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.

Afonso Salcedo had just stepped off the plane at LAX when Chris wrestled him into the CG Garage booth to record this podcast. Afonso’s arrival in Los Angeles is another giant leap in a daring transatlantic career which has taken him from the graveyard shift on the VFX of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to working with one of the world’s biggest movie stars.

In this podcast, Afonso tells his inspirational story, which takes in his education and early experiences working for Framestore in London, his experiences at Pixar on Ratatouille and Cars 2, and at Dreamworks for Rise of the Guardians and Madagascar 3. He also talks about his freelance work as a photographer, creative director and producer for premium online learning platform MasterClass.

As Afonso prepares to start work on Frozen 2 at Walt Disney Animation Studios he reflects on his approach to taking risks and learning from rejection, as well as the techniques and tricks he’s picked up from masters in the field.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast221_AfonsoSalcedo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:23am PDT

Since the mid-90s, Greg Lynn has pioneered the use of technology in architecture. When the rest of the industry was using formZ, Greg was experimenting with non-architectural software such as Alias and Maya, using nurbs and fluid sims to create radically different, organic designs. He’s seen masters of the set square become mouse-and-keyboard amateurs and happy accidents become established techniques.

Now, Greg is turning his computer-aided expertise to robotics via Gita, an autonomous robotic companion which can follow its owner on foot journeys and transport up to 45 pounds of shopping or burritos. Greg tells Chris and Lon about the process of designing this lovable bot and ensuring it can track individuals through complex urban environments.

This must-listen podcast also takes in many other facets of the architecture and design industries, including how its business model could be improved and made less resource-intensive, and the role new technology such as Hololens is playing in designs of the future.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast220_GregLynn.mp3
Category:Architecture -- posted at: 11:32am PDT

Through his globe-trotting career, softly-spoken Cris Blyth has helped give the world Worms, flashed James Cameron and jumpstarted Kenya’s visual effects industry. In this frequently hilarious podcast, he tells Chris his fascinating story.

After spending his childhood programming Commodore computers, and a surprisingly fruitful excursion to the Philippines, Cris worked on then-cutting-edge FMV sequences for games such as Alien Breed: Tower Assault and Worms at developer Team 17. He joined Digital Domain as a VFX artist, turning car engines into dogs for the famous Pennzoil ad, and then moved up to become a fully fledged director of commercials and music videos. He also contributed effects to movies including We Were Soldiers, Adaptation and Daredevil.

Cris’s next move was to Africa, to create documentaries on charity work and, in an unconventional sidestep, he’s remained there since. He talks about how Nairobi, Kenya is on the verge of a computing revolution, why the country’s restrictions have created amazing athletes and e-athletes, and the ways in which he’s bringing his Hollywood skills to a new generation of Kenyans.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast219_CrisBlyth.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 10:53am PDT

This week, Chris goes behind the scenes at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects. Founded in 1997, this Hollywood-based establishment has grown to a thriving and crucial part of the effects industry, with over 400 students picking up the skills which will land them hot jobs on games and movies.

In this podcast, Chris is joined by Eric Miller, the school’s Chief Technology Officer. His job is to ensure Gnomon is always ahead of industry trends in both hardware and software, managing a vast array of technology and 135 different software packages. Eric also talks about some of the teaching methods Gnomon employs to get students ready for the tough world of visual effects or games, and he offers some great advice on how to prepare for a course at Gnomon.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast218_EricMiller.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:12am PDT

As a child, Andy Wilkoff spent his childhood pulling technology apart and reading comic books — and he’s been lucky enough to follow these obsessions into his career. He picked up his first VFX gigs on the TV series Star Trek: Voyager and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, then worked at Digital Domain on commercials and movies including X-Men; I, Robot; The Day After Tomorrow and Stealth. Now, Andy works as CG Lead and Technical Director at creative visual effects studio A52 in Santa Monica, California.

In this epic G&T-fuelled podcast, Andy talks Chris through his professional career in visual effects, and how it’s been affected by the twists and turns of his personal life. Andy is full of sound industry advice, and you’ll find out why he hung from the side of buildings in New York, the reason he was accosted in a Costco parking lot — and how “the smelly room” got its name. He also talks about his passion for 3D printing and the businesses it’s inspired.

The film and visual effects industries are often characterized by dramatic clashes of enormous egos, but this podcast reveals a tender and more caring side of the silver screen.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast217_AndyWilkoff.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 11:10am PDT

The Animatrix, Liquid Television, Ren & Stimpy - there have always been blips of mature content on the animation spectrum, but never anything like Love, Death & Robots. This new anthology kicks open the doors for adult storytelling in the medium, taking Tim Miller and David Fincher’s unique influences, and letting over 14 studios run wild through topics like racism, war, free will and human nature, as they collectively produced 18 jaw-dropping shorts.

This week, series’ VFX supervisor Jerome “Jed” Denjean stops by the podcast to talk about his own history, as well as explain how this project came together, from Tim’s initial ideas to how Blur brought in competing studios to join in on the fun. As the discussion continues, they get into bigger topics like what Love, Death & Robots means for the entertainment industry as a whole, why we could be moving away from longer-form storytelling and into bite-size chunks, and the chances of a second season.

Love, Death and Robots is streaming now.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast216_JeromeDenjean.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 10:16pm PDT

Film and art have fascinated Loic Zimmermann from a young age: he drew all the time and built rocket ship sets in his back garden during his childhood in rural France. His fascination drew him towards studying CG at university, then onto work for innovative game studio Quantic Dream, and his clever method of getting the perfect tattoo won him a job at Luma Pictures in Los Angeles.

As well as working on visual effects for Marvel movies and many more, Loic has directed fascinating documentaries on modern art masters William Wray (Gamma Wray) and Jeremy Mann (A Solitary Mann). He tells Chris how he gets under the skin of these characters without getting in their way, geeks out about video cameras, and gives a little insight into his upcoming documentary Larry.

It’s a fascinating podcast which dives deep into the way artists and filmmakers work, and reveals the numerous connections and passions Chris and Loic have in common.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast215_LoicZimmermann.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 11:48am PDT

Known as “eSports Mom” — or “CoD Mom” — Kim Meltzer, the CEO of KidKesty Productions, is an unsung heroine of the professional gaming industry. This competitive and lucrative business can whisk kids from their bedrooms to stadiums and make them millions in a short space of time, and in this podcast, Kim tells Chris how she reassures parents that their children are in safe hands — while helping upcoming pro gamers keep their lives and careers on track.

Chris and Kim both have kids who are into video games, and they also talk about some of the benefits of the medium, from building friendships in Fortnite, to just plain building in Minecraft, to the surprising benefits of Call of Duty's simulated war. Kim also highlights some of the ways the industry is likely to change in the future, including her role in advocating gaming scholarships, and latest phenomenon Apex Legends.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast214_KimMeltzer.mp3
Category:Games -- posted at: 10:47am PDT

Digital Giant is using new technology to make it easier and faster to create photorealistic digital content. Joining Chris this week are the company’s Operative Dallas Carroll and VFX Supervisor/Partner Felix Urquiza, who go in depth on the way the company has been set up, and how it’s doing things differently.

CG car work is notoriously finicky. The challenge of making vehicles look real — as well as keeping up with every detail of the car design — increases year on year. Digital Giant has taken years of experience and found new ways to keep their process accurate and efficient, combining both real-time technologies along with offline rendering and making sure everything is synced up.

It’s a fascinating discussion of an area of CG which is at the forefront of the industry, and one which is experiencing sweeping changes thanks to social media and new technology.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast213_DigitalGiant.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:15am PDT

Robh Ruppel has been on Chris’s most-