VFX | 3D
All of us are visual people, we love the look and feel of the creations we do and also the eye-candies of others. Most of us are better in creating 3d, our brains kinda work better like that than drawing on a paper.
GERGELY HORVATH, DIGITAL DUST
Digital Dust, a team of 6 from Budapest in Hungary, are passionate, creative, and unique CG artists. The guys who are mostly generalists and always look for ways to up their game, specialize in VFX for commercials and movies, but also pride themselves in content creation and VR. They combine technical skills, creativity, and a fun work environment to accomplish their goal: creating a new level of entertainment and design. Gergely, the founder, says that VFX isn’t appreciated enough in Eastern Europe and that finding clients along with good projects is a tough task especially when you don’t have access to salesforce like larger companies do. It doesn’t stop Digital Dust from doing what they believe in and is passionate about. They aspire to dominate the industry in Hungary and to be recognized internationally.
Gergely on why they decided to use an external render farm for their project:
Since we had a very short time-frame and also not enough CPU-capacity in our office, we decided to use a render farm for it. We calculated the cost of buying a small farm for ourselves, but a couple of machines wouldn’t really help us. Also, when it comes to medium projects, cloud render farms are the best. They are very fast, and if you meet a helpful service like yours, it is not a [email protected] either.
…and his thoughts on working with GarageFarm.NET:
Working with you was one of the best decisions we made in the past years since the flexibility and friendliness you showed towards us. Also, your helpdesk guys rock :) All of our unorthodox wishes came true, every plugins and script have been installed, so we were very happy with the service of yours.
What’s your name and where do you live?
We are Digital Dust, a team of CGI/VFX fixated people, and we are located in Budapest, Hungary.
What do you guys do?
We do CGI and VFX of all kind, starting from archviz, through game content creation, CGI and VFX for movies or commercials, and also VR stuff. We have a small office here in Budapest, and we do our magic in a happy environment. Right now there are 6 of us, mostly generalists. We always try to distribute the task so everyone can use his creativity, strongest skills, or the ones he wants to upgrade.
What are your hobbies besides work?
We have a pretty broad scope of hobbies here in the team.
What were your beginnings and why CG?
This is a pretty complicated question given that we started it in different years. Gergely started doing CG in 2005, during his university studies, Zoltan got a professional degree in the Mesharray Digital Media School in 2007, and we started our team right in that year. Battore had a little more time, he started in the Pannonia Film Studio and Varga Studio as a 2D animator in ‘97 and switched to 3D/VFX in about 2000. Imi worked a lot in the game industry as a model/texture artist, also had a part in his life when he did a lot of production work (the old way with cameras and stuff).
All of us are visual people, we love the look and feel of the creations we do and also the eye-candies of others. We realized quite early that we love to brainstorm about the designs, movements, materials, effects and other visual stuff. Most of us are better in creating 3d, our brains kinda’ work better like that than drawing on a paper.
Any project you guys worked on that was particularly challenging?
For the challenging part there was a trailer made for the mobile game Planetstorm – Fallen Horizon, which was a pretty complicated project for a small team, and needed a lot of planning, and also a good workflow. We had to step up in management, creativity, and almost everything we did before, we wanted to get into the elite. There were big battle scenes with lots of passes and complicated composites which were good challenges, but in the end, I think we did it good.
The game can be found here. The cinematic we did can be found on YouTube. We created the visual stuff in it.
Is it challenging to run your own boutique studio?
Constantly :) First, it is never easy to walk your own path, and not to be an employee of a big firm. You have to create your own client base, slowly work up your hourly rate, and suffer a lot, but it is worth it, in the end it is your baby. Also, it is very hard to do this job from Eastern Europe, 3D/VFX is not yet appreciated enough, but we’re getting there…hope so. :)
I think it is very hard to find a good project with good budget if you don’t have tons of sales guys to bring you the jobs. Also, if you start a studio, it can be a pretty stressy situation when it comes to the money, since the projects usually don’t work like the salaries. They have milestones, if you slip on one, you will be in trouble. You have to carefully calculate everything beforehand so nobody needs to live on bread and butter.
