For several years, Ranch Computing has been proud to support artists from around the world as part of the Renderman Challenge. Our commitment to the creative community has allowed us to witness the emergence of extraordinary talent. This year, we are delighted to share the story of Rafael Mello, the third-place winner of the Renderman Challenge, who brilliantly used our rendering farm to create a remarkable work. To better understand his journey and his experience with our technology, we had the opportunity to ask Rafael a few questions. Here are his enlightening answers, offering a unique insight into his creative process and his collaboration with Ranch Computing.
1. What motivated you to participate in the Renderman Challenge, and how did you approach the creation of your artwork?
Answer: About 3 years ago, I was reflecting on how to learn new skills and develop my art, both technically and creatively, and one of the things I noticed that I think is a common difficulty among artists is how to deal with personal projects. We all want to do original projects, but sometimes it’s very difficult to start, other times it’s difficult to find inspiration, and it’s always difficult to finish them. There are several reasons for that, and that’s why I think that participating in art challenges in general is an excellent opportunity to exercise creativity and learn new tools, and the fact of having a deadline is the perfect incentive to start and finish. In the case of the Renderman Challenge, I had my first contact through a friend who participated in past challenges, and then I started following the challenges’ announcements and studying the renderer. But the biggest motivation for participating was the opportunity to learn the tool behind the incredible animations that have inspired me for years. Last year was my first participation, and it was an incredible experience.
Although I often introduce myself as a “generalist 3D artist,” I consider myself more of a creative person than a technical person. It is often difficult to follow or understand a method in the way I develop ideas for the artwork I create. In this challenge, what I did first was download the files provided, look at each object in the scene, and reflect on what story each of the objects could tell. When I looked at the skate, I was thinking about: What kind of story can I tell with this? What could I do with this? And then came the idea of showing the story of someone who was reflecting on what could be done with this lost object. One thing led to another: the roller skate with four wheels became a car, which, to be “piloted,” would need “small” pilots, and so on… Furthermore, and I think this is something that happens with all artists, I ended up adding a little of my life experiences, most recently with my almost 4-year-old daughter, who sees strange new functions for different objects.
2. Can you describe your experience with the performance and efficiency of our rendering farm? Did it meet your expectations in terms of rendering speed and quality?
Answer: This was my first experience using a render farm, and it was another opportunity to learn, promoted by the challenge. At first, I had a little difficulty, which I attribute entirely to my inexperience in optimizing scenes and textures and perhaps a little to the fact that the Renderman implementation is in the “beta” phase on the farm. That said, after some super-quick message exchanges with Ranch support, I managed to have the render with exactly the same quality as what I had locally. My challenge, due to the fact that I hadn’t optimized my scene, was more related to the time it took to send files than the time it took to render.
3. Have you needed to interact with our support team during the rendering process? If so, how would you rate this experience?
Answer: Yes! And it was an excellent experience. In addition to having a very quick response, the responses were always accompanied by solutions, including the forwarding of new renders with the proposed alternatives for demonstration.
4. Would you recommend Ranch Computing to other artists and rendering professionals? Why?
Answer: I would definitely recommend it, especially for large frame volumes and complex scenes. I think the biggest fear I had (and I imagine other artists also have) in using render farms is the “insecurity” that the quality of the result will be the same as that obtained locally, and, in this case, the agile and efficient support from Ranch Computing is a guarantee of this quality.
5. Do you have any suggestions or feedback for improving our rendering services in the future?
Answer: I understand that the implementation of Renderman for Blender is in its initial phase on the farm, and in my case, the only difficulty I had was in terms of the time it took to upload my files (perhaps because I hadn’t optimized my textures). One suggestion I make is that, if possible, an option be implemented so that only the 3D scene file (blend) is sent, and the textures already sent in previous projects are used. Often, what changes is just some shader or lighting parameters using the same textures over and over again. Eventually, send only new textures or replaced textures…
Rafael Mello’s story at the Renderman Challenge is a shining testament to how Ranch Computing supports and values artists in their pursuit of refinement and innovation. We are proud to have contributed to his success and look forward to continuing to support the artistic community in their future projects.
Are you inspired by Rafael’s story and wish to explore new creative frontiers? Discover how Ranch Computing can support your artistic ambitions. Contact us to learn more about our services and begin your journey in the world of 3D rendering.