Interviews that focus on the CG creative in visual effects, architecture and beyond. Christopher Nichols of Chaos Group sits down with directors, artists, photographers and developers for candid discussions on technology and art, all with a focus on computer graphics. Visit for more information and an archive of past shows.

Chris and Lon jetted off to San Francisco to record this podcast with Adobe product manager Zoana Gee, and engineering director Ross McKegney. They reveal how they’ve created Adobe Dimension, formerly known as Project Felix, a clever box of tricks which marries photorealistic 3D imagery with Adobe’s trademark ease of use

Of course, 3D is notoriously complicated, and Zorana and Ross discuss the machine learning Dimension uses to build and configure 3D scenes from 2D images, and the role of V-Ray’s AppSDK behind the scenes. There are knock-on effects from this democratization of 3D: it cuts out human-shaped bottlenecks in workflows, and changes the way artists and designers interact with clients.

Listen to find out how Dimension fits into the bigger picture of Adobe products, and how AI and the cloud figure in its future.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast165_Adobe.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 10:19pm PDT

Recorded at THU last year, this podcast features another awesome foursome of guests: Ludger Pfanz, from Karlsruhe University of Art and Design, Kelli Townley from Oculus Medium, and Ciaran Wills and Mach Kobayashi from Google Tilt Brush.

Ludger spent 25 years making documentary films about indigenous people around the world, before becoming a film lecturer. This knowledgeable and philosophical explorer is taking his passion for anthropology into new mediums, explaining how psychedelic drugs, cave paintings, and John Malkovich can help us understand the phantasmagoric worlds of VR.

Creating these worlds, and using VR as an artistic medium, requires a whole new set of tools — which is where Oculus’ Medium and Google’s Tilt Brush come in. In the second part of the podcast, Chris is joined by developers Kelli, Ciaran and Mach. They talk about the challenges they face in helping artists work in an infinite and scaleless space, and VR’s applications in filmmaking, game design, and architecture.

It’s essential listening if you want to know more about the fascinating possibilities of VR, and how it can help artists think outside the box.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast164_THU2017_07.mp3
Category:VR -- posted at: 11:18am PDT

Since Chris and Lon were in Sofia for a week to hang out at our headquarters in snowy Sofia we decided to sit down with the man behind the V in V-Ray. Vlado, no stranger to the CG Garage, spends some time with Chris to give our listeners a better idea about all the work going into the next version of V-Ray, and beyond. Many people already know a bit about these features, but there are also many other things you may not know about.

We discuss why the next version of V-Ray is actually called Next, how the actual core of V-Ray is being completely revamped, as well as some of the many exciting new features. We also tease some new features that are not still coming up such as a complete redesign of the frame buffer, and our very own cloud service, called V-Ray Cloud.

V-Ray Next beta is available today to registered V-Ray users of V-Ray for 3dsmax. check out all the following links for more information and more in depth looks at some of those upcoming features.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast163_Vlado_VRayNext.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 9:02pm PDT

This week’s CG Garage is a special episode because I got a chance to sit down with Alex McDowell, the founder of World Building Institute and Experimental Design. You might have seen his name pop up in Fast Company and Wired from time to time, and it’s no mystery why they want to talk to him. On top of his current roles, which we’ll get into in a minute, this is a man who helped set up the Sex Pistols first gig, made music videos with Depeche Mode, led production designs on Fight Club, and designed the entire world, including all of its rules and attributes, for Minority Report. And it’s in that last point, world building, where he can really offer all of us - architects, filmmakers and general 3D artists- some serious food for thought.

Instead of thinking about stories and digital experiences like linear elements, Alex approaches his designs spherically, like you would a VR space. He asks questions like “What are the conditions of the world and what is going to drive it forward?” and then figures out how elements like different types of humans will define or navigate this environment. An elderly person, for instance, could live in the same world as a Olympian, but endure radically different challenges. And from what Alex has learned, as the challenges and context around your focal points change, so do the stories you can tell. With world building, storytellers are encouraged to consider more possibilities, which in turn, open up a greater understanding of the environments and characters they create.

At first glance, you may think this only works for feature films. But consider the 3D world’s most common thread: storytelling. Architects also tell visual stories full of context and character, only they do it through spaces. So imagine what happens when architects apply world building concepts to their art. Designs can be influenced by wider factors than form and function, including how different types of people will navigate the space. Using these concepts, architects can also consider how the mechanisms of the city, or even society at large, will change the experience they are offering, even if that change resides at a granular or subconscious level. As elements are defined, they compound, helping an artist (or your team) gain an elevated knowledge of any design that incorporates narrative.

It really can be quite powerful, and like I said, is not limited to a single field. I hope you’ll give it a shot.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast162_AlexMcDowell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50pm PDT

They’re back! Star Wars aficionados, film buffs and visual effects artists Dan Thron and Justin Fields join Chris for the second part of this follow-up to the original, divisive Last Jedi podcast. This episode continues to pore over The Last Jedi to work out if the good bits outweigh the bad, and whether director Rian Johnson can shake off the franchise’s excessive baggage and build a fresh universe for a new audience.

