CheckMate Advisory Board Live and in Person

by Michele Bousquet

The CheckMate Advisory Board met last week at TurboSquid headquarters in New Orleans, and what a meeting it was! Over the two-day conference, Board members discussed a variety of topics ranging from UVs and gamma correction to outsourcing and education.

CheckMate Advisory Board at TurboSquid

Advisory Board members meet at the TurboSquid headquarters. Clockwise from lower left: Jerome Denjean (Blur Studio), Fred Ruff (Bent Image Lab), Rob Wright (CNN), James Ogle (Weta Digital), Beau Perschall (TurboSquid), Viken Majoulian (Electronic Arts), Carlos Cristerna (Neoscape).

 

Some of the key takeaways from the meeting:

Accuracy and Reference Materials

Because 3D models are used for match moving and compositing so often that high accuracy of real-world objects is extremely important. When a customer positions the model over a still from the live action footage or photo, they should match perfectly.

For stock 3D, Advisory Board members asked that artists put in the product description the method they used to build the item accurately. If the artist has photos he can use as thumbnails, he should put up a photo of the item used as reference (clearly marked as a photo so customers don’t think it’s a rendering) and then a second thumbnail showing the model overlaid on the photo. If the artist can’t include these images, he should explain which types of reference that were used and where they came from.

What this means for TurboSquid artists: When you publish a model of a real-world object, especially vehicles and street elements (which are frequently used in match-moving), include the information described above. Remember that you cannot include exterior websites in your product description, but you can describe them. Example: “Reference used: Photos from XYZ Airlines website gallery.”

What this means for CheckMate: We’re considering having this requirement as part of a “CheckMate Plus” standard in the future. Start doing this now, and you’ll be ready!

Levels of Detail

For any type of model, the ideal is to have three models available with different levels of detail.

  • Background model. Intended for display in less than 1% of total screen space. Low poly with great textures. Example: A car at the back of a large parking lot. Basic mirrors and hood ornaments modeled, but grill and door handles represented by textures. No interior necessary.
  • Midground model. Intended for display in less than 10% of screen space. Convex details modeled, concave details textured. Example: A car in a parking lot, parked closer to the camera than a background model. This is not just a subdivided version of the Background model. For example, the grill and door handle would be modeled, but tire treads and headlights would be represented by textures. Low-poly interior for items above seat level.
  • Foreground (Hero) model. Enough detail to look good when displayed in 100% of screen space or extreme close-ups. Example: A car right in front of the camera. Tire treads and headlights would be fully modeled, and even the stitching on interior seats.

Since the Hero model almost always needs to be customized, and they know about the need for the model well ahead of time based on storyboards, production artists will usually build it themselves. They might use a purchased Midground model as the basis for a custom-built Hero model. All other models of real-world objects, both Background and Midground, can usually be purchased from a stock 3D site.

A special case for a stock Hero model is when an Art Director decides at the last minute that he wants to change the storyboard and zoom into a Background or Midground model instead. If there’s no Hero model handy, the production facility might buy one from a stock 3D site to avoid having to wait for an in-house artist to build it. This situation isn’t as common as purchase of Midground and Background models, but if the customer needs a Hero model and a high-quality model of this type is available in stock 3D, they’ll pay top dollar for it. But until there’s a detailed Hero model for every conceivable item in the world with all possible variations, production artists will continue to use stock 3D mostly for Background and Midground.

“Even if we aren’t sure we’ll need them, we’d probably buy both of them just in case,” said one Advisory Board member.

This doesn’t mean they’ll never purchase a Hero model. If they find one that works for them, they’ll buy it. But this situation is less common than finding Midground and Background models that suit their needs.

What this means for TurboSquid artists: Having both a Midground and Background version of a model available at TurboSquid as separate products, with product IDs for each listed on the other’s description, will help customers purchase model pairs that will take them all the way through a project. If you have a Hero version too, refer to that one in the Midground and Background product descriptions as well.

What this means for CheckMate: We’re not sure yet. Advisory Board members said they’d like to be able to purchase packaged sets of 2 or 3 models with different levels of detail (LODs), but CheckMate currently allows only one model per product. We’d like to see some artists putting up separate products as described above, and let’s see how they sell. We do plan to allow collections in CheckMate soon, so that might be a solution for bundling sets of two or three models with different LODs.

