The Winner is Spring Cove! by David Mackenzie


I am very pleased to announce that the work by Our Agency and Our Vision completed on Spring Cove was recently recognised by UDIA NSW with an Award for Excellence in Marketing. It's always good to know that the work we do is appreciated and even better when it has been recognised by our peers and industry at large. Check out the website here, below is one of the films we created for the project.

It was great when Anthony Denman from Our Agency (who received the award on stage) took time to acknowledge Our Visions work and specifically my work during his acceptance speech with "Dave Mackenzie and Our Vision who re-invented the category". </end shameless plug>

I should also acknowledge UDIA for putting on a great night along with our fantastic client group Oakstand and Denwol Group.

Now just to make sure we win again next year! Challenge Accepted!

Unity 5! by David Mackenzie

Unity 5
Unity 5
Unity 5

I really love Unity, I have owned a pro license since version 3.5 and I have to say version 5 looks awesome! 

Check out the announcement video below:

There are many new features which are going to make this a killer release. Real time GI for starters, along with the audio tools but I have to say I am pretty excited about the WebGL publishing. It will be great to be able to simply through something up online and know that nobody will need to download plugin.

As to be expected they discount pre-order prices which I will definitely be taking advantage of.

HDR Sets - Review, of sorts by David Mackenzie

HDR Sets

06. Crop So, the other day I was browsing Max Underground as usual when this post caught my eye. Seeing as I often waste spend my time creating renders of cars I like, I am always on the look out for great HDRs I can use. As you will see below HDR Sets products are second to none.

First off, this is what you get with one of their sets:

  • Highres 360° HDR for reflection ( I also used this for lighting ).
  • 360° HDR for Lighting
  • A series of Highres HDR backplates.
  • FBX file (other formats as well)  with matched cameras and a sphere with the correct orientation of the HDR.
  • sIBL compatibility.

As you can see above these guys are definitely 3d guys or they at least understand what artists need. After reading about all of this I was pretty excited to see they have a couple of free HDR Sets you can download and test. So naturally thats exactly what I did.

S5 Max Scene

Creating my test image

OK, so my test image took me about 5 mins to setup, 20mins to render (@3k) and another 10-15mins in post, less than an hour all up. This is mostly because these HDR Sets make it that easy. Now I should say I did not use sIBL to set up my scene as I have never used it before (something I should probably check out), I just went old school and simple, chuck a dome light in there...

Below are the steps I took:

  1. Create a new max file and import HDR Sets cameras.
  2. Create a ground plane.
  3. Create a V-Ray Dome light and load the HDR as V-Ray HDRI.
  4. Chuck a material on the ground plane and camera map the backplate on to it.
  5. Merge in a car, position it.
  6. Test render.
  7. The test render looked great but I was not getting hard shadows off the HDR (was not expecting too), so I took it into Fusion and upped the gain on the sun to about 25000.
  8. Test render, hard shadows, looks sick.
  9. Render High-Res.
  10. Post processing, comp the rendered car over the HDR backplate add some colour correction. You can see a breakdown of the post process below.

That workflow is blazingly fast and exactly what you would like when purchasing any kind of assets for your work. As a commercial artist this workflow is very bankable.

[gallery link="file" ids="1271,1272,1273,1274,1275,1276"]

 Final Thoughts

In short these HDRs are the best I have used. The thing I love most about them is the HDR backplates, it makes it much easier to comp your renders and get a consistent treatment across both your render and background when grading them.  The fact the backplates are already camera matched is just a bonus. There other products out there that are similar, Moofe has an awesome and more extensive selection of HDRs, they also include backplates which are pretty easy to camera match due the 1m² cube that is in the image. To be honest though the single biggest upside for me was the fact that HDR Sets cost  40€ - 80€ and they are not rights managed which makes life easier.

HDR Sets will definitely be my first port of call when looking for HDRs moving forward. I highly recommend them.

Custom Audi S5


Highpoint Animation - Our Vision Sydney by David Mackenzie

Highpoint Hurstville
Highpoint Hurstville

Last year Our Vision complete an animation for Highpoint project in Hurstville. This animation was turned around pretty quickly and came together without much trouble at all. Along with the film, Our Vision also produced a number high res still images. The project was created with 3dsmax and rendered in V-Ray as usual.

You can check out the film below:

Custom S5 - Everything is better in black by David Mackenzie

Custom Audi S5

This is a quick render I did the other day. It was rendered in V-Ray and comped in Fusion. My only thought when I started this image was everything looks better in black which is definitely true when it comes to cars. The gold stag on the number plate is the Mackenzie stag. I will have a making of it online in the next few days.

