Convince without words

Convince without words

Beauty, technology, and storytelling come together in Marina Gretsova’s archviz work

How can you convince people to change the way they live? You’d think the best way is to advocate the benefits of living more harmoniously with nature, or perhaps talk about how mindfulness and regular exercise improve the body and the mind. If you ask Marina Gretsova, however, the best way is to say nothing but show everything. 

And that’s exactly what she did in her architectural visualization piece that won her $14,585 USD in 2021’s CONVERTED Challenge organized by Ronen Bekerman:

Marina took a different approach in answering the challenge posed by CONVERTED. The challenge posed by the organizers was to visualize a repurposing of old structures and convert their looks and function into something new. While most submissions were all about transforming the space of different old structures (fuselages from crashed planes, old barns, historic ruins, abandoned factories), only Marina’s animation depicts a transformation across time

Wake Up 2051

A 2021 apartment located in a noisy and polluted urban center was transformed into a breathy and green abode in 2051. The place is replete with modern technology--hologram devices for communication, solar- and wind-powered drones for transportation, ovens that 3D-print your food--but the connectedness to nature is central and unmistakable. The expanded balcony, ideal for al fresco dining and lounging, is separated from the main living area by wide glass walls that maximize the daylight during the day, minimizing artificial lighting and energy consumption. The bedroom and dining areas are built around a raw rock outcrop from the mountainside itself on which natural foliage is allowed to grow. Olympic rings hang neatly beside the bed for exercise. The floor is made of stones and bamboo; no carpet or tiles here. Fresh fruits and vegetables are grown in the kitchen on minimalist hanging shelves beside the 3D-printing oven. Towards the end of the animation, you see a view of the surrounding area, showing you how all homes in this neighborhood are built around the natural terrain, incorporating the naturally-occurring features of the environment into the design and not hammering and bulldozing the terrain into submission to the resident’s will. Wind turbines can be seen in the distance, providing energy for the nearby homes.

What a wonderful vision. A vision that was by no means easy to visualize.

3D in the time of COVID

Joining the CONVERTED Challenge with an entry in animation was an ambitious endeavor for Marina. Doing a personal project like this has long been a goal of hers but one that she never got around to. But because of COVID-19, demand for office interior designs dropped and so did demand for office interior visualizations. This gave her more time in her hands, allowing Marina to take part in the challenge. She decided on creating an entry for the animation category.

As all 3D artists experience, there’s never enough time for any project and this is more true in animation. With Marina’s ambitious and unique concept proving difficult to execute, she found herself running out of time as the deadline neared. This is when she reached out to Ronen Bekerman (founder of The Craft, an archviz house that organizes the CONVERTED Challenge) for a render farm that he could recommend. Ronen recommended GarageFarm.NET. Marina tried it and never looked back.

Marina x GarageFarm.NET

It was the first time Marina rendered with GarageFarm.NET and she immediately fell in love with the flexibility in cost, the speed of the render, and the simplicity of the process. But most of all, Marina was impressed by the 24/7 support staff. “I love that there is always someone there for you, even at 8AM on a Sunday,” she said.

Marina’s animation was quite complex, but she pulled off an award-winning piece within 20 hours of render time. The render farm absolutely saved her as the deadline was around the corner. “Without the farm, I think my grandchildren would have to assemble the footage,” she said. Had that happened, her piece’s title, Wake Up 2051, would have had a totally different and not-so-amusing meaning for Marina.

Winning in the CONVERTED Challenge gave Marina a lot of learnings and experience she is determined to bring to future projects. For one, she will never render without a render farm anymore. It simplifies things and lessens the stress, particularly stress from deadlines. “You cannot miss a deadline for even 1 minute if you work with Finns,” she said. With a render farm like GarageFarm.NET, Marina can apply urgent changes to images or animations and have them ready the same day, without waiting through the night as she often did before. Now she can sleep tight.

More about Marina, The Cosmopolitan

Marina has been in the 3D industry for 9 years, but she finds that she’s always learning. She took an arts education in Novosibirsk, Russia. While she has an MA in spatial and product design, Marina’s heart is in 3D archviz. She has traveled a lot--originally from Siberia, she has lived in Russia, Portugal, Finland, and these days, Poland--and has an eye for photography that informs her 3D designs. Scroll through her Instagram and you’ll see how her discerning eye for composition and emotion translates to her 3D work like this one:

Inkoonranta Garden visualization
Inkoonranta Garden visualization for Fyra Design Agency, Helsinki 2021

Even with a still, Marina’s images can convey a lot of emotion. From afar, the scene looks idyllic and quite somber. Zoom in on different parts of the image, however, and you discover details that are almost pocket-stories in themselves: a couple near the water who may be rekindling their marriage, a group of young adults perhaps reuniting over a barbecue, a lone boy staring into the fire maybe contemplating his choice of college major, a newly-arrived couple on the left who seems to be having an argument. Details like these give the image a kind of human warmth even as the image’s main purpose is to showcase the beauty of the property.

She currently runs Capture.Design, an archviz studio that mostly works on public interiors visualizations for the Finnish market yet is open to new 3D challenges as well. Give their work a glance and you will see how one can convince without words. 

Marina’s work is testament to the adage that a picture is worth a thousand long as the picture makes the deadline, of course.

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