Information concerning general artwork.

3D rendering, design, media, and technology news.

Moonshine from alexis wanneroy

DreamWorks first personal art publication, Moonshine, was conceived as an opportunity to highlight the breadth of artistic development talent at Dreamworks. This short documentary gives you a sneak peek into the personal works from the artists.

3D Renderings and Artwork by LunarStudio

The LunarStudio website was recently updated. There were over 70 images added to my portfolio, most going back to last October. This doesn’t include our full body of work, but mostly pieces that I felt should be represented in our gallery. Some of our other renderings and designs were left out because most of these projects were early-phase (still in-progress) and not considered final. I deliberated between posting them as interim or massing types of illustrations, but in the end figured that they might detract from the final finished quality we generally represent. With a few others images, we finally received permission to post some of these after waiting a few years. Some of our best work is kept under non-disclosure agreements.

Here is a list of pages that contain most of our illustration additions:


I’d like to thank all of our clients and supporters for their patronage in this tough economic climate. We truly appreciate everyone who has supported us over the years. It is my hope that the new images and updated back-end to the LunarStudio website will increase traffic for everyone involved as a way of giving back to the community. I spent the last two weeks and a lot of sleepless nights optimizing the pages and redoing large sections of the code to bring it up to more recent standards. This in turn should result in even greater traffic from various search engine results, and will hopefully turn into more work for all of us in the long run.

LunarStudio is often ranked in the Top 5 (often #1) for the field of Architectural Renderings out of almost one million results in Google. It also places in the Top 10 for hundreds of common design-related search terms as well as being listed high in Google Images. Ranking high on the search engines is an art form and a business onto itself. There’s thousands of Search Engine Experts and consultants constantly vying for the top spot in any one particular field. If you’re not listed in the top of a search, you will probably not get noticed. As a result of our high rankings, people recognize our work on the web, and I hope that this helps us all in return.

When it comes to appearances, I tried to keep the same look and feel of the design. However, there are some people who might be interested in some of the underlying code which has changed. It might prove useful if you’re interested in website marketing.

Below is a change log concerning LunarStudio’s revisions:

  1. Website pages converted to HTML5. While not completely validated as the Internet standards are still under development, this should lead to faster load times, easier search engine spidering, and thus higher ranking in other areas. Other websites are getting left behind at the moment, and it will be years before many of them are updated. I speculate that this will lead to a more dominant search engine position.
  2. The navigation has been completely redone with proper CSS (Cascading Style Sheets.) It has moved to the top of every webpage versus getting lost in the bottom of the code. Search engines should have a much easier time figuring out the structure of LunarStudio. Many years ago, I used tables to develop the website while CSS was still becoming popular. HTML tables are falling out favor now, and CSS has been replacing some of out more traditional methods of page layout.
  3. HTML5 allows for some new elements such as Nav, Header, Article, and Footer which were implemented. This helps the search engines determine the important sections of a website, as well as potentially leading to additional Google’s Sitelinks (For which LunarStudio already has.) It should also help with the rankings and visibility.
  4. Some of the redundant code was stripped out in favor of CSS. This speeds up the website and also caches information.
  5. Additional code was removed because they have become obsolete/deprecated. Again, this brings it up to standards and decreases load time which provides for a better user experience and load times.
  6. Over 70 watermarked images and over 140 thumbnails were created and added.
  7. Eight 3D animations were partially recreated for Squarewave and Massachusetts General Hospital Laboratories. These were added to the animation section.
  8. Page titles were modified.
  9. Page descriptions were modified.
  10. Tags were changed to read more smoothly and less like spam.
  11. Image descriptions were modified and updated.
  12. Corrections were made to the previous descriptions which might have resulted in page bleed (lower ranking for certain terms.)
  13. Proper punctuation introduced in some page elements.
  14. Copyrights updated.
  15. Client listing updated.
  16. Introduction of Google + buttons at the bottom of every page. This probably will result in higher rankings and a more established prominence.
  17. The new Google Authorship (now replaced with Rich Snippets) system introduced which will help delineate search results even further and lead to higher click-through rates. I hope this is working as the instructions were very confusing. First it requires approval, but then secondly it takes time. Google also doesn’t generally communicate directly with webmasters so this is a waiting game.
  18. The LunarLog website (this site) was completely redesigned to coincide with some of these changes. You can read about some of these changes here.

Here are some things which I plan on implementing in the future (to-do list):

  1. I’d like to move LunarStudio over to a near full CSS solution.
  2. I want to get rid of the tables and switch over to CSS for that. That’s a massive undertaking for which I have little spare time presently.
  3. It would be great if the thumbnails could also fully go CSS in their highlight states. This would probably shave off around 200 KB in extra downloads per gallery page.

