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 chaosgroup.com/cg-garage for more information and an archive of past shows.

Maxx Burman was destined for a career in the film industry — but how he got there is surprising. His grandfather and parents were practical effects artists, creating the groundbreaking makeup for The Wolfman and The Planet of the Apes, respectively.

Helping his parents out on all-nighters gave Maxx a strong worth ethic, and a hard-earned knowledge of what happens behind the scenes in Hollywood. But an early viewing of The Matrix inspired him to carve out his own career path in the less-messy world of VFX.

After establishing himself as a freelance matte painter and VFX supervisor, Maxx’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. His most recent venture is Kitbash3D, a handy online repository of professional, optimized 3D models of different styles of architecture, from “Victorian” to “Neo Tokyo,” ready to be “bashed” into backdrops, matte paintings and 3D environments. It takes the guesswork, and hard work, out of creating believable cityscapes.

As Maxx reveals in this podcast, that’s not all he’s working on. He’s creating a game for Nintendo, still working as a freelance matte artist, and even starting a company to manage all his endeavours. He and Chris talk about adventures in Digital Domain's keyboard graveyard, how Maxx has gone from artist to businessman, and how he ensures his projects succeed.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast154_MaxxBurman.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:52pm PDT

Summer 1993. Jurassic Park is about to be unleashed in theatres. Meanwhile, at the Rice School of Architecture in Houston, Texas, a young student named Chris Nichols is learning how to use AutoCAD, 3dstudio v2, and Wavefront. Overseeing Chris is Shisha van Horn, a paleontologist turned architecture student, then lecturer.

Chris and Shisha are reunited for this trip down memory lane. Shisha talks about how she set up the school’s first computer network, and cajoled Chris into creating 3dstudio online manuals using nothing more than notepad and HTML tags.

It’s a reminder of how much has changed. Most of Chris’ portfolio from the time now fits on a single SD card, but in 1993 it would have filled a hard drive. The arch viz industry didn’t exist. The department used a dye-sublimation printer which cost $6,300, Gopher and Mosaic were the only ways to look at web content, and Chris even built his own render farms so he could get his thesis done in time.

It’s also testament to the talent and energy Chris brought to the university, then the architecture and VFX industries, and now to Chaos Group. And it’s nice to hear from Shisha, who was an instrumental and influential part of Chris’ life and career.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast153_ShishaVanHorn.mp3
Category:Architecture -- posted at: 2:11pm PDT

Chaos Group has been involved in The Ningyo for about four years now, and it’s finally come to fruition. The ambitious 27-minute film tells the story of Professor Marlowe, an Indiana Jones-esque cryptozoologist, as he hunts for the titular aquatic creature from Japanese folklore.

In this podcast, director Miguel Ortega tells Lon and Chris about the trials and tribulations of making his movie. He and partner Tran Ma came up with the story, funded it on Kickstarter, turned their house into a film set, and learned VFX software as they went along. He talks about how the clever and occasionally risky ways they cut costs, but produced something so good that it even surprised the crew who worked on it.

This is essential listening for behind the scenes geeks, and it shows how movie budgets can spiral out of control so quickly. Miguel also talks about the exciting future plans for The Ningyo, and his career. One to watch.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast152_MiguelOrtega.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 7:10pm PDT

For this THU double bill, Chris is joined by friends old and new.

In the first part, he chats with VFX artist turned arch viz expert Keely Colcleugh, and CG Architect founder Jeff Mottle — both of whom have previously featured on podcasts. They’re perfect examples of how this year's THU festival embraced architectural professionals and the crucial knowledge they can bring to concept art and character design.

Using films like Minority Report and Blade Runner as examples, they talk about how movies can blend architectural design and futurism to provide evocative backdrops for their characters. They also ponder the importance of IP in architectural visualization images.

User experience (UX) design doesn’t sound like something that would be tied to architectural visualization. But in the second part of this podcast, a discussion with designer Jessica Rudzewicz highlights many parallels.

In essence, UX design is about hiding technical aspects in a way which is aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand — which is quite a lot like architecture. But Jessica also talks about systems without a visual interface, like Siri or Alexa, or bridging the virtual and physical worlds on the HTC Vive. It’s interesting to hear how much hard work goes into making something as unnoticeable as possible.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast151_THU2017_04.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00pm PDT

In this podcast, Chris talks to Corey Harper and Ramy Hanna, the co-founders of Tiltpixel. This Houston-based arch viz company has gone from two people working from home, to a thriving office filled with the latest kit - and lots of LEGOs.

Corey also serves as the 2017 president of the American Society of Architectural Illustrators (ASAI), a role which will be filled in 2018 by Chaos Group CCO Lon Grohs. Corey talks about the history of the society, its Architecture in Perspective event, and this year’s unusual winner of the prestigious Hugh Ferriss Memorial Prize.

The duo also discuss how they balance client expectations with artistic freedom, death-defying flights around Houston with crazy helicopter pilots, and using cutting-edge tech such as drones, 8K 360-degree cameras and green screens to create VR experiences.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast150_Tiltpixel_01.mp3
Category:Archviz -- posted at: 5:30pm PDT

For this podcast, Chris is joined by a quartet of artists, directors and filmmakers at THU festival in Portugal.

The first is Manny “MANu” Carrasco. This sweet and humble artist started out in traditional animation, before going 3D for the Turok video games, and then moving into concept art for movies such as Anastasia, Prince of Egypt and Space Jam.

