Storytelling - The Essence of Arch Viz: Featured Tutor Interview with Micha Koren
Micha Koren, Director at Le Kore, is an artist and designer living in South Africa, where he started Le Kore 3D Visuals in 2007. He regularly travels between France and Singapore while managing international 3D visualization projects. We caught up with him after completing his latest tutorial for Digital-Tutors members and asked him to give us his take on the challenges of expressing the intent of architects' designs.
Digital-Tutors: Thank you for talking with us! Could you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and some of the work you are currently working on?
Micha Koren: Hi, and thanks, first of all, for giving me this opportunity to talk with you and the members of Digital-Tutors! To begin, I come from an architectural background, having studied architecture in Cape Town. Most of the work in my portfolio are the projects that I have been involved in as part of a design team. I have been lucky in the sense that my design career has taken me around the world. I have worked in offices in Cape Town, Paris, Barcelona and Singapore. Each one has given me more experience and creative diversity than I could ever have imagined. Today, I am working on larger hospitality projects in Southeast Asia, as well as residential and interior projects in Europe.
Digital-Tutors: How did you get started in the industry?
Micha Koren: The first "commission", so to speak, came from my professor during my second year of architecture school. Since then, things grew organically through today. I must also add that when I started, 3D was hardly used, so I had to convince people to use it instead of having hand drawings done. So much has changed.
Digital-Tutors: What is the most challenging part of visualizing architecture and how do you overcome that challenge?
Micha Koren: There are two challenges I encounter regularly. First, it's having the concept expressed through the images. Architects love to get wrapped up in theoretical lingo and ideology. Those stories then have to be expressed in a single design and image. I overcome this by trying to uncover what the real message is. If you can distill the core meaning in things, you can make them much easier to convey.
The second challenge is giving "life" to images. It's not as easy as throwing a few catwalk models and catalogue trees over your renders. Giving life means having the environment look as though it was inhabited, and then arranged for a photo shoot. The best way to solve this, I find, is to look over professional photos instead of other renders. Try to study light, photography, composition and proportion. The key to "life" is in the real world itself.
Digital-Tutors: What is one reason you love what you do?
Micha Koren: My greatest passion in life is in creating things. Being involved in 3D has put me in a special phase where ideas, only visible in the mind, become brought to life and made visible for the first time. It's this moment of creation which makes it so exiting and powerful. I believe that 3D is going to be so much more in the future. Soon, every single physical element in existence will first exist in a digital 3D format. We are moving into a time where we will start hearing about 3D materialization more than just 3D visualization. That's where the real creation will happen and being a part of that makes me love what I do.
Digital-Tutors: How do you continue to grow as an artist?
Micha Koren: Well, just as an artist will never paint the same painting twice, I keep the artist in me alive by doing new things as often as possible. It's too easy to settle into a comfortable, steady routine of working for money. Life stops when we do that.
The excitement happens when we risk and experiment with our time and our talents. For example, I have recently started to create a video series for claireyoh.com where we produce short business videos each week for French entrepreneurs. To add to that, I recently bought new oil paints for a 6-piece canvas set I'm going to do. All these experiences keep me growing as an artist.
Digital-Tutors: When it comes to impressing clients, you’ve said that 3D cinema and interactive 3D city maps have pushed the bar to new heights. How has this impacted the way you design that upcoming designers should try to get a grasp of now?
Micha Koren: Firstly, it's true that clients will experience very high-end 3D technologies in their daily lives, so upcoming designers need to realize that their work is in competition with Apple Maps and Disney Pixar.
I prefer seeing 3D as an evolving language rather than a finite product. Just as verbal communication has progressed from smoke signals to tweets, and visual communication from hand drawings to new digital media, the core idea is still the same: it's just communication. Upcoming designers should feel free to explore all these amazing new mediums, but they just have to remember to not lose touch with the essential aspect of storytelling. Which is to say, don't let the technology get ahead of your message. For example, just because we can make a photo-realistic, interactive real-time video for a project, doesn't mean that it's the best way to communicate that particular message.
Digital-Tutors: Technology is always changing. How do you keep up?
Micha Koren: It's true that things change faster than we can learn them. Fortunately, Digital-Tutors makes the learning part very quick and enjoyable. When it comes to completely new fields of 3D, I prefer to look for people who specialize in it rather than trying to learn everything myself. Only collaboration can outpace technology. The beauty of 3D-based material is that it can be transferred electronically. This is perhaps the most evolutionary aspect, which allows teams to grow without physical boundaries. The office of the future is not a building. It's a network of specialized individuals, just like the network of tutors at DT, and that's where the real change is.
Digital-Tutors: Is there anything on the horizon or trends that you see now pushing the bar even higher in 3D visualization?
Micha Koren: As soon as we open our eyes to what the world is pushing for, it becomes clear that digital 3D is going to be everywhere. In the short term, we will see much more interactive visualization on touch screens. Still images are already as outdated as newspapers. Videos are like cinema, entertaining but a bit passé. What I see on the horizon is a day when we can walk into a cinema and each person will have a different experience of the same movie, just like a video game really. Instead of watching Star wars, you will be part of Star Wars.
The overriding trend is that the digital world is increasingly mimicking the physical world. Once photorealism and two-way interaction are perfected we will no longer differentiate between what is digital and what is real. This has already happened to the ears. Now it is happening to the eyes. If it seems hard to believe, the next time you are on the phone ask yourself whether you are talking to a person or a digital vibration.
Digital-Tutors: What gets you ‘in the zone’?
Micha Koren: Nothing gets me worked up like an impossibly short deadline. Architects love doing everything at the last second, and they often leave the 3D phase for that very second. When the pressure is on, the trance music gets louder, the mind gets sharper, the outside world disappears, and the only thing in sight is the deadline. I'm a very goal driven person, and a time-driven project is like doing the 100m sprint. It's pure adrenaline and great fun!
Digital-Tutors: Thanks for your time! Any last things you’d like to share with the world?
Micha Koren: As a message to all the artists reading this, I'd like to inspire you to keep developing your artistic abilities. Being creative and human is infinitely more valuable to our world than all the new technology combined. Remember that you use technology and not the other way around. Also remember that while technical jobs are flooding to India and the East, there is a priceless quality that can never be replaced by any technology or technician: your creativity!
Thanks once again for your time in reading my stories, and thanks to Digital-Tutors for making it possible for us to learn from each other. To your education, your success and your limitless creativity!
To see more from Micha, visit his Digital-Tutors tutor profile, Le Kore and his LinkedIn profile, and watch his Architectural Visualization tutorial: Creating an Optimized Architectural Visualization in 3ds Max and V-Ray.