Posted In:Motion Design Archives | Greyscalegorilla
Designer and Art Director Ash Thorp creates a sci-fi spaghetti western in this Nike VaporMax spot. See how he used GorillaCam to bring the project to life.
Nike’s fourth collaboration with ACRONYM® sees the release of the Nike Air VaporMax Moc 2. To announce the new sneakers, Nike released the following trailer featuring ACRONYM® founder Errolson Hugh and musician John Mayer.
Blink and you might miss the stellar work of designer and all-around creative mind, Ash Thorp. If you aren’t familiar with Thorp’s work, he created many of the stunning posters, concept art, VFX, and titles used in films like Blade Runner 2049, Ghost in the Shell, and several Marvel blockbusters.
You can take a closer look at his Nike work in this video Thorp shared on Twitter.
— Ash Thorp (@Ashthorp) April 3, 2018
We wanted to learn more about how this collaboration came about, so we reached out to Ash Thorp. Here’s what we found out in our interview:
Chad Ashley: For those not familiar with your work, could you give us a brief history of who you are, and what you do?
Ash Thorp: My name is Ash Thorp, and I am a creative, I’m a director, artist, illustrator. I’ve been working in the feature film industry and AAA games industry for almost 8 years now.
I primarily work on feature films, that’s my client work. I’m slowly migrating all my efforts to direct my own feature film.
I’m basically a generalist. [laughs]
CA: How long have you been using Cinema 4D?
AT: I’ve been working in Cinema 4D maybe about 7 years now. It’s kinda crazy, seeing I still kinda suck at it. [laughs]
CA: I’m curious about that. You’re work is amazing, and you do a lot of original concept work. How much of that is done in 3D versus sketching.
AT: It all varies and depends. I will sketch my thoughts on paper. If it’s a motion piece, I’ll do a still, or series of stills to sell the idea. From there, it’s full on pipeline mode to do the animation and all that fun stuff.
CA: I just watched your new Nike piece, and it is just fantastic. Can you tell me how that started?
AT: Yeah, it was a quick job. Very quick. Just a couple of weeks. I knew Errolson, who is the founder of ACRONYM clothing. He’s just an awesome guy, and I’ve had him on my podcast.
So, he was pitching a concept and idea to the team at Nike for the release of his new shoe collaboration, the VaporMax. He was like, “You know who could do this? Ash Thorp.”
They needed to make a world very quickly. They pitched the idea to me, to merge a spaghetti western and a cyberpunk world. Instantly I was like, “Wow, that’s really weird. That sounds good. Let’s do it!”
I was thinking, well, we’re really in a place in the realm of CGI that you can do anything you want. That’s really powerful for someone like me, who just wants to get these ideas out of my head as fast as possible.
I saw the vision for what it was, so I grabbed a bunch of assets off of turbosquid, modeled a bunch of stuff, and did some style frames. The Nike guys loved it, Errolson loved it, and then I was like – Ok. To the races.
I was basically rendering for an entire week with all my cards on fire. I think it was a total of three weeks, from nothing to the final.
I wasn’t alone. I had my buddy Toros Kose, and he took care a lot of the heavy lifting in After Effects while I was rendering and building out the worlds. We had a lot of fun passing stuff back and forth.
CA: So it was just the two of you?
AT: Yeah baby!
CA: Dude, that’s great.
AT: I think it’s the future. The future is in smaller teams of smart people working together, complementing strengths and weaknesses and making good stuff. In my mind that’s really where things are going.
I’m seeing the death of the bigger studio. I could be completely wrong, I just feel like that’s the way I’m moving.
CA: I don’t think you’re far off at all. I remember a while back, that you were mentioning you were starting a potential job that would be good for GorillaCam, which we were we still pretty early on in developing. I got you an early version of the plugin to play with. I had no idea you were going to actually use it on a job!
AT: You literally gave me the plugin the day I started animating. That’s how good it is!
CA: Wow, my timing is just that good. [laughs]
AT: I took it, and watched the tutorial. I think that’s one thing that I will say is so important for software creators and app developers. Please give us an understanding of how this thing works. For people that are crazy busy like myself, and with an attention span of a nit-wit.
I watched the tutorial, and I went right into it. I was like, “Oh, this is what I’ve been wanting for forever now.”
This is the way I did it, which is probably against the way you intended – but I don’t care. I just kept hitting “I’m feeling lucky.” I made two cameras and said I’m feeling lucky, and I was like, yeah, that’s good. Alright, cool. Then I rendered it out.
I wanted it to feel really weird and handheld. Kind of like a drone that was super spazzy. So, I created the cameras in a point A point B, then patched everything together using the GorrilaCam.
I would change the scale to World Scale proper, and then I’d just keep hitting I’m Feeling Lucky. I had no time to really finesse things.
CA: That is exactly how I use it, just so you know. When we were designing it, I said to Chris Schmidt, I want a button that says I’m feeling lucky. I got used to the Google Play Music “I’m Feeling Lucky” button that would build playlists for me. I wanted that functionality in GorillaCam. Sometimes you could surprise yourself, you’re not really sure what you want. So I usually hit that or Randomize Seeds.
