Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Neoscape provides a wide variety of 3D visualization services to clients in the architectural industries, including those creating luxury hotels, expansive airports, and high-end condominiums. Longtime users of Autodesk® 3ds Max® Design software, this company began experimenting with Autodesk® Mudbox™ 3D digital sculpting and painting software on a recent visualization project.
Although a group of admitted and committed perfectionists, the Neoscape team has noticed an increasingly sophisticated side to their clients⎯a side that is requiring believable imperfections as a necessary component in perfect visualizations.
“Especially with things like food and furniture, realistic visualizations depend on believable imperfections,” says Victor Erthal, senior digital artist at Neoscape. “Small variations in texture; small creases in fabrics; often tiny elements make 3D visualizations that much more real. More and more, that is what our clients want and expect. Autodesk Mudbox helps us quickly achieve levels of realism that are much more difficult and time-consuming to accomplish in other software packages.”
“Typically, our clients have very different needs than people in the entertainment industry,” explains Carlos Cristerna, associate principal at Neoscape. “Over the years, we’ve tended to work to create very precise geometric shapes and pristine lines in our visualizations, not the kind of organic realism you see in animated films or video games. As our clients grow increasingly sophisticated in their demands, however, the level of detail needed in our visualizations has become really remarkable. As a result, we’ve grown more curious about software like Autodesk Mudbox.”
As clients demand more realism in their visualizations, things like food, furniture, and other scene props, once considered mere decorations in a pristine rendering, have become much more important.
“We are way past the point where computer visualizations of architectural projects are a novelty,” says Erthal. “Our clients want visualizations that are indistinguishable from the real world. A well-rendered visualization is one thing, but making things perfectly real means really excellent imperfections.”
For a recent visualization of a high-end restaurant, Erthal knew he was going to have to create believable food items, including a group of digital muffins that needed to figure prominently in the foreground. Rather than rely on stock images, Erthal decided to model a muffin from scratch.
“I took Autodesk Mudbox home and experimented with it over a weekend,” he says. “I was amazed at how easily I could sculpt and texture this entirely unique and perfect—that is to say, perfectly imperfect—muffin in such a short time. As soon as I’d done that, I began to realize the implications Mudbox could have on furniture, draperies, pillows, and all kinds of other items in our architectural scenes. I began to show people how we could add much richer detail to our visualizations using software that enables much more interactive and intuitive modeling, texturing, and even coloring.”
“It looked so real that we were quickly sold,” adds Cristerna. “Almost immediately, I thought of a big project we are working on that needs hundreds of furniture pieces, many of which are meant to look old and weathered. Mudbox promises to be a big help in achieving the realism we are after on jobs like that.”
While Neoscape digital artists have been using Mudbox mainly for set dressing and furniture items so far, they have big plans for the future. A more recent project involves an older brick building that is being reconditioned.
“It is very important for the client that the old brick building look worn and rather grimy, and Mudbox is absolutely ideal for that kind of work,” notes Cristerna. “At Neoscape, we are always trying to raise the bar and make things better. There are just so many things that we can do with Autodesk Mudbox that it is well on its way to becoming a must-have tool at Neoscape.”