Throughout his career, Manny has always found solace in nature, and he’s turned a love of animals into a new venture: Expedition Art. This NGO invites artists from the visual effects and gaming industries to contribute works to help protect endangered species around the world.

One of Expedition Art’s panel members is David Levy, who joins Chris in part two, alongside director Ruari Robinson and concept artist/filmmaker Ryan Woodward. Each has experience of making short films, from Ruari’s high-concept Leviathan pitch, to David’s award-winning short Plug, to Ryan’s beautiful animated passion project Thought of You.

David talks about taking a step back from the industry and spending time with his family in North Carolina, Ruari discusses the intense hard work which went into Leviathan and Ryan goes behind the scenes on how he created 20,000 drawings for his short.

This is an essential listen if you want to hear about the extraordinary pressure the entertainment industry can put on artists, as well as the coping methods they employ to get through tough times.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast149_THU2017_03.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 7:18pm PDT

Some 20 years ago, Chris graduated with a master’s in architecture from Rice University in Houston, Texas. His thesis advisor and dean at the time was Lars Lerup, himself an esteemed architectural professor, author, artist, and designer.

For this podcast, Chris and Lars are reunited in the hallowed halls of Rice School of Architecture. As someone who’s seen architecture and its students completely change over the last few decades, dean emeritus Lerup knows what he’s talking about. Lars discusses the immeasurable impact of the human race on the planet, and the how it’s now the responsibility of architects to think on a global scale.

At the same time, he argues that there’s a dearth of imagination and risk taking in the industry, which isn’t helped by stark cultural, generational and financial divisions. Which begs the question: why isn’t architecture more fun? Together, Chris and Lars tackle this question in a conversation which takes in teaching methods, Lars’ new book The Continuous City, and the role of 3D software in real and imagined spaces.

Lars is bursting with knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject, and by the end you’ll realize that the people involved in architecture make it an interesting, innovative and fun medium.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast148_LarsLerup.mp3
Category:Architecture -- posted at: 7:02pm PDT

Here’s another pair of podcasts Chris recorded at this year’s THU festival in Portugal.

Kevin the Dane:
The first podcast features Kevin Gøhler, better known as Kevin the Dane to V-Ray fans thanks to the tutorials and reviews on his popular YouTube channel. He also works as technical director at architectural visualization company Dimension Design ApS, and he’s currently designing his own VR video game.

Pedro Fernandes, Arqui9:
Like Kevin, Pedro currently works in arch viz, as founder and creative director of the renowned Arqui9 visualization. He returned from the UK to his native Portugal especially for THU.

Both recordings are testament to the power of THU in bringing like-minded and talented artists together. Among other things, Kevin talks about how to build the brand of a YouTube channel, while Pedro dives into the deep end of the theory behind architectural visualization.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast147_KevinGoehler_PedroFernandes.mp3
Category:Archviz -- posted at: 7:33pm PDT

We’re only just starting to tap into the power of VR for collaboration in architecture — but there are many, many hurdles along the way. For instance: How do you get everyone into the same shared space? How do you represent attendees? How do you point things out within this virtual space? And how do you get tech-phobic participants to embrace the medium without getting scared or frustrated?

Entrepreneur, strategist, inventor — and former Ninja Turtle — John San Giovanni’s company Visual Vocal is revolutionizing this meeting space by making things as simple as possible. Download the app and it syncs with others via clever audio fingerprint tech. Pop your phone into a Homido Mini VR headset and you can look around with other people, and even point out issues. It makes VR meetings as easy as entering an internet chatroom.

In this enjoyable podcast, John helps Lon and Chris grok with Visual Vocal’s concept. And it gazes into the crystal ball of the future of VR, AR and XR, drawing on the video game Myst, “productive hallucinations,” Lon’s hatred of QR codes, and the fascinating Never Built NYC and LA projects.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast146_JohnSanGiovanni.mp3
Category:VR -- posted at: 6:46pm PDT

Chris recorded a lot of podcasts at THU — and this episode treats you to not one, but two 25-minute recordings.

In the first, Chris chats with celebrated CG portrait artist Ian Spriggs, and digital anatomy expert Scott Eaton. They discuss the history of portraits, and how the fundamental idea of representing humans hasn’t really changed from cave paintings, to paintings, to photographs, and now the world of CG. And they talk about the tech which has got us here, from early days of editing vertices in C, to the seamless artistry made possible with packages such as ZBrush and Mudbox.

Chris’s talk with Steven Wang and Phil Liu nicely complements the first part. Steven now works as a concept artist a Microsoft’s The Coalition game studios, but his prior role was alongside Ian Spriggs at Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios — Steven even posed for a portrait for Ian. Phil, meanwhile, serves as world artist at Monolith Productions. They discover a shared history in product design, and talk about how ArtStation, Instagram and Facebook have given artists invaluable exposure — but made the industry more competitive than ever.

They’re both engaging discussions, and Chris does a great job of packing important questions into a short amount of time.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast145_IanSpriggs_ScottEaton_StevenWang_PhilLiu.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:52am PDT

Presentations are a surprisingly big challenge in the architecture community. It’s easy to wow clients with stills and videos, but if they want changes architects and arch viz studios have to re-render shots and animations.

Barcelona-based company CL3VER has created a clever solution to this issue - a browser-based system which can render realistic 3D models. In this podcast, Chris talks to CL3VER’s creative director Nimrod Friedman, and marketing manager Carlie Pratt.

Despite its simple premise and intuitive, Apple-like controls, Nimrod reveals the huge amount of behind-the-scenes work on a system which reproduces masses of geometry on limited hardware and software. He talks about how it can handle global illumination, ray tracing and reflections, its VR applications, and how they’ve built a cloud-based backend from scratch.

