Adalberto Ortiz, 3D Set Designer

Adalberto Ortiz is a designer based in Pennsylvania with a focus on designing sets and environments for TV news, weather, interviews, corporate industrials and exhibits. During his 30 years of design experience, Adalberto has designed and created presentation renderings for many TV station affiliates across the country, including NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX.

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» How did you get started in the graphics industry?

My background is in theatre. I studied set and lighting design at New York University and moved on to doing corporate industrials, graphic design and exhibits.

» What made you pick up Strata 3D? Was there a specific problem/need that caused you to seek out a 3D application?

I started doing presentation drawings for various prospective clients by hand with color markers and pencils. When 3D rendering came into vogue as a presentation tool, we wanted a program that was easy to use and rendered nicely. I was impressed by Strata's rendering capabilities. I could create a sharp, clean image. At the end of the process it's the final rendered image that sells the job.

» What other applications were part of your workflow, and how did Strata 3D work with those applications?

I use Autodesk AutoCAD to do my plan and elevations views and then import these scaled drawings into Strata and use them as a template to build my models. Once the rendering is complete, I use Photoshop to enhance the lighting (using mostly the burn and dodge tools) and refine the rendering. I also bring in graphics through Photoshop instead of mapping these through Strata. Usually, clients make changes to the presentation renderings and these are mostly changes to the graphics. It's a lot easier to change these in Photoshop than mapping the images and re-rendering the model.

» How did you learn Strata 3D, and would you recommend your method to new users?

The Strata manual is very useful if you actually sit down with it. In learning any program, I first try to learn those features that are going to help me the most and get me going quickly in what I need to do on any particular job. If modeling a certain shape is important, that's what I concentrate on. By concentrating on one specific feature at a time and practicing on a simple model, I can learn a lot about that feature and what it can do. For example, lighting is very important for me. I would create a simple model with 1 or 2 simple shapes and 1 to 3 lights. I play with the lights until I discover what they can do and how to adjust them to my satisfaction. Then on a post-it-note or small notebook I would notate in my own words, thumbnail images, and icons the steps to achieving a particular effect or the function of a certain tool. I end up with a lot of notes around my computer screen. These are all in the Strata manual, I'm sure, but writing down the steps and functions in my own words helps me remember each step.

» Has the introduction of 3D into your workflow caused you to branch out and explore opportunities you wouldn't have otherwise?

Yes, 3D models allow you to explore different design options that you might not otherwise finish as quickly with a physical model. Also, lighting your model in interesting ways will sometimes suggest other design possibilities.

» Have you tried other 3D applications? How did Strata 3D compare?

I've tried Autodesk 3Dviz, and I still model some objects in that program, then import them into Strata. What I like most about Strata is its rendering capability. My rendering are not strictly architectural. I'm not interested in photo-realistic images, although I'm sure Strata can render these in raydiosity. Because I often work under strict deadlines, I don't have the time to map texture or light a model as meticulously as I should. Still, I am looking for a crisp, clean dynamic presentation rendering that will sell the job. Strata gives me that clean, quick rendered image that I'm looking for.

» Do you use any other applications to compliment Strata 3D?

I use AutodeskCAD to do plans and elevations and then trace over them in Strata. I use Adobe Photoshop after rendering from Strata.

» How has your personal style and workflow changed since learning Strata 3D?

My style hasn't changed very much since learning Strata. I think you still have to start with pencil and paper when designing, and that's how I start with lots of thumbnail sketches before moving on to the computer. Of-course, with Strata 3D you have more options in creating renderings. Unlike with manual marker rendering, with a model you can view your scene from different camera angles and experiment with lights and textures to create a better presentation drawing.

» Was there anything else regarding your experience with Strata 3D that our readers would find interesting or useful?

I also do fine art oil painting and I've use Strata in this capacity. I've found that I can create a still life or interior in Strata that I can later use as subject matter to paint from. This has been a great tool for me as a painter. By adjusting the lighting and exploring different camera angles I can come up with interesting compositions to paint from.