NM: What's your role at Lipsync VFX? And how often do you get to try out new products for your department?
SW: I'm head of the 2D department. We use NUKE for most of our compositing needs so we don't often have reason to try out new products. That's why we were very excited when Shahin Toosi came to meet us and show the work he'd been doing using V-Ray for NUKE.
NM: What creative and technical challenges did you face prior to the development of V-Ray for NUKE?
SW: As the visual effects industry has evolved and standards have continued to rise, the clients have also demanded faster turnaround of shots. We found that we had pushed the scanline renderer in NUKE as far as it could go. It has always been a great compositing tool since being introduced by The Foundry many years ago but no one could foresee what would be expected now.
NM: When did you first hear that a solution was being developed and how happy did that make you and the team?
SW: I was recruiting compositors for some feature films we have in production at the moment. I contacted Shahin, initially unaware that there was so much more to his skill set than a traditional compositor. During our meeting he showed me the tests he had been doing using V-Ray for NUKE which were pretty amazing. It was very exciting to think about how this could work for Lipsync VFX by giving compositors more flexibility to make their own adjustments to the 3D lighting, shading and texturing within NUKE.
We offered Shahin a job as a lighter/compositor at Lipsync with the plan to try out V-Ray for NUKE in production. We were delighted that he accepted the job and thus we became part of the beta testing program.
Sci-fi city by Shahin Toosi
NM: In your opinion what are the core benefits that V-Ray for NUKE offers? What can other VFX departments look forward to?
SW: It allows us to develop shots so much more than before within the usual tight production deadlines and gives us a competitive edge over a more traditional pipeline. There is a lot to learn but the artists that have been involved so far seem really excited by it. Compositors get the freedom to drive their shot forward themselves. They can even change CG assets easily within NUKE so they don't need to go back to the 3D artist. Meanwhile 3D get more time freed up to work on other shots rather than getting stuck on fixing the same one. Lighters have a richer toolset - they can modify HDRIs and match the scan perfectly. Our CG supervisor Laurent-Paul Robert has been using it for the past couple of months and is a very big fan of this new pipeline and all the possibilities it offers. Environment artists also get access to a more flexible toolset without having to leave NUKE.
NM: Is there a project (that you're allowed talk about) that has already seen the benefits of working with V-Ray for NUKE?
SW: So far we have used it on the film Unlocked which is due for release in 2016 and we are using it on some other features still in production, which we can't speak about just yet!