It’s a podcast that packs as many twists, crises of confidence and character arcs as the movie itself, and Dan, Justin and Chris discover their opinions are more in line than they first thought. They also delve into the other Star Wars movies, and films including Pulp Fiction, Blade Runner 2049, The Goonies and Justice League. You’ll find out what effects industry acronym CBB stands for, a surefire way to tell when Yoda is being goofy, and how Hitchcock’s The Birds cleverly creates a sense of tension and unease.

Dan will return for another discussion of a classic film. As for young Justin, we’ll watch his career with great interest.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast161_DanThron_JustinFields_part2.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 9:01pm PDT

On-set data integration people fill a crucial role in the modern movie making process. They capture reference materials such as HDR images, camera data, and reference photography so effects artists can ensure their CG creations fit perfectly into the shot.

As data integration lead Viki Chan explains, the job combines the glamor of traveling the world to work with a-list actors and directors, with 17-hour days and having to stay away from home for months at a time. She breaks down what her job involves, whether it’s placing tracking markers on the set, negotiating with ADs and gaffers, or minimizing the amount of CG involved on a production.

Viki comes across as friendly and professional – exactly the sort of person you’d want to work with on a chaotic movie set. And she’s got some great anecdotes about Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast160_VikiChan.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 4:57pm PDT

Chris, Dan and David’s take on The Last Jedi in podcast #156 stirred up many emotions on social media – especially among listener Justin Goby Fields. In fact, Justin posed such a good take on why The Last Jedi is a good movie that Chris invited him to appear on the podcast for a two-episode discussion.

In part one, Justin points out the clever ways The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi break down characters and ideas from previous Star Wars movies and reconfigure them to feel diverse and fresh. And he raises some interesting questions: could Poe Dameron become Star Wars’ best hero? And is Kylo Ren its best, and bustiest, villain?

In this occasionally heated discussion, the trio also branch out into other franchises, like Logan and Deadpool’s brutal, potty-mouthed diversions from the X-Men universe, and talk about what DC, Marvel and Lucasfilm can learn from big budget TV series such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Mindhunter.

No matter what you think of The Last Jedi – and your opinion will almost certainly change a little by the end of the podcast – this is an in-depth discussion of the movie’s successes and failings, and the current state of movie making in general.

Justin, Chris and Dan will return in a couple of weeks for Episode Two: Martini Giant Strikes Back.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast159_DanThron_JustinFields.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 3:42am PDT

While the THU festival is all about bringing brilliant artists together, a lot of it couldn’t happen without its media partners. In this podcast, Chris chats with some the people who help out behind the scenes.

In the first part, Chris is joined by Lenovo senior product manager Greyson Davis and Gnomon chief technology officer Eric Miller. Eric is fresh from a presentation featuring Lenovo’s latest tech, and they talk about how laptops are on the verge of usurping desktop PCs, the future of GPU and cloud rendering, and the varying hardware requirements of digital artists.

In part two, Chris meets Te Hu, a coder and artist who won ArtStation’s THU Golden Ticket contest. Te, better know as Ford, used an innovative modular system to generate characters for the winning piece, and he also talks about his day job at ILM’s ILMxLAB VR/AR department, and how he uses technical skills to create cinematic visions.

Te is joined by ArtStation’s product manager Daniel Wade, who tells Chris how ArtStation has gone from a small startup to an essential recruitment and analysis platform for the games, film, media, and entertainment industries.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast158_THU2017_06.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 3:17pm PDT

Greg Teegarden’s first role in Hollywood was suitably iconic: he designed the famous gates for Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. From here, Greg worked as a modeler on Spielberg’s ambitious seaQuest DSV TV project, then helped create effects for Titanic and cars for The Fifth Element.

In this podcast, Greg talks about his career, and how his dad and uncle’s collaboration on TV series Supertrain helped set it up. He and Chris reminisce about the late nights they had at Digital Domain, and the huge cast of characters who made up the team there, including Eric Barba, Victoria Alonso, Ed Ulbrich, and Steve Worley, the software genius who’d write entire LightWave plugins on the plane.

Greg finishes with a discussion of his current work at Digital Domain on piractical TV series Black Sails — and reminds Chris of the time they hung out with dozens of bikini-clad models at his pool during the making of a short film.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast157_GregTeagarden.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 7:06pm PDT

As the dust settles on 2017, one question lingers on everyone’s minds: was Star Wars: The Last Jedi a good movie? The critics have embraced indie auteur Rian Johnson’s continuation of the new Star Wars universe, but the response from audiences and internet nerds has ranged from ecstatic, to meh, to Kylo Ren-like levels of rage.

To dissect this divisive movie, Chris is joined by Star Wars revisionist and podcast regular Dan Thron, Chaos Group’s Communications Director David Tracy — and a bottle of Colorado’s finest whisky. They talk about what makes the film work: the incredible visuals, the performances and chemistry, and the ways it wipes the slate clean and takes apart what Star Wars means for younger audiences. But they also highlight the film’s negatives: the goofy humor, tonal inconsistencies, and Death Star-sized plot holes.

It’s an thought-provoking and increasingly drunk conversation which touches on Dan’s arguments about the original trilogy, David’s formative experiences with Darth Vader, and the future of both the Star Wars universe and colossal movie franchises.

Whether you loved or hated The Last Jedi, this is a great way to spend two hours of 2018.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast156_DanielThron_TheLastJedi.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 7:49pm PDT