Interview with Dejan Kober from DD3D Studio: Maritime Visualization

Dejan Kober and his team have been behind some of the most stunning Maritime renders we’ve had over at our farm. In this Case Study, we have the pleasure of sitting down with the man himself and learning more about his company and the scope of their work. We also get a glimpse into the fascinating industry that is Maritime Visualization.

1. A few words about yourself and the team behind DD3D.

I’m Dejan Kober, founder and CEO of the DD3D Studio in Varaždin, Croatia. I have worked with 3D for the last 20 years, first as a freelance but since 2007 full-time. I started my own company in 2009.

DD3D is not a big company, but we can scale it after demand. Key team members are Maja Vračan (Project Manager and 3D artist), Marko Drvoderić (3D artist, programmer), Bogdan Kuzminski (3D artist) and Pål Rikter (Head of Global Sales). Unlike the rest of the team who are in Varaždin, Croatia, Pål heads our office in Copenhagen, Denmark.

He markets our services to clients globally and acts as a key account to key clients. We have a very strong team!

2. Can you tell us about the company? Its beginnings, location, and expertise.

DD3D Studio specializes in 3D visualizations and animations, as well as VR and AR applications. We have a strong focus on the Maritime industry, but we also do architecture and product visualization. Our main office is located in Varaždin (production) while our Business Development office sits in Copenhagen. DD3D Studio works with clients from the US, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Serbia, Hungary and Croatia.

In the beginning it was just Dejan in his apartment with a lot of ideas and creative will. As the business grew, the location changed from the apartment to the office in Technology Park Varaždin. With Dejan’s vast experience and high-quality work, the client base has been expanded as so has the team. We pick talents at their early age and develop them. The team has a variety of skills such as programming, 3D modeling, texturing, animating, video production, etc.

3. If you could describe your typical type of client and the industry you operate in, what would those be?

Since the majority of work we do is maritime related, our typical client would be a maritime company in the process of designing or developing ships. Our services come in play when they need to transfer their ideas or design into a more visual form that is easily understandable to people outside industry and without detailed technical knowledge.

For example, take a cruise ship company. They need 3D visualization and animation of the ship that they are going to build to help them get bookings for cruises long before the ship hits the water. It is a crucial part of their marketing campaign. Also, we help a lot of the maritime companies that struggle to sell their specialized technology or advanced systems, because it is complex to explain by words how their systems or technology works.

4. Can you talk about the most meaningful projects you guys worked on?

One of the most important projects was for the US Maritime Administration and Herbert Engineering. We produced an informational video highlighting the features of new training ships for US merchant marine officers. This was a massive project we worked on for almost 9 months, and it resulted in a seven-minute video. Congress subsequently passed a budget with funds allocated for this project.

Another meaningful project was for a cruiseliner company, Scenic, where we had to do a 3D visualization of Eclipse, their first 6-star luxury discovery yacht specialized for polar cruising. Scenic needed a 3D visualization of Eclipse. Back in January 2016, the ship was still in the planning phase, yet we started making the material for their marketing campaigns. They sold their first booking in February 2016, before construction had started! The booking was for a cruise in August 2018. To be able to do achieve this, they needed our help to make realistic renders of Eclipse in waters where it should sail. Our 3D visualizations also helped them to refine and complement the ship design before sending it to the shipyard. We also did the brochures illustrations and interactive 3D applications for them. This is still a key customer for us.

5. What are the projects you rendered on our farm? Can you describe each?

In the last couple of years, projects that we rendered on your farm varied from ship animations, architecture to different products. Depending on the project and animation needed we prepare everything locally and then when we need to render a frame sequence we do it on your farm to save time waiting for renders.

6. Can you talk about one of the projects in more detail? Your workflow, challenges, size of the project, tools/software used, render times, etc. Images from the project and WIPs would be great to have.

We usually work on big projects that take several months to finish with standard workflow. We make a storyboard, in which it is described how the final video will look. This could be what parts of the interior of the ship will be seen, how the technical part will be explained and which scenes of eye-catching parts of the ship are shown.

After the storyboard is approved, we ask for references they have. It could be basic 3D models, AutoCAD drawings, pictures or video. Anything that can be used in making the model as real as it is going to be. When we have all the needed documentation, 3D modeling can begin where we model every detail in 3ds Max, from shipshape to a pillow on the sofa depending how unique the request is. Sometimes we recycle some 3D models if they are generic.

After all models are made, we set up a scene where everything is placed as it is described in the storyboard. In this phase, we tweak things like materials, lights and the camera. Also, we often animate the camera to move across the scene to show it from different angles.

After every scene is prepared and everything is set on its position we render prepasses locally and then send it to GarageFarm.NET for rendering. First, we render every tenth frame just to see if everything is correct in renders and camera moving. At this point in a lot of cases clients want to change or add some things so it is important for us to be able to count on the quality and speed of your service in order to produce new renders in time.

If these are satisfactory we render the whole sequence. After all the scenes are rendered, we put them all together in a video, add annotations, music and, if needed, narration.

Finished video:

7. Do you normally use a cloud render farm to do your renderings or have one in-house? What’s your view on cloud rendering and its current state? For example, we know that some people and studios are still very skeptical about going cloud.

Currently, we are using a cloud render farm. In the past we had an in-house render server but it was too expensive to maintain and not enough speed so we decided to use your cloud render farm. In the last couple of years, skepticism towards cloud rendering, like yours is, disappeared because people understand that cloud rendering is cheaper and more practical than having your own.

8. How did you find GarageFarm.NET and when was your first experience with us?

I found out about GarageFarm.NET from a friend who recommended you and it was in your early beginnings and we can say that we had a pleasure seeing how you developed through all these years.

9. Overall thoughts on the service?

The service is great and we would like to stress out your quick responses when there is some emergency regarding the render farm and how you work to solve problems. You have strong support and there is a good value between for money given your render times and the ease of doing business with you.

10. If you could give any specific examples of how a render farm like ours helps a studio like DD3D? Could it be something general or specific to the project described earlier (perhaps things in relation to time, cost, infrastructure, troubleshooting, hardware, etc.)?

There is one story that I would like to tell. It was Sunday evening and I was working on one project which had a deadline the next day. I was working on it the whole day and late at night I uploaded files to your cloud to render and there was some weird error. I tried everything that I thought could help and at no avail. I contacted your support team to ask for help but didn’t expect any quick response because it was already after midnight. They responded within a few minutes with some other ideas on how to solve the problem. After a few attempts your team finally found that it was a technical problem with some files and I had to install some plug-in to solve file error. Because of their response speed and knowledge, I was able to finish the project on time.

11. What’s the best place to find you online?

You can find us on web, facebook, instagram and youtube.
Please subscribe, like, follow and share :D

12. Anything else you would like to add?

You need to understand my business and my pains in order to run a great render farm. The same is true for us. If we do not know what our clients want to achieve, if we don’t understand their strategy, if we can’t add value to their marketing approach, we will never be a strong partner. That is why DD3D Studio is different. We make stunning 3D visualizations, but more than that, we discuss strategy and communication with our customers to ensure that our end deliveries improve their business results. That is our justification.

“If you can THINK it, we can VISUALIZE it!”

Many thanks, Dejan! We’re glad to have played a part in realizing your visualizations, and I look forward to seeing more of your work over at the farm!

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