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View Full Version : Need Help Creating In-House CG Dept.



MLynch
06-05-2007, 06:18 AM
I had a meeting today which took an unexpected turn: I was asked if I'd be interested in/consider starting and heading-up an in-house CG dept for a comp house. I mean, it only seems logical for a company whose sole purpose is to create one-off or limited quantity products and structures.

However, i've never had to create an in-house department before - and I can't really use my last job as a frame of reference since my 3D work there was pretty random, and not part of my original job description. What can you guys think of that I would need to ask for (aside from LW, FPrime, and a workstation)? ...What do I need to consider? To start (that is, until things really start to take off) I'd be the entire CG department, but I want to think of how the department will grow (i.e. - as peole are aded to the team), and what my needs will be, and how I can start to address that now while the department is in its infancy.

Their current art department is all Mac-based (as is the vast majority of thier company), so to stay in-line with that I'm considering using Macs - but I'm open to suggestions on what type of PC to use too (since I'm a Mac person I'll need help if I go the PC route). It's a high production environment, with quick turn-arounds occurring frequently. And, being a comp house almost 100% of the work would be Product Vis. (both stills and animation). How many computers should I consider? Two (one for work and one for rendering)? Or should I consider a small render farm?

They currently have one seat of Maya that is collecting dust, but they are willing to go with LW since that is what I use and know best. They bought Maya about a year ago with the intention of starting a CG dept, but it never went anywhere becasue no one knew how to use it, or had the time to learn it. Their impetus behnd buying Maya was it could use CAD files. ..With that in mind: What's the best way to deal with CAD files in LW? ...Also can LW be used for rapid proto-typing?

Thanks for any and all input guys. As I think of more questions, I'll be sure to ask.

UnCommonGrafx
06-05-2007, 07:13 AM
You have some challenging times ahead. And some fun times.

I say shoot for the moon:
- A quad intel mac
- HD output card
- HD video deck
- HD camera
- An editor. Look at SE as this is NewTek's baby
- A comp program. I like Fusion.
- A render farm will be essential if they want stuff back 'yesterday'. As well, you might be able to usurp all the boxes in the office after hours if they are willing to let you put together such a farm. This route would make you look fiscally responsible. snicker...
If that's not something they are willing to do, get 5 to 10 reasonably priced pcs to be in your rendering garden.
- XP Pro 32, XP Pro 64 and a Vista license. Put the Vista license on a shelf somewhere. ;) Sounds like a waste, I know, yet such a setup gives you all the options available, even into the future.
- If you have no need of a pc buss for particular cards (I'm thinking of something like a VT), then dash the idea of getting a pc as your workstation.
- For Dwg files, use the maya license to convert them to something useable for LW. Or, have an in-service with the drafters to teach them what you need and have them output the files you need to take them directly into LW. In my mind, the latter is the way it OUGHT to be as it includes everyone in the process: they learn what you do and need and vice versa.
- LWCAD license as Viktor is kicking some butt in this arena for LW!!! 2.5 is on the way and 3.0 is in the que. Now would be a great time to offer him some feedback as to what you would be in need of.
- By "rapid proto-typing" are you asking if it will hook up to a cnc mill or what? If they have such a machine at the office, you are better off finding out what the machine takes and output the file in the appropriate format. Generally, though, the answer is yes.

There go my thoughts for the morn. You are in an eviable position, I tell ya. ;) Have fun with it.

Limbus
06-05-2007, 09:41 AM
Just some thoughts:

- year budget for plugins and upgrades
- small renderfarm with something like 2-4 Dualcore machines.
- renderfarm managing software
- Lightwave, fprime, LWCAD, Kray
- budget for freelancers if crunch time is to heavy
- then build a database with freelancers in your area

Cheers, Florian

cresshead
06-05-2007, 10:18 AM
I had a meeting today which took an unexpected turn: I was asked if I'd be interested in/consider starting and heading-up an in-house CG dept for a comp house. I mean, it only seems logical for a company whose sole purpose is to create one-off or limited quantity products and structures.

And, being a comp house almost 100% of the work would be Product Vis. (both stills and animation). How many computers should I consider? Two (one for work and one for rendering)? Or should I consider a small render farm?

They currently have one seat of Maya that is collecting dust, but they are willing to go with LW since that is what I use and know best. They bought Maya about a year ago with the intention of starting a CG dept, but it never went anywhere becasue no one knew how to use it, or had the time to learn it. Their impetus behnd buying Maya was it could use CAD files. ..With that in mind: What's the best way to deal with CAD files in LW? ...Also can LW be used for rapid proto-typing?

