Posted By:Chris Schmidt, Author at Greyscalegorilla

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Interview with Loosekeys about the Half Rez 5 animations

October 13, 2016 - By 

Half Rez 5 was a blast and we couldn’t do it without the help of lots of talented people. This year LooseKeys created a new set of animations for us and knocked it out of the park!

We at Greyscalegorilla know the people over at LooseKeys well since we shared an office space with them for years. Now’s your chance to get to know them as well! We sent them some questions so you can get a taste for who they are and the work they do!

What is Loosekeys and how long have you been around?

Brad Chmielewski – LooseKeys is a design and animation studio in Chicago. We’ve been around for about 5 years now. A lot of the work we do involves character animation and storytelling.

What did you learn while making these animations?

Jake Williams – What was great about making the Half Rez animations was feeling like a newbie again with a new creative tool. While Cinema 4D was daunting at first, the amount of community resources available was integral and helping us learn on the fly. As we got more comfortable with the software, we were able to apply our style and animation principles with a totally new tool.

Ethan Barnowsky – This would be an appropriate place to thank Nick, Chris, and EJ because I spent a LOT of time in their tutorials learning techniques and tips for this project. It’s easy to take that resource for granted, but I would be miserable without their help! So, thanks!

How did you guys decide the content of each video?

BC – With most projects, we sit down and brainstorm concepts as a team. From there we’ll typically go and explore some concepts or at least pull some references for what the videos could be.

JW – We knew that we wanted to have a flow to the spots; that together they would tell a sort of story with the characters. We brainstormed a good number of ideas to get us started and then boiled it down to the 3-4 that we realistically thought we could accomplish before the show. The dance party, cheers, and drunky spots were the original 3 spots and the drone guy was added when we realized we could squeeze in one more.

Normally Loosekeys has a 2D workflow. What made you guys decide to try some 3D for these?

BC – Since HalfRez is an event centered around 3D animation we felt that we needed to make something that all the 3D animators in the room would enjoy while still staying true to our style. We could have easily done something in 2D but then we really wouldn’t have pushed ourselves to do something that challenged us.

JW – Echoing what Brad already mentioned, we wanted to push ourselves with this project. Really there was no better time to finally try to get our bearings in a 3D software package than this very project.

EB – I asked myself that question a lot while I banged my head against the keyboard trying to learn more 3D but in the end I’m super happy I had this as an opportunity to learn and create something new in C4D. I’m really thankful. Turns out it’s super fun.

Any inspirations feed into the animations?

BC – I know one thing that came up early on was the “Dumb Ways To Die” video.

JW – We looked at a ton of reference centered around TV idents and bumpers. There’s such a great timing and pacing in the stories that are told in quick 10-15 second spots that we wanted to capture. One of my favorite early references were these Adult Swim Idents from Art&Graft.

EB – We also looked at the Half Rez logo and branding and previous years bumpers and wanted to play off of those elements a bit. Love cubes and bubbles.

How was the crowd reactions to the animations both online and at Half Rez?

BC – From what I could tell it seemed that most people really enjoyed them. It’s sometimes hard to tell since I personally know so many people in the community, you never know if they are just being nice. What I think worked for us was that we took our character animation skills and storytelling ability and applied them to 3D. The 3D was very simple and I’m sure many people out there would have no trouble recreating these spots. What’s sometimes troublesome about 3D animation is that the possibilities are endless. What we do well at LooseKeys is to take something that’s complicated and make it simple. I felt like the reaction was great, we did something a bit different for us at LooseKeys and although they were cubes, it was a bit outside the box.

JW – The live crowd seemed to enjoy the spots although I wish I had made the “dance party” spot a bit longer to see if people would have jumped out of their seats! From friends and acquaintances alike I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback and it’s incredibly humbling to get this sort of response from guys and gals whose opinion and work I respect so much.

Loosekeys and Greyscalegorilla used to share office space. How’s your new place and what has changed?

BC – We do miss the Greyscalegorilla guys. Having more energy in the office is always nice to keep your creative juices flowing. For us it was time to make a move in order to feel more like the studio we wanted to be. You don’t need your own space in order to be a studio. Still there is something about having your own space that feels comfortable and helps set the tone for your workday. Having your own studio makes you want to invite clients over and show off with parties. We have now been in the space for a year and there is plenty of room for us to grow and try new things.

