Interviewing Marsel Khadiyev about Ephere's Ornatrix

February 13th, 2017 by N. Herget


RebusFarm's family of cooperation partners just grew by one more well-known member: Ephere's Ornatrix now comes with 100 RenderPoints per license!
We are happy Marsel Khadiyev, Ephere's CEO and founder was open to talk about the enthusiastically celebrated and powerful plugin.

Hi Marsel, thank you for taking the time! Tell us something about you and your work at Ephere, please.

My name is Marsel Khadiyev, I am the CEO and founder of Ephere Inc., we are a small company who specializes in making tools for the visual effects industry. Our focus is hair, fur and feathers creation, simulation and rendering.

How did it all start? What was the original idea behind Ornatrix? How long have you been in business?

Ephere started in 2003 when I was working in a small studio in Toronto as a modeler. I have been long interested in all aspects of realizing 3d characters. While working on 3d cartoons I realized that user-friendly hair was something both challenging and badly needed in the industry.

So I quit my job there and started Ephere. Immediately I worked on Ornatrix and a few other tools inside 3ds Max. I wanted to make a hair tool that closely fits in with 3ds Max' existing pipeline for polygons and curves. This meant it had to behave similarly to Edit Poly, Edit Spline, and other beloved 3ds Max gems. After creating and releasing the initial version of Ornatrix, I could see it being adopted and loved by the 3ds Max community.

Since then we released many new versions for 3ds Max and it is widely used by freelancers as large studios. We have also integrated Ornatrix into Maya, releasing it in the middle of 2016.

These past 14 years in business taught me a lot. They allowed me to gather and work in a tight group of very talented programmers and designers and to evolve Ornatrix with our other tools into something powerful enough to be in all kinds of productions.

What can you use Ornatrix for? What is special about your plugin's integration in Maya?

Ornatrix can be used to model, animate, and render hair, fur, feathers and even vegetation. It is designed to allow intuitive artistic control over the hair grooms while utilizing a non-destructive parametric workflow. We support hair creation from scratch all the way to the final production render with a bouquet of tools carefully designed and honed over time.

We carried over the Ornatrix philosophy and adopted it to work seamlessly within Maya. Each Ornatrix operator is a Maya node; you can use existing tools like the Node Editor to shape and rewire your grooms. For hobby users, we added a hair operator stack view which really simplifies the workflow. One can add and remove operators while being able to change any part of the groom at any time.



Which software & renderers does Ornatrix support? Are you planning to include more for the future?

Ornatrix fits into Maya like a glove. We support inter-operability with Maya's own tools like nHair and Nucleus simulations. We also seamlessly handle Maya curve conversion to hair and hair conversion back into curves. Ornatrix imports and exports into Alembic which makes it very useful as a part of a bigger pipeline. It also has a big exposure for Python and MEL so writing extensions and additional tools is easy.

We provide native support for all popular renderers such as V-Ray, Arnold, Redshift, Renderman RIS, Octane, mental ray and Maxwell. Ornatrix can be readily converted into geometry or nHair and work with any other rendering method as well. We have a very close integration with RebusFarm which I will go more into detail about below.

Currently Ornatrix is available on 3ds Max and Maya. We are working hard on improving our tools with active development and support for our clients on these platforms. We would like to extend support for other software as well, however, we do not have plans for this at the moment.

Any special features you'd like to go more into detail about?

There are so many. I think the main strength of our products is their artist-friendliness. Whether you just want to add a basic groom to an existing model using our Grooms creator/generator feature, direct hairs interactively using our Surface Comb operator, or generate feathers and trees using our Mesh from Strands operator, Ornatrix has you covered.
At the same time, Ornatrix is designed to be extensible and versatile.

Head over to our website to find out more about the powerful toolset which we offer.



How easy can I place feathers, fur and hair into my 3D scene with Ornatrix? How much effort does it take to create an authentic/realistic look & feel? Are there any limits?

The only limit is your imagination and familiarity with Ornatrix. Thankfully we offer plenty of tutorials in addition to our documentation to help with the latter. Head over to our website and our YouTube/Vimeo channels to see Ornatrix in action solving various problems.

You can start by simply selecting a surface, like a character mesh and use one of our presets to instantly create a groom for your character. The groom will contain needed operators and settings to achieve desired effects and can then be tuned to your liking. We have grooms for fur, hair and feathers. You can create custom groom presets as well from your existing hair models.

