Christopher Brändström is currently the head of Art Department at a VFX studio based in Stockholm, Sweden. He has worked as a concept artist within the film, tv and games industry over the past 20 years for companies such as Framestore and ILM.
I’ve always loved doing traditional 2D sketches to block out a scene or a composition. Most of the time what matters is what you’re able to produce in as little time as possible depending on at what point you are in production. But for the past 15 years as technology and computers have become faster and more reliable, I’ve been focusing more and more on working in 3D as a start to find interesting angles and lighting scenarios for my concepts and then paint/sketch on top of that.
Being able to get realistic lighting (if that’s what's right for that particular production) together with a physically correct lens might be extremely helpful to see what the end result might look like for the final shot. An important thing with 3D is not to get stuck in a bunch of technical aspects that might hinder the creative process so you end up building rather than conceptualizing and designing.
Being able to deliver several high quality concepts that are extremely close to what vfx will produce for final delivery on a cg heavy set are usually very appreciated. A big plus with your 3D workflow is that your models and even your camera can give a vfx vendor a head start with their post production work and more easily stay true to the approved concept and visual goal. It might not always be expected. Especially if your collaboration with that particular production designer is very new and they might not know exactly what to expect from your deliveries.
3D is usually really helpful for speeding up the visual development and exploration process as well. If you’re exploring and able to send over 5 fairly highly polished images or even rough images in a day rather than spending 2 days on 1 polished image that might not even be right, I would prefer the 5 images. Again, the 3D would help save time since it’s based on the same physical laws that you might be bound to when creating a real and believable digital set.