Would love to hear what everyone things.

Update. Here is short making of/review of the HDR I used for the image. 

Bringing Smaug to life by David Mackenzie


I really liked this quick video from Weta showing some of the phenomenal work on Smaug in the latest Hobbit film. You can check out below.

If you are interested in a more in depth discussion about their work, FXGuide has a great article here along with a great podcast that interviews a bunch of guys from Weta. Its well worth a listen, you can get here.

3d Printing for Special Effects by David Mackenzie

Legacy Effects
Legacy Effects

This is cool. Seriously Cool.

This quick look at Legacy effects 3d printing workflow is bloody awesome.  Not really much else to say other than check it out! Also take some time to have a flick through there website, they have some really nice work on their site. There is something really cool about physical props.

Its getting harder and harder to not buy a 3d printer...

Ocean Water Test - HOT4MAX by David Mackenzie

Hot4Max Render Test

So a little while ago I wrote a quick article about a plugin I purchased called HOT4MAX . Long story short, this a very short render test of the plugin. I put the test together in about an hour, as you can no doubt tell by the camera animation. I can report, that the plugin really does work well. I have been very impressed with it. For the record I rendered the shot with V-Ray and comped it in Fusion.

If I get a chance in the next few weeks I will do another test with water spray and some interaction with the surface. I am interested to see how far I can push it as I have a couple shots in mind that I would like to put together.

If you need to do some ocean shots or renders then I highly recommend HOT4MAX. You can get the plugin here.

Life After Pi by David Mackenzie

Hollywood Ending
Hollywood Ending

As many of you are no doubt aware last year R&H went bust and then a week late they won an Oscar. I am not going to go into much more detail about the sequence of events that took place before and after the Oscars as it has been very well covered in the 3d and vfx community. Well, this week or a few weeks ago a documentary came out called the Life After Pi. I encourage all of you to watch it. No doubt, as content creators we can all learn this something from this documentary. Check out the documentary below:

I do have some thoughts on the documentary and the situation in general but I have to say what really needs to change is the business model above all else. Subsidies are always going to exist whether we agree with them or not but the business model can change. The other thing I wanted to mention is that other studios outside of VFX routinely face similar problems. Being forced to quote/bid projects at X and then being held to X cost no matter what. As an industry at large this is something we need to solve, however, it is hard when we are forced to compete against studios and freelancers running pirated software who underpay students and in general devalue our entire industry. That's my two cents.

Check out the doco and share it around it. Its a great insight into what was a great a studio.

Spring Cove Manly - Our Vision by David Mackenzie

Spring Cove Manly
Spring Cove Manly

We finished this project up last year and so far it has been very well received. Spring Cove is a very high end development in Manly, possibly one of the best harbour locations in Sydney. Consisting of Apartments, town homes and houses. Our Vision was responsible for all of the work in the film. We shot the Helicopter footage on a Cineflex system the footage was then tracked in Syntheyes with roto and compositing being down in Fusion. All the CG shots where rendered in V-Ray. Any way, enough out of me, check out the clip below.

You can check more of Our Vision's work here and on YouTube here.

Grand Designs Australia - Our Vision by David Mackenzie

Grand Designs
Grand Designs

This is a quick look some the of the animation work for Grand Designs Australia that we have created over the last 4 series at Our Vision.

Series 1:


Series 2:


Series 3:


Series 4:

As you can imagine we have a pretty solid workflow for creating these now. We have great proprietary animation tool that really helps us bust them out in timely fashion.  You can check out more of Our Visions work here and on Youtube here. The show is on Life Style here in Australia and if you get a chance to check it out I highly recommend it.

Neat Video, Render noise reduction. by David Mackenzie

Neat Video

I have recently being using Neat Video and I have to say I supremely impressed with the results. It works great on video footage as I would expect and it also works REALLY well to clean up renders that have had to low subdivs on reflections etc... The video below is an example that was rendered in Max/V-Ray and you can clearly see on some shaders the subdivs were to low.  I ran it through Neat Video which cleaned/removed 98% of the noise in the reflections. See for your self below: [flv:http://daveandgoliath.com/wp-content/video/Neat_Video.mp4 600 337]

I have now used it on a couple projects (one were it saved our a**) which I can not show just yet. I will however post them up when I can.

You can check Neat Video Here. We bought the version for OpenFX hosts (Fusion in this case) for $199USD which is WELL worth it!




3ds max Peeling Paint by David Mackenzie

S5 Feature Image

This was a very quick test a did some time ago. I client wanted to see some example of car animation so I quickly knocked these out. The peeling effect was kind of cool and something that I would like to revisit one day. It was achieved with a bit of scripting and using the path deform modifier given the time frame that is done in I was reasonably happy with the results. 