Where would you like to go from here onward?
We want to be recognized in the industry not only in Hungary but worldwide, so participate in or make own projects that reach more and more people and get positive reception. We always did this kind of work because we love the artistic part of it, also because we need the diversity of the tasks that always comes with the projects. In our team there are no strict job-descriptions for the members, everyone can feed their creative desires if they want it, participate in a project in every aspect.
Are you currently working on any in-house projects?
Yes, we always wanted to create something that is totally up to us. We are in the middle of a mobile game, a series for children, and a series for adult. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you more about them at this time.
How did you come across our render farm?
One of our good business partners (Brick Visual) mentioned GarageFarm.NET, and told us that you are very good, fast, helpful, and also have a fair pricing. He didn’t lie. Working with you was one of the best decisions we made in the past years, thanks to the flexibility and friendliness you showed towards us. Also, your helpdesk guys rock :) All of our unorthodox wishes came true, you have installed every plugin and script we needed, so we were very happy with the service of yours.
DigitalDust about their experience with GarageFarm.NET:
At first, it was only great, with nice rendering times and good prices. Since we didn’t have a budget we would wish for, mostly we stuck with the “low” priority, and I think because we are from Eastern-Europe, our renderings always finished in the night, after all other companies’ jobs finished. Then our experience with you upgraded to “awesome”, after we asked some plugins and scripts from you and you fulfilled our needs without a question. After that came the “godlike” period, when we had some bad frames, and you re-rendered it for free, not mentioning the case when your guys reconfigured some of the render-nodes only for us to be able to render the most complex shot we had.
Can you talk about the project you recently rendered on our render farm?
We had a stereo3D project, made for one of the National Parks here in Hungary. This was about the flora and fauna of the miocene era, we sort of created the world based on the tellings of the paleontologists. It included creating 8 different animals with animation, and making a 7 minutes long animation, which would work well in stereo3D in a 5D cinema with moving seats and generated wind.
The project was about 24,000 frames in the resolution of 1000×750, since the projector system there is pretty old. The render time on our i5-4690K, 32GB RAM system was about 12 min per frame. Since the project’s goal was to create a stunning stereo experience, we didn’t use fake stereo (only in one or two scenes), also there is almost no composite work in the scenes, we didn’t have enough time for a complex pipeline unfortunately. Usually we had between 200,000-400,000 objects (rocks, grass, plants, footprints) in a scene, with a stereo camera, and where needed we simulated water or smoke with matte objects. We used Corona renderer for the project, since it is very fast and beautiful, also easy to setup.
It seems like a challenging project. What gave you the most trouble?
Working with people who aren’t familiar with the creative and 3D pipeline is always challenging. You can always get the “how about changing this and that, you can draw it fast, right?” questions in the very end of the project. There were lots of changes because of this problem, also creating scenes in such complexity can take it’s toll on the systems with crashes and extremely slow software-speed.
What was the reason behind using an external render farm?
This project was the most render-heavy recently, and since we had a very short time-frame and also not enough cpu-capacity in our office, we decided to use a render-farm for it. We calculated the cost of buying a small farm for ourselves, but a couple of machines wouldn’t really help us.
Do you have any previous experience with render farms?
This was our first time to use a commercial farm. In our past jobs we had enough computing power to deal with the stuff we had on our hands, it only needed a little more attention to details to make the scenes compatible with network rendering.
What’s your general stance on cloud rendering?
I think for a very small project people almost always will use in-house rendering. But when it comes to medium projects, cloud render farms are the best. They are very fast, and if you meet a helpful service like yours, it is not a [email protected] either. And there are the very big projects (e.g. feature films) where the companies tend to invest in a render-farm, since in a project in that scale you usually have lots of scripting, you want everything as your team needs it to be done, and easier.
When it comes to medium projects, cloud render farms are the best. They are very fast, and if you meet a helpful service like yours, it is not a [email protected] either. So in my opinion, cloud rendering is awesome, and is a perfect solution for medium-sized projects (budget from $10,000 – $200,000 or something), which is the biggest fish in the pool.
Where can people find you on social media?
We have instagram with the name @dgtldust.