Salle Labrouste


Paris again (not sure where this current fixation is coming from). For the non-Parisians among you, this is the Labrouste Reading Hall in the “Richelieu” site of the multi-building French National Library. More on Henri Labrouste, the man who built this, here.

This project was born from the idea to give Railclone, by ItooSoft, a bit of a stress-test and, in doing so, to do a piece I had thought about for several years but never found a way to fit into 3ds Max. This is typically the kind of scene that would have been very difficult, perhaps impossible, to build without such a plugin.

Another couple of images to show you what I mean (you can find the entire series of images here, and a vintage set here):



This 3ds Max scene (actually two scenes with X-Refs) is only 11 million polys. But 80 per cent of what you see here are RailClone objects: The high-poly books in the shelves; the tables, lamps and chairs; the railings, the big dome; the frieze reliefs, etc. In addition, RailClone was used to build a number of assets that were later turned into poly objects (the medallions; the cast-iron heaters; the arches…) Not only did RailClone make it possible to build this scene, but it also made it possible to navigate it thanks to its point-cloud preview mode.

Here is how the scene looks into the viewport:


I’m pretty happy with how the plugin performed on the whole. The latest versions, with the node editor, have considerably simplified the process of modeling complex structures from discrete elements. The material randomization tools were also very useful in generating natural variations, for instance on the tabletops. The point-cloud preview allows a fluid navigation of the scene and its precision can be adjusted. The only caveat is that extreme deformations of some assets can mess up the geometry and lead to strange stretching and crunching. These sometimes have to be fixed in edit-poly.

And since we’re talking 19th century here, not an era I visit too often, I thought it was appropriate to do some wet plates too. Here’s a period postcard:

BNF (wet plates)


  1. Wow … Maybe your most impressive work so far Bertrand. You are a true war machine !
    Could you tell us more about your general workflow on this wonderful piece ? I am mainly talking about the modeling part, but I would be curious to know about your rendering settings too: BF ? VRayDof or post prod ? Is it Corona ?
    Hope you will never stop doing 3D 🙂

    • matt
    • June 15, 2014

    Woo ! Impressive 🙂

  2. Thanks guys. Nice to see you around Matt. We missed you!

    ThomasC: The most important thing here, knowing that this could turn into a very heavy piece, was to identify repetitive elements and make sure I didn’t model anything superfluous. That required a bit more organization than I’m usually used to. Every item that repeats at least twice is instanced. Other tricks I used to keep the scene responsive and small include X-ref scenes (the bottom part of the scene is in a different file); use of proxy geometry; render-time subdivisions; showing complex meshes as bounding boxes, and of course heavy use of RailClone for a large part of the structure.
    Otherwise, very simple modeling workflow, basically poly-modeling. Exceptions include the bas-relief portraits in the tondos. These were down by rendering a ZDepth pass of various free 3D-scanned sculptures found on the web and plugging these passes into a displace modifier on simple, heavily subdivided planes. The bas-relief these generated were then cut from the plane using a boolean operation and refined and decimated in ZBrush.

  3. Sorry ThomasC, regarding your other questions:
    – Brute Force all the way, some images rendered in Adaptive mode, others in Progressive.
    – V-Ray DOF mostly. I used Lenscare on two images to keep render times low.

    • LC3D
    • June 16, 2014

    Absolutely stunning, i think your best work yet Bertrand!!!

  4. this is sooo 19th century 😀
    no seriously: stunning set and great to see RC being used so intensely!
    Your finish on the materials giving them that used look as always Is killer.
    Best wishes from Kreuzberg

  5. WOW! really impressive, Bertrand. Textures and lighting are just amazing. 🙂

    • Pixero
    • June 17, 2014

    Very beautiful and impressive.
    What are the resolution and rendertimes for these?
    And also what is your hardware specifications?

  6. Thanks guys.

    Pixero: The images on Flickr are the final resolution. They took about 4 to 5 hours each to render. A little longer for images with heavy DOF as I had to up the settings. I use an HP Z820 workstation, which is a great machine when it works but has proven unreliable in terms of its components.

    • nnamdiakubuiro
    • June 20, 2014

    JAW DROP!!!!

    • GabrielF
    • July 2, 2014

    FAIL! the interior railing in the library curve is flying. BBB3viz is human after all

  7. Why, it’s meant to be flying of course 😉

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