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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/

Arch. Dimitar Tzanev (IXDesign): “Everything in life comes at the right time, you just have to be patient.”

IXDesign is a Sofia-based interior design studio, providing services for Bulgaria and the EU. If we are to sum up their creative approach in one word – it is innovation. The studio itself is a natural continuation of the work of Comet – a studio created back in 1992, whose main focus is the production of stainless steel products and afterward changes its activity to the design and implementation area. And that is when IXDesign is created. Let’s meet its manager – architect Dimitar Tzanev.

Architect Dimitar Tzanev | IXDesign

Welcome to our Space. If you have to describe your company – IXDesign in just one sentence, what would the exact words be?

The most innovative interior design studio which offers great quality projects and innovations for a reasonable price.

You’ve worked with some impressive International brands like Hyundai, McDonald’s, Nike, Adidas, etc. What is the key to winning a big client?

We believe that when you offer the best possible quality projects and you combine all your work with innovations like VR technology, the clients are more than happy because they have everything in one place. For us, the most important thing during the whole process is the trust and respect between our company and the clients. No matter how big or small a client is, he gets the best possible services with no compromise.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

What are your plans for future development?

We think that we can expand our work in the EU, the USA, and other countries around the world. What makes us so confident in our experience, knowledge to complete the whole project instead of just offering nice looking renders. 

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

How did your professional career start?

I started in our first company specialized in stainless steel production, where I was occupied in the lower levels of the production process. Later on, I had the chance to join the management board as a CEO. I inherited the place of my father, who taught me that the only way to be successful is to start from the bottom and learn and learn.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

How would you describe a typical working process?

We start from scratch and develop it to something real, special, and unique. All projects are just like our babies. We truly devote our time, attention, and passion for each one. Maybe that is the reason I don’t have a favorite one, honestly. 

Additionally, we have a whole list of partners from around the world who provide us with really interesting and unique materials, furniture, and basically anything we need to complete a project in a superb way.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

Tell me more about your interior design projects – is there something special during the work process?

I don’t think that there are any peculiarities. My personal design process can be summarized in one word – comfort. I work in the way I feel most comfortable. Maybe the most different thing in my workflow is that I start every time from 3D and sketching, and after that, I move to 2D and CAD. But that is just my way of doing things. The right method is the one that makes you most productive. 

My father taught me that the only way to be successful is to start from the bottom and learn and learn…

How important is the speed when you work with clients and how do you balance their usual rush and the quality you aim to deliver?

The speed for one project is a very important part of the whole process. We have state-of-the-art rendering farms that provide us with hundreds of CPU cores and power to render in ultra-high quality of our projects. And yes, all clients are usually in a rush. That is why we’ve built our computers’ brains to work as fast as possible. However, we have never made a single compromise with the quality of a project.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

What is the best way to present a project?

I think the key is to present in the most simple way of understanding. For example, we have 3D printers for modes, we make sketches, VR presentations, videos of the projects so that it is clear what we present. To be honest, most of the clients appreciate very much the 3D visualizations and VR presentations. So in one sentence – the best way to present our project is the one that says everything but with simplicity for better understanding.

Is there a secret for perfect visualization?

Everyone knows that the devil is in the detail. So the small details make the perfect visualization.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

Everything in life comes at the right time, you just have to be patient.

Let’s have a look behind the scenes. How do you make the magic happen, what software tools usually help you?

We use a lot of software programs. However, there is no day-off for SketchUp, V-Ray, Photoshop, Lightroom. For animations and VR presentations we use Twinmotion and Eyecad3D.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

What is the main advantage of SketchUp for you? 

It is intuitive, it also gives you the very best response of materials and textures, and speed – SketchUp is just faster than all the other 3D software programs.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

Select your TOP 3 SketchUp features that saved tones of work?

  1. Quick and easy way to import DWG files.
  2. A very good look of the project even before rendering.
  3. The ability to use Layout is just awesome.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

And what about V-Ray? 

I think V-Ray is still the perfect render on the market. It may look a bit complicated but once you become a master of V-Ray, you can achieve amazing results.

Select your TOP 3 V-Ray features that saved tones of work?

  1. You can create real-looking materials and textures.
  2. The ability to have render elements and use them in Photoshop.
  3. Very good and accurate auto functions. 

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

Why is it important to use legal software?

From the position of a creator, I am very sensitive to the copyright topic. There are a lot of people who can simply steal your work – software, design, product…

Above all, using legal software is a kind of appreciation for the hard work of the people who’ve created it. Plus, you don’t violate the law that way. Everyone should use legal software. Currently, there are a lot of options for paying over time and it’s totally worth it.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

What would be your advice for all the beginners in your industry who want to master their skills?

Everything in life comes at the right time, you just have to be patient.

Do not rush. Learn as much as you can because the interior design is a combination of so many things – aesthetic, nature, materials, light and etc. And most importantly – never quit. Work hard, study harder and if you are dedicated to that career, no one can stop your success.

 

Find IXDesign here:

https://www.ixdesignstudio.com/  

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