EB – It’s quieter without the ping pong, pinball and excited chatter which is occasionally good but mainly I miss those aspects! It took a long time to adjust to the lack of lunchtime ping pong noises coming from the other room. Like Brad said, it’s nice to have a space to call our own where we can have parties and create without getting in anybody else’s way.

Best way to follow your work as a fan? Best way to contact you as a client?

BC – I try to keep all of our social media channels updated with what we are working on. Twitter is a great place to start if you want a catch all for everything we are doing.

And for any clients who are looking to get in touch, I would be the best person to talk to about new business brad@loosekeys.tv

You guys are the most prolific podcasters I know. How many podcasts are the members of Loosekeys involved in these days?

BC – Thanks! I love the medium. At the moment I have 4 podcasts that I release new episodes for pretty regularly. There are a few that come on and off and some others that have ended but there are 4 that I focus my time and energy on. Shatter The Vain, a podcast with over 120 episodes about the mobile game Vainglory. This podcast is released every Monday. Released every Tuesday is Toon Talk Weekly, a podcast where Jake Williams and I talk about a new cartoon each and every week. Then there is Chicago Beer Pass with 160 episodes. Chicago Beer Pass is a weekly podcast about beer events in the Chicagoland area and Illinois. And then my video podcast is Hop Cast. This podcast isn’t recorded as often and doesn’t have a real schedule anymore but it is the longest running podcast. Ken Hunnemeder and I have been talking about beer for eight years and recorded over 285 episodes of this show.

I love the idea of podcasting, you’re able to take something you’re passionate about and share that love with the world. Each show I do has a different fan base but it doesn’t matter if one person is listening or thousands. Just the idea that someone cares about something as much as you do is enough. Podcasting is a form of storytelling and using the medium to help perfect that skill set is very important for me and the business.

JW – Special shoutout to Chris for being on Toon Talk Weekly Episode 86 to talk about his love for ReBoot!

Who are some artists / websites you admire?

JW – I’d be lying if I didn’t say I check Dribbble and Vimeo daily to see what talented folks are working on. I love simple, clean, and clever character design and animation and there is a ton of great work out there. A few favorites:
James Curran
Markus Magnusson
Seth Eckert
Cub Studio
Ice Cream Hater

EB – All of those artists Jake mentioned are amazing. I also tend to lean towards bold, simple, sometimes crude illustration styles and love artists like:
Keith Shore
Everyone in the Late Night Work Club
Jeremyville
Animade
Alla Kinda
Rubber House
Joan Cornella

LooseKeys Show Reel 2016 from LooseKeys on Vimeo.

Follow the LooseKeys guys on twitter

Brad Chmielewski – @beerad
Jake Williams – @JacobWilliams
Ethan Barnowsky – @EthanBarnowsky

 

 


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AskGSG Season Two Recap And Announcing Season Three

October 5, 2016 - By 


Music provided by Art List

Thanks to everyone for making another season of AskGSG amazing. Without your questions the show could not exist! Season two had 39 episodes, over 79 hours of Q&A and lots of great guests.

Season Three Starts October 12th!


We’re gearing up for season two beginning on Wednesday the 12th of October at 1PM CST. Mark your calendar, get those questions ready and be sure to subscribe to us on Twitch and follow out newsletter to never miss a show. We have so much more in store including special guests and special tutorials only for people who watch live. See you then!

Missed Season 1 and 2 of AskGSG?


We got you covered. We just released Seasons 1 and 2 of Ask GSG Archive for purchase on our new GSG Training site. Over 150 hours of Recordings are now available for you to watch at any time on any device.

Get The Bundle

Want to get all 3 seasons of askGSG? We created a bundle price so you can get all 3 seasons at once. Get everything from Seasons 1, 2 and the upcoming 3rd season all for $229. That includes all the 200+ scene files from every episode of AskGSG and new recordings every week from the upcoming season.
Visit our new training site and start watching TONS more C4D recordings today!

Of course, anyone and everyone can watch AskGSG LIVE for free every Wednesday starting next week! As always, get your C4D questions ready and we will see you LIVE for the first episode of AskGSG Season 3 Live on Twitch.


