The CG industry in Poland

In June last year, the BW3 arch-viz conference took place in Wroclaw, Poland. Corona Renderer was very well represented, and we caught up with organizer Michal Nowak, and artists Bartosz Domiczek and Marcin Jastrzebski to hear more about the CG industry in Poland today.

Bartek, Marcin and Michal
Bartosz, Marcin and Michal

How would you describe the CG industry today in Poland?

Bartosz Domiczek:
We are the talented bunch and we are going to get noticed! The CG industry in Poland is pretty strong; it grows and matures at the same time. There are also many well-known big players among us and I think that they have already had a significant influence on the industry worldwide.

Bartek's "Northern Wisps"
Bartosz, “Northern Wisps”

Marcin Jastrzebski:
As Bartosz said, there are many talented Polish CG artists. The market growing, just as it is in other countries, and is also divided on typical segments: from “one question” clients who ask ” How much it will cost, and why it is so expensive?”; to clients who just ask for the invoice aware that you will do a great job.

I think that the CG community becomes stronger due to global connections. Now we don’t have to be focused on local markets only. Just like all CG artists the world over, we have access to new technologies, can share experience, and offer our skills to anyone. I think that’s the main reason and stimulus that makes the CG industry stronger anywhere – a CG community that is open to the whole world these days.

One render from Marcin's "Pictures from Corona Land #1" series
A render from Marcin’s “Pictures from Corona Land #1” series

Michal Nowak:
I would divide the Polish market into two camps. The ‘oldies’ – experienced players who started years ago and who are pioneers in the field. With their passion and perseverance, they created the foundations which made it possible for the industry to develop. That is why today there are many large companies which present their products on the international market with no inferiority complex – this enables them to employ even more great artists. In some way, they were the ones to show young people that there is such a thing as 3D and that it’s possible to have fun with it, as well as to work and make living out of it.

On the other hand, there are also the “young wolves”, that is people who are hungry for success, but at the same time are very aware of their value and position in the entire market. They quickly climb the career ladder and work with the best. I think that the Polish CG industry is doing very well, and human resources are its only limitation.

One of Michal's recent renders
A recent render from Michal

How has the 3D industry changed there over the last 5 years?

Michal Nowak:
The most important changes result from the very tools we use, whose dynamics continually change. Before, the programs, computers and skills imposed limits on what is possible, whereas today imagination is often the only limit.

What’s more, subscription payments have made it easier for beginners to own the same software as professionals, and so have accelerated changes as now people don’t need to spend large amounts of money to begin commercial work. It seems to me that from each year to another, every tool becomes easier to use. This allows a focus on creation and artistic form of the work, rather than on the technical stuff.

Another factor which undergoes important changes is the customers’ awareness. The purchaser knows what a good CGI product is, what he can gain from it on the market, and how to boost his products’ “sales”. In turn, this enables him to make even more money in the entire industry.

Marcin Jastrzebski:
In my opinion, not too much, if I assess a typical Polish client in the architectural visualization market. Most of them prefer to follow the proven way rather than take a “risk” and try something new. 3D companies have developed efficient workflows for such common projects, and those companies also have great backgrounds and capabilities to make high-end productions so they usually are one step ahead of the clients.

That was one of the reasons that just over two years ago, after twenty years working in the industry, I decided to reduce my company activities and start to work more as a freelencer so that I could be focused on the more demanding projects and REALLY use my skills. I love the challenges!

One of Marcin's current renders, "1802 Schärding"
A current render from Marcin, “Schärding project – Architekturkantine”

Bartosz Domiczek:
From the freelancer’s point of view, it has been shifting from a position of a typical outsourcing recipient into being on a par with the global market. Myself, I am working with foreign clients almost exclusively, so it is rather difficult for me to discuss domestic industry details. Nonetheless, I can clearly see a booming demand for our work.

What do you think the biggest changes will be over the next 5 years?

Bartosz Domiczek:
I don’t expect any crucial changes that will turn the market upside down. However, there are some trends that are pretty obvious that they are going to have a re-defining influence.

3D is becoming more and more accessible, thanks to the simplification of the software, ever-growing asset libraries, cloud rendering, etc. I am pretty sure we will see a lot of new faces and the industry is going to expand significantly to satisfy the growing demand.

A lot of companies will integrate 3D much more closely into their production/design process, which will result in establishing internal 3D solutions and departments, or by deepening design-related connections with external parties. There will be much more on the table than just a nice final image.

Certainly, there is much more to come yet but I doubt it’s all going to fully emerge within the next 5 years.

One of Bartek's recent renders
A recent render by Bartosz

Michal Nowak:
It would be difficult for me to make any predictions in this regard, since I am not clairvoyant, and my visions often turn out to be rubbish 😀

Still, I believe that the industry’s development will become faster and faster, just like in other technological sectors. Photorealism and unparalleled reality will reach a critical mass, which will force us to look for more artistic forms of presentation. Virtual reality and GPUs keep developing and the money invested in it is huge, but this is still the path for the strongest and the most persistent. In my opinion, if some significant “revolution” doesn’t take place, these directions will keep moving forward, but they will remain secondary.