Chris’s enthusiasm and curiosity for the potential applications of CL3VER makes this an animated and interesting discussion.

https://www.cl3ver.com/

http://www3.cl3ver.com/l/212992/2017-10-10/2428q

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast144_NimrodFriedman_CarliePratt.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:45pm PDT

THU has become a staple for digital artists, and now the festival is increasingly welcoming members of the arch viz community. Syria-born Mahmoud Alkawadri has attended the event twice now – and he’s a poster child for the transformative effects of THU.

In this podcast with Chris, recorded at THU, Mahmoud discusses his experience in VFX and exhibitions in Syria and Germany, his current role as a freelance arch viz artist, and his plans to return to VFX and filmmaking. Along the way, he talks about setting up his own business, the importance of managing your time, and architecture in Dubai.

It’s a deep and insightful conversation about how films and architecture can influence and share ideas with one another.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast143_MahmoudAlkawadri.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 7:24pm PDT

Visualization company ArcMedia has just reached its 15th birthday. To celebrate, Founder and Managing Director Brett Fisher and Creative Director Ben Bancroft joined Chris for a few beers at the D2 conference in Vienna.

Naturally, Chaos Group’s acquisition of Render Legion and Corona comes up, but Brett and Ben highlight an unexpected benefit of the move. They also talk about ArcMedia’s beginnings in visual effects, and its subsequent switch to arch viz, interiors and even luxury yacht renders.

It’s a laid-back, freewheeling conversation which nonetheless highlights some important points about working with clients, getting repeat business, and how Phoenix is changing the way they work.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast142_ArchMedia.mp3
Category:Archviz -- posted at: 7:19pm PDT

Paul Nicholls is a third of the team behind Factory Fifteen, a London-based directing collective and arch viz and production studio. From a background in architecture, Paul has made a name for himself in creating ambitious short and feature-length films, music videos and VR experiences.

In this podcast, recorded at the D2 Conference in Vienna, Paul talks about how Factory Fifteen was formed, the numerous awards it's won for its groundbreaking projects, and how he uses Tiltbrush to sketch in virtual reality without any aches and pains. He also poses some pertinent technical and business questions about what Chaos Group’s acquisition of Render Legion’s Corona will mean for users.

Paul finishes with a few hints as to the exciting design-driven direction Factory Fifteen will take in the future.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast141_PaulNicholls.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:47pm PDT

Johnny Gibson has created ballistic missile detection software, worked on stealth bombers, and covertly filmed on the Russia/China border. These might sound like missions assigned to a secret agent, but Johnny’s actually a VFX artist and supervisor, and in this podcast he discusses his incredible career with Chris.

Having worked on over 30 feature films, including Fight Club, Transformers and three X-Men movies, Johnny has a unique insight into the effects industry. He talks about what a technical director does, why the best people aren’t necessarily on the biggest movies, and how rotoscoping is a great fundamental skill to have.

It’s a gripping episode, full of amusing anecdotes, and revelations of when Johnny and Chris’s career paths met.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast140_JohnnyGibson.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 6:04pm PDT

The d2 Conference has grown from a humble meeting of 85 people to an indispensable event for arch viz studios and artists around the world. This year’s event was of particular significance; the industry’s leading lights celebrated Chaos Group’s acquisition of Render Legion and Corona Renderer.

In this short but sweet podcast, Chris talks to Fabio Palvelli and Jason Bergeron, the Italian and American brains behind this influential Viennese convention. They talk about the inspiration which lead to the conference, the joy of helping artists make connections and pursue careers, and how they’ve seen arch viz evolve and branch out into other mediums.

We’ll see you in Vienna next year!

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast139_D2Conference.mp3
Category:Archviz -- posted at: 9:40am PDT

Originally from South Africa, Darren Hendler has worked on movies such as The Grinch, I Robot, and Maleficent. At the same time he’s become a key figure in the research and development of virtual humans at Digital Domain.

Darren has a lot in common with the similarly digital human obsessed Chris, and this podcast poses many questions around digital humans, such as why is it easier to make an old Brad Pitt, but harder to make a young Jeff Bridges? What are the ethics of reanimating deceased actors, or manipulating news footage? And, how can deep learning help us create more believable digital humans?

It’s fascinating to hear experts in the field pick each other’s brains about this cutting-edge tech. It’s also, as Darren puts it, “a huge amount of fun.”

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast138_DarrenHendler.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 10:11pm PDT

Chaos Group promised a big announcement at the D2 Conference in Vienna. Not only did they not disappoint, but they took the world by surprise. On Friday, August 25, they announced that Chaos Group has acquired Render Legion, the makers of the Corona renderer. Corona has become extremely popular in recent years, especially in the Architecture and ArchViz community. Just after the announcement, Chris sat down with Ondrej and Vlado, the respective brains that started Corona and V-Ray.

We cover how this acquisition was not a choice made in haste and that it took over a year to happen. We also learn that Ondrej has great respect for Vlado which is why Render Legion approached Chaos Group first when they wanted to find a way to grow their company. At the same time, you’ll hear Vlado's big respect for Ondrej and that their goal is to keep each renderer developed separately, as they have a different general philosophy.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast137_Ondrej_and_Vlado.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 3:17pm PDT

One of the biggest and most well-received surprises at this year’s SIGGRAPH was Epic Games’ announcement that it’s added V-Ray rendering to Unreal Engine. In this podcast, recorded at the conference, Chris sits down with Epic’s Marc Petit and Ken Pimentel to discuss what this meeting of minds means.