Thanks for any and all input guys. As I think of more questions, I'll be sure to ask.

depending on the file types you'll be recieving [you need to get hard info on that] i'd add in something like 3dsviz or 3dsmax as most of the file types you'll be recieving will probably come from their associated apps like inventor, revit,autodesk etc.. and you'll want minimum hassle getting them into a 3d app...you may just use 3dsmax as a glorified translator for a while but it's capable of nice rendering too...also you may look at rhino3d...and there's a maya offshoot app AUTODESK SHOWCASE just for product pre viz with presetup render backdrops and lighting where you can simply drag n drop the cad file in to get a nice mantal ray render thrown out with minimum fuss...

of course lightwave has a fantastic renderer...just make sure you have a 100% rock solid way to get GOOD data into it before you plump wholesale on a lightwave only solution...find out the data what types first off and from there youcan see if lightwave can handle the files or if it'll need a run thru your seat of maya or if there needs to be another more friendly app for the translation, be that rhino, 3dsmax, 3dsviz or that pre viz app that uses maya engine but a simple front end....

viz2008 maybe your best bet
http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?id=4221521&siteID=123112

new version just some out
features:-
More support for AutoCAD, Revit, and DWG files than ever before, making it possible to import large files with complex scenes and a large number of objects.

or autodesk showcase
http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?siteID=123112&id=6848305


of course if your file formats you'll be working with are all lightwave friendly then lightwave would be just the job....but find out first...wouldn't want you to set it up then fall at the fisrt hurdle.

Elmar Moelzer
06-05-2007, 11:15 AM
Well, if he can get STL-files and not AutoCAD then there is a really good, free plugin for LW. With it, importing STLs works better than in MAX. A MAX- house that we cooperate with comes to us for all their STL conversions because MAX just dies trying ;)
CU
Elmar

Tom Wood
06-05-2007, 11:20 AM
Also, set up an account with www.respower.com

They can render my stuff in -less- than real time.

Matt
06-05-2007, 11:24 AM
Well, if he can get STL-files and not AutoCAD then there is a really good, free plugin for LW. With it, importing STLs works better than in MAX. A MAX- house that we cooperate with comes to us for all their STL conversions because MAX just dies trying ;)
CU
Elmar

O.T. You know it's funny, when we first looked at buying 3D rendering software for Creactive, we narrowed it down to LW and Max, LW I clearly knew of, then we went for a demo of Max. We took along various poly file formats from SolidWorks (which we would need to be able to import from) and Max croaked on a not particularly complex STL file! LightWave it was then!

:)

cresshead
06-05-2007, 12:37 PM
on a project at the weekend i was tasked with moving a 1.3 million poly object out of lightwave to max and the lightwave obj exporter just couldn't do a decent job at all....rubbish polys, missing polys, flipped polys...and this was with a broken up model so the largest sub object was 250,000 polys down to around 80,000...not one came in proplerly...so in the end i used fbx as this did the job quite well and retained texrtures where the object used uvw mapping...note lightwave mapping is NOT supported in fbx...like planar, cubic and the others.

like i said at the start you need to find out what file formats you'll be dealing with and if lightwave has anysuch importer available at all...and then how good it is in realworld usage..conversly i personally found max to be on the whole pretty good with import export..even lightwave obj's are okay as long as they aren't too complicated/large but that's down to lightwave's rather shakey obj exporter....

also realise that certain lightwave things are NOT supported at all....
such as

lightwave internal map projections [planar, cubic etc]

1 point polys
2 point polys

always merge your points too...
and if your having issues on export try tripling your polys on ngons

cresshead
06-05-2007, 12:44 PM
is this the stl plugin your talking about for lightwave?

http://www.chromecow.com/Lscriptsource.htm

Matt
06-05-2007, 03:24 PM
Yes

Silkrooster
06-05-2007, 04:57 PM
I had a meeting today which took an unexpected turn: I was asked if I'd be interested in/consider starting and heading-up an in-house CG dept for a comp house. I mean, it only seems logical for a company whose sole purpose is to create one-off or limited quantity products and structures.

However, i've never had to create an in-house department before - and I can't really use my last job as a frame of reference since my 3D work there was pretty random, and not part of my original job description. What can you guys think of that I would need to ask for (aside from LW, FPrime, and a workstation)? ...What do I need to consider? To start (that is, until things really start to take off) I'd be the entire CG department, but I want to think of how the department will grow (i.e. - as peole are aded to the team), and what my needs will be, and how I can start to address that now while the department is in its infancy.

Their current art department is all Mac-based (as is the vast majority of thier company), so to stay in-line with that I'm considering using Macs - but I'm open to suggestions on what type of PC to use too (since I'm a Mac person I'll need help if I go the PC route). It's a high production environment, with quick turn-arounds occurring frequently. And, being a comp house almost 100% of the work would be Product Vis. (both stills and animation). How many computers should I consider? Two (one for work and one for rendering)? Or should I consider a small render farm?