There’s still some things to do. The process of maintaining a website could be a full-time job in of itself, but in order to stay on top, you have to keep a site updated as technology changes. My updates usually come twice a year and at most it usually involves adding a handful of images. I would consider this one a major update. I would really appreciate people’s feedback on the LunarStudio design. If there’s any bugs or issues, I would like to know as everyone’s computers are different and everyone runs different browsers. It’s a lot of work for one person to handle.

3D rendering, design, media, and technology news.

Earlier this morning, I was reading a reply to one of my articles about our industry. The commenter went a little off-topic, and brought up some frustrations that most of us have experienced with clients at one point or another. Sadly, I think we could all relate to him. Some times you just need to get these frustrations with clients off of one’s chest – especially when we put this much time, energy, and passion into our work. Any battle-hardened industry vets share very similar horror stories.

Over the years I’ve been called names, I’ve been stiffed a few times, I’ve been repeatedly talked down to, bossed around, lead around, copied without permission, and clearly taken advantage of. I’m not even an employee. Some people treated me like I was working at a fast-food establishment and expected 5-star service (which ironically, I’ve always tried to provide.) At times, I’ve even tried to offer discounts to make them happy with little to no success. However, when I tend to look back at some of these negative experiences, I can generally just laugh it off. I find the way people comical – bordering on idiocy and stupidity (I’m actually wondering right now if these two terms are mutually exclusive.) It’s like a real-life episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, with Larry David at the center of my subconscious.

I think if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my limited time on this planet, it’s that no two people are even remotely alike. Everyone has their quirks and hangups which drive them. Everyone has different management styles and like to inflict varying degrees of pain upon their subjects.

I think if you have to categorize people’s levels of annoyabilty (had to add that one to my spell-checker), they would fall into one of two containers:

  1. Reasonable. Easy to work with. Trusts that you’re going to be responsible. Can usually judge by looking at your body of work that you’re not incompetent.
  2. Unreasonable.  Royal pain in the ass. Must have looked at your work somehow in order to find and choose you, but somehow treats you like you’re mentally-challenged, which in turn must make them severely incompetent. It’s the worst kind.

It’s not enough that I can just stop right here. I’m going to share a story with you. This one is my all-time, all-amazing classic client-story so far:

Years ago, I landed this high-paying project. Without going into too much details, it was more money than most people make in a couple of years. So a small group of us are doing a tremendous job for this big architecture firm and their big client which is a household name. We have animations and tons of stills. We made changes galore for them – bent over backwards. We’re working 18 hour days, 7 days a week for several months straight.

So one day, I get this phone call from one of their designers who seems really upset. The President of the company yelled at her and ended up calling me grossly overpaid (to which I was accidentally sent the email by the lead Principal later on.) So, I’m trying to get to the bottom of what’s wrong, and she tells me that everyone in the office is complaining that my colors are drastically off and that they’re very dissatisfied with our work. Now, I’m going into panic trouble-shooting mode. I’m trying to figure out their operating systems, color profiles, monitors, image viewers, etc. I’m trying to explain that my monitors are independently calibrated by a special system, blah, blah, blah. I’m spending days trying to solve this problem before their big presentation.

I find out a couple of weeks later that she was printing our work through an old, non photo quality printer sitting on her desk onto regular 8.5X11″ sheets of paper, then photocopying them and handing them out to her whole office. I discovered this one day because I stopped be their firm, and saw my images hanging up on a wall near their section’s entrance and had to ask her about it.

I never said anything. They just haven’t called me back since then.

So, I’m interested in hearing some of your stories. If you’re reading this and you’ve got some, please humor us.

3D rendering, design, media, and technology news.

I just got off the phone with one of my clients. With a little laughter in his voice, he remarked, “renderings are ruining work for us. All these television shows are showing cabinets getting dropped into place, and everyone seems to think now that this is just a simple push of the button.”

He’s partially correct. There’s no doubt that costs which would have been normally would have been passed to the architect in the past, have now filtered through to the architectural renderers involved in projects. What was once the realm of the architectural elite (those with the funding), has become more commonplace. The general public sees the flood of new building images, whether it’s on TV, billboards, or on the Internet and have taken our work for granted. Ultimately, this boils down to public awareness and education on the topic. People simply do not often know what is involved in our process and often jump to conclusions that the programs do all the work for us. If this was the case, then most of us would be out of a job.

Secondly, if we do have to place blame, I’d place it partially on technology itself. As computers have become more powerful, the ability to process these images has gotten easier. Highly realistic images are still time-intensive, but nowhere’s as involved as it would have been. One good desktop computer can easily replace a farm of 15 computers from 10 years ago. I recall a time where I’d have to wait almost two days before seeing a final product. Now I can do the same job with one computer in less than a few hours.