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Half Rez 5

June 6, 2016 - By 

Greyscalegorilla, Chicago C4D, and Maxon US are proud to present Half Rez 2016!

It is that time again! Time for our Fifth Half Rez Event!

Half Rez Videos and recordings from Half Rez 5 Are coming soon!

Our attendance continues to grow every year and Lincoln Hall always treats us well, so we’re heading back there. Half Rez is the place meet, greet, learn, and party.


What Is Half Rez?

We started Half Rez to bring together 3D and 2D artists, animators and designers for a night of learning, drinking and hanging out.

We have presentations planned from amazing designers and tons of fun games and prizes to give away. Come hang out with like-minded folks, join us in celebrating our craft, and learn from each other in a fun relaxed atmosphere! Check out the videos below from the last few years to see for yourself.

Half Rez 3 Recap Video

 

 


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AskGSG Season One Recap And A Preview Of Season Two

September 21, 2015 - By 

Thanks to everyone for making season one of ASKGSG amazing. From the great questions, the generous support on Patreon, and the incredibly helpful chatroom we were able to create dozens of episodes.

Season Two Starts This Week!

We’re gearing up for season two beginning on Wednesday the 23rd of September. Mark your calendar, get those questions ready and ask Nick and Chris LIVE. We have so much more in store including special guests and special tutorials only for people who watch live. See you then!


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Half Rez 2015 Bumpers

September 10, 2015 - By 

Welcome to Half Rez

This year we reached out to David Brodeur to create some bumpers for Half Rez 4. We wanted to share these with everyone who couldn’t join us in person. Thanks also to Zelig Sound for doing the sound design.

Half Rez Looping Animation

Sponsor Animation

David was nice enough to put together a breakdown of his process.

Scene Breakdown

Audio by Zelig Sound


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Houdini Bridge: July 1st Chicago C4D Meet Up at Protokulture with Tyler Scheitlin

July 24, 2015 - By 

Watch the Video

Tyler Scheitlin of Protokulture demonstrates some of the capabilities of the Houdini Bridge beta at the most recent ChicagoC4D meet up.

ChicagoC4D is a user group that meets every other month to network and tour various studios in the Chicagoland area.


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Half Rez 4

July 2, 2015 - By 

Greyscalegorilla, Chicago C4D, and Maxon US are proud to present Half Rez 2015. Yep, it is that time again in Chicago. This is our Fourth Half Rez event and it will be by far our biggest one yet.

To make sure this year tops all the others we’ve upgraded our venue to Lincoln Hall. Half Rez is the place meet, greet, learn, and party. Visit HalfRez.com for more details and to register.

What Is Half Rez?

We started Half Rez to bring together 3D and 2D artists, animators and designers for a night of learning, drinking and hanging out.

We have presentations planned from designers and tons of fun games and prizes to give away. Come hang out with like minded folks and let’s us celebrate our craft and learn from each other the fun way. Check out the videos below from the last three years to get a vibe of what Half Rez will be like.

Head on over to our official HalfRez page to register. There you will find the details for the show and by signing up, it will let everyone know who is coming and also help us out to make sure we have enough food there for everyone. Did I mention there will be free food to soak up the beer?

OK, so who’s coming?

Visit HalfRez.com to Sign Up

Video From Half Rez 1

Video From Half Rez 2

Video From Half Rez 3


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Retrowave: A DeLorean And City Kit Made A Beautiful 80’s Baby

February 12, 2015 - By 

I came across this 80s style promotional animation while surfing r/RetroFuturism on Reddit

Created by freelance graphic designer and illustrator Florian Renner based in Munich. What’s not to like with a DeLorean DMC-12, City Kit, and copious amounts of 80s neon? I love when I see pieces where City Kit is heavily modified. In this case to the point where it’s almost unrecognizable. Be sure to check out the rest of his work.


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Introducing The SuperText Super Preview

June 4, 2014 - By 


SuperText is a new plugin that we created to help make animating type and vector logos even easier. Use SuperText with MoText and Transform to create tons of different polygon, texture and subdividing effects. In this video, Chris will go over what exactly Supertext does and how it can help make text animation and texturing easier for your next animation.