Michal's workspace
Michal’s workspace

Marcin Jastrzebski:
The main development paths are fixed. It’s difficult to predict a huge revolution after last year’s progress. I think we will see more flexible and powerful software, GPU and cloud rendering solutions, and VR technologies.

It’s a really interesting moment too see how the real world is beginning to connect with virtual creations. 3D solutions become more flexible and something to be desired for new human activities in commercial markets, and also for everyone who is connected to the global network – the modern world in a sum. I’m sure that one thing won’t change – we always need more rendering power and good greenery objects! 🙂

Marcin's "Queen Alia International airport"
Marcin’s “Queen Alia International airport”

What makes the industry there different from the rest of the world?

Marcin Jastrzebski:
The Polish market has always had one feature – we never say that something is impossible to do.

I started my own company in 1997. I studied philosophy then and tried to find a way to live. At the beginning for Polish 3D veterans, hardware and software solutions were poor and not so accessible as they are now. But we had a unified passion for CG. We acted like a bumblebee who shouldn’t fly due to his own  construction but nobody told him about it, and he flies anyway!

I remember my first long architectural fly-through animation. I had huge problems in order to render frames and meet the deadline. I borrowed an additional three PC’s from my father’s friends, set them on the floor of my flat… and finished the animation successfully. It was total improvisation, with quite a professional outcome. Those days have created and formed our attitude. I noticed many times with huge satisfaction that this is still current feature of young CG hearts in the Polish industry – never give up!

Marcin's work environment
Marcin’s work environment

Michal Nowak:
We’re still young 😉 Our studios and artists are famous, and our productions are renowned on the international market, but we started this “race” a little bit later and slower than some…

I suppose that we’re “hungrier” and more determined to be seen on the world market. Our fellow countrymen take part in various competitions and projects without an inferiority complex, and they often have top results. Poles work in many foreign studios and, as far as I know, they are very solid and valuable artists.

Craftwise, the whole world is a “global village” these days, and everyone works pretty much the same; that’s why this “hunger for more” may be what makes the Polish scene stand out from the others 😉

One of Michal's current renders
One of Michal’s current renders

Bartosz Domiczek:
I don’t think that there is much of the difference, but I also don’t have any especially broad perspective for comparisons. Many years ago, I worked for a while in an architecture company in Denmark and arch-viz there was very much focused on selling the idea instead of selling the quality of the final product. Thus there was an abundance of different styles (from pixel art to comics) and artistic experiments in very professional commissions.

Contrary to that, I think that the Polish market is pretty much oriented on producing pragmatic, high-quality marketing images. It’s been mostly chasing global standards until now, but I believe that along with increase of accessibility to 3D we will see the local footprint (in terms of a specific sensitivity) being applied by the efforts of some  individuals.

One of Bartek's recent renders
A recent render by Bartosz

Are there any challenges for 3D artists there which are unique to that part of the world?

Michal Nowak:
As I have mentioned – the world is a “global village”, and craft-wise we are in the same place as artists from any other country. Wwe face the same challenges and problems, we make the same observations 😉

Business-wise, based on my own experience, I would like our Polish customers to be more appreciative towards our work, and to treat us like partners rather than like we are just some pixel-pushers who do this in the evening after work. Obviously, this trend is changing – our projects and the terms of cooperation keep getting better, but a complete misunderstanding of our work is still something we’re facing on occasion.

One of Michal's recent renders
A recent render by Michal

Bartosz Domiczek:
3D started to grow here in the 90s, mostly through the effort of individual hobbyists. There wasn’t any big money coming in from any serious entertainment, advertisement or real-estate players. Everybody was pretty much self-taught.

This situation has certainly changed. The hobbyists started their prominent studios that could compete worldwide, but it took a relatively long time for a domestic market to form. I struggled with this back when I began (which was actually pretty recently in this big timeline), when I found myself trying to serve the clients that had no understanding of the nature of our work, its quality, financial aspects, etc. But I think this has finally changed too.

Bartek's work environment
Bartosz’s work environment

Marcin Jastrzebski:
I’ve been working for years for clients from all around the world. The Polish market is very similar to others, with different levels and client expectations, different budgets.

I do notice one sharp difference though, about how clients work with us. Abroad, clients ahve an awareness how difficult and involved the 3D process is. My foreign clients are usually more careful in setting timeframes for example, and that means I can feel that they respect their own effort and mine too, as a part of entire process. I feel really good when I know that I have enough time to create great images using my skills. That’s a great experience and I’m very satisfied by this even when working on very demanding projects with tight deadlines.

Marcin's first render with Corona, testing it out
One of the Marcin’s first deep tests with Corona

What advice would you give to someone there who is thinking of getting started in the 3D industry?

Michal Nowak:
To think twice about it 🙂

By that, I’m definitely not trying to say that it is a bad professional direction – because it is not. What I would like to do though is make young people think about this path before they choose it, and then they realize later that fantastic projects for the biggest clients are not all we do. Arch-viz is still mostly about ordinary stuff, and ordinary routine. The fireworks you see on the internet are just a few percent of the entire market.

