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Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
Carlo Maura: My name is Carlo Maura and I have been passionate about 3D graphics since I was a teenager, particularly those related to design and architecture. In 2005, after a few years of working as a CAD designer in engineering and architecture studios, I founded 3Dedintorni a studio focused on 3D and CG images for architecture,design, advertising and still life that is based in Torino, Italy.
At the beginning, because of my experience as CAD designer, most of my 3D work was architectural, but now we also work in the advertising field, especially creating still images of products for promotional material and preview. We also provide 3D graphics services to advertising agencies that want to improve their presentations. Also, we model and 3D print (using stereolithography) any type of scale model for architecture and design. And in recent months we have been working on the creation of 3D content of augmented reality for mobile apps. Because of the variety of work carried out, we have our own renderfarm that reduces the time of rendering and enables us to manage a large number of assignments.
Novedge: What is or has been the biggest influence on your work?
Carlo Maura: When I start new work I try to find something, especially images, that inspires me even if it ins't related to the object of my work. I look for something that I think is close to my client's desires. Then,on a more practical level, when I work on still life or interior design images, I optimize the modeling according to the time available and the shots I consider indispensable for creating eye-catching images. For the lighting of the scene I try to set the whole process in order to have the ability to make any changes quickly in post production. For this reason, I make different renders with different lighting that I can mix in Photoshop in order to have more control over the final image.If I have to deal with the modeling and rendering of buildings I try to use as much as possible parametric objects, symmetries, extrusions and instances of repeatable elements to be able to update the model easily if necessary. Most of the textures that I use for the materials are realized from photos I shot specifically for that project.
Novedge: How do you collaborate with clients during the creative process?
Carlo Maura:I try to establish a relationship of trust, which I think is essential to carry out a job like mine, which has a very subjective component. Obviously I follow the client's brief and I combine it with my vision of the project. Over the years I have developed a different sensitivity for each discipline, because architecture and design have different evaluation criteria from advertising. One important thing that a 3D graphic designer sometimes tends to forget is that the client does not evaluate images from a technical point of view but only from a communicative one.
Novedge: What is a recent project that you worked on?
Carlo Maura: Here's the project of a renovated house in Switzerland . Casa Emilio is a free standing house located in the hills above Ascona overlooking Lake Maggiore. The client asked us for some images of the living room area to be used for the sale. We were free to choose the look of the room so we tried to create a neutral setting and we chose stronger colors for the accessories. All the furniture was made by Italian companies. The scene was modeled in Cinema4D, rendered with V-Ray for C4D, and post-produced in Photoshop.
In the project below we had to create photorealistic images for a bag made of waterproof cardboard, called madaibag, design by Francesco Aceto. The intention was to create a young, alternative, highly distinctive and unconventional image, such as the decision to bring an accessory out of the ordinary.
The modeling took a long time because we wanted to make the product 100% realistic and easily upgradeable with different graphics, avoiding problems of distortion with the textures. So I decided to take pictures in an industrial location and I recreated the same lighting using an HDR map created ad hoc to contextualize the bags.
Novedge: What does your workflow look like? What software do you use?
Carlo Maura: I've always used Cinema 4D for modeling and rendering because it's a very intuitive software in which the functions are clear and easy to find and use. The implementation of the sculpting functions that are indispensable for the creation of accurate 3D models is very interesting I use V-Ray for C4D as a rendering engine. Although very complex and with many parameters, V-Ray is intuitive and it was the first software to add to Cinema 4D the possibility of using a physical camera that has the same choice of settings of a real camera. Also, with V-Ray flickerings and artifacts are easily avoidable in the development of animations using different combinations during the prepass phase. Recently I've been using HDR Light Studio, the ideal software to create still life images because it allows the creation of a HDR map you can use for the lighting of a scene, speeding up the creation of a virtual photo shoot in real time. And Marvelous Designer is definitely great news for 3D modeling: it has a very powerful simulation engine that allows you to simulate the behavior of a tissue in a realistic way giving you the opportunity to implement the subdivision of the meshes in order to speed up the tissue setup. Finally, I use Rhinoceros 3D when I work on 3D models used for prototyping and I use Photoshop for the textures.
Novedge: What is Models4D?
Carlo Maura: Models4D is the first and only collection dedicated exclusively to Cinema 4D and V-Ray for C4D users. Models and materials are realistic and ready to be used in scenes. Objects use HyperNURBS, symmetries, instances, and, where possible, are not exploded. All the objects are also arranged in hierarchies. I decided to create Model4D because there are plenty of network resources for users of other software such as 3ds Max, but only a few for Cinema4D users and usually those are the result of exports of models created in other software.