Like all of our plugins, all of what you are about to see is procedural so you can change your text at any time. Chop up and subdivide your text without making anything editable.

What Exactly Does SuperText do?

  • Easily and Evenly Subdivide Your Text – For polygon or chunking effects with Transform.
  • Fix Cubic Projections – to make all your textures perfectly stick to your type with one click.
  • Bake Geometry While Keeping Your Text Parametric – to fix typefaces for rendering or sharing with clients.

Look for SuperText soon. It will be included in our upcoming release of Transform v1.2.

Watch The Preview


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Interview with Visual Effects Artist David Luong

November 6, 2013 - By 


David Luong is currently a Senior Cinematic Artist II at Blizzard Entertainment, He’s been working in the visual effects industry for nearly 8 years. He currently does lighting, compositing, and matte painting for Blizzard’s cinematics on games such as Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, and World of Warcraft. He previously worked on films such as Night at the Museum, Superman Returns, and Underworld Evolution at Rhythm & Hues, Luma Pictures, and Disney Toon Studios. David Luong is one of three artists featured in the newest d’artiste book from Ballistic Publishing. He also teaches CGSociety.org’s online Photo-Real Matte Painting workshop.

How important was your formal education in getting to where you are now, especially in contrast to the self teaching you were doing when you first started?

A lot of people asked me if formal education is important to getting a job in the VFX industry.  What’s good about formal education is that it’s structured, and it gives you time to develop your own style due to the long period of being in school (2-4 years).  The teachers are hit and miss, but the ones that are really good tend to push you harder, and make your life a little harder.  Sometimes you might hate them, but in the end, you’ll understand why they were so hard, and the higher level difficulty is a good introduction of how it might be on your real job. Good teachers also impart their knowledge to you well, and want to see you succeed.  They encourage team work and getting you to understand what works, and what doesn’t on the job.

Teachers in school are also a great source of networking too, as they are usually working professionals.  They can refer you to another studio or recommend you to someone, growing who you know in the industry.  Being a small industry, this is very invaluable.  So I think formal education is valuable, although it tends to cost too much for the education, especially in private school.  I would recommend taking as much as you can in community or junior colleges before going to an art school if you’re going the formal route.  Paying maybe $100 an English class at a community college instead of paying about $2,000 at a private art school with equal or even better education in a community college is a no brainer.  Coming back to the education I got, it was great because it did allow me to gestate my own style, and meet lots of friends and industry professionals. My senior portfolio got me lots of recognition and thankfully, I got a job shortly after graduating.

Compared to learning on my own when I first started, the formal education gave me the direction and focused structure I needed.  It also gave me a direct pathway to doing what I loved to do, while also not just thinking of it as a hobby.  I also invested a ton of money for student loans, so it made me not want to fail even more to.  When I was learning Photoshop on my own, there wasn’t really anyone else to give me feedback or learn a little bit extra from.  It was all myself, and what was available through books or the limited Internet at the time.

So for me, it was important to have the formal education in the end.  I just wish it didn’t cost so much money.

What got you started using Cinema4D and how does it help day to day work?

I had first heard about it from other digital matte painting artists on how easy it is to use for 3D projections and integrating some 3D movements in your shots.  It wasn’t until last year actually, that I started  using C4D more regularly.  When using Maya, I found the process convoluted and way more complicated than it should be to setup a projection. I taught Maya in my CGWorkshop, and I could see my students struggle getting the shader setup, and the extra little technical difficulties that came with Maya for a projection setup.   I also didn’t like it, and so it was time to experiment with C4D.

I used some C4D at work a couple of years ago, and the UI interface as well as the camera and projection setups seemed pretty easy to follow.  I really love how artist friendly Cinema4D was compared to bigger packages such as Maya or 3DStudio Max. I started with R13 last year, and then soon after, R14 was released, and now R15. We still use more Maya at work, but for my personal projects and for teaching the CGWorkshops, I’ll be using only C4D, Nuke, some After Effects, and Photoshop.  The default  rendering engine is pretty high quality, and if I had to up it up, I would use the Physical Renderer.  There is a huge community who create plugins and makes life easier for you by creating better workflow and efficiencies using Cinema4D, such as the great people at Greyscalegorilla.

What Greyscalegorilla tools do you use and how do they affect your workflow?

