FRIEDRICHSDORF, GERMANY — 3D software developer Maxon has released a new video showcasing the high-end work being completed at London design studio ManvsMachine. In the video, technical director Simon Holmedal and creative director Mike Alderson discuss the ethos upon which ManvsMachine is founded, and how a fusion of technology and creativity allows the studio to flourish.
Fusing creativity with technology
ManvsMachine is more than just a title – it’s a company ethos. For the Cannes Gold Lion-awarded design studio – based out of East London’s Haggerston – the creative process is all about the synergy that occurs between imaginative concepts and the tools that are used to implement them. Tools, for example, like Cinema 4D.
“Technology and ideas just go hand in hand,” begins ManvsMachine managing director Tim Swift. “We ended up selecting the name because it sums up our approach – individuals coming up with unique concepts, and then driving them forwards using the latest technology.”
One recent example of this philosophy in action is the recent Air Max Day campaign for Nike, which features CG versions of the footwear being morphed, pulled apart, and explored in the kind of detail only attainable via the digital realm.
In order to create the complex visuals on show, ManvsMachine turned to Cinema 4D, thanks to its balanced offering of power and simplicity. “It’s just a really well-designed tool for what we do,” explains Matthias Winckelmann, head of 3D at ManvsMachine. “The initial burst of ease of use is great, and then as you explore there are the more in-depth functions too – it can do the design work, but can also scale to the heavier VFX content.”
In order to accurately replicate the trainers for the Nike commercial, ManvsMachine turned to 3D scanning technology. “We use it for almost every Nike project, because it’s really important that the shoe looks exactly like the real shoe,” explains Winckelmann. “The Nike design team has spent a lot time designing the product, so we want to rebuild it in a 100 per cent accurate way: there’s details in every joint, seam and component of the shoe that we need to represent correctly. You can achieve that by modeling, but 3D scanning produces a one-to-one replication in a much shorter time frame.”
In order to morph the shoe for the commercial, ManvsMachine turned to Cinema 4D’s surface and mesh deformers. “To do that, we would build a low poly representation of the 3D scan, and then bend and morph that. The surface and mesh deformers in Cinema 4D are really useful, as they help us to work with assets like that which have a really high high poly count. However, when it comes to deforming shoes, in many cases we use different tools for every deformation – sometimes that’s the surface deformer, sometimes the mesh deformer, sometimes a PoseMorph combined with sculpting, and so on.”
It’s this flexibility that makes Cinema 4D the main pipeline tool at ManvsMachine. “During the create process we usually utilize almost every feature CINEMA 4D has to offer, so it’s difficult to pick specific features that really stand out!” says Winckelmann.
“The main strength of Cinema 4D for us is that we can combine all of those different features – in most situations, when we come up with an idea or a design, we are able to find a way to make it happen using Cinema 4D. It’s versatility is the main reason that we turn to it so often.”
Nevertheless, Cinema 4D is but one tool in the ManvsMachine arsenal – it’s the human creativity that ultimately powers its output. “It’s all about that balancing act of technology and ideas – fusing raw design and branding skills with high-end visual effects output,” concludes Swift. “It’s not just about simply making images – it’s about understanding the client, coming up with the right strategy, approach and visual execution, and then delivering.