The Future of CheckMate

These points just scratch the surface of what the CheckMate Advisory Board talked about. We’ll post a more comprehensive list of takeaways, plus some video interviews with Board members, in the coming weeks.

Many of the discussion points will lead to future changes to the CheckMate standard. You can get a jump on quality now by utilizing this information when you publish your new 3D models at TurboSquid.

6 Responses to “CheckMate Advisory Board Live and in Person”

  1. Dorian Cryer says:

    Sirs,
    I’m attempting to design build sale models on your sight, I build with Rhino items that should function in Poser/Daz. I’m having issues with the rendered appearance in Poser. the meshes look good but once rendered it gets this odd texture that seem to reflect the triangular polygons, the appearance is the same if quads were used. I’m beginning to think that it is my copy of Poser (it doesn’t look as bad in Daz) I was wondering if I could submit a model for your review, and if you could verify this appearance in Poser and speak to the general quality of the model, as well as offer suggestions as to how to work this around.

  2. Yegor Tsyba says:

    Correct proportions – agree.
    Correct size – agree.
    But.. Accuracy “one in one” cost 10 times more. Do this guys will pay for it? Not sure.
    Often artist don`t have enough photoreferences and must imagine details by himself. Also Photos have distortion what very difficult to understand visualy and model correct shape by it.
    Time wasted to find all sizes, all needed references, make all absolutely one in one don`t cost money customers want to pay for it.
    And who will check it? Turbosquid CheckMate team? how?
    If customers need it – they can use 3D scaners. Its not so expensive today. Or ask for custom modeling (with custom price of course).

    Level of detail? Again – its good to have but who will pay for work to make a LODs?

    We already have lots of useless work to makes fun on TurboSquid for turntables and backgrounds (“sorry your backround 246 246 246 and must be 247 247 247″ WHO CARES!! WHO WILL NOTICE IT???) and so on.

  3. Hystoria says:

    What poly count ranges would be considered acceptable for background and midground models using today’s technology?

    Does the fact that the CheckMate Advisory Board comprises mainly tv/film/vfx experts mean these are the primary clients licensing CM stock, or that they’re becoming the dominant market sector for 3d stock in general?

    If some of these questions can’t be answered without revealing proprietary information, where can a person go to gain a better understanding of the current market? It seems a lot has changed in the last 5-7 years… I’m completely confused about where to invest the most time and effort, skill-development, etc. Others may wonder the same thing. Any advice?

  4. Michele Bousquet says:

    @Dorian: We don’t work with Poser very much, so I’m sorry but we can’t help you. Daz is in a better position to point you in the right direction, or try one of the user forums.

  5. Michele Bousquet says:

    @Yegor, The Advisory Board recommendations are just that, recommendations. We run all the recommendations by a larger group of our customers, and consider the level of work required vs. the return for artists. We are carefully considering the LOD question, talking to our customers and looking at the cost benefit if we started offering such products.

  6. Michele Bousquet says:

    @Hystoria: The background, midground, and foreground poly counts would vary widely from one category to another. If we were to pursue the LOD approach, we’d come up with some guidelines for various categories.

    The Advisory Board includes representatives from architectural visualization and games as well as tv/film/vfx. Broadcast and VFX customers tend to spend more than other types of customers and have more stringent requirements. These customers have embraced CheckMate Pro and have shown their appreciation with strong purchases. Arch viz customers aren’t as picky, but do appreciate CheckMate Pro as it never lets them down.

    I understand your confusion about where to invest your time. You’re right, the market has changed over the past 5-7 years. We noticed this a couple of years ago, which is why we started the CheckMate program after asking customers what it is that they really wanted. Though we can’t promise sales for any one 3D model (who can?) we’ve identified some areas of the catalog that have no CheckMate Pro models, and published the list. That list would be a good place to start.

    Our customers tell me over and over that the only reason they don’t buy more CheckMate Pro models is because there isn’t enough selection. We intend to continue to improve our catalog until customers can find every model they want at a quality level that meets their needs.

    I hope this clears up some of the confusion for you. Feel free to ask if you need more information to make decisions about your future models.

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