They talk about how the Unreal Engine has gone from a solid platform for game development to a multipurpose tool for photorealistic architecture and visual effects, as well as AI and autonomous vehicles. They also discuss how Chaos Group and Epic Games have similar, customer-focused business models, and how they’re working together to help everyone create amazing imagery.

It’s a tantalizing peek into a future where the boundaries between realtime and ray-traced are becoming increasingly blurred.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast136_MarcPetit_KenPimentel.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:09pm PDT

Recorded live at V-Ray Days @ SIGGRAPH 2017, this podcast unites host Chris with previous guests, and Wikihuman members, Mike Seymour (FXGuide) and Jay Busch (Google). If you attended SIGGRAPH, you’ll know that the virtual representation of Mike - aka Meet Mike - was a star of the convention, and this podcast delves into the trials and tribulations of his creation.

Along the way, the team talks about the immense amount of research and design which has gone into this avatar, such as Lightstage facial scanning, Disney Research's on eyeballs in Zurich, and the motion capture tech. They also talk about the future of Digital Mike in the Wikihuman project, and how tech such as deep learning and muscle simulations could help him evolve further.

It’s an engrossing discussion and one which highlights the passion the project has stirred in the guests, their colleagues, and the CG industry — even between competing companies.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast135_JayBusch_MikeSeymour.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 12:00pm PDT

The worlds of videogames and VFX are colliding. Realtime rendering is changing the way movies are made, while blockbuster games borrow techniques and tech from Hollywood. No one knows this landscape better than Naughty Dog’s Josh Scherr, who’s worked his way from animator on PS2 flagship Jak and Daxter to co-writer of the epic Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

In this podcast, Josh gives Chris a comprehensive guide to gaming. He goes from its humble origins in the basements and arcades of the 1980s, through Hollywood's ill-fated attempts to piggyback the industry, to today’s ubiquitous, multifaceted gaming culture — and its superstars and controversies.

Hardcore gamers will get a kick from Josh's deconstruction of the design process, while VFX fans will find out how Naughty Dog creates cinematic visuals on limited hardware.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast134_JoshScherr.mp3
Category:Games -- posted at: 6:45pm PDT

Established in London in 1990, visual effects and post-production company the Mill has grown with offices in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, with over 200 employees in the later. Among those who made the jump to the LA office are  Head of 2D/Creative Director Chris Knight, and Executive Creative Director Phil Crowe.

As becomes apparent in this podcast, neither has lost their accent — or their cheeky British sense of humour. The BFFs talk about their first meeting at the prestigious Ravensbourne College in the mid-90s, then delve into the early days of VFX, when crazy characters at The Mill taught them how to use Flame and Henry. Chris and Phil come across as passionate and knowledgeable professionals who are as well-versed in episodes of Columbo as they are in visual effects tools.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast133_ChrisKnightPhilCrowe.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 12:02am PDT

Rendering is dead. Long live rendering. As computers become faster and more powerful, and 3D software becomes easier to use, rendering could be about to change dramatically. And it may even cease to exist as we know it today.

In this podcast, Chris gazes into his crystal ball with Chaos Group’s CCO Lon Grohs and Communications Director David Tracy. It’s an animated discussion which raises some important questions about the mass adoption of 3D creative technology. Will we see a proliferation of deeply terrible CG? Or will artists be able to realize their visions more easily?

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast132_TheEndOfRendering.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 5:04pm PDT

Multitalented VFX artist Alex Nice’s career began in the very early days of 3D Studio on a 386 computer — complete with vigorous turbo button action. After a rebellious phase as an amateur tattoo artist, he settled into a role as a 3D generalist at Sway Studio via a stint in courtroom animations.

Alex recently served as art director for innovative effects studio Magnopus, alongside previous podcast guests Sally Slade and Ben Grossmann. He’s also worked on matte paintings for movies such as 2012, Hugo, Elysium, Pacific Rim and a tantalizing upcoming sci-fi project.

He recently joined the Art Director's guild doing concept art and tells Chris how astounding it is to see his concept art come to life as a million-dollar film set, how VR has dramatically changed the way he works with directors, and they discuss future of the VFX industry in Hollywood and beyond.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast131_AlexNice.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 5:07pm PDT

Like Chris, Marientina Gotsis spent her childhood in Greece, growing up on a very limited TV diet of imported American shows and old movies. And, like Chris, Marientina has a strong interest in virtual reality, and how computer-generated experiences can help us experience the real world.

Coming from an artistic background, Marientina worked on the University of Illinois’ CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) in the mid-90s, a 3D-projected space which could simulate environments, and served as a precursor to modern VR. As tech got smaller and smarter, Marientina created a game-based experience to help people understand cognitive development, and used VR to treat ADHD and physical therapy

Marientina is a fascinating interviewee who has a sound theoretical understanding of VR and gaming, and how they can be used as real-world therapies. It’s an engaging discussion which covers everything from depictions of genocide in videogames, to the sky in different cities, to the perfect movie for 3D.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast130_MarientinaGotsis.mp3
Category:VR -- posted at: 4:33pm PDT

For visual effects supervisor Jay Barton, a chance to work on the Fate of the Furious was a dream come true. As well as having over 18 years experience in visual effects, he’s a car fanatic who knows high-performance autos inside-out — literally.