Novedge: What innovations do you find most exciting in your field?
Carlo Maura:The most useful innovation for my work is HDR Light Studio that, I think, has completely revolutionized the approach to the creation of a virtual photo shoot reversing the creative process. Before, you had to manually position the light in 3D space to illuminate an object and only after many render tests you would get the desired result. Now, with a simple click on the object you choose the point of mirroring and in real time you have a render preview and the lights correctly positioned in the 3D space. This allows you to create very complex sets with a total control. Also you have access to a rich library of studio lights. Another interesting innovation is the GPU rendering that allows you to use the graphics card to render with a significant increase in speed. Personally I don't use it because I have access to our internal renderfarm that allows me to continue to work on my Mac while 10 servers calculate the renders!
Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
Olle Lundberg: I am the CEO and Design Principal at Lundberg Design, which just celebrated its 27th anniversary in-business.
Novedge: On your website there's a very interesting description of your philosophy. Can you talk about your approach to design and architecture?
Olle Lundberg: Design is about composition – material, light, form, texture… and how all of those elements come together into something visually pleasing. We are always looking for new ways to express form – through the use of new materials, new techniques, or through unexpected expressions, such as utilizing repurposed objects.
Architecture is about problem solving – making a space that functions properly. Design is a component of architecture, it is in fact what differentiates architecture from building, but it is only a part. Architecture is about solving practical issues – meeting a building’s functional requirements, creating shelter, providing comfort; then if you are good you use that as an opportunity to orchestrate a memorable spatial experience.
Novedge: Architecture is often thought of as a solo profession, when in fact it's team work. How do you work with your team?
Olle Lundberg: On a typical project I interact with the client first: I learn about them and the site and the project program, from which I will develop an initial concept, usually in the form of a plan sketch. At that point the Project Architect will begin working with me to enter the sketch into Revit, which gets us to scale and also begins to drive the three-dimensional discussion. The two of us will work that way through Schematic Design, sometimes with others depending upon the project scale. As we move into Design Development consultants and more team members will join the team, and my involvement begins to lessen. I depend a lot on the PA to keep my vision, that initial diagram, intact. We are big believers in the power of the instinctual first response.
Novedge: What is a recent project that you worked on?
Olle Lundberg: HardWater is an American Whiskey Bar that opened last year on Pier 3 in San Francisco. Although very small (it is only 1400 sq ft) we packed a lot of thought and detail into the end result. This is another one of our projects with Charles Phan (Slanted Door), and he and I wanted to do something that told a kind of story about American craft – about the making of American whiskey and New Orleans food, and in doing so make a place where you could have a memorable drink with a good friend.
Novedge: Your firm also designs and manufactures furniture and other architectural elements. Can you talk about your process in creating these pieces?
Olle Lundberg: We make one-of-a-kind pieces, sort of architectural sculpture for our projects. We often use found objects and reclaimed materials, mostly because I just like them visually, and I like the patina of age and the history they bring to the composition.
Novedge: What software do you use?
Olle Lundberg: We are on Revit (Autodesk), and have been converts for 7 years now. We were absolutely one of the first small firms to embrace it, and in my opinion it is without question the future of building documentation. It is a fantastic documentation program, but not quite as good for design, although it is improving every day. The challenge with the program is that it wishes you knew everything about the building and were now just trying to document it, but that is also its power – it explains the building as a three-dimensional object from day one. Everyone in my office is incredibly proficient in it, except of course me. I still get to use napkins and yellow pads.
Novedge: What innovations do you find most exciting in architecture?
Olle Lundberg: I do think Revit is a remarkable revolution in how we draw architecture. Building Information Management (BIM) software imagines a building process that is far more seamless than the traditional architect/contractor relationship – a far more collaborative one. We are only starting to reimagine that, but it will I believe change the way most buildings are realized. But this is probably truer for large buildings, and I have to admit I enjoy smaller projects. I like craft and the hand of the craftsman – the individuality that is expressed in that type of work. We strive for one-of-a-kind moments, expressions that are unique to our clients and that project, which is an old fashioned way of looking at things. It has nothing to do with digital printing or pre-fab construction, which are interesting innovations but which don’t hold much interest for me I’m afraid.
Novedge: If you could go back in time, what would you say to your younger self before embarking in your current career?
Olle Lundberg: Don’t buy any boats (I used to own a 130 ft Icelandic Car Ferry :)