The below test was really just to test some camera moves and animation.

Both clips were rendered using Mental Ray in 3ds max. The render times were very quick only 1-3mins per frame. Overall the the clips were turned around in about 2 days. In anyone would like a tutorial on how achieve the effect then please let me know!



GML Importer Version 2 by David Mackenzie


I will assume most of you know what GML is, if not check out this post I made some time ago here. In the months that have gone passed we have developed three different version of the GML importer. The first version that was featured in a video here, was a basic hack that we used to get a job done. The second version was an expansion of the first while it was a little better it lacked a few important features:

  1. Easily update-able framework.
  2. An "API" or a library of functions to take advantage of in other scripts or tools.
  3. A single unified User Interface that exposes all of the data in the GML File.

So after taking a moment and addressing these issues we created what we believe to be a great tool. It includes a library of code that other 3ds Max TDs and scripters can take advantage of. We choose to focus more on the data and library that goes with it. In it's current form the script will only create a spline shape from the GML file. I will be updating it to include a feature to create proper geometry. We currently have it working by creating a sequence of points and using Delaunay Triangulation to create the surface.

The User Interface

The interface at first glance looks quite complicated, however, it is actually very simple. We wanted to expose everything to the artists so there are quite a lot of UI controls, most of which can easily be tucked away for later use. I was going to document what all of the UI controls do below but since each one has a question mark I'll let you work it out.

GML Importer Version 2
GML Importer Version 2

The Library

We believe simplicity is the ultimate sophistication so we tried to keep everything as simple as possible. Below is a brief run down of the maxscript structs that make up our GML importer.

  • gml_point GML point is a simple struct the stores x, y, z along with t (time) values. If it was not for the t I would had have just used a point3.
  • gml_sketch This struct represents a whole sketch. It is made up of strokes (s_strokes). Each stroke is an array of gml_point()
  • gml_custom_props This struct just stores some custom data that is not from the gml file.
  • gml_header Stores all the information in the header of the GML file. Mainly stores name, username, version and keyword information. This data is reflected in the GUI in the information rollout.
  • gml_enviro This struct holds all of the environment data in the GML file. This includes the canvas size, up vectors and related data. This information is reflected in the GUI in the Environment rollout.
  • gml_document is the guts of everything, its instantiates every one of the above structs. Through this struct you can interact with all facets of a GML file. The struct also provides three methods to create objects and shapes from the data, these are mainly included as examples of what you could do. These functions are  implemented in the GUI. We are currently working on a new method to create geometry that will be included in new updates.

Looking through the gml_data.ms file will give you a good understanding on what is going on. There is a pretty detailed example in the comments showing you how to create gml_documet to sum up the simplicity there is a snippet below:

a = gml_document() a.file = "C:\\18763.gml" a.init() a.createShape()

You can download the GML importer below.

For everyone that has posted and emailed me asking where is the importer? Well it is here now, thank you for your support and let me know how you go. If you create something cool then please send it in. In the spirit of community if you are making this better then lets make it better for everyone! Send in any changes or updates you find. Feel free to posts bugs in the comments below.



V-Ray Proxy Tools by David Mackenzie

V-Ray Proxy Tools
V-Ray Proxy Tools

Proxy Tools is another one of my most used scripts. It allows you to control the display modes of V-Ray proxies in your scene. This tool has speed up my workflow on large scenes 10 fold. Any scene with large numbers of proxies will benefit from using this tool.

As you can see in the screenshot above their are very few controls. You can easily hide and show proxies as well as change there display mode. If you have suggestions for any additions to Proxy Tools please let me know.

You can download it here.

Hot Box Source by David Mackenzie

Maya Style HotBox for 3dsmax
Maya Style HotBox for 3dsmax

I was recently asked if I could give out the source code to my Hot Box which I have decided to do. I had planned to develop it a lot further but time got the better of me. Starting a new job and jumping straight back into production meant that I had to abandon it. Truth be told I was always going to give away the source. I like to give back to the community that I have learned so much from, however, it was a messy hack and I decided to encrypt it. I have since done quite a lot of work to expand it and I am planning on using it as an interface to all the tools I have written at Our Vision. Unfortunately, I am cannot distribute that to the public I will, however, show some screen shots so you can see what can be done with this kind of interface.

The more I played with the hot box the more I realised that max did not need one. I am sure there are plenty of people who disagree. I do, however, really like this technique for creating an interface for suites of tools.

Feel free to download it below. I would ask that if you use this to create some thing cool or use it in production please let me know. Consider it to be Quoteware.

You can download it here.