AT: Beautiful. Thank you for that. That’s how I work. I’m a weird hyper-child who pixel-fucks everything to death, but I also like randomness. So I enjoy the ability of having flaws. I like to be surprised when I make things.
When you’re at a computer, it’s such a linear experience. It’s very controlled. Oftentimes, it’s about putting imperfections into your work to let it breathe.
I think it works mighty fine for me, and I’m gonna use it like that till the end of time. [laughs]
I’m starting to do pre-viz for my films, and I started slapping the GorillaCam on there, just so it doesn’t feel so rigid. It just helps me do my job faster.
CA: I’ve always wanted this tool in Cinema, and I feel very fortunate to work with developers who can make this a reality. The most satisfaction I get from my job, is hearing from artists like you and hearing that they’re getting something out of it.
AT: I couldn’t be more thankful, honestly. You guys have an interest, you build something, it’s awesome, it’s very useful. It helps me just be an artsy-fartsy guy.
When it comes to CGI work, the thing I love is that it’s the most powerful of the artforms, I think. The thing that I hate about it, it’s the most powerful. It’s so hard to get good at fast. You can’t just go, but you can make a multi-dimensional experience.
CA: What renderer did you guys use for this?
AT: I’m using Octane right now. Testing out Redshift still, but I’m worried about learning a whole new thing.
CA: That’s why I’m here, friend.
AT: [laughs] I know, I know! I’ve seen your new tutorials on Redshift, and it looks so promising and awesome. Especially to someone like me, who uses a lot of volumetric and lights and doesn’t like noise. But, I’ve been using Octane since I started doing GPU stuff.
CA: What about the comp pipeline, that was all After Effects?
AT: Yeah. I just like to render everything without any passes and send if off. I’m kindy risky like that. Then Toros and I will take all the renders, which I have 6 GPUS – 3 Nvidia Titan X‘s and 3 Nvidia GeForce 1080‘s. Some scenes are really heavy geo-wise, so it would be 8 or 9 GB of VRAM. So they’d take like 7-8 minutes a frame.
I think there were 20 shots, each with maybe 40-80 frames, so it was just a lot of rendering. I just didn’t want to do extra passes on top of that. I just didn’t want to deal with that, and I didn’t have the time.
We originally cut it to a Justice track, added glitch and removing things and going bonkers on it up until it shipped. We were working on it up until the last minute.
You know, you hate it when you do it, but the only way to get that stuff out is to put that pressure. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just how it goes.
The people at Nike are very talented, and have great taste. I’m just lucky that they picked me to go along the ride with them, and they realize that they best way to do this stuff is work with a creative and stay out of their way.
They just let me be a bozo and get crazy. Plus I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cyber-western.
CA: That’s great. Thanks for sharing and talking with me.
AT: Thank you for what you’re doing! And thank the entire team at GSG. You’re making it easier to do what I want to do, which I appreciate. Thanks!
Client – Nike
Creative Director – Danny Demers
Designer/Animator/Art Director – Ash Thorp
Designer/Animator – Toros Kose
Score – Pilotpriest
Producer – Monica Thorp
Producer – Collin Samples
Producer – Bria Hisey
Special Thanks – Zaoeyo, Greyscalegorilla
More about this project:
If you want to know more about the product, you can read more about the shoe collaboration on Nike’s website. For more of Ash Thorp’s work, check out his website. His site also includes many of his reels from the films and other projects he’s produced. His Behance page also includes more incredible renders from this project.
If you are curious about the GorillaCam plugin, you can check out the GorillaCam product page here.
Your 3D camera choice is crucial to your composition. Here are four steps in creating a camera that connects with your audience.
Wouldn’t it be great to own every camera and lens ever made? With Cinema 4D, you have exactly that. Your 3D camera choice is just as important as what you are aiming it at. But most of us never change the settings on the default Cinema 4D Camera.
While all the options may be overwhelming, you can learn to master the Cinema 4D camera, and get the exact movements you were envisioning.
1. Choose the right camera setup
A great director knows just what type of camera to use for different types of scenes. Think about your camera move in the same way.
Is this a locked off shot? A crane shot? A handheld scene? Does your camera need to move fast or slow? What is the weight of the camera you need for this shot? Keep this in mind as you start to set up your shot and animate.
2. Choose Your Lens Carefully
Photographers and filmmakers own dozens of different lenses for a reason. Each different focal length brings a different look and emotion to a scene or image. And in 3D, it’s no different. If you are visualizing 3D architecture or setting up a fly through, choose a wider angle lens just like a real estate agent would.
Rendering a product shot? Pick a 50mm or even a 100mm to show off the product and all its angles in their best way.
Cinema 4D’s default camera is a 35mm lens. That’s a bit too wide for most of my renders. I tend to change it to a 50mm to start and in some cases move to a 100mm for product shots and
We’ve put together this tutorial for you to learn more about choosing the right lens for your scene.
