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Behind the scenes of the V-Ray 6 release videos with the Chaos 3D team

Learn more about the creative process, teamwork, and collaboration involved in creating the V-Ray 6 release videos for 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, and Maya. 

With many people celebrating Thanksgiving today, it’s time we appreciated the artistic skill and dedication of one of the most vital departments here at Chaos: the 3D team. Their work is what gives life to our innovative software, transforming features into visual storytelling that inspires and motivates artists to create their own worlds.

Chaos’ 3D team recently enjoyed a much-deserved escape in nature, recharging their creative batteries while taking in breathtaking views of Bulgaria’s majestic Rhodope mountains. 


What better way to celebrate their efforts than to get a behind-the-scenes look at the success of the V-Ray 6 release videos for 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, and Maya? Keep reading to learn more about each release video’s concept, storyboard, shading, modeling, rigging, effects, and all the creative decisions taken in between.


Can you share how you came up with the concept of the V-Ray 6 for 3ds Max release video and what steps went into creating the storyboard?  

The original idea came from our Creative Marketing Director, Lon Grohs. He was inspired by Encho Enchev’s original design of the mobile home.  Then we came up with the script and finalized the concept together. After that our concept artist started drawing the storyboard, which helped a lot with the actual production afterward. 

Lyudmil Vanev, 3D Team Manager, Chaos 

What is the most important thing to keep in mind in order to achieve powerful visual storytelling? 

Following the three stages of a narrative: beginning, middle, and end.

  1. Make a set-up present to the viewer the environment and prepare for confrontation
  2. Create confrontation
  3. Create resolution

It sounds elementary, but for a two-minute audio-visual project, the actual creation was challenging. Lon Grohs, our creative director, and Encho Enchev's idea helped a lot. Then we took all the different pieces, merged and changed them in a way that would work for our video.

 Lyudmil Vanev, 3D Team Manager, Chaos  

The leg design is very impressive. How many hours went into research and creating the intricate details?  

Probably around three to five days. There were three different design iterations for the leg. In the end, we chose only one of them. The initial design we came up with was a heavy, industrial-looking leg. The idea behind this rugged look was to suggest stability and the ability to carry a large object. However, the thick joints, the steel, and the many hydraulic elements did not look very modern and were not at all pleasing to the eye. That's why we created a second design. However, it looked too sharp and resembled an element from a military machine. Because of that, we made one last attempt that was more modern looking, strong enough to carry a lot of weight, but also elegant. It ended up looking like a sort of technology for expeditions to different terrains... even ones outside our planet.

Zlatan Rangelov, Concept Artist, Chaos

How was the 3D animatic made? 

This is the first thing we do after coming up with the idea. There were several animatics that we were creating, but usually, we use the images from the storyboard, put those into Premiere, and just cut them roughly. As a final step, we add music to evoke emotion in the viewer. This is the stage at which we decide if the project works or not. If yes, we continue with a cutout from the same images and make short 2D transform animations. After that, we send this to the marketing team and our creative director, and if they approve it, we continue with a simple 3D animatic in which we use a low poly object. At that stage, we focus more on camera work.

Lyudmil Vanev, 3D Team Manager, Chaos   

Can you share the steps in shading and modeling the vehicle?

I was following the concept by Zlatan Rangelov and the direction we were going was to make the model believable. We wanted to make it as something that could be built and function in real life.

The first step in creating the model was to make the basic shapes and make it look proportional. In my case, I decided to start from Zbrush to block out the main forms.

I didn’t get too much into details and spent just a few days in Zbrush.

When I was happy with the overall shapes I continued the modeling in 3ds Max,  added all the tiny details, and retopologized the model so it can be suitable for texturing and rigging which took the most time in the whole modeling process.

Mihail Topalov, 3D Artist, Chaos

Once the modeling of the vehicle is complete, it needs to be unwrapped and prepared for texturing and shading. Since the model of the walking house is quite big and detailed, we also have some close-up shots of it, we needed very high-detail textures. We used the UDIM system to spread the UVs into multiple UV tiles and this way gets more detail from the texturing.

The texturing part was done using Substance Painter. The process of texturing every element is fairly straightforward. I usually approach it by creating a base material of some kind (metal, plastic, wood, etc.) and then introducing some wear and tear, some scratches, or damage on the surface. Next, I go ahead and add some dirt, dust, oil leaks, or pretty much anything that can accumulate on top of the surface over time. After all of the separate elements are textured, they get exported and used as input maps in the shading process.

Veso Mihaylov, 3D Artist, Chaos

What was the most challenging aspect when creating the demo rigging and how was it solved? 

Creating the rig of the vehicle is fairly simple as an overall process. The most challenging aspect of it was rigging the legs. What makes them complicated is that there are a bunch of hydraulics and hoses that move around when the leg bends. All of that movement has to be combined into a more complex system. That took most of the time when making the rig for the vehicle.

Veso Mihaylov, 3D Artist, Chaos 

Can you explain the different stages in the buildup of the environment?

For the creation of the different environments, we used simple shapes to block the composition. Once we got the basic terrain done we scattered multiple layers of different kinds of objects such as gravel, rocks, grass, and plants on top of it. In some areas where we needed a more complex terrain, we took the one we had blocked and created a height map of it that we fed to Gaea. 

This way we get the same terrain in Gaea where we can add surface features such as erosion and also generate custom masks that can be used to further elaborate the scattering and shading. For instance, we can have small details such as gravel only in the eroded parts of the terrain and big rocks on the larger flatter surfaces. This way we can achieve a balance between places of detail and places with less detail to avoid having visual noise everywhere. 

For scattering, we used Forest Pack most of the time as it has a few neat features such as clustering, control based on surface elevation, a color tint map, and the ability to work with surfaces displaced at render time. Some of the basic scattering was done using Chaos Scatter. For the larger landscapes, instead of using a single terrain mesh, we simply created a couple of modular mountains that we instanced several times. In doing that, it was easier to create the composition and control the level of detail on a very large scale. Regarding shading, we used a few PBR materials that we blended with some custom masks of the mountain features to achieve greater variety.

Bozhidar Stoyanov, 3D Artist, Chaos


Were there several 3D team experts collaborating and working on each step of the production process together or was it individual efforts? 

Almost all aspects of the video were created as a collaborative process between the two artists who assembled the scene and the rest of the colleagues. Everything was created on time in order for the next colleague to be able to continue their work.

I'm grateful that all my colleagues were excited about the project, and they went the extra mile in order for the video to be completed on time. We are not a lot of people, and it was challenging to keep this process smooth. Usually, we have a month for a project like that, and for us, it was the first time combining so many elements like atmosphere effects, particles, physics simulation, animations, rigs, etc.

Lyudmil Vanev, 3D Team Manager, Chaos   

What approach did you take when leading the 3D team in this project? 

I have worked with my colleagues for almost eight years, and I know what each person can do for a specific amount of time. On top of that, some people like to work in VFX, others love making environments, others love to model, and one of my colleagues has experience in rigging and animations. 

I try to give everyone a task that they will enjoy. This has always been my approach. I'm a 3D artist myself, and I know that if I find my task interesting, I will put my heart and soul into it. On top of that, I track time, give advice, and sometimes even participate in the group, doing 3D myself. Even though we are doing so many different things – 3D art, presentations, and consulting, I'm very proud of what my colleagues achieved this year.

Lyudmil Vanev, 3D Team Manager, Chaos   


The final video got a great response online! How did you celebrate when it was complete and published along with the release? 

Since we are a small team, we jumped directly into new projects and new tasks that we have in our pipeline. Usually, in a normal 3D studio, the artist is doing only 3D, but in Chaos – and I am saying that as a positive – we are doing a lot of different things, such as 3D marketing videos like this one, tutorials, webinars, client demonstrations, traveling to events all over the world, training, consulting, and other small internal tasks. 

Usually, around that time of the year, we did not have any time for celebration, other than our team building. Yana Andreeva, our 3D project manager, did her best to ensure all of us had a great time there. 

Lyudmil Vanev, 3D Team Manager, Chaos     

What is the 3D team working on right now? Is there something exciting we can expect to see? 

Since we create the visual content for all of our integrations, there are no pauses on our end. Currently, we are at the end of the V-Ray 6 release cycle and after that, we are focusing on the new updates coming out early next year. As a creative team we have many ideas for cool content, so stay tuned!

Lyudmil Vanev, 3D Team Manager, Chaos    

What were the challenges in creating effects seen in the falling rocks and mountains? I gather we’ve never done this before?

The fact that we have not done this before made creating the FX particularly challenging. We had to learn the tools and techniques in production which was a difficult yet rewarding process. The most challenging aspect of this project was developing the tools that allowed us to grow an entire forest full of trees. 

We wanted to do something unique and decided not to grow the trees but make them come out of the ground fully grown which made the shot even more challenging. The trees we selected for this project were downloaded from our own Cosmos library. We used Houdini to generate a skeleton for each tree and then that skeleton was simulated with wind and ground collisions. After that, the simulated tree geometry was used as a collider for a vellum grains sim. The output of those simulations was then cached as alembics and imported back in 3ds Max where we used Phoenix to simulate dust and smoke.  

Atanas Tudjarov, 3D Artist, Chaos


Each video has its own narrative and mood. What deciding factors played a role in the different environments and stories told for each DCC? 

Working on and seeing how each environment transforms for the release videos was a challenging but very exciting experience. We used most of the shots from the first 3ds Max release video but wanted to give each one a distinctive mood and feel. The main goal was to highlight the best of each feature. 

One of the features, Particle Shading, gave us an idea for creating glowing fireflies and pushed us in the direction of creating a magical and uncommon world. The amazing environment in the movie Avatar was the main inspiration for the Cinema 4D release video. This also helped us demonstrate that V-Ray 6 features can be used in any kind of environment you create - from Earth's lush greenery and fiery mountains to magical glowing planets.

Anastasia Zhivaeva, 3D Artist, Chaos

How about the sound design? The music and sound effects in each video are so epic and add greatly to the overall mood. How did you achieve this?

Adding music is usually pretty straightforward. We used several different stock libraries. The actual work and sound editing took around one day, but the recording took several months. I recorded different sounds whenever I had a little bit of free time for that.

Sound fx is a whole other story. Audio is another hobby of mine. And one day, I decided to try to make the sound design for one of the videos from last year. It ended up sounding pretty good, giving the viewer not only music but actual sounds from the relevant place.

The video for V-Ray 6 for Max has a lot of complex sound elements we had to create. For example, we needed water sounds and metal sounds, and a lot of hitting sounds. There were also falling pebbles, room tones, etc.

We manually recorded every sound that you hear in the video. I used roughly 100 different sounds in the final video. It’s good to know, however, that the sound is usually not recorded as you may think. For example, for the sound of the leg, I used combined the sounds of 3D printer motors and metal trash hitting each other to achieve these massive robot sounds. Of course, all those sounds are modified with various plugins and synths in order to sound like the real thing.

Lyudmil Vanev, 3D Team Manager, Chaos   

There is such a complex particle system.  Can you explain how all the tiny lighting elements were made? 

In this magical world full of unworldly colors and wild plants, we thought it would be cool for the environment to be inhabited by all kinds of fireflies, glowing dust, and flower pollen. All those particles and smoke had to be moving naturally, interacting and affected by the house and its legs' movements. Their movement had to obey the laws of physics and air dynamics. Chaos Phoenix was perfect for that. We used volumetric grids, generated from Phoenix with lots of useful channels like velocity. Thanks to these channels, we could easily hook particles to the VolumeGrids that followed the natural flow of gasses and air.

Yane Markuev, 3D Artist, Chaos 


There is so much shading and geometry - are there procedural shaders involved in the process?  

Yes, we used some procedural shaders, especially for the lava and the molten rocks. For the lava, we mainly used the available procedural textures in 3ds Max such as cellular and noise, which we complemented with the V-Ray Dirt texture. That way we could easily blend in both parts of the red hot and cooled-down solid lava.

Additionally, in some shots, there are some vast fields visible, which was tricky to do, especially when there aren’t any trees or other surface features to cover the imperfections. To avoid repetition and achieve variety on such large surfaces we blended multiple PBR materials using procedural masks. Also, the V-Ray UVW Randomizer comes in handy to randomize the tiling of the textures - when there are some distinctive features in the texture such as lines, it is best to rotate the different tiles at 90 or 180-degree intervals.

In some cases, relying on shaders wasn’t enough so we combined them with  Phoenix simulations. There were times when we displaced the geometry in the viewport which we then used as a source for a PhoenixFd simulation to allow for the lava to flow naturally on top of the surface.

Bozhidar Stoyanov, 3D Artist, Chaos

How were the fire and lava simulations rendered? Did you rely on any render farms? 

Rendering of simulations can be quite challenging as they usually carry a lot of data and it is hard to determine how well they will work before you see the final product. That’s why we rendered different passes for quicker previews that we could fine-tune if necessary, and have greater control in post-production. 

For this simulation or fx pass, we made everything besides the simulations themselves a matte object, so that we also got the light that the fire is emitting.

As we had some time allocated just for rendering, most of the shots and their different iterations were rendered in-house on our small render farm. However, as the deadline approached, Chaos Cloud proved to be an extremely reliable and fast way to render the final shots. 

Bozhidar Stoyanov, 3D Artist, Chaos

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