I started learning how to use CityKit, Light Kit Pro, and the HDRI Studio Pack.  Light Kit Pro I use the most, as it’s so simple to bring in light rigs from the tool and quickly light the objects in your scene with easy sliders and parameters you can adjust. I love the soft boxes in the kit, and the sun light rig which includes an environment light to shade your shadows with.  These are easy, one click imports to your scene.  If I wanted to get some reflections going in certain objects of my scene, the HDRI pack is just as easy to implement in my shots.  Usually bringing in an HDRI will automatically set a decent optimized render preset to use, giving you nice Ambient Occlusion, Global Illumination, or good shadow and ray trace samples.

The other major tool I use from Greyscalegorilla, especially in one of my matte painting tutorials for the d’Artiste: Matte Painting 3 book, was CityKit.  The team at GSG really made an amazing, fast generating city tool, which also gives a great amount of customization such as adding in your own textures, your own hero models and many other things so your city can stand out.  For my book, I created a few simple shapes, which I moved around to create a good composition, duplicated a few blocks, and added a couple of custom hero twin buildings.  I also created a circular city in the sky that was a tweaked version of one of the presets you can do in the CityKit.  Just playing with some customizations, and I got something that looks unique.  After I lighting the city using the Light Kit Pro, then rendering that out in C4D, I brought it back into Photoshop for further tweaking and texturing to give it a more photo real look.

Without these tools, I think C4D would be still great for the artist, but I’d definitely be slower.  They’re well worth buying and using for your own personal or professional projects.

When I first started using C4D on my personal work, there was no greater resource out there to learn it than from the Greyscalegorilla website.  Their videos are excellent, and very well narrated by Nick Campbell as well as Chris Schmidt.  They would give examples that the community would ask for, and just by watching them do it, and following the steps, you can really take that knowledge and apply it to other things you want to do.  Also each of their tools you buy, comes with instructional videos by the team which covers a great deal on how to use it and the why’s and how’s of it.  Going through the GSG tools was just what I needed to learning how to use C4D on my own projects.  It was pretty much exclusively GSG tools that got me up and running last year. I had almost no other prior  training before I used GSG, and now each of the matte paintings in the d’Artiste: Matte Painting 3 book used their tools in one form or another.

What would you say was your first foot in the door to the industry? Any advice as to how to maximize your chances for landing that first gig?

I’d say my first foot in the door would be working as a rotoscoping/digital paint artist at Luma Pictures.  It was in 2005 for Underworld: Evolution.  They had liked my creativity in my demo reel and my persistence to wanting to work there.  It’s a bit of a story, but I was so eager to work at my first big job for the visual effects industry that I essentially went to work on my first day before I was actually hired.  There was some confusion as why I was there my first day, but eventually, I was hired that day thankfully since they did need more workers and  they liked my reel previously.  Now looking back, I shouldn’t have done that probably, but it seemed to have worked out!  I wouldn’t recommend doing what I did though to get your foot in the door.

I’d say just keep being persistent which was key, emailing, following up, calling if they allow that (but most studios don’t) or having inside friends that can refer you in.  Always be respectful and have a personality that can work well in a team.  Without that, you’ll just be someone who is good that can work only well by yourself.  That’s not what a studio would like.  Keep your ego down, and if you think you’re good,  let that shine through your work and by elevating the work of others. If you don’t get hired somewhere you want, such as your dream job, keep working at it through other studio work or getting the experience necessary to finally apply and work at the place you want.  If you aren’t working at all, keep brushing up on your knowledge, keeping up your contacts and knowing what the industry is doing nowadays, and learn from free communities such as Greyscalegorilla!

What are some of your favorite tools while working on Matte Paintings?

Photoshop is the key tool I use for matte painting.  The second, is probably my own camera.  I shoots the majority of my own textures and reference footage to be used later in matte paintings.  This is usually from vacations and going out to places. I’m usually the weird one who stops and shoots multiple angles or shots of a building or a certain tree, a texture on the ground, while everyone else is walking up ahead in a group.  Other tools I use is Maya, although it’s mostly Cinema4D now for the 3D side, as that’s strong enough for matte paintings for me.  For 3D projections, Nuke seems to take the lead now if I don’t need to do a full environment, which is 90% of the time for matte painting. The speed and ease of setting up projections in Nuke, as well as compositing in there is just the best in the industry right now.  I even matchmove in it, which was what I did for the Monolith City matte painting in the book. After Effects if I need to do some more linear layered based compositing.  Those tools are all sort of standard I’d say.  Can’t think of anything that isn’t off the shelf that I use really.

