3DTotal : What was it that drew you to studying architecture as a degree?
Richard :
Well, the main reason why I chose to pursue a degree in architecture comes from my childhood. My parents are architects back in Vietnam; so tracing paper, colour pencils and cardboard models were my playing toys. For a long time, I was conscious about structures and buildings as well as the originality of ideas. With the help of my parents, I slowly, but surely, realised that architecture and other art fields have so many connections. Although I was not sure about having a life-time commitment to architecture, I still decided to do a degree in architecture because I thought it would be great to take it as a base to further explore other art forms. Also, I have no regrets about choosing the architecture program at RMIT University. The way the course is structured is really what I expected: students are engaged to go beyond architecture and think as designers rather than just as architects.

    3DTotal : You mention on your website
that you have always enjoyed comics
and cartoons. Did you ever think of pursuing this interest as opposed to focusing on architecture?
Richard : Sometimes, it is kind of strange when what you enjoy watching is not what you end up doing or making. I did actually think of pursuing a career in comics and cartoons, especially after watching The Lion King movie and behind the scenes footage. However, I reckon I lacked the courage and also faced the financial issue of pursuing it. On the other hand, architecture interested me for a long time and I felt much more confident to step in.

3DTotal : How do you think 3D packages, such as Max, have changed the way architects work and visualize their projects?
Richard : I can say that I am one of those people who witnessed a revolutionary change that 3D packages have made in the way architects and designers see their projects. Architects, traditionally, worked with physical models. While they are handy and convenient because one can touch and play with them, they present
    great disadvantages when it comes to time, budget and technical difficulty to realise the designer’s particular vision. However, 3D packages like Max allow faster feedback and greater creativeness. This is even more true when Global Illumination is getting more accessable and less expensive. Architects and their clients nowadays don’t have to imagine, but enjoy seeing the reality of the designs even before they get built. At RushWright Associates, a landscape architecture office where I am working
as a full-time 3D artist, we are going beyond the traditional method (plan, section and physical model) of presenting our design and looking into GI-based 3D rendering and animation to help our design process and its communication. I believe it is a great breakthrough for us.

3DTotal :
What aspects of 3D interest you the most and where would you say you are strongest in relation to your 3D skills ?
Richard : I am best at lighting and animation. They interest me so much because they are the most powerful areas in 3D that truly create the illusion of life.
I believe that you can have a great, detailed, well model, textured, but if you fail to light and/or animate it, you fail to breathe life into it. I think, in relation to my 3D skills, I am strongest at co-operating the strength of each process to achieve the highest level of quality and productivity.
    3DTotal : I notice from your portfolio that you have experimented with Vray, Brazil and Mental Ray. Which of the three do you prefer and why?
Richard : Well, I was first introduced to Global Illumination when Max6 and its built-in Mental Ray was released. Then, I touched upon Vray because I was so curious about its popularity in the area of archi-viz. I only used Brazil once when I helped a friend of mine who was doing his final-year project. Out of the three, I prefer Vray the most because it is
  easy to learn and not too hard to master. Vray has many different GI methods that allows flexibility to
create desired images in a given timeframe. Irradian map is amazing as you can send out thousands
of frames to render without re-calculating it over and over again. Vray, however, is not as strong in
photon-mapping as Mental Ray and it would be lovely to see a hybrid in this area. For me, Mental Ray is still hard to use and troubleshoot given that it is the industry standard and capable of creating stunning images. I think I will have to look into it a lot more before feeling comfortable about lighting in the visual effect industry.
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