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Architosh Talks to Marc Fredrickson of FormFonts 3D

This past spring Architosh covered the AIA National Convention in Boston and met up with Marc Fredrickson, First Officer, of FormFonts 3D. FormFonts 3D is a website offering subscription-based 3D content in the form of finished 3D models and textures for a variety of popular 3D modeling and rendering software packages. This interview delves into FormFonts 3D and what it has to offer 3D users.

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(MF): It’s still SketchUp, but we’re seeing a real shift to other file types as well.

Can you explain why some of your most popular 3D models are fully completed and textured skyscrapers and such?

(MF): Many of our subscribers work in the entertainment industry. Production designers love our site. They can download models and quickly build a scene, a scene that may need readymade suburban homes or downtown skyscrapers. One film production designer has told us that he’ll be on location downloading models into a scene.

We also have comic book artists who subscribe. The FormFonts models are used to create the background in SketchUp. The background is made quickly and with accurate perspective. The artist chooses their perspective, and then the background image is taken over to Photoshop or printed out and used on a light box. The artist then uses the background image as a template upon which to draw using their own style.

You have 3D objects representing real manufactured objects. Are these executed through partnerships and if so how are they established?

(MF): We’re working with a number of manufacturers to develop their 3D product catalogs. We’ve built lighting catalogs as 3D models for Prandina, an Italian lighting company. VODE lighting of Sonoma, California, has links on their website to FormFonts. A potential customer of VODE can download their models for free. Another manufacturer is O’Hagin’s Vents who we’ve recently started working with.

FormFonts samples - 1
FormFonts samples – 1

We are also currently in discussion with several major BPMs (Building Product Manufacturers On the FormFonts website you’ll see many manufacturers represented. Often manufacturers see their product model on our site and then upon the manufacturer’s request, we will gladly place a link from their model on FormFonts to the manufacturers’ website. This typically results in our being hired to make the full virtual product catalog.

How popular are you material textures? And do you have any real manufactured representations?

(MF): On average there are about 1/10 the number of material textures downloaded as models. The tile-able material textures have things like tile, rock, granite, grass and etc. We have 2D pictures of real people and tree lines. We are just starting to work with manufactures on providing material textures.

Can you explain how your service works? What is the best arrangement for the individual and what is the best arrangement for the small or mid-sized architecture firm?

(MF): FormFonts is a subscription service. An individual person pays $199 a year and can download up to 30 models and 30 textures a day. We ask that companies subscribe to as many FormFonts subscriptions as they have people using the content. Each person needs their own named subscription. A small company can either sign up for multiple individual seats or a corporate account. The corporate account increases the limit of models and textures downloaded each day, gives the company the ability to uploaded their own content along side that of the FormFonts’ content — only the company can see their own content — and the corporate account has what we call P-MOD. It stands for Priority Modeling On-Demand. .

What is P-MOD or Priority Modeling On-Demand? Who uses that?

(MF): P-MOD stands for Priority Modeling on Demand. It is an upgrade from our content request service. Subscribers can request that we make a model or texture. We try our best to fulfill the request in a timely manner, but there’s no guarantee. With P-MOD we guarantee that the model will be delivered within 72 hours.

Form Fonts Sample - 2

Form Fonts Sample - 2

Are there many corporate accounts using the private mode to have you guys host their models up on FormFonts?

(MF): We have a few, but I wouldn’t say many. The issue is that finding and organizing content and properly adding metadata, et cetera, is a non-trivial undertaking.

What does the future hold for FormFonts 3D? Where do you want to take the service?

(MF): Before, when I talked about the polymorphic idea behind FormFonts I mentioned BIM and rendering styles. In addition to developing BIM, we’ll continue becoming an integral part of the design process, on to construction documentation and building maintenance. As the virtual world becomes more like the real world you’ll see FormFonts be part of it from AEC to entertainment.

Thanks Marc for talking to Architosh about FormFonts 3D.

(MF): Thanks for the opportunity.

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