Tweaking parameters, combing and sculpting the hair using our brush tools and adding effects is all that is needed to create convincing, realistic hair.



What about the rendering process?

Rendering is a snap. All supported renderers should just pick up and render whatever hair you have in the scene.

Our collaboration with RebusFarm allows clients to render their scenes with Ornatrix hair quickly, efficiently and affordably.
Every new Ornatrix user receives 100 free RenderPoints to help them get started.
Due to RebusFarm's tight integration with both, 3ds Max and Maya, the rendering process is a breeze.



Who uses Ornatrix?

Many big name studios have adopted Ornatrix into their pipelines. Among them are Framestore, Disney Animation, Capcom, Blur, Rockstar Games, Platige, Ubisoft, Unit Image, Scanline VFXWB GamesSony Imageworks and many more.

Are there any special productions Ornatrix had been used for you can talk about?

Just about any project from Blur over the past decade utilizes Ornatrix for their stunning game cinematics. Their recent Elder Scrolls, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Halo Anniversary trailers are good examples. Ornatrix Maya has been most recently used in Resident Evil 7 spots by Capcom. Ubisoft also used Ornatrix for last year's Tom Clancy's: Division trailer.

To get a full list please see the „Made with Ornatrix“ playlist on our YouTube channel.

Anything else you'd like to mention?

We want to thank RebusFarm for their generous offerings to our clients and for being super quick in their support.
Having a render farm of this caliber improves the lives of many artists on a daily basis.

Thank you, Marsel!

Also check out our Art Wanted Feature with Ornatrix and RebusFarm user Fellipe Beckman!


 

3D Artist of the Month February 2017

 

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 by N. Herget

 


New RebusFarm 3D Artist of the Month in February is NARRATIVE, a CGI studio from Australia! Congratulations!

NARRATIVE is based in Sydney and mainly focusses on architecture competition entries.
Check the studio's portfolio of stunning exterior ArchViz projects on www.narrative.graphics or Instagram!

The studio was founded by ArchViz artist Neil Paul, shortly after hustling through architecture school, holding a few jobs and spending long nights with 3ds Max and Photoshop.
Neil now is the studio's art director and we're glad he could find some time to talk about his winning image.

Dealing with open spaces visually transforms Neil's self-understanding as an artist the best way possible:
"I really like working on exterior scenes especially aerials, masterplans, larger architecture scenes and landscape architecture.
I think that it's hard to pin point a definitive subject with such images and the focus is open for interpretations. Everyone has a different take and I quite like this openness for interpretations."



Always keeping one's perception open, channeling every sensual input and melting it together in one image is the perceptible essence of the studio's works. Driven by a steady interest in learning and skilled with a fluid visual palette, every input emerges into these large-scaled and beautifully detailed projects.

When talking about "The Star Sydney" Neil's holistic approach in architectural subjects shows through once more: "It was important for me that the image had many focal points, multiple stories and clusters of activity as a city is a kaleidoscope of countless experiences."

He goes on further about the creation process: "Rather than accidental pockets of light and shade, I chose to work from a darker starting point and used light to emphasize parts of the image. The art direction came from composing the city first, then we simply added the tower to the scene.This way of setting up the project backwards gave the direction to present the new tower. Since it has to be one with the city, the best way is to start with the city.
Both the dawn and the night scene were made up of a lot of photos and a couple of different renders -  it was hard to render everything." says Neil.



Technically the image was made using 3ds Max, VrayForest Pack Pro and Photoshop: "Vray is an invaluable render plugin for its speed, accuracy and its ease of use (kudos to the slider preset!). Can't live without Forest Pro, and Photoshop makes anything pretty. I work a little like a matte painter so this workflow works best for me."



Neil hasn't used RebusFarm yet but is keen on doing so.

Happy rendering, Neil!

You want to be our next featured 3D Artist of the Month during the upcoming month and win 250 RenderPoints? Just visit our 3D Artist of the Month competition page and submit your entry. We'll choose the best image and contact the winner.


 

A Perfect World - rendered at RebusFarm!

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017 by N. Herget


Katie Melua's "Perfect World" was created by Karni and Saul from Sulkybunny. This project means a significant step forward for the BAFTA-nominated duo - unbelievably it was all made on a laptop in their studio in Bristol!
They are very proud and so are we.

 "RebusFarm is a proof you can do amazing things from a smaller scale studio!"



Karni and Saul moved to the UK in 2002 and founded Sulkybunny in 2006. Apart from successfully directing commercials for some of the UK's top production companies, they also won a number of awards from festivals around the world.

