The 3D Wanderer

From reimagined logos for national football teams to the opening title sequence of an advertising awards show to a futuristic car cruising along a dystopian landscape, Jeonghwan Shin’s output covers a wide range of styles and subjects.

He claims to be a 3D generalist, able to bring together various skills such as animation, character design, simulation, and VFX synthesis. His works display a sense of exploration and experimentation that can only come from the curiosity of someone who is fairly new to the field. 

But to me he is a 3D storyteller, always keeping his viewers foremost in his mind, designing not just mere 3D visuals but 3D experiences. Every sequence, no matter how brief, has a sense of beginning, rising action, climax and denouement. 

And there’s always a feeling.

This last bit, this feeling, isn’t just a function of the well-crafted visual. Hwan’s and his team’s choice of music and how to pace it gives their materials an unmistakable flavor and identity. Now, music isn’t 3D but the ability to employ it tastefully gives their studio an edge. 

Check out this seemingly simple animated advert for a clothing brand:

The video may not exactly have a cast of characters or a plot, but the masterful choice of the music along with the flow of the visuals take the viewer on a journey that begins with a mystery, then proceeds to discovery, and then finally a sense of having arrived once the brand was revealed. Short, sweet, and perfectly fits the product being featured: a mountain parka.

Where does this pulse for storytelling come from? Hwan’s background offers some clues.

Hwan before 3D

After graduating from college, Hwan worked for a company doing graphic design and UX/UI. Now, if you’re familiar with UX/UI (user experience/user interface), it’s a discipline that greatly involves thinking about the user or viewer. When designing user experience, you need to be able to control the attention and subsequently guide the actions of a user – very much like storytelling.

Now, while Hwan was doing graphic and UX/UI design, he began learning 3D video production on his own. Then when the opportunity to work on 3D motion graphics presented itself (while still doing UX/UI), he took it.

With a good opportunity, I was able to work at a company where I could do both UXUI work and 3D motion graphics projects,” said Hwan. “Then I started to build my career as a 3D motion graphic designer in earnest because I thought that 3D motion graphic work suited me better.

All these happened within a span of 2 years. Hwan only started working in the industry in 2021. Things happened rather quickly for Hwan because just last year, after only having worked in the 3D industry for a year, Hwan launched his own 3D studio. 

Projects came in, and one of the projects Hwan and his team got contracted to do was a large-scale media art project. It was at this point that Hwan realized that rendering 3D projects on their own computers was no longer up to par. 

I had to render a project that was too big for my personal computer,” said Hwan. “I need a render farm.”

Hwan x GarageFarm

Hwan has rendered two projects with our render farm so far. Here’s the first one:

This project is a series called Adventurer. According to Hwan, the series aims to portray “the process of moving toward self-realization by finding the "shadow" in each person's mind and facing their dark side.”

Here’s the second one. It’s a piece of work made to support the Korean national soccer team and was showcased at the Our Soccer Life exhibition held at Yeongdeungpo-gu Art Square in Seoul. Hwan is a big football fan:

According to Hwan, these 2 projects total to about 2,000 frames. Based on his own estimates, these would have needed about 40 hours to render on their own computers. 

With GarageFarm, it took around 8 hours to render,” said Hwan. That’s about a 500% reduction in total render time. 

But while the speed greatly helped Hwan and his team to complete the projects, speed wasn’t even the main thing that drew Hwan and that will keep him coming back. It was the 24/7 support team.

I often run renderings through the render farm at dawn,” said Hwan. “It was very nice to be able to solve problems almost in real time through chat even very early in the morning.”

Such support was key to Hwan and his team, since any render project can unpredictably run into issues at any moment. 

The response was close to real-time, 24 hours a day. The point was that no matter what issues arise, they can be resolved immediately, so I feel relieved because I can render with confidence anytime,”  said Hwan.

And as has been Hwan’s experience, language isn’t a barrier for GarageFarm’s support team.

I’m very satisfied with the support,” said Hwan. “There is a Korean support team that can chat in Kakao Talk, and if you are really in a rush, you can get support from an overseas support team even at dawn, so you can work with peace of mind.” 

Hwan x the future

When asked about which developments in the 3D industry interest him the most, Hwan points to AI.

I think it's definitely AI,” said Hwan. “In the future, I hope that the development of AI will be transplanted to 3D programs to help in many areas.” 

As for which software he sees will play a bigger role in his and his team’s workflow in the future, Hwan mentions Blender and Houdini.

Blender and Houdini support the node process, and I think this process is a suitable format for porting and utilizing AI,” said Hwan. “I think that if the procedural methods of Blender and Houdini are integrated with AI, a more wonderful and fun directing method can be implemented.”

While AI may start to play an increasingly bigger role in Hwan’s work in particular and to 3D artists in general, Hwan’s journey as a visual storyteller will be completely his to chart and navigate. I do not foresee AI, no matter how advanced it gets in the future, to be able to simulate Hwan’s eye and ear for feeling.

Jeonghwan Shin primarily uses Cinema 4D and Redshit. Check out his work here:

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