Sergio Mereces is well known young portoguese CG Artist. His latest work shows us an animation that gives life to a previous award winning project: Gardening House. We met Sergio in order to know his opinion about the potential of Unreal Engine, and, more in general, of what awaits the world of architectural visualization. Using next-gen game engines, like UE, Unity or CryEngine, artists could really re-design the references of this business. Where is archviz industry going now?
(FLT) Hello Sergio, your works have gained the attention of the archviz community for their ability to pierce the screen. What do you think about it? II there a clear boundary between artworks and commercial works? When it instructs a cg artist to make a job, what are the most appreciated qualities by a leading architectural firm?
(SM) Hello to everyone, I think that my projects got the attention of archviz community because they are different from traditional images. We were used to see a lot of renders without a soul! We don’t try to do a simple 3d. This is never been our approach. We really want to generate feelings, tell stories and create an involvement between spectators and art. It's my mission since the day i decided to be an archviz artist.
The difference between commercial works and personal artworks can be really huge, because doing personal works you have a really total freedom. In commercial works where are some barriers, for example the client taste for camera angle. Often you cannot make an optimal composition, since you’re forced to support customer choices. At the same way, features like lighting and materials could be heavily penalized if clients haven’t a specific culture about keys like composition and photography.
In my opinion, the most important qualities of a cg artist are a combination of creativity, understanding lighting & photography. Post production is the plus, besides a considerable time saver.
(FLT) Gardenian House started as a personal project. Then it got a great visibility and an unexpected success. What did it mean this experience? A simple learning occasion or something more?
(SM) Gardenian House started when 3d Artist magazine asked me to do an archviz tutorial. To tell the truth, i already had in mind to develop a similar project on my own. My goal was to experiment a lot of new features and tech skills. 3d Artist proposal was the right occasion to get it realized with a great media exposure. To be sincere, it was a lucky situation.
(FLT) From still image to animation: an opportunity to test Unreal Engine. Was your first experience with this game engine? How long did it take you to reach this skill level?
(SM) Yes it was. I spent some time over Unreal Engine, to learn software basics, then i want to make some practice, on a real project. Gardenian House is the first full project i developed with Unreal Engine. I really wanted to get it live and at the same time to improve my UE skills. I choosed Gardenian House, because i really love this project and all that has meant to me.
(FLT) Unreal Engine is a trendy affair in the business. High-level works like Gardenian House reveal the extent to which production archviz workflows should reach in the near future. Could it put in crisis the market of traditional render engines? Or rather, can they “survive” thanks to their integration to main DCC softwares?
(SM) Unreal Engine can provide superb results for animation and realtime presentations, but i think it will never put in crisis traditional render engines. I believe that it is appropriate to make a distinction. UE is actually the best real time engine to work with. We need both real time and tradional render engines, which remain a standard for other aspects of the production.
House in Alentejo
Modern House in Angola
(FLT) Among the benefits offered by Unreal Engine, will we see a greater spread of real-time walkthrough or cinematics with a pre-scored direction? And what about real time VR applications?
(SM) I think this is a huge improvement for all archviz companies to have a such great software for real time and animation works. These applications will grow up for sure over many years. Now for archviz too. VR applications will offer a new experience about archviz. I think every company will use them to show their products and creations and get more engagement from their customers.
(FLT) Did you tried Oculus Rift, or similar VR devices, on projects developed with Unreal Engine? What are your impressions about this tech?
(SM) Sincerely not! I haven’t tried Oculus or other VR devices yet. I’m really curious to wear an Oculus. I hope to test it soon.
(FLT) Let's talk about business. What are the times and development costs, compared to similar results obtained with a workflow that is not based on a game engine? Do you think that the customers will invest more on video and real time applications in the near future? In the perspective of a time and cost saving.
(SM) Development time is always relative to client wishes and project dimensions. The process is very similar to DCC render engines pipeline. We have to do all the modeling. It’s important to have a well optimized geometry, getting the lower polygons possible to have a light scene without losing significant details. UVWs are important too, in both pipelines. In Unreal Engine you need to spend some time on shaders, maps, as you would make them with traditional render engines. Unreal Engine haven’t shortcut in settings. It gives you an advantage if you have to make a full animation. UE movie output is more fast than a DCC frame by frame render pipeline. We talk about hours instead than days. It means a great save in production times and costs. You have more options for clients about that.
(FLT) After Gardenian House, what will be your next experience? Are you thinking about new technologies to be implemented in the next projects?
(SM) For sure. I’m always thinking about something new. Regardless of the job i do, I really love technology. Despite this, it’s always hard to find the time to develop all you have in mind. I’m on Unreal Engine now. I want to keep to discover its potential, trying Oculus DK to develop VR projects. I think that my next work will be focused on these technologies. UE offers a lot of possibilities. There’s always a lot to learn about it.
(FLT) Thank you Sergio, it is always a pleasure to exchange ideas with proud archviz experts. Good luck for your brilliant career. See you soon.
(SM) Thank you for this opportunity. It's a great pleasure to contribute with this interview. I hope that Treddi friends will appreciate my works. I will be glad to receive their feedbacks and I really wish all the best for this amazing CG portal.
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