Being a 3D artist is fun but it is not easy. It is endless hours of toiling with the ins and outs of various software, each with its own arcane menus and settings and parameters. It is grappling with a million steps between modeling to rigging to texturing. Add another million for rendering. With every project, you are accountable for both the big picture and the small details in every single frame.
Imagine dealing with all that. Then add to that the pressure, the hassles, and the challenges that come with managing the business side of a 3D studio – presenting work to the client, gathering and organizing their feedback, ensuring that the work meets both the budget and the deadline, figuring out how to accommodate last minute requests, coordinating with other vendors, so on and so forth. Basically, a million other things.
Now imagine doing all that alone.
That’s what DooHyeok Kim does. As the CEO and lone 3D artist of Dots Core, DooHyeok is both boss and manpower, head and limbs, brains and operation.
Curious to see an incredible anamorphic video by Dots Core showcased during the 2023 CES?
This video would be an outstanding piece of work for any team, regardless of size. However, the small team led by DooHyeok (he had to contract freelancers; yet another operational decision he had to make and implement as a CEO) had just 45 days to turn it all around. And as if that wasn’t difficult enough, they were also working on this other video for the same event:
DooHyeok of course had help when it came to rendering these projects. He needed to enlist a render farm service in order to meet the tight deadline.
“I worked on a total of 2,400 frames for the two videos and they were about 1 and a half minute each. It would have taken so long to produce it without using a render farm,” said DooHyeok.
DooHyeok used to do all the rendering on his own computer but that proved impractical once the timelines for projects got crunched. “I used to render locally with my own machine before [but now] I use GarageFarm handling urgent work at the company,” said DooHyeok.
Rendering is such a complex process that errors are pretty much part of the equation. DooHyeok ran into an issue with a few frames in one project. GarageFarm’s 24/7 support staff came to the rescue. “Especially in an emergency, the support teams worked together solving the problems,” he said.
However, as happy as DooHyeok was with how the support team was able to help him out, the sign of a good online render farm experience is not having to need any support anymore. “Honestly in my recent experience, the rendering was so smooth that I didn't have to communicate with the GarageFarm support team at all,” said DooHyeok.
Flexibility in pricing is also key when using a render farm service. DooHyeok found a way of working with GarageFarm that perfectly suits his workflow, budget, and timelines. All relatively less complex scenes, he beams over to GarageFarm for rendering. Then if the project has some leeway in terms of the due date, he handpicks heavy scenes that are the most prone to rendering issues and renders those locally. “If a large amount of sequences were needed that fall within 2 minutes per frame, I think [the pricing] is very reasonable,” DooHyeok said.
The user interface is also crucial when it comes to cloud rendering. If uploading files to the render farm is a cumbersome process, that kind of draws away from the idea of using an online render service for its supposed speed. Not so with DooHyeok’s experience with GarageFarm. “In recent work, the plug-in and Beamer worked so well that I was able to finish the urgent project safely because I could just submit my jobs to render in GarageFarm and focus on the other work. My recent experience has been very much satisfying. The reliability of GarageFarm's own software helped a lot,” he said.
Lastly, DooHyeok’s choice of GarageFarm for his rendering needs also has to do with his choice of 3D software. A render farm would do you no good if it doesn’t support your 3D software. In DooHyeok’s case, GarageFarm supports all of his go-to software: Houdini, Cinema 4D, and Redshift.
For DooHyeok, GPU rendering is the future. Its evolution offers to unlock more and more possibilities for 3D, particularly real-time rendering. Because GPUs have more cores than a CPU, it’s able to run rendering calculations in parallel, offering more speed and offloading rendering duties from the CPU which then allows the CPU to perform other tasks.
(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s an article about GPU rendering that can bring you up to speed).
In line with this, DooHyeok is excited by developments with Unreal Engine 5. UE is the 3D software often used for games due to its real-time rendering prowess, but more and more is also used for cinematic purposes.
(If you also aren’t too clear about what real-time rendering is, read up about it here.)
As for 3D digital art (think NFTs, AI art), DooHyeok has an interesting take. He feels that as this field is becoming increasingly saturated and competitive, quality artistic expression becomes more and more precious. “As the audience’s taste is getting higher and higher, the 3D digital art industry is likely to become more competitive and the degree of difficulty goes higher unless artists create visually differentiated images compared to others. So, I would say it seems that your own expression technique or a unique look will be more important,” DooHyeok said. Sounds like DooHyeok is an advocate of the human touch in 3D.
Going it solo in the world of 3D may not be for everyone. You need both mastery of 3D hard skills and managerial, operational, and business chops. But if you’re interested in trying your hand at starting your own single-person studio, perhaps DooHyeok’s beginnings in 3D offer some wisdom on how you can approach this endeavor. “I have been able to work in this industry with satisfaction. It seems to be important that we should try it without just being afraid of using tools,” he said.
There’s no other way of knowing beforehand whether you can or can not succeed as a soloist in the 3D world. You just have to try it, if it’s something you’re interested in. You just have to set aside the fear and plow through. Fear is the only mind-killer.