There are a few reasons why I have been absent from the blog in the past few weeks. One was a totally undeserved holiday. Another was that I’ve been busy working on the Museum competition organised by Ronen Bekerman. The challenge was to produce a photorealistic take on Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. My own take was to stage a fictitious exhibition by Berlin-based artist Olafur Eliason in the NNG, entitled, “The Field Project” (a pseudo-intellectual reference to the magnetic field, which was the main research subject of James Clerk Maxwell, who posthumously lent the renderer its name).
The competition has now closed so I’m allowed to show off my submissions here. It was a lot of fun working with Maxwell. As someone who uses Vray 90 per cent of the time, I also like to keep an eye on alternative options and own licences of several other renderers, including Maxwell. I think every tool has specific situations at which they excel and a complete artists should have a few of them in her arsenal. I had always thought of Maxwell as an ideal tool for product visualisation and small-scale scenes and had not expected it to perform so pleasantly (and so fast) on such large scale environments.
Of course, unfamiliar tools will always come with a degree of frustration. With Maxwell, these have mainly to do with the lesser degree of integration in Max, especially as far as materials, and in particular procedurals, are concerned, or the lack of a genuine proxy system (i.e. one that invokes a mesh that does not reside in the scene but elsewhere on disk). So some things may take a bit longer to set up.
On the other hand, the realistic nature of the renders pretty much out of the box and the very predictable render times play in Maxwell’s favour. In Vray, one can spend a very long time tweaking the myriad parameters in order to achieve reasonable render times. The generally longer render times in Maxwell are partly offset by not having to do these tweaks, especially if you are doing large-scale, high-quality stills, where you would need to push Vray’s quality settings quite high and may therefore hit some pretty serious render times too.
The image above was not among my final submissions but merely an attempt at faking a night-time, long-exposure shot. My finals are below, followed by some random snapshots and tests.
Make sure you visit the competition’s forum at take a look at all the great submissions.