 

What are some highlights/challenges of teaching? How is teaching online?

I started teaching for CGSociety.org in January 2008.  They asked me to teach after loving what they saw in my submissions for the d’Artiste: Matte Painting 2 book that came out in 2007, which had 6 of my pieces published in them.  I was very honored for them ask me out of all of the artists out there.  But I gladly accepted, which was also something I had never done before: teaching. It was another great challenge for me, could I teach what I knew and guide the next generation of artists to do work  with the high quality of standards in the industry? I hoped so, and luckily, many of them are now working in the industry and are doing just fine!

The format of the CGWorkshop I teach is all online.  It’s an 8 week course, and when I initially taught it more than 5 years ago, everything from 2D Photoshop work, to After Effects, Nuke and then to Maya all rolled into one.  Now, it’s broken up into two  workshops as of last year when I revamped the course.  The first one is strictly dealing with foundations, concepts, composition, value, and what makes an image striking according to the student’s own styles through my guidance.  There was no 3D in it at all, but if the student knows some 3D, I wouldn’t bar them from using it as long as most of their image is in the 2D realm.  The second course, which will deal with 3D projections, and some matchmoving/modeling/lighting/rendering/compositing to get the matte paintings moving in a shot.  That I haven’t taught yet, which will begin in March 2014.

For me, this format is ideal due to the fact that I can post my prerecorded videos, then the students can view them, and work on them any time they want to. It’s not bound by any time frame (except for when it’s due at the end of the week for assignments, and the major projects at the end of the workshop in 8 weeks).  So there are a big number of international students who take my course. All they have to know is enough English to understand my instructions and critiques.  Otherwise, the image is really universal,  and by me giving visual feedback through paintovers, students really get the idea of what works and what doesn’t for their matte pantings.

The flexibility of not having to be in any country or any timezone is the most appealing for the workshops.  It also can’t really be “pirated”, as the single most useful part of the workshop is the  teacher giving direct and fast feedback to the student work in high attention and priority.  There may be videos and lectures in the course that you can download or distribute, but the biggest help is the feedback as well as the practice through the material.  That also brings up another point, students that take my class get the most benefit if they engage themselves in participation instead of just lurking in the shadows.

At the end of my workshop, I choose the top 6 matte paintings, and promote them heavily on my website, my social network, and so does CGSociety on their websites.  It gives the students an extra incentive, and some friendly competition to get their work done on time, and to do it the best as possible. I know not all students can complete the work I give in the workshop, due to them being busy at work or school, so I also offer any students who didn’t get to finish their work to continue working and email me their progress.  To which, I will fully and actively support just like I did in the 8 weeks of the workshop, and for life.  I also offer an alumni lounge where all past students get automatically enrolled in free, to continue their education in a safe, private forum that I also help moderate.

I’ve met so many great students around the world while teaching these past 5 years.  It’s so wonderful to see that I’ve impacted the community and given back what I know from my experiences at work and referring them to other people who need good artists  as well.  I’m sure the GSG guys feel the same way in giving back to the community. I”m thankful to use their teachings to apply in my new book as well!

Any particular artists that inspire you?

Dylan Cole is a huge inspiration for me while I was in school, as I saw his matte paintings in the first d’Artiste: Matte Painting 1 book back in 2004. I’ve got to meet him in person a couple of times, and I even got to feature one of his personal works for my section of the Matte Painting 3 book, which was a real treat.  He started out as an intern at ILM, and then worked as a senior matte painter for Weta Digital on Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.  So many beautiful shots he created while he was there that I’ve long admired. He is now the newly announced Co-Production Designer for Avatar 2, along with Ben Proctor, which is the highest title an artist can get for a movie in the art department.  He’s an awesome artist that totally deserved that!

