray Advance. In most cases, a combination of the V-ray irradiance map and light cache handle the primary global illumination process. To cope with growing pipeline demand, PipelineFX’s Qube render farm management system was selected for Kwikee’s distributed rendering process.
Thanks to the total flexibility of a 3-D environment, clients may purchase an optional custom image ordering and delivering service, iKwikee. It is a web-based VRML Java applet and allows clients to rotate, pan and zoom a preview of their product in real time with existing web technology. Clients are able to enter render output sizes, file formats and a clip path mask option. A screenshot of the presentation is uploaded as a Java servlet. The Kwikee 3-D artist is given the screenshot image as a visual reference of the client’s request for a final render in V-ray at the requested size and file format.
To create the applet, a .X3D version of a given product is exported from Blender and imported into Demicron’s Wirefusion, a Java publishing package based in Sweden. Wirefusion allows total customization of a given interface in addition to both real-time software rendering and OpenGL hardware rendering.
“Both Chaos Group and Demicron have proven the ability to provide outstanding technical support and customer service regardless of being in time zones over seven hours away, ” says Hovey.
If you are a well-rounded hardcore Blender user interested in future employment or contract opportunities as they become available, please contact Christopher Hovey
Founded in 1945 as a â€œclip-artâ€ service to the newspaper industry, MultiAd has grown by the needs of its clients and as a trendsetter in technology solutions. Today MultiAd focuses on providing the content and solutions for effective advertising and marketing solutions for over 4,000 clients. Bank of America, Lexus, The Los Angeles Times, Nelligan Sports Marketing and Kraft are just a few of the loyal base of clients. For more information, visit www.MultiAd.com
Some Examples of past projects: