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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.”
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