Third, I would blame the actual quality of the artists and what is being expected. There’s a lot of bad renderers out there. I don’t mean this as an insult, but their foray into the field is average at best. It’s the difference between looking at a photograph and staring at a cartoon. Photo-realism requires a lot of knowledge combined with computing power to take a rendering to the highest level, whereas a cartoon can be instantaneous. The problem is that a lot of people are satisfied with looking at a cartoon and that sometimes conveys the intended message. It’s basically what people are willing to pay for, and what the clients are content with. Sometimes the clients make the leap in logic themselves, thinking that it’s “just as easy” to produce something more realistic.

Fourth, the barrier of entry has been reduced. Computers and the software have come down drastically in price compared to a few years ago. The 3D software itself is still expensive, but rampant piracy has made the tools available to many hobbyists and start-up companies. A long time ago, the software would have easily run you over $8,000 for a single license. Now, there’s packages available for less than a few hundred dollars. Granted, most of them aren’t that good, but you get the idea.

Fifth, the level of education has increased. Collective Intelligence on the Internet has increased. Once upon a time, I had to buy books and spend weeks figuring out how the software worked on my own. Now, there’s free tutorial available on sites such as YouTube. There’s even better tutorials available for purchase including “out of the box” scene setups which people starting out can study. I still don’t think this is enough to teach someone the finer aspects to our field, but it gets them up and running a lot faster than the way we used to have it.

Sixth, I have to say that outsourcing has been a major issue. I get large companies calling me up all the time saying that they had their work done in another country. Quite often, they eventually learn a lesson and get frustrated with the lack of communication, but for every one of them, there’s another smaller company trying it out and sending their money overseas. Many of these foreign companies are not running legitimately purchased versions of the software which impacts software development in the US. Due to this, their lower costs of living, and often substandard work practices/ethics (long hours, etc.), they can afford to threaten US prices. It’s hard for me to justify one week’s worth of work when they are charging the equivalent of a few hours. I can only hope that other companies in the US recognize these ethics as well as the quality of our own work. Outsourcing has put a real toll on many of us, and have forced plenty of my colleagues out of a job.

Last but not least, I would say that our society has a new level of unrealistic expectations. As I first mentioned, renderings have become more commonplace. Recently, I had received a phone call from a car mechanic that wanted to open up a small garage in a preexisting space. The property required some work – some new doors and a paint job. He went before the town to see if he could move forward, when the committee suggested that he would get some renderings done. So he called me up in a panic, and I explained to him that it might take a few days and I told him the costs. When he heard that, you could hear him almost stop breathing. There’s no way I could really lower my price for him (I did offer him a discount because I felt terrible), but I thought the town was being unrealistic in their requests to begin with. 10 years ago, this would have been unheard of. Now people have come to expect it. I should also note that this isn’t the first time I’ve heard a similar story from people.

So was my client partially correct in placing the blame on my field of work? Yes and no. It’s only one component of a much broader picture. In order for us to truly understand what is happening, we have to take some time to learn about a topic without jumping to conclusions. And just fyi, I got into this field for the sake of art. Money was only secondary. If you take away the financial aspects, then it’s going to be a lot more difficult for me to spend the time working on a masterpiece.

3D rendering, design, media, and technology news.

When it comes to blogging on a regular basis, I’m inconsistent. Being inconsistent is probably one of the worst ways to attract a regular audience on the Internet. To be frank, having a regular readership has never been my goal with this website, nor was it meant to make any money (hence no advertisements.) It’s meant more as a one-off type of site in which I might come across some ideas that might prove useful or interesting to others. Trying to be useful to others also serves some level of promotion for my field of work.

That being said, I’ve had an extremely busy winter concerning my architectural renderings and illustrations and haven’t gotten around to writing here much. Every winter for the past eight plus years, for some odd reason has been usually busy. The pattern usually lasts until the spring, calms down, then picks up again late summer only to be followed be another slow spell. I don’t know what it is about this line of work which creates this cycle. I’ve often wondered if it is related to other companies quarterly budgets, or follows a seasonal building and construction pattern. I’ve asked both developers and architects to see if they have had any insight, and so far the response has been blank.

Many years ago, I worked at a start-up company in which the owner had a track record of being a good businessman. He told me to always answer the question of “how are things going with your business” with “great” although his new business venture was struggling. His patent answer never really sat well with me – it always struck me as a bit dishonest, although I can see where he is coming from and what he’s getting at. Are things always perfect? Honestly and objectively no, but I suppose it depends on whether or not you view your glass as half empty or half full. The honest answer is that the economy kicked the crap out of people in my line of work for the past few years. I think it’s definitely improving after the collapse – this year has already shaped up to be one of the busiest years in recent history.