3. Match Your Movements To The Camera Type
Remember when you picked what type of camera rig you would use for this scene? This will really help you inform the movement and animation of your camera. Match your movements to the type of camera you are emulating.
Big cameras move slow and give a sense of weight to the scene. Smaller cameras can move faster and get closer to the action. Keep the weight of your rig in mind. A hand held iPhone shot moves way different than a a RED Epic on a Dolly.
4. Add Human Imperfections
Camera moves in real life are rarely perfect. Wind blows, hands shake, and rigs wiggle. Adding natural shake and imperfections to your Cinema 4D camera will help “sell” your animation.
Even a big of shake and drift can give your scene that realistic human touch that will help give your animation that natural feel and help pull more attention from your eventual audience.
You can certainly add these imperfections yourself, but this is a very tedious and time consuming process. If you have the time to add some shakes or overshoots, go for it. If you are on a tight deadline, you should check out our GorillaCam plugin. You can instantly add realistic camera movement in seconds. What would normally take days to program, you can now achieve in minutes with GorillaCam.
Rick Lundskow aka @lundskow
We’d like to welcome Daily Render Guest Artist Rick Lundskow @lundskow to our ongoing series of awesomeness.
What is your name, position, and where do you currently work?
How did you get into Cinema 4D?
I’m almost positive I saw a motion graphics video on vimeo back in 2010/2011. It was so impactful that I wanted to learn how to create art like it. I immediately downloaded the trial version and started watching Greyscalegorilla tutorials. After the trial expired I used the demo version. The demo wouldn’t let you save or render out projects, which was a slight bummer because some of the pieces were sweet. However, I could recreate them if I really wanted them.
Once I moved to Michigan to work at Cornerstone, I budgeted for Cinema 4d Studio. That’s when the real fun began.
When did you start your daily render practice?
I tried to start daily renders but they took too much time or I ran out of ideas too quickly. I got in my head too much… Each piece had to be amazing, but often times they were not great by any stretch of the imagination.
At Half Rez this past year I had a chance to talk to Beeple, the master of daily renders. He really encouraged me that it wasn’t as big of a deal as I was making it out to be. I just needed to make something happen. I don’t know what it was, but it clicked in my brain and I started the next day, September 15th.
What is the hardest part about doing a daily render?
Time would probably be the most difficult part of a daily render for me. Some nights I don’t get home until 10pm-12am and I haven’t even started on my project. The worst is when I get home late and I don’t even have a concept. On those nights, I wanted to give up. And there were many of those nights. However I’m sure other people have had that same exact excuse but have continued anyway. So I told myself that I couldn’t have any excuses for missing a day.
What have you learned by making something every day?
Probably the most significant thing I’ve learned is lighting and reflections. Lighting can make or break your render, so I experimented with different techniques until I found something that works for me. Since I don’t have a fancy render (which might change very soon), I wanted to learn the most with the tools that I had on hand.
As far a basic life skills go, I learned that I can put too much pressure on the creativity. I want the design to be better than the day before it, or create a compelling piece that will sell to millions of people. The former is stressful and the latter hasn’t happened yet. Daily renders are more like experiments. No pressure on the outcome. You try an idea that doesn’t work, but you fix those mistakes the next day and publish your findings. It’s important for me to realize that when I fail, I just found another way of not doing something.
What Hardware and Software do you use to make your work?
I do most of my work on a 2012 MacBook Pro. Nothing too fancy about it but it gets the job done. If I stay late at work, or have some free time over lunch, I’ll create piece on my Mac Pro with 12GB of ram. Then render it out using Team Render across 3-4 of the other machines in the office.
Aside from using Cinema, I use Illustrator a lot to create splines. The shape builder inside Illustrator is incredibly powerful for making custom shapes for lathes, sweeps, and extrudes. I recently purchased ZBrush core. While Cinema’s sculpting tools are great, there were a few features about ZBrush that made it easier to sculpt heads.
What is your day to day like at work?
My work schedule changes on a daily basis. I tend to have a theme to each week day though. Mondays are meeting days. A nice easy transition into the work week. Tuesdays are typically my big project day. I can get the most done without a ton of distractions. Wednesdays are a big filming day. We do video announcements in our Sunday services and we record & edit them mid-week. Thursdays are the busiest days because we’re trying to finish the work week strong. So I’ll finish projects that I didn’t quite complete the other work days. Coffee is a requirement for Thursdays. The great thing about my job is that I don’t work Fridays. Actually, I don’t think I’ve had a job in the past 10 years that required me to work Fridays. It’s pretty amazing.
Anything advice to anyone out there just getting started?
Great art isn’t about having the best resources, it’s about using what you have. There’s something special about taking what little resources you do have to create something beautiful. It gives you an appreciation for the things around you. When you hit a roadblock, figure a way around it. Don’t let circumstances hold you back from accomplishing what you want to do.
Also, don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Start with a 5 minute idea and work from there. Most of my projects come from a small element I see in my day to day world. Find something that inspires you and run with that idea.
Where can people learn more about you?
I’m currently rebuilding my website from scratch, so currently I don’t have more info available.
Music provided by Art List
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