Architectural visualization is the CG industry’s unsung hero. While the likes of movie VFX are showered with affection, the work of arch-vis specialists can often pass under the radar.
But while arch-vis may not carry the spectacular, eye-catching bombast of Hollywood’s blockbuster VFX, it’s no less of an artistic endeavour. Even a standard arch-vis rendering can contain all the detail, framing and lighting expertise as that witnessed on the silver screen.
Goldbox knows this well. The studio has not only produced stunning VFX, animation and design work, but also arch-vis renders that rival the world’s finest.
In 2013 the pair founded Goldbox on a dream; they wanted to make a living from their creative passion. Just three years later, they’re a leading powerhouse in the arch-vis space, consistently demonstrating an ability to craft strikingly photorealistic scenes.
A solid foundation
The Norwegian team, founded by Petter Burhol and Stein Aarø, started with arch-vis because, back as a fledgling company, single-frame renders for the architectural and real estate sectors were most suited to their early equipment and rendering capacity.
Today Burhol and Aarø are free of such technological limitations, boasting access to a range of cutting edge technologies, including the rendering power of Redshift in 3ds Max.
“We knew that Redshift for 3ds Max was stable and produced great results as it was used at our ‘mother company’ Gimpville,” confirms Goldbox producer and partner Burhol. “As such we decided to use it to get a jump start on our latest arch-vis project, converting from our old CPU renderer over to Redshift’s GPU-based solution.”
The results, seen here, speak for themselves. The images showcase Goldbox’s work for a client whose building specs and interior color schemes were already established, but who offered a blank canvas so far as décor was concerned.
The results are remarkable, demonstrating what a two-man team can achieve when utilising the power of GPU rendering.
Simplicity of structure
“When it comes to rendering, the two most important things for us at Goldbox are speed and stability,” reveals Burhol. “We had tried other GPU renders before, and they were fast, but offered poor results when it came to stability. With Redshift, however, we get both insane render times and stability when it comes to the renders themselves.”
Those increased render times were particularly impressive to Goldbox. In adopting Redshift, the team saw four-to-eight hour renders drop to five-to-ten minute passes.
Of course, all that power and speed is for nothing if the solution is overly complex or demands too much of the studio’s resources. Fortunately for Goldbox, that was never the case with Redshift.
“I feel the simplicity of the renderer is one of its best features for interiors like ours,” explains Burhol. “We go with irradiance for both GI’s, leave all material and light samples at default, and adjust the overall quality with the global samples. For this project we used 16~256 and 56~500 samples. We could probably keep the settings lower, but for the Bokeh effects we had to bump it up a little.”
That simplicity – without sacrificing power, stability or quality of results – is vital to a studio like Goldbox. It enables the team to punch above their weight, meet client needs, and stay at the top of the arch-vis space, where standards are remarkably demanding. And, perhaps as importantly, alongside all of this Redshift’s renderer remains cost effective.
“Buying GPUs is much cheaper than CPUs for us, and since it’s so fast, we don’t need to buy many GPUs to overpower our old CPU render machines,” says Burhol. “Our goal is to have eight GPUs divided on two computers. This covers our need for rendering both animation and still frames. For now, we have two GTX 980 Ti cards and a single Titan card.”
Anybody who has worked in design, art, animation or VFX for even a handful of years will know how remarkable that is. Simply put, with Redshift a team can run a globally competitive studio using just two affordable machines.
Leaving technical specifications behind for the business end of the spectrum, it becomes apparent that the low demands of Redshift also make for a valuable economic proposition. This isn’t only a tool that saves artists time; it makes them money too.
“Now we’ve acclimated to Redshift and know how it works, we’ll be able to hit the ground running on our next project,” says Burhol. “We have everything ready and primed alongside the knowledge we’ve gained. With that in mind, we expect to greatly speed up our total process, which in turn will increase our income.”
Burhol and Aarø also feel confident enough to provide clients with more features, again increasing their value proposition: “Redshift enables us to provide extra camera angles in created spaces easily. This makes our clients happy, and increases our sales. It also enables us to animate camera movements, and provide arch-vis movies. This could not be done before without outsourcing rendering, and that’s something we just don’t want to do.”
And it’s not something that they need to consider – Redshift has helped the talented and relatively youthful team offer high-end services that rival the world’s best with just a two-man headcount, all while saving time and increasing cash flow.