With a background in fashion photography and animation the duo's unique style originates from their particular approach:
"We definitely treat CG animation as another tool in the filmmakers' arsenal. In that aspect, we don't really see ourselves as animators. Even a pure animation project is rather a photographic mission than an animation to us. Our CG needs to be made of a real world material. Our lights, our cameras and our character's movements are all closely inspired by real techniques and real world objects."



"As common for music videos, time was not on our side. The whole schedule was 8 weeks, and everything had to be done very quickly and with precision. Luckily we could give it our full attention. So, the storyboard was actually drawn on a timeline, as an animatic. Modelling and creating the characters was mixed with doing the CG animatics.
Finally, animating over two weeks and rendering. The whole thing was done on a MacBook Pro, using Maya, ZBrushAfter Effects and rendered on the mind blowing Arnold."



"The one thing that saved the project was a remote render farm. RebusFarm were just brilliant. Smooth and painless as far as I am concerned.
Using only a laptop I was able to render a huge amount of displacements and sub scattering shaders which would never be possible otherwise. Render time 120 hours locally vs. 20 minutes on the farm - you can't resist this power!
Having someone online all the time is a key thing - we animators work at odd hours. Somehow there was always someone to fix a missing frame or help out."

Next, expect some dark monsters for Nowness coming up from Sulkybunny - we're looking forward to this!

And if you are planning to start a career in digital art they have one advice for you: "Do! Do a lot. The only thing that'll speak for you in the industry is what you've got to show."

Thank you, Karni & Saul!

Sulkybunny is looking to grow as an independent production company to take on bigger projects in the future.
We wish them all the best!

You'd like us to be your partner in supporting your project? Contact us with some details via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. !


3D Artist of the Month January 2017

Sunday, January 1st, 2017 by N. Herget

 

New RebusFarm 3D Artist of the Month in January is Piotr Lutarewicz from Poland! Congratulations!

His submission "Modern Urbanism" reflects on the social housing architecture from the 1980s in Poland. It is pattern-like and repetitive but also very individual in the details. What a stunning piece - let's get to know Piotr a bit!

Piotr is out and about in many creative fields, like graphic design and street art however his passion is architecture. Being interested in drawing, painting and science, Piotr found architecture combine all these interests he has been following from an early age on.

As 3D is an important part of the designing process, modelling and visualizing architecture became his favourite subject.
After graduating with a master's degree in architecture, Piotr worked in some architectural offices before becoming a freelancer.

Piotr has little time to keep his portfolio updated, but you can find some of his works on behance.

Usually, Piotr spends a lot of time thinking and sketching until an idea starts to clarify and he moves on to Autocad or directly to Cinema4D. With his submission "Modern Urbanism" it was a bit different, he told us:

"It’s an ongoing project. I’ve started to work on it a couple of years ago preparing a personal exhibition of a collection of drawings. The subject was a study of the social housing architecture from the 1980s in Poland. I grew up in one of these typical grey and boring block of flats myself. One of many in my country."



"It worries me, that a lot of temporary buildings resemble this architecture. Large and repeatable buildings, basically causing inhuman living conditions. In all of the works from this series, I try to focus on patterns, recurrence and overwhelming scale."



"Technically I work a lot in Photoshop, but this project required almost no post-production. Just some simple color adjustment and fog addition."

Piotr also has been a regular user of RebusFarm for quite a while now:
"I used to work on several computers – one for modeling, two for rendering and switching between them was annoying. Since I’ve started using RebusFarm I remodeled my workspace, now I have a lot more space for drawing, and less glowing monitors.
Of course, it’s also a big save of time."


Thank you, Piotr!

You want to be our next featured 3D Artist of the Month during the upcoming month and win 250 RenderPoints? Just visit our facebook page, upload one of your self-made 3D images and send us a personal message containing your email address. Alternatively, you can send it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We'll choose the best image and contact the winner.


 

Donations instead of gifts - RebusFarm supports UNICEF!

Thursday, 22nd of December, 2016 by N. Herget

 

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As last year we are taking Christmas time as an opportunity to donate instead of giving away gifts! This year we support children in Syria by donating school material for more than 800 boys and girls.

By contributing to "Donations instead of gifts" companies can help the children in Syria to get clean water, warm clothes & blankets, medical care, education and toys.

UNICEF is a United Nations program that provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.

Maybe you'd like to donate something to an organization of your choice, too?