Fresh from a visit to China, where DD’s presence is increasing, Jay chatted to Chris about his career trajectory, from creating animated videos of environmental catastrophes to win over juries, to big budget commercials and feature films at Digital Domain. Jay shares stories about his ad work for Bacardi, Pontiac and Audi, and VFX in Rock of Ages, 47 Ronin and the physically-based stunts in Fate of the Furious.

Jay’s a charming, charismatic guest who talks candidly about the fake-it-til-you-make-it nature of the early days of VFX.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast129_JayBarton.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 7:29am PDT

The Immersive Reality in Architecture conference, which took place in Venice earlier this month, focuses on the application of VR and AR in the world of visualization and design. This panel discussion, led by CGarchitect’s Jeff Mottle, tackles the pros and cons of these emergent technologies.

CG Labs’ Chris Nichols, and Chaos Group’s CCO Lon Grohs are among the guests, as well as Patricio Navarro (ArX Solutions), Luciana Carvalho Se (Realities Centre London), Dan Harper (Cityscape), Christiaan Klaassen (DBOX) and Scott DeWoody (Gensler). It’s a  candid chat about the ways architects use VR, the practicalities of programing experiences, and how consumers and companies such as Apple are shaping the future of the medium.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast128_IM-ARCH.mp3
Category:VR -- posted at: 8:51am PDT

Multiple Oscar winner, modern musical and box office smash La La Land has divided audiences. Is it a shameless and unsubtle Happy Meal of nostalgia? Or does it use cinema, musicals and popular culture as a launchpad to tell a human story of growth and transformation?

In this podcast, Chris and film buff Dan Thron (aka the Martini Giant) talk about the film’s successes and failings. In doing so, they discuss a range of other movies, from classic musicals Singin’ in the Rain and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, to modern classics Pulp Fiction, LA Confidential, Brokeback Mountain and Inception. It’s a fascinating discussion which examines our relationship with the past, and one which potentially reaches the same conclusions as La La Land.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast127_DanielThron_Lalaland.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 8:59pm PDT

The untimely passing of revolutionary architect Zaha Hadid last year has left a big hole in the world of architecture. Filling it is Patrik Schumacher, now a principal at Zaha Hadid Architects, and one of the world’s most respected architects in his own right. In this deep dive into the theory and practice of architecture, Patrik talks about how architects preempted computer aided design in the 1980s, and how philosophy, nature, and mathematics are integral parts of the medium.

As the author of the manifesto of parametricism, Patrik examines the dogmas and taboos of this architectural movement, and how it embraces computer algorithms. He also discusses how he designs places based around how people congregate in them, and how VR and particle physics are instructing new ways of creating architecture.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast126_PatrikSchumacher.mp3
Category:Architecture -- posted at: 8:24pm PDT

If you’ve seen Chaos Group’s showreel, you’ll be familiar with Unit Image’s work. The Parisian visual effects studio has created entertaining and witty commercials for Peugeot, Cartier, and Canal Plus. As it was founded by gamers, it’s also produced gritty trailers for AAA titles such as The Crew, The Division, and For Honor.

Fresh from their presentation at FMX, Unit Image’s slightly hungover Johanne Beaupied (Business Development and Production Management) and Dorian Marchesin (CG Supervisor) join Chris for this engaging podcast. Johanne’s background lies in games, from playing Doom at age six to working at Ubisoft, which has given her a unique perspective on the industry. Dorian, meanwhile, studied engineering but became drawn in to the world of 3ds Max. His love of cars - and V-Ray - meant that working on some of Unit Image’s productions has been a dream come true.

Johanne and Dorian talk to Chris about how they get lose themselves in game universes both professionally and in their spare time, Unit Image’s Scan Engine tech, and the French film industry.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast125_UnitImage.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 3:20pm PDT

Chris’s input into this year’s THU digital arts festival has resulted in a focus on architecture. As prep, he invited prospective speakers Keely Colcleugh and Fredy Castellanos, from creative visualization studio Kilograph, to the podcast studio.

Founder and CEO Keely dropped out of the prestigious Rice University to work with renowned architect Rem Koolhaas, and her multidisciplinary career has covered design (For Bruce Mau) and VFX (For PLF). Fredy, meanwhile, left his native Colombia to work for Vyonyx in London, and now serves as Kilograph’s art director.

It’s an energetic podcast which covers everything from Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry’s influence on the teaching of architecture, to virtual reality and videogames. Chris and Keely share some great anecdotes, too, including telegrams from universities, “The Liquids” spouting mathematical nonsense, and the role of wheelbarrows in arch viz movies.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast124_Kilograph.mp3
Category:Archviz -- posted at: 9:24pm PDT

An early start in stop motion 8mm film making propelled Aaron Sims on a career trajectory through Hollywood. He assisted with the gooey practical effects for cult 80s movies such as “From Beyond,” “Evil Dead 2,” and “Gremlins 2.” The sleazy, show-stealing worms for “Men in Black,” were created by Aaron, and he applied his knowledge of prosthetics and puppetry to the CGI robots in Steven Spielberg’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.”

Now Aaron heads up Aaron Sims Creative, a concept art and VFX company which has designed creatures and locations for movies such as “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Logan,” and “Wonder Woman.” In this entertaining podcast, Aaron talks about creating the terrifying Demogorgon for Netflix series “Stranger Things,” choosing between practical effects and CGI, and the importance of always moving forwards.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast123_AaronSims.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 3:18pm PDT

The FMX digital arts festival in Stuttgart, Germany, forms a bustling backdrop for this live podcast. Host Chris is joined by Chaos Group’s co-founder and CEO Vladimir “Vlado” Koylazov, and Dabarti’s Tomasz Wyszolmirski, whose feedback has been instrumental in the development of V-Ray GPU.

