“I have been using HDR Light Studio for about 5 years now and it’s my constant companion. I have produced 200+ images and animations lit only with custom HDRI maps”
Brendan McCaffrey is a 3D artist and long time user of HDR Light Studio. We had a chat with him to find out more about his background, 3D tools/workflow and more. Of course this is a great opportunity to showcase his amazing imagery too!
Brendan how did you get into 3D CGI?
I studied industrial design in University in the 90’s and started rendering with marker, pastels and color pencils. We had some AutoCAD courses, but 3D was almost non-existent back then. I did a work placement in an arch viz company and was introduced to 3D Studio (R2). Once I returned to University I started doing all my project rendering work in 3D. Once I graduated I worked in arch viz for a few more years and then in 2001 moved to Singapore where I worked in a product design firm doing product rendering and digital content for mobile devices. I moved to Spain in 2003 and started my own business and have been doing that ever since.
Monster / Cinco Design
What type of 3D work do you?
I do a variety of work these days including Key Art for video games, pack shots for toys and products as well as illustrations for advertising. I have always had a strong affinity for hard surface work but more and more I am working with characters and environments which is a nice change of pace.
ANKI / Cinco Design
What’s are your main 3D tools and renderer and why?
Currently I am running a suite of different tools including 3. I do tend to do most of my rendering in 3DS Max and V-Ray as it’s still the best combination for the kind of work I am doing. V-Ray is a great workhorse and with version 3 has become even easier to use and get dependable results from. The 3DS Max part of that equation may change soon though as I receive a lot of rigged characters in Maya from the games side so going back and forth between Maya and Max is getting frustrating. I’m looking at a few options right now but the best one may be simply going with V-Ray for Maya.
Mattel / Cinco Design – Hot Wheels
How does HDR Light Studio 5 fit into your workflow?
HDR Light Studio has long been an essential part of my workflow I simply can’t imagine working without it, whether completely lighting a scene or boosting values and adding lighting on an existing photographic HDR image. It’s actually very rare for me not to use HDR Light Studio in lighting a scene as it gives me complete creative control of the image. I have used it more traditional product, toy & car rendering but also extensively in key art for games like Star Wars Battlefront, Scalebound, Need for Speed and Dawn of Titans.
What are the main benefits of using HDR Light Studio 5?
In a word, speed. Setting up a lighting scheme is damn fast and very intuitive. Light painting allows you to place highlights exactly where you want them and in conjunction with V-Ray RT you have instant feedback. Version 5 comes with a host of new and enhanced feature allowing a much greater degree of accuracy than before. It has matured greatly as a standalone app as well as an integral part of other 3D applications but is still a very artist friendly, intuitive tool, so much so that there is practically no learning curve, it just works as you’d expect. With the added benefit of being able to predictably transport lighting setups between 3D apps HDR Light Studio will certainly be part of my 3D toolkit for the foreseeable future.
Would you recommend HDR Light Studio to other 3D artists?
Absolutely! For anyone doing product visualization or studio style lighting this software is an essential tool but it’s also great to have on pretty much any lighting job.
You recently worked on the Star Wars Battlefront game art, looks like a great project. What were the challenges on this project and was HDR Light Studio able to help?
The Star Wars Battlefront Key Art was very challenging because the scene was quite complex with a lot of high res geometry (character sculpts from Zbrush, high res vehicle models, 3D scans of environment elements) and there was a lot of renders to produce in a fairly short period of time. Where HDR Light Studio really helped was in the look development stage. It allowed me to very quickly explore different lighting stories and then progressively refine those into the final artwork. Although this was not a typically studio lit shot HDR Light Studio still rules when it comes to precise control over lighting in exterior scenarios. Adding boosters to the environment to augment the rim lighting effect made it easy to achieve the look I was after.
Brendan’s daughter’s character designs
Thinking ahead, what would be a dream project for you, what type of job have you not tackled yet and would love to add to your folio?
In the last few years I have worked on a lot of dream projects, in a way it was like taking a tour through my childhood, from GI Joe to Hot Wheels to Star Wars. I’m hopeful the trend will continue and who knows what’s around the corner. I would love to work on more character based projects and my recent experiences with Scalebound and Dawn of Titans (at Realtime UK) has certainly increased my appetite for that. I’m also hoping to team up with my daughter to start producing some of her character designs in 3D.
Many thanks to Brendan for sharing his time with us to help put this article together. To see more of his work visit his web site: www.http://bmcaff.com