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How Recom Blacksmith Landed Among the Most Desired CGI Studios Delivering Top Quality Architectural Visualizations for World-known Clients

RECOM BLACKSMITH is a CGI post-production studio offering creative retouching in fine art, fashion, and still life to full CGI architecture and automotive visualization.  The creative team works in Bulgaria but barely speaks its native language. The reason? They have an impressive list of clients from all over the world and continue to impress us all with the achieved success and uncompromisingly work quality.  Today, the founder of RECOM BLACKSMITH, Ivoslav Stanev, is here to reveal more about the secrets of the perfect render, the tools, and the inspiration in his daily workflow.

The long and winding road

Eight years ago, Ivo decided that he wanted to work in one of the most boutique visualization companies. However, his first interview did not end well. “I played with open cards, and my dream was to return to Bulgaria – they did not like it.”- says Ivo. 

His skills helped him to make it to the second interview. “At the second interview I was more prepared – my return period could not be defined, and I had a great desire to be part of this team. They liked the persistence, and the workaholism did the rest – it turned out that we were involved in the same dough and we liked each other so much that we decided to make an office in the village of Trudovets.”- admits Ivo.

 

Created with V-Ray for Maya by RECOM BLACKSMITH

 

After wandering into other professions – Ivo wanted to become a programmer first, but since it didn’t work out, one fine day he opened Maya while on the train. “From there – with a bang and with a jump in the cold water I entered the industry quite quickly.”- says Ivo and continues: “My first project came in 2-3 months. Of course with the help of a friend who believed in me more than I did in myself. Thanks to him I was able to get in touch with BOSCH. I didn’t believe I would be able to sell my idea. After I came out of the presentation and it became clear that they liked my idea, I suddenly realized “hell, I don’t know how to do this thing”! It was a very fast slippery slope, if I hadn’t done it, it would have made a very bad name for me and maybe it was a great catalyst to bite to the end and deliver on time.”

The art of winning big clients

The devoted work and the natural talent for visualization come with big clients too. Here is what Ivoslav Stanev says about this journey:

“You need to have really good projects (and not just one photo, but also a great production) that prove that you can handle big clients, and you have to trust yourself. If the client feels insecure, it is possible to reverse the project. This is different, of course, from admitting that you don’t know something.”

 

Created with V-Ray for Maya by RECOM BLACKSMITH

 

Ivo says he doesn’t have a favorite project and shares:

“In most cases, I’m never completely happy with my projects – maybe it’s a bug in the system. They don’t look real to me, and that probably makes me always look for other programs and ways to improve my rendering. Let’s just say this bug helps.”

Another important issue when it comes to working with big clients is… yes, speed. Ivo admits that speed is probably the most important technical factor. “For example, for automotive visualization, we always use vRed, because the software is uncompromisingly fast and stable. Customers do not want to wait and their time is precious – real-time is the future.” – says the founder of RECOM BLACKSMITH. –

Also adjusting the light in real-time gives the opportunity to be very accurate and creative without losing the inspiration. Slow lighting is a creative killer.” – continues Ivo.

The master and his tools

Being good at your own work means that you know a lot of software programs in order to filter and stick to those that can help you deliver great results. Ivo’s list is quite long and includes Autodesk Maya, V-Ray, Arnold, Renderman, Clarisse ifx, SpeedTree, vRed, E-on Vue. He admits having his favorite software for different types of visualizations. It is V-Ray for Architecture, Clarisse Ifx for the environment, vRed for automobile visualizations. The few things Ivo admits he wanted to learn earlier are Houdini and Arnold. 

 

Created with V-Ray for Maya by RECOM BLACKSMITH

 

“V-Ray has potential for development. In the architectural visualization it has established itself quite solidly and the integration with Maya is successful, but for heavy productions, there is still room for development.” – states Ivoslav Stanev. “Of course, there is no perfect software and maybe there will not be, but one of the most important things for good development is: to clean the bugs quickly, not to interpolate at the expense of quality and cleaning of unnecessary features.

Programs need to be easier to maintain so that artists can be artists and not waste time on technical issues.”

So here comes the top 3 features of V-Ray for Maya, according to Ivo: “Quick preview and work with materials. I would like to enter a GPU, but unfortunately, it still does not give the same result as a CPU, and this is a dream of all of us.”

Additionally, every master is looking for the perfect visualization. For Ivo, basic knowledge of architecture is required as well as photography – it helps the eye to develop and gain a sense of good and real light.