Vlado talks about how GPU computing has evolved, and reveals V-Ray’s new game-changing hybrid GPU/CPU features. Then questions come thick and fast from an audience hungry for free V-Ray t-shirts. The subjects Vlado and Tomasz cover include adaptive lights, compatibility for Psyops’ Cryptomatte, fur and memory limitations, cloud computing, and how game engines are influencing the development of V-Ray. 

As with all live our live podcasts, this is a particularly engaging and enjoyable listen. If you haven’t already, now’s a great time to subscribe to the podcast, and check out previous recordings.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast122_Tomasz_and_Vlado.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 5:25pm PDT

Sweden’s long, harsh winters compelled Johan Thorngren to pursue creative endeavours, and after a stint in advertising he accepted an enviable position with ILM in San Francisco.

As a generalist, Johan’s job is to pick up VFX shots which don’t fit into the typical pipeline. His workload has increased from a handful of shots on movies such as Star Wars: Episode III, to thousands for Avengers: Age of Ultron.

In this podcast, Johan talks about changes he’s seen in the visual effects industry over the past decade, creating the almost full-CG Leipzig airport battle for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the wide range of software ILM has at its disposal to create stunning VFX shots. Chris and Johan also discuss the popular press’s opinion on CGI in movies, and invisible effects.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast121_JohanThorngren.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 4:17pm PDT

Architect Thom Mayne should need no introduction — but here’s a potted history for the uninitiated. A graduate of the University of Southern California and Harvard, Thom co-founded Morphosis Architects in 1972. This experimental studio rejected contemporary ideas of architecture, instead using metal and concrete to create angular buildings which reflect their purpose and surroundings.

Despite his importance in revolutionizing the form, Thom modestly admits that no architect ever quite feels like they’ve mastered it. He talks about how Nietzsche, Darwin and Freud changed architecture in the early 20th century, and how computers and 3D printing have changed it in the 21st. He also goes into how unique architecture is as an art form and medium, especially in the way it’s taught and learned. By the end of this absorbing podcast you’ll be as passionate about architecture as Thom is.

Morphosis [https://www.morphosis.com/]
How architecture can connect us: Thom Mayne’s Ted Talk [https://www.ted.com/talks/thom_mayne_on_architecture_as_connection]

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast120_ThomMayne.mp3
Category:Architecture -- posted at: 1:21pm PDT

Technical artist, designer and Nick Offerman lookalike Dave Carlson is Chris’ guest for this week’s podcast. Dave spent his youth perfecting his skills with airbrushes and Amigas, before a demo on an SGI supercomputer, and a fascination with “Babylon 5’s” VFX, lit a fire on a career in visual effects.

Dave has worked on music videos, commercials and feature films, joining Chris at Digital Domain for “TRON: Legacy” and “Oblivion.” Now, Dave serves as a CGI generalist, creates mobile games, and he’s currently investigating the worlds of AR and VR. It’s a thoroughly entertaining podcast which alternates between laugh-out-loud hilarious, and heartbreakingly poignant.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast119_DaveCarlson.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 9:15am PDT

Kurt Akeley is the genius behind the world’s second ever laser printer, SGI supercomputers, and the OpenGL 3D graphics software specification. Now, Kurt has turned his enviable talent to light field photography as CTO of Lytro.

Light fields are on the verge of becoming the next big thing, with applications in everything from visual effects, to VR, to astrophotography. It’s a complicated subject which involves both the physics of light and the biological mechanics of your eyeballs—but this podcast serves as a great explainer.

Kurt’s boundless enthusiasm for light fields evident throughout. He’s a fascinating interviewee full of pearls of wisdom, such as why it’s incredibly dangerous to look at your phone while you’re driving, and the importance of over and under engineering in life or death scenarios.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast118_KurtAkeley.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 9:07pm PDT

In this podcast, Chris talks to Erik Altman and O’Brien Chalmers, CEO and president of Steelblue, along with Mike Brown. This ambitious San Francisco-based arch viz firm has proved itself a master of just about every visualization medium available, including photography, realtime renders, virtual reality and 3D printing.

They explain how these different techniques essentially do the same thing: tell a story. They talk about how they have to fill in the gaps left by architects and developers, and their work on San Francisco’s The Pacific apartment block, and its iconic Ferry Building. It’s an engrossing discussion about a medium which has inadvertently driven CGI tech forwards.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast117_SteelBlue.mp3
Category:Archviz -- posted at: 4:46pm PDT

Polymath Rudy Rucker is the author of some 40 books, including a many science-fiction novels, and he’s a computer scientist, a painter, and a mathematician. In the 1980s his novels dealt with issues of identity and reality in an age increasingly dominated by computers, and helped found the cyberpunk movement.

Rudy is also a relative of podcast host Chris. As well as blood ties they have a lot in common: a love of computing, of storytelling, and careers which have sat on the cutting edge of future tech. It’s interesting to hear the differences and similarities between Chris and Rudy’s generations, such as Rudy’s thoughts on artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and quantum computing. He’s full of handy tips for writers, including the virtues of self-publishing, and how to get over that fear of the blank page.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast116_RudyRucker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25am PDT

Iconic monster with a heart of gold Kong is back on the big screens in “Kong: Skull Island”—and this time he’s bigger than ever. For this podcast, Chris managed to tempt Jeff White, the movie’s visual effects supervisor, away from wrangling enormous creatures and into talking about how exactly his team brought Kong to life.