What’s more, I would recommend that they explore the basics of composition, light, color and photography. Tools are getting simpler and faster, and 3D libraries are huge, but if you don’t know the basics, it’s easy to mess up. It’s just a small piece of advice from an older colleague – when learning about the tools, don’t forget about the classical aesthetics of the picture.

Cubeworld, one of Michal's early renders from 2003
Cubeworld, one of Michal’s early renders from 2003

Bartosz Domiczek:
I think that it has never been so easy to start in 3D as it is now. If it seems to be your passion, simply go for it. Keep your mind open, observe, analyze, compare. There is no simple and painless way but that’s just the nature of creative works.

One of Bartek's early works
An early work from Bartosz

Marcin Jastrzebski:
There are a lot of articles and comments about that. I can just say one main thing: use your passion to break any limits, including your own limits. Learn from your mistakes and never make them again. Create a long-term plan to develop your way. Plan where you want to be next year, not just tomorrow or next month. Focus on successive action, not quick and fast results.

Even if our world spins faster and faster, the main principles do not change. One of my best experiences which became my main rule is to share my positive attitude with my clients. Positive energy always comes back to you even after a difficult and tough project, even one that generates tensions at the final stage when everyone is tired.

Marcin's first unbiased render
Marcin’s first unbiased render

What was your favorite part of last year’s BW3 conference?

A quick summary of the conference

Michal Nowak:
As the organizer, my point of view is slightly different 😉

It was the event’s third edition and, personally, this is the one I’m the most satisfied with. Over 130 people, 8 great presentations, filling up the entire day with a full audience. While choosing the guests, I know more or less what to expect, and this time no one disappointed me, every single presentation was substantive and relevant, and the audience was very involved. Here, I would like to congratulate all the speakers for their great work at the top level.

My “favorite BW3 element” was probably the audience. Without those people, the event would be nothing but an empty idea, but the energy coming from the audience was amazing and they all stayed till the end despite the fact that this time it all lasted nearly 10 hours and was very intense. Once again, thank you – I promise that the next edition will be even better!

Michal speaking at the conference
Michal speaking at the conference

Marcin Jastrzebski:
Just the fact that there is a BW3 conference at all 🙂

Two things. Firstly, at the end of the conference when I looked at the people who came to listen and meet with us, I understood that they created this conference too. Our audience determines the quality of the conference. Huge cheers for all of them here!

The second thing was the program and the speakers. Michał created a very varied and complete program. You know, as a speaker you have just about 50 minutes to talk about your entire experience, and it’s difficult to share all the important things in that time. For me it’s always a hard task to reduce a presentation down to an hour or less.

During BW3, after the second and third speakers’ lectures, I became conscious that other speakers talk about things which I would like to talk but don’t due to lack of time. That was a great experience and confirmed for me the entire value of the conference.

Marcin speaking at the conference
Marcin speaking at the conference

Bartosz Domiczek:
I work alone in my office, so any chance to get out and network with other designers immediately becomes a highlight!

Bartek speaking at the conference
Bartosz speaking at the conference

Any other conferences you attended in the last year or so?

Marcin Jastrzebski:
Last year I had my regular lectures at the University of Warsaw for students, and I was a speaker at Basecamp 2019 Sketchup and V-Ray conference.

Michal Nowak:
Over the last year, I was able to speak at three more conferences, the 3DRoadshow, archiDAY and Basecamp 2019.

Bartosz Domiczek:
Yes, I was lucky to be the speaker at the State of Art’s Academy Days in Venice, and at Total Chaos in Sofia.

And to bring things to a close for now, tell us your thoughts about Corona Renderer:

Bartosz Domiczek:
Corona became my renderer of choice since I discovered that it nearly entirely eliminates my need to do any technical troubleshooting. It offered me the smooth, simple, yet simultaneously sophisticated environment, in which I can focus on the aspects of work that are truly important for me. Look-development is enjoyable as well as satisfying and I think that Corona’s general accessibility leads the industry into more artistic, emotional and personal areas.

One of Bartek's current renders
A current render from Bartosz

Marcin Jastrzebski:
It was a few years ago that I heard interesting rumors about Corona, about this new fast render engine with simple render setup there, great results etc. I made my first Corona test as regular commercial project for one of my client. It took me less than an hour to know what I was doing, I didn’t need to learn how it works but just to find where the common tools were – I quickly turned on sun&sky, created basic materials, displacement and others and everything started working without problems. I always strove to connect my photography experience with 3d tools, and Corona allowed me to feel free and be focused on my creative process rather than on the abstract technical aspects of rendering!

One of Marcin's current renders
A current render from Marcin

Michal Nowak:
Simplicity, ease of use, and the feeling of artistry – nothing else needs to be said. A powerful tool that works, and is ultra easy to set up. When working in Corona, the only limit is your imagination and your own sense of beauty. I regret that it wasn’t around 15 years ago: D

One of Michal's current renders
A current render from Michal


BW3 Conference:
Michal Nowak:
Marcin Jastrzebski:
Bartosz Domiczek:

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