 

Created with V-Ray for Maya by RECOM BLACKSMITH

 

Into the big game

RECOM BLACKSMITH has completed some great interior visualization projects with OTTO

However, there was a challenge. The company was very large and needed automation. Ivo steps in for such a project for the first time. For the year 2019, the rendering number was impressive –  27,000. To make the whole work possible, Recom Blacksmith used scripts to automate the process. “We were able to get our render engine to understand information from stacked .xml tables to determine the rendering of the correct configurations.” – admits Ivo.  

 

 

Something more, OTTO is an example of how such a large and old company is moving from analog to digital photography.

Ivo shares: “I don’t know if it will completely cancel the photo and to be honest, I don’t want to, but the advantages are great.” And we can see the trend in the eCommerce sector every single day.

 

 

How to do it right with copyright

Ivoslav Stanev – just like most of the creative artists – is sensitive about the copyright topic. “These are our salaries. I would not want anyone to steal my product and sell or distribute it for free.” – he admits. The topic is really serious and complex. “For example, Pixar gives Renderman for unlimited testing and this helped me a lot to look closely at their software. In commercial projects, it is already a matter of morality to buy. If a software does not withstand production and is not improved by the manufacturer, then I will want my money back.”- says Ivo.

 

Created with V-Ray for Maya by RECOM BLACKSMITH

 

The beginners in the architecture industry should be really aware of this problem too. Alongside the legal software programs usage, here is the main advice for the mastery of skills from the founder of RECOM BLACKSMITH:

You already have all the information on the Internet, years ago we didn’t have this luxury and we had to deal with it in many ways – which of course developed a different way of thinking and solving problems. Learn architecture and collect a lot of references to find your style. Go outside and observe the world around you. Shoot and watch movies. This will develop your most important weapon – the eye. The software is just a tool.”

 

FIND RECOM BLACKSMITH HERE:

https://recomblacksmith.com/

No hyper-threading VS hyper-threading. Testing Intel’s Hyper-threading technology when it comes to CPU Rendering with V-Ray Next

Where the Journey Starts

Hey guys, we’ve disabled our hyper-threading!
Although enabling it sounds like more fun, we decided to test how much of a difference it actually makes when it comes to rendering in V-Ray Next. Some people might be quite familiar with Intel’s hyper-threading technology which first launched back in 2002, and on first glance looks like your Intel CPU will do double the work. Or not double? Maybe some of you find this question quite familiar. How much of a speed boost does hyperthreading give when it comes to rendering? That is what we are here to find out when it comes to the world of CPU ray tracing.

The short description of hyperthreading is simple – it is a technology allowing one physical core of your CPU to act as two logical cores and therefore do more work simultaneously.

Imagine you are waiting in line in the supermarket. Only one cash registry is opened, it’s slow, everybody has to wait for the person before them to finish shopping. Ping-ping, they open another cash registry. Now half of the line can go to the other cash registry and maybe it will be twice faster for you. Or maybe not, depends on how many families shopping for the month are there in front of you. So, imagine hyperthreading like that.

The main question we are here to answer is… What is the speed difference when rendering with V-Ray Next on the same CPU with and without hyperthreading.

 

Setting Up the Picture

Let’s introduce you to our set up. We have the same machines (produced by the super trendy and friendly Bulgarian PC manufacturer Persy Ltd). With the same hardware. We’ve disabled hyperthreading (yes, from the BIOS) on one of them. We’ve installed the same software on both. We use the same scene files. The climate in the room is the same, the machines are just a couple of meters away from each other. Sorry, it’s not in a vacuum.

Now, let’s bring in the competitors:
The Hardware in short:
Intel Core i7-8700 @3.20 GHz, 6 Core, 12 Threads
32GB RAM – DDR4 2400
256GB SSD + 1TB of HDD
Nvidia RTX 2070 – 8GB GDDR6 – because we can 😉

 

 

The software:
Windows Pro 10 x64
V-Ray Standalone for x64 core version 4.20.00 from 14.06.2019
V-Ray Next Benchmark, hotfix 3 from 22.05.2019

NB:
The scenes used here are just examples of different rendering situations. The render time will always depend on the scene you are rendering.

The first item on our cash registry is the latest official Chaosgroup V-Ray Benchmark. It is a software designed and created to… well, benchmark. So it should be the fairest of them all:

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, we were not lying about disabling our hyperthreading. One of the machines is running on 6 cores, while the other on – on visibly twelve. They are all engaged and all trying to do the work.