Jeff goes into great detail about the elements which sell the character to the audience: those expressive eyes, the matted fur, and even its pungent aroma. Jeff also talks about Kong’s gargantuan co-stars, including the elegant Sker Buffalo, and the formidable Skull Crushers. It’s a comprehensive guide to the character-based techniques and software ILM has perfected through movies such as “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “The Revenant,” and “WarCraft: The Beginning.”

Jeff White at IMDb [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1578635/]
Jeff White at ILM [http://www.ilm.com/people/jeff-white/]
Kong: Skull Island Official Site [http://kongskullislandmovie.com/]

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast115_JeffWhite.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 10:30am PDT

Eric Durst’s career path has gone hand-in-hand with the evolution of visual effects from the early 80s to the present day. This CalArts animation graduate’s first job was in commercials in New York, which proved to be a hotbed of early visual effects techniques. He moved to Los Angeles, where he animated the disc battle for landmark 1982 movie “Tron,” and became a key employee at Dream Quest, one of the very first visual effects houses.

In this thought-provoking interview, Eric talks about the pain and pleasure of the early days of visual effects, through to his supervision work on “Spider-Man 2,” “Snowpiercer,” and “Gods of Egypt.” If you’ve ever wondered why some effects shots use green screens and some use blue, Eric has your answer, and he discusses how vain actors can create a lot of headaches for visual effects artists.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast114_EricDurst.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 5:08pm PDT

Trojan Horse was a Unicorn - aka THU - isn’t like other digital arts gatherings. Rather than taking over a crowded convention center, it takes place in a luscious beach resort in Portugal. Headline speakers, or “Knights,” aren’t treated like VIPs, but instead mingle with crowds. And the emphasis for guests is on personal growth and development, as opposed to being wowed by technology or targeted by marketers.

One of the people behind this revolutionary festival is André Luís, and in this podcast he offers a peek behind the scenes at THU. He talks about his struggle to keep a globally-renowned festival small and intimate, and how it’s in competition with online information sources. Chris - who’s been Knighted for THU 2017 - also discusses how the festival and the architecture community could benefit immensely from one another.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast113_AndreLuis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52pm PDT

Chris Wells has worked on some of the biggest films of the past 20 years, including “300,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Although Chris wanted to be a park ranger, he was drawn to computing in the most 80s way possible: a nerd friend, Sigue Sigue Sputnik albums, and software pirated via BBS and five-and-a-quarter floppies. A chance encounter with SGI machines, and a love for early CGI videos on TV show “Night Flight,” gave Chris the impetus to follow his dreams.

In this podcast, Chris offers some amazing insight into the best practices for working on movies. He explains why it’s best to talk directors and producers out of relying on CGI, and how crucial it is to thoroughly prepare for post-production when you’re in the pre-production phase. He finishes with an exclusive behind-the-scenes discussion of his upcoming movie “Vague City.”

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast112_ChrisWells.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 3:33pm PDT

This candid, illuminating podcast is two hours of pure heaven for anyone interested in the history of special and visual effects. Michael Fink’s career began almost 40 years ago, when he created the computers for nuclear thriller “The China Syndrome.” Over the next few years, he’d sit in a darkened room with a tesla coil for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” raid components store Apex Electronics to build “Blade Runner’s” Voight-Kampff machine, and sync multiple projectors, monitors and cameras for “WarGames.”

In the digital era, Mike talks about how “Batman Returns’” effects are an underappreciated milestone in the history of CG, tight post-production periods on the first two “X-Men” movies, and the trials and tribulations of “The Golden Compass’” effects.

Mike currently serves as a professor at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where he’s passing on his years of experience to a new generation of filmmakers. His thoughts on digital humans are an invaluable end to an interview with a true legend of the visual effects industry.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast111-MikeFink.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:02pm PDT

CG Labs is very proud of Vladimir “Vlado” Koylazov’s recent Scientific and Technical Academy Award win. In fact, Chaos Group’s co-founder had barely stepped off the red carpet when Chris and Lon wrangled him into the CG Garage recording studio for this special podcast.

As well as talking about the sci-tech awards, Vlado goes into detail about what to expect from Chaos Group’s latest 3.5 update to its flagship V-Ray for 3ds Max software. He talks about how adaptive lights can accelerate render times, the unexpected benefits of resumable rendering, and interactive VR output from within V-Ray. V-Ray for NUKE’s imminent 3.5 update is also covered, including its new and improved volume grid, deep rendering, and denoiser. Finally, Vlado talks about the future of Chaos Group and the exciting roadmap for V-Ray products in 2017.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast110_Vlado.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 9:07pm PDT

Visual effects artist and supervisor Daniel Trbovic hails from former Yugoslavia, where he learned 3D Studio on a 386 computer in the early 90s. He then ventured to Portugal, where he created a surprisingly long-lived lotto jingle, restored old movies about Lisbon, and added noxious gasses to sci-fi movie “Low Flying Aircraft.”

In the United States Daniel spent time at Real FX in Dallas, did two long tours at Blur, and spent time at ILM where he worked on “Lucy,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and “Terminator Genisys” He also took a year out to record an album. In his new role as founder and creative director of Gone Coyote VR, he’s investigating how VR can deliver experiences rather than stories. Daniel’s enthusiasm and knowledge is astounding, and his thoughts on VR tie in neatly with those of Kevin Mack, with their passion for Art and VR.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast109_DanielTrbovic.mp3
Category:VR -- posted at: 8:01pm PDT

“Plug” neatly combines sweeping cinematic visuals with an intriguing tale of identity in a post-apocalyptic future, and it’s one of the best short films you’ll ever see. With over 600,000 views on the internet and a host of awards, it’s proof that shorts can be every bit as good as their feature-length brethren.

