Wil­liam Vaughan: Kick Starter

The multi-tal­ented head of New Balance’s 3D team says that GPU ren­der­ing with Modo’s mpath en­gine and AMD’S Radeon Proren­der will trans­form artists’ work

3D World - - PRO THOUGHTS -

Wil­liam Vaughan is a hard artist to cat­e­gorise. Cur­rently Se­nior 3D Pro­duc­tion Man­ager at multi­na­tional shoe firm New Balance, he is also a pro­lific creator of 3D char­ac­ters, whose work has ap­peared in Hol­ly­wood movies, ar­chi­tec­tural vi­su­al­i­sa­tions, and even as vinyl toys. An au­thor and ed­u­ca­tor – he was also pre­vi­ously aca­demic di­rec­tor of The Dig­i­tal An­i­ma­tion & Vis­ual Ef­fects School in Florida – his pub­lished out­put ranges from the likes of guides to 3D mod­el­ling to sci­ence-fic­tion nov­els.

For the past decade, the thread unit­ing this var­ied ca­reer has been Modo: Foundry’s cre­ative 3D mod­el­ling soft­ware, and Vaughan’s pri­mary pro­duc­tion tool. And what cur­rently ex­cites him about the ap­pli­ca­tion is the way that the cur­rent Modo 13 Se­ries of re­leases are able to har­ness the power of mod­ern GPUS, both through Radeon™ Proren­der, AMD’S pow­er­ful phys­i­cally based ren­der en­gine, and mpath, Foundry’s ground-up re­design of the na­tive Modo ren­derer.

Modo for char­ac­ter mod­el­ling

Vaughan first used Modo on Partly Cloudy, Pixar’s 2009 an­i­mated short, on which he worked as a free­lance char­ac­ter modeller. “At the time, what blew me away was how in­ter­ac­tive ev­ery­thing was,” he says. “I wasn’t key­ing in num­bers and see­ing what hap­pened: I was in­ter­act­ing with my model in real time. That and Modo’s se­lec­tion tools were the big­gest sell­ing points to me.”

Over time, Modo would grad­u­ally re­place other 3D soft­ware in Vaughan’s work­flow, both on his per­sonal and pro­fes­sional projects. “It’s a com­plete pack­age: all of the tools are there, they’re easy to use, and they’re flex­i­ble,” he ex­plains. “Although I model 3D char­ac­ters, I think of my­self more as a prob­lem-solver – and Modo has ev­ery­thing I need to solve my prob­lems.”

Modo for prod­uct de­sign

Vaughan has also been in­stru­men­tal in im­ple­ment­ing Modo in the de­sign pipe­line at New Balance. In place of its old work­flow of cre­at­ing de­signs in 2D, hav­ing them man­u­fac­tured phys­i­cally, then mod­i­fy­ing the 2D de­signs ac­cord­ingly, the com­pany now uses Modo to cre­ate 3D pro­to­types.

“One of the big driv­ing forces for in­tro­duc­ing 3D was to cut down on phys­i­cal sam­ples,” says Vaughan. “By do­ing that, we’re cut­ting costs, but also re­duc­ing the im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Hav­ing now trained over 50 New Balance de­sign­ers to use Modo, Vaughan praises the soft­ware’s shal­low learn­ing curve. “It’s very artist-friendly,” he com­ments. “Most of New Balance’s de­sign­ers didn’t have a back­ground in 3D, but in Modo, you can get to a nicelook­ing ren­der very quickly.”

Mod­ern GPUS for ren­der­ing

Of all of the changes in this year’s Modo 13 Se­ries of up­dates, Vaughan is most ex­cited about the way that the soft­ware is tak­ing ad­van­tage of the pro­cess­ing power of mod­ern graph­ics cards: a process that be­gan in Modo 13.0 with the in­te­gra­tion of Radeon Proren­der. AMD’S phys­i­cally ac­cu­rate GPU ren­derer pro­vides artists with fast, in­ter­ac­tive, pho­to­re­al­is­tic pre­views of their 3D mod­els.

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