Buying 3D Models Can Take Your VFX Project to the Next Level
Article by Ryan Fitzgerald
So you're getting ready to work on your next VFX project. It's possible you are building up a portfolio, working on an original short film, or even working at a small studio that may not have a ton of resources. You might know how to create models in Maya, Modo, or otherwise, but just don't have the time to create a model at the caliber you need it to be. This is when buying 3D models can be a lifesaver. Whether you need a spaceship, boat, building, or anything else you can imagine, buying that perfect 3D model will help you be more confident in the work you are doing.
Potential uses for 3D models you purchase
When thinking of a VFX project, you'll likely be thinking of a specific technique or skill you want to display. For example, perhaps the shot includes a jet that flies through a valley at a low altitude while dust sprays up from the ground. In this case, the focus of the VFX artist should be on setting up the animation and the dust simulation. Purchasing a really well-done model of a jet and perhaps even a terrain model of a valley environment could give this shot a truly professional feel and allow the artist freedom to get as creative as they want to with the effects and rendering.
Some of the best short films nowadays go above and beyond audience expectations, and it is difficult to emulate that quality with a small team unless you are accepting of the fact that it may take a year to complete the film. Once again, it's worth looking to see if the models you need already exist. 3D models for sale often come with the textures taken care of as well. If you're really picky about the look of the model, you can always paint over the textures that already exist to give it a new look. This kind of technique can sometimes be as easy as using color replacement techniques in Adobe Photoshop.
Know your 3D software
When buying a 3D model for an FX project, it is important to consider what software you are using for the final effect. For example, a disintegration effect done in Side FX Houdini can be done with a fairly high-poly model. The same type of effect done in Unreal Engine may require a low-poly model. This is extremely important to think about ahead of time, because if you start changing the poly count when working on the project, it will negatively affect the uvs of the model and the textures will no longer look correct. The target poly count should depend on things like the software package being used, the amount of memory in your computer, and the type of effect you are looking to create.
Another thing to keep in mind would be the formats the model comes in. This may include formats like obj, ue4, FBX, unity, mb, c4d and many more. Where obj and FBX are mostly universal, models that have the designation ue4, unity, mb, and c4d indicate they are ready to be used with Unreal Engine, Unity, Maya, and Cinema 4D respectively. If you work on VFX but are not that versed in the creation of 3D models yet, looking at the formats available can take some of the guesswork out.
Do purchased 3D models come with uvs?
Almost every model on the Renderhub site has uvs. There are many free models out there on the web, but a huge number of them have no uvs. Why is this important? UV mapping is one of the most tedious processes in the VFX pipeline. This is where a modeler splits the model up into pieces and flattens those pieces out on a plane in order to make them texture-ready. This process can take hours or longer depending on the complexity of the model, and can often cause quite a bit of frustration. Since this work will already be done for you, it is absolutely worth the cost of buying a 3D model with uvs.
Ideas for VFX projects
Sometimes coming up with the idea for the project itself is the hardest part. This struggle lies within the fact that the possibilities are endless. Knowing this often leads to a mind fatigue before you even start the project. This is another advantage of buying models. Scouring through the models is a very exciting experience and will help inspire your final project ideas.Here are some example 3D models that may help with brainstorming:
- Seller EgirX created models like the Space X Falcon Heavy Rocket and the Buran Space Shuttle, which could be used for a launch sequence featuring Pyro FX.
- Seller MagTechnologies created a heavy assault fighter ship and a UFO kitbash set that can be used for aerial animations, laser hits, destruction, and so much more.
- Seller ChipBassChaos delivers high-quality, old-school military planes that can be used for aerial animations, machine-gun fire, destruction, pyro and more.
- Seller Dreamscape Studios created a variety of commercial airliners. Potential uses include pyro, destruction, procedural cloud creation, and even just practicing compositing in programs like Nuke, Blackmagic Fusion, or Adobe After Effects.
- Seller WireCASE3D has a huge variety of models. The first two links below include an airport environment and a sci-fi tunnel, within which the FX project could live. Environments can also be used to practice incorporating live-action elements with 3D models when compositing. The third model here is a tanker ship, which is perfect for practicing with ocean creation and water displacement.
- Lastly, seller Icekazim gives us a large number of stylized, game ready, low-poly assets to use in game engines like Unreal Engine 4 and Unity.
How does licensing work when buying a 3D model?
Almost every model you purchase on the Renderhub website falls under the same category of licensing. The agreement is as follows: "This item comes with our Royalty Free License, which means you are not required to make any future payments after purchase, and you can use this item for personal or commercial projects of any kind for as long as you want. This license does NOT give you the right to resell or redistribute this item in its original form or as a competing product."
This should come as a relief to anyone who has looked for downloadable models before and was unsure if they could use the model they were interested in. Licensing can often be convoluted, especially when thinking about commercial use. When buying a model from Renderhub, the only major rule is: don't try to sell it as your own model.Why should I buy 3D models from Renderhub?
In closing, there are a few important things to remember when wondering if you should purchase 3D models from Renderhub for your next VFX project. The modelers and texture artists creating the product care deeply about what they do. They also know that the better they make the model, the more likely it is to sell. That deep focus and passion will shine through and only serve to enhance your own project.
In addition, the prices are very reasonable. When you find a model for your project, think about how long it would take you to create something like this. Then, take the price and divide the number of hours into it to see what the hourly rate would be for that artist. You will almost always find that this solidifies how justifiable the prices are.
Many artists know that feeling of having a bunch of half finished projects that were given up on for taking far too long to complete. Save yourself the time, take a leap, and find the right 3D models to take your project to the next level.