They currently have one seat of Maya that is collecting dust, but they are willing to go with LW since that is what I use and know best. They bought Maya about a year ago with the intention of starting a CG dept, but it never went anywhere becasue no one knew how to use it, or had the time to learn it. Their impetus behnd buying Maya was it could use CAD files. ..With that in mind: What's the best way to deal with CAD files in LW? ...Also can LW be used for rapid proto-typing?

Thanks for any and all input guys. As I think of more questions, I'll be sure to ask.
A good file converter will be extremely useful something like PolyTrans (http://www.okino.com/conv/conv.htm)

1 or 2 video toaster's would be nice - more down the road.:hey:

Adobe master suite

See if they will swing for Autodesk's Inventor - If for no other reason, to quickly deal with issues that will not convert to LW correctly. BTW, it includes Autocad.

Each person in your team should have a their own dedicated computer, that can be used as part of the render farm after hours.
Find out what the VT can not do and get enhancement cards to deal with those issues - specialFX, mpeg compression, etc.(I personally do not know much about the vt.)
Have fun and good luck,
Silk

cresshead
06-05-2007, 05:07 PM
if you use polytrans for export then save your lightwave scenes in the older 9.0 format and not 9.2 as i don't think it's supported as yet.

also the firm i worked with at the weekend on the export of the 1.3 million poly model HAD polytrans but could not get the model out successfully...that's why they contacted me...could be that polytrans they had was an older version but maybe more to do with the lightwave object having 23 layers...not sure if large datasets and large layered datasets will work in polytrans.... just a heads up...try the demo maybe before you buy.

UnCommonGrafx
06-05-2007, 05:14 PM
I know where a few used ones are. The beauty of this is that the warranty, lifetime with NewTek, carries over to the new owner. Software can't be broken by the enduser so it's a win-win opportunity there.

1 or 2 video toaster's would be nice - more down the road.:hey:

Andyjaggy
06-05-2007, 05:41 PM
Congrats on the opportunity Mlynch. I guess your days of modeling perfume and cologne are over :)

MLynch
06-05-2007, 09:46 PM
UnCommonGrafx - I want to shoot for the moon - I really do, but I also don't want them to get sticker shock when I present my proposal. ...unfortunately money will play a factor in this. I want to create a department that will do what I need, be able to expand as time goes on, but be cost effective as it starts out.

cresshead - Before I even read your post I was in touch with the head of their creative dept to find out what CAD file formats they get so I could better judge what my options should be... turns out they practically never get CAD files. He said he couldn't remember the last time they got one. So it looks like that is now out of the equation (which I'm please with). And I'm rather pleased that I was misinformed about that. I appreciate he suggestions, because now I have some info to work with - should we actually get a CAD file.

Andyjaggy - LOL. Actually this is just the beginning! The majority of this company's clients are in the Beauty Industry. So I'll be doing perfume until my eyes bleed. :thumbsup:

OK, here are some more questions: I use FPrime for my own work, but I've never used Kray. Can I get some feedback on how they differ, and if one might be better than the other in an environment that will revolve around Product Vis. ...And does Kray render animation?

Limbus
06-06-2007, 01:38 AM
OK, here are some more questions: I use FPrime for my own work, but I've never used Kray. Can I get some feedback on how they differ, and if one might be better than the other in an environment that will revolve around Product Vis. ...And does Kray render animation?

Kray is king when you have to render heavy GI scenes with lots of blurry reflections and it does instancing and it does render animations. If you will do perfume bottles I would just go with LW and fprime.

Florian

AbnRanger
06-06-2007, 02:31 AM
No doubt. With the improvements in LW's native render in 9.2, you're in pretty good hands.
What do you use for compositing? If none yet, then I'd have to favor Combustion since it's MAC and PC compatible, and instead of having to choose between a layer-based app. like After Effects or a node-based compositor, like Fusion or Shake, you have BOTH with Combustion. There are other reasons that I won't elaborate on, but I just thought I'd throw my 2 cents worth in.

UnCommonGrafx
06-06-2007, 10:57 AM
Ya, I can understand that completely. And regardless of the hype, it's still an SD world.

Nonetheless, those things would be needed in SD-form, as well.

Don't forget: the freelancers of us will be living vicariously through you so give us something to feel great about. ;)

Good luck in this new adventure.

Silkrooster
06-06-2007, 05:52 PM
For anyone thats not aware, After Effects now available for the Mac as well.
Silk

MLynch
06-06-2007, 09:33 PM
Good luck in this new adventure.

Thanks, man. I appreciate it.

Limbus - Thanks for the info on Kray vs. FPrime. :thumsup:

And I really need to work out the compositing software... AE may fit in better since I know thet already have the creative suite, so it will play nice with Photoshop and Illustrator.

Limbus
06-07-2007, 03:06 AM
After Effects now available for the Mac as well.
Silk

Always has been. Premiere Pro is the App that is now (again) available for the Mac.

Cheers, Florian