The other artist that has inspired me was the team at Blizzard Cinematics while I was in school as well (and well before that playing Diablo, Starcraft and Warcraft 2 in highschool).  There wasn’t’ a particular artist there as it was a team that worked on the cinematics.  Each time I saw a cinematic while playing a Blizzard game, I told myself “I want to work there some day and  need to keep working on my skills until I get to work there.”  The music, the voice acting, the cinematography, and the visual effects just made me fall in love with 3D animation.

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?

The favorite project I worked on is probably at Blizzard, on the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King cinematic back in 2008.  It was directed by Jeff Chamberlain, and I was working early on with a skeleton crew.  Sheng Jin was my lead on the show, who is a fantastic lighter/compositor as well as well skilled in other disciplines of the CG pipeline.  The team was small back then, so I was able to come on as an artist who got to push more of the creative side.  I got to do some concepts to explore Arthas’ look through lighting and painting, as well as shot setups and lighting scenarios with Sheng.  I did some matte paintings as well, and finished shots through lighting/compositing.  Afterward, I had some down time, so I got a chance to work on some of the poster work that marketing used for various prints and posters for the game.  The creative freedom while being able to work in a team and ping our ideas back and forth with Jeff, our director so fluidly, is what makes me come back to this cinematic as my most fond memory professionally.

How was your experience doing D’Artiste: Matte Painting 3?

The Ballistic Media guys asked me late December 2012 about the possibility of working on the next beloved d’Artiste: Matte Painting book in the series. The last one was in 2007, so they thought it was time to bring it back.  I thought about how much work it would do to work on the book after hours, while still balancing life load, a full time job at Blizzard, and teaching online for CGWorkshop at the same time.  It was another huge honor to partake in such a project, but I had to be realistic in what I could do.  After much thought, I figured I could balanced it and accepted wholeheartedly into what will become a huge under taking.  It’s a big stressful situation to get your work translated into a book that will be on print forever, so you really want to get it perfect.  All of my tutorials had to make sense, and have the concepts in there work for most beginners and intermediate users who wanted to get more out of their work.

They also wanted us to get our professional work in there for the personal gallery.  To get the licensing for book published (and them knowing that I would get profit from this) was the biggest factor in taking 4-5 months to get approval on my Blizzard matte painting work. There were definitely some bureaucratic hoops I had to jump through, and I had to be very proactive in getting the paper work done or else it would be too late for the book publishing.  In the end, it was well worth it.  As the book by all three of us artists should sit well with the other two books in the series.  I’m proud to be a part of such history and pedigree of previous artists.  I’m also happy to see Blizzard Cinematics standing right a long side other previously featured film art such as those from The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars.

The tutorials themselves, took about 2 months to complete each, with Skyward Life being the easiest, and Monolith City being the hardest.  I wanted Skyward Life to be more of a beginner piece, followed by Ivory Castle which got a little harder, and then with Monolith City, which is a fully animated matte painting tutorial.  Then another 2 months for editing, and proof reading/layout to get it looking the best possible with the publisher.  And now, it’s just marketing and getting the word out there.

Also 50% of my proceeds from d’Artiste: Matte Painting 3 will go towards Friends of Orange County’s Homeless Pets charity.

What is your favorite Matte painting you’ve done and why?

My favorite matte painting I’ve created is probably Monolith City, which is one of the tutorials featured in the book.  I wanted to have my dog, Xena in it, and have her looking out into no where, which would later be replaced with a matte painting, and an alien city in the back.

The matte painting base plate was shot using my iPhone camera in a field.  I then matchmoved it in Nuke, brought it into Cinema4D for 3D city building.  Then back to Photoshop to work on the ground matte painting and further texturing of 3D elements.

Back to Nuke for projetion, then back to C4D for additional animated ships to add some life to it.  Then back to Nuke for final compositing.  It was real fun to do all of that, and to document how to do it for the book tutorial. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eh3qMOt7IM

Lastly, what is the best response for Zerg when Terran has turtled up three bases and is going with a heavy mech build?

Great question! Terran has a tendency to build “Helm’s Deep” for their bases.  To break their defense in those turtling situations, go the Baneling Bust route, and build up Baneling that would wreak havoc on their front defenses, as well as building Zerglings to get right in their directly to their mineral patch to destroy their economy, while at the same time, having Hydralisks. Don’t forget to bring a detector in case they have banshees!

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