 

 

Behind the numbers

The score is here, 7 095 vs. 9 168. Yes, the test was done a couple of times just to be sure. The results were 7 095 vs. 9 102; 7 086 vs. 9 168; 7 086 vs. 9159. Very similar indeed.

But what do these numbers mean? The long version you can find on Chaosgroup’s official docs page but the short one is “internal statistics of the calculations per minute” displayed in samples… Which, let’s be honest, are not a real value… but according to Chaosgroup is a linear value, allowing us to compare results.

Since the original configuration of the CPUs we are testing was WITH hyperthreading and turning it off was the modification, let’s take the second score as 100%. So, the result from the V-Ray Benchmark is:
The CPU without hyperthreading worked at around 77% of its original capacity. Or in other words, the HT provides 29% more performance compared to no HT

But this is just one test based on one software. And it is testing software. Let’s compare a few real scenes. All of them were exported before and rendered for this test in V-Ray Standalone so there is no slowing down because of the original 3D platform and exporting geometry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The render time here is:
No hyper-threading: 0h 16m 41.0s VS. Hyper-threading: 0h 14m 1.2s
Doing the math for you: 1 001 seconds VS. 841.2 seconds resulting in 84% of the original (with hyper-threading) speed or in 19% increase with HT.

 

 

 

The render time here is:
No hyper-threading: 3h 13m 8.8s VS. Hyper-threading: 2h 34m 9.8s
Doing the math for you: 11 588.8 seconds VS. 9 249.8 seconds resulting in 80% of the original (with hyper-threading) speed or in a 25% increase with HT.

These scenes have something in common. They are simple test scenes with V-Ray materials and without any dynamic geometry. Which led to an interesting question. What will happen if we use dynamic geometry (geometry that is not fully visible in the scene but is loaded in render time)?

 

 

 

No hyper-threading: 1h 43m 33.0s VS. Hyper-threading: 1h 26m 51.6s
Doing the math for you: 6 213 seconds VS. 5 211.6 seconds resulting in 84% of the original (with hyper-threading) speed. or in a 19% increase with HT.

 

Test Time Again

Let’s test the same trees as above, but this time the original tree is exported as proxies and then instanced in the scene in the same way that the original geometry was.

 

 

 

No hyper-threading: 3h 13m 4.1s VS. Hyper-threading: 2h 34m 1.4s
Doing the math for you: 11 584.1 seconds VS. 9 241.4 seconds resulting in 80% of the original (with hyper-threading) speed or in a 25% increase with HT

As you can see, the results not only are almost the same with and without proxies (answering another question) but are the same time difference when comparing between with and without hyperthreading.

The sample scenes showed some numbers… but who in a real pipeline renders sample scenes? May be on Fridays just for fun, but on regular days we render real scenes.

 

 

 

No hyper-threading: 0h 38m 24.3s VS. Hyper-threading: 0h 30m 49.7s
Doing the math for you: 2 304.3 seconds VS. 1 849.7 seconds resulting in 80% of the original (with hyper-threading) speed in a 25% increase with HT.

 

 

 

No hyper-threading: 0h 19m 38.0s VS. Hyper-threading: 0h 15m 59.3s
Doing the math for you: 1 178 seconds VS. 959.3 seconds resulting in 81% of the original (with hyper-threading) speed in a 23% increase with HT.

Okay, so they’ve opened the new check out counter and you can see the results. When it comes to numbers, let’s not repeat the obvious. Let’s try to answer why, keeping in line with our shopping metaphor.
Imagine the cash registry is opened just for the small stuff. It’s one of those “a couple of items or less and none of the items should be a lawnmower” type of a cash registry. The big stuff, your new boat and washer, and dryer still need to be checked by the original processor. So you are still counting on those magical physical processors which we began with and they are still doing the heavy lifting. But the logical cores, the ones provided by hyperthreading are great helpers.

And as it is in life, so it is in rendering – you do you. Pick the hardware you like and is best suited for your individual needs. And have fun.

 

Some Notes Instead of Goodbye

  1. ALL percentage values are based on the 3 symbols after the decimal point.
  2. We are artists and not mathematicians, so please do make your own checks or double-check our calculation if you want to be extremely precise. We highly encourage you to make your tests and share your results in a comment below.
  3. Spoiler alert – next on the blog list: Cloud vs Workstation 🙂 Stay tuned.

 

 

Author: Kalina Panteleeva