Toni mentions that toys create beautiful experiences in childhood and ultimately define his life
3dtotal: The amount of detail in your work gets me wondering how you do it. Optimizing models, pure texture expression and post-production are the biggest tricks up ones sleeve, but judging by your Ambient Occlusions makes me wonder how do you pull it off? Has your approach to scene management changed with years of experience?
Actually, having a lot of details in an image doesn't mean that hardware used for creating it was powerful. I remember when I was working on Slow Decay, which even by today's standards is considered relatively complex, I had an AMD 800 MHz processor and only 1 GB of ram. The final scene was rendered with a total of 800mb of memory, but I used all kinds of optimization techniques to render it on that machine. Time spent on those optimizations was significant during those times, but today with fast computers and cheap memory I don't need to worry about those optimizations, so I spend less time optimizing and more producing.
Managing those big scenes can become a problem during some moments, so proper naming, using layers to separate parts of the scene and sometimes rendering in layers makes everything a lot easier to handle. The other thing that makes my life easier is that I model everything based on a camera view, which I lock very early in process. Based on that camera it's easy to decide how much detail models need and what size textures I should use to achieve my goal. Every new image is another learning process, and I always try to learn from my mistakes. The point is to become aware of possible future obstacles in creation process and try to create new techniques to avoid or solve those.
Based on the idea of a dark, dirty and polluted future and inspired by Ghost in the Shell
3dtotal: While creating 3D, what is the most challenging and time consuming part and why? Feel free to give out some pointers.
Modeling is probably the most challenging part, because it consumes a lot of time and having a good eye for proportion is very important. Nowadays, with software like ZBrush, the life of a modeler tends to be much easier, but there is still a lot of manual work that I need to do to achieve my goal. Texturing, material and lighting are parts that I love to do, because I can use some tricks to make very rapid progress in a short amount of time.
Lighting tools today are just amazing and they have progressed hugely over the years. Even in viewport you can almost see a final representation of light. Software like V-Ray RT goes even further and it allows me to see changes in real time, even in scenes with millions of polygons.
Heralding the birth of a soul-mate in an abandoned house
3dtotal: What are the biggest changes in moving from Blur to Blizzard, what have been the challenges and proudest moments so far?
Blur and Blizzard are very similar, but at the same time very different companies to work for. While at Blur we were usually creating cinematic for other companies, at Blizzard we are creators of our own destiny and we really try to perfect and polish our cinematic.
One of the proudest moments I had was at Blur Studio while I was working on 3D rides for the Ferrari theme park in Abu Dhabi. It was one of the projects where I was working with my friend Olivier Vernay-Kim on two 30 second animations and we were in charge of creating huge environments. We did everything, from modeling, texturing, lighting and final compositing those environments, and on top of that we had a lot of time to finish everything. During production time we had two big stereoscopic projectors at Blur and we used to watch progress of these 3D rides every single week, and just seeing those in real 3D was an amazing experience.
3dtotal: Can you talk about current projects and titles from Blizzard?
When I came to Blizzard the first project that I was assigned to was the WOW (Mist of Pandaria) cinematic. We were just finalizing that cinematic and I did some texturing on a few assets for it. It was a really fun experience since I came during the time things were wrapping up and I had to adapt very fast, so I was learning pretty fast.
Recently we just released Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm cinematic during last Blizzcon. I was there during first projection and seeing thousands of people excited about what they saw was an amazing experience. On that project I worked as environment modeling lead and created most of the assets in that environment. It was really interesting and challenging project to work on.
An angel takes a final journey to earth
3dtotal: Between work and life, how do you organize your time for personal artwork and projects?
It's very important to work for the company that gives you a lot of space and free time to be able to do personal work, and that's what I've found at Blizzard, and that is what makes me really happy. I usually set a goal to produce something like two-three personal illustrations per year and I try to get some work done every single week, at least a couple of hours per week. Even after having a nine hour work day and maybe one-two hours of personal work, I still have enough time to spend with my wife, read some books and play some games. Good organization and discipline is very important, I just set a goal for what I need to do and try to keep that promise to myself.
Cinematic for Diablo III - © Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft Mist of Pandaria Cinematic - © Blizzard Entertainment
Heroes of the Storm Cinematic - © Blizzard Entertainment
3dtotal: From the looks of things, I get the feeling that you are quite happy and looking forward to raising a family. Best of luck and keep working hard - we love to read your stories in 3D!
Thanks for the interview, it was my pleasure!
To see more by Toni Bratincevic, check out Digital Art Masters: Volume 8
Digital Art Masters: Volume 9
and Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection
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