The man behind “Plug” is concept artist and director David Levy, who joined Chris for this absorbing podcast. David talks about everything from his early days as a beach bum in the south of France, to working in horrendous conditions in the French and British games industries, to his cinematic debut on Joseph Kosinski’s Tron: Legacy. He also discusses his work on "Prometheus" and "Ender's Game" and explains just how much hard work goes into short films.

David Levy’s official site [http://vyle-art.com/]
“Plug” on Vimeo [https://vimeo.com/109873939]

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast108_DavidLevy.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:36am PDT

Steven Lisberger’s 1982 movie Tron was way ahead of its time. As the first film to have major CG set replacement and full CG shots, it paved the way for the likes of “Jurassic Park,” “Toy Story,” “Avatar,” and many more. Its story investigated ideas of cyberspace and simulated worlds a long time before the internet and virtual reality became part of popular culture.

One of the men behind “Tron” was its computer effects supervisor Richard Taylor. Aptly, Chris joined Richard for a drink at the real-world location which served as Flynn’s bar in “Tron” before recording this illuminating podcast.

Richard is a fascinating character with a sly sense of humor and a vast catalog of stories from the early days of CGI in Hollywood. He tells Chris about how a piece of stationery proved to be key to his career, arguments with “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry about the practicality of the Starship Enterprise’s doors, and utterly baffling the Academy with “Tron’s” CG effects.

The podcast finishes with Richard talking about Eymerce, a headset free immersive reality system which sounds well suited to some “Tron”-like experiences.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast107_RichardTaylor.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 9:31pm PDT

Kevin Mack’s skill lies in applying scientific theory to three dimensional art and visual effects. He shared an Oscar for his VFX in “What Dreams May Come,” used computer algorithms to create the neural pathways of Edward Norton’s brain in “Fight Club,” and, more recently, 3D printed seemingly impossible organic forms. Now, Kevin’s mashing science and art in virtual reality with two titles:  “Zenspace” for Samsung’s Gear VR, and “Blortasia” for HTC’s Vive from his new company Space Space VR

In his second podcast with Chris, Kevin talks the creation of his VR experiences, and how he’s been helped by the indie games industry. He also gives his thoughts on how virtual reality fits in with games and films: VR, he argues, is a medium which engages our senses of space, presence, and our vestibular system, and conventional storytelling or gaming mechanics can distract from compelling VR worlds. It’s a deep and engaging listen which raises some important and even existential questions.

ShapeSpaceVR, Kevin’s company [http://www.shapespacevr.com/]

“Blortasia” on Steam [http://store.steampowered.com/app/497450/]

“Zen Parade” on Oculus Store [https://www.oculus.com/experiences/gear-vr/442303342561096/]

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast106_KevinMack.mp3
Category:VR -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

Inspired by effects magazine Cinefex and repeated viewings of “Star Wars,” Dutch compositor and environments artist Justin van der Lek used professional breakdancing to fund a degree in graphic design. Then he jetted to LA to follow his dreams.

As Justin discusses with Chris, his first role was in the mysterious world of integration, which receives a comprehensive explanation. As his career progressed, he discovered an affinity for NUKE, using it to develop a facial projection rig for Jet Li’s face in “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.” From here, he went on to create groundbreaking environments for “Real Steel” and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," as well as compositing on "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies" and much more.

This is an essential listen if you want to know more about the technical aspects of compositing, and how it’s shifted from a 2D to a 3D tool. But, more than this, the podcast tells Justin’s story, which wraps ups nicely with his “Star Wars” fandom and breakdancing skills both coming into play.

Justin van der Lek on IMDb
Justin van der Lek’s 2011 showreel

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast105_JustinvanderLek.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 4:05pm PDT

Chris’ guest for this episode is Ed Ulbrich, President and General Manager, Deluxe VFX and VR. He’s Digital Domain’s former CCO and CEO, and when the effects company faced financial difficulties a few years ago, Ed did a heroic job of reassuring staff and providing transparent answers to difficult questions.

Ed also spearheaded the VFX industry’s experiments with digital head replacements. Back in 1999 he helped transplant James Brown’s digital visage onto a younger dancer for Seattle’s Experience Music Project back in 1999. He led the team which reanimated Orville Redenbacher for the unintentionally creepy commercial, then perfected the tech with a digitally-aged Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and the late Tupac Shakur’s CG headline performance at Coachella in 2012.

Ed talks about his new role at Deluxe, which is arguably the biggest effects company in LA. He also discusses his role as VFX producer on “Suicide Squad,” and the potential of virtual reality in movie making

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast104_EdUlbrich.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 5:19pm PDT

Chris’s guest for this ridiculously entertaining episode is Erick Schiele. Erick and Chris worked together at architectural studio Gensler, and then followed similar career paths into visual effects, with Erick working on “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” “Stealth,” and “Iron Man 2.”

Erick has an incredible array of stories from the worlds of visual effects and the music industry. He tells Chris how he almost incinerated Stephen Stills, chatted to Eric Clapton at a laundromat, and rearranged the Eagles’ Glenn Frey’s Internet Explorer bookmarks—for three days.

There’s some sound advice for creatives here, too, including how to avoid creative burnouts—and how not to make short films. There’s also a surreal but gruesome explanation of what it’s like to have cataract surgery under local anesthetic.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast103_ErickSchiele.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:55am PDT

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