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An intern produces stunning visualistions that showcase Lyon Central Station

Given the choice of several buildings to visualise during an internship at Hamburg’s Lichtecht studio, graduate Thomas Pisz was drawn to the curved forms of Lyon Central Station.

Initially, he considered the materials, curved forms and structurally simple platforms of renowned architect Santiago Calatrava’s design to be a straightforward project to test his visualisation skills.

However, the challenge got bigger and bigger. Modelling one area in 3D would impact greatly on another and the shape of the exterior cut-outs brought challenges to realistically lighting the model and its intricate internal metalwork. The project is based on 3D elements except the skies, which are slowed time-lapse footage.

Expecting to take five to six weeks, it took three months to complete the full animation and produce eight impressive stills.

“The project was a one-man show,” says Lichtecht CEO Matthias Arndt. “Every 3D model was built by Pisz.”

Mr Pisz finally came to terms with the size of the project and to understand its flow when modelling the main body of the building. This gave him an opportunity to pick out architectural details to visualise.

To help get around the daunting scale, Mr Arndt advised Mr Pisz to step away from the 3D model and to draw out the views that would work best.

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“We told him to shut down the computer, take a pencil and sketch what he would like to shoot,” says Mr Arndt. “[Mr Pisz] said that this was one of the best pieces of advice he got from us.”

From the beginning Mr Pisz worked in 3ds Max for the creation of the 3D elements, using V-Ray for rendering. Post-processing was done in Photoshop and After Effects.

Practically each still or shot was pre-visualised, followed mostly by two “correction rounds”, before rendering and retouching.

“The modelling wasn’t the most difficult part, just the most time-consuming,” says Mr Arndt. “Trying to reach photorealism was the hardest part.

“Mr Pisz had very high expectations of himself: creating the right material, finding the optimal light setup, creation of a good concept for the short film… These were the real challenges.”

Mr Arndt was impressed enough with Mr Pisz’s first ever animation to ask him to return to do some more, which is surely the sign of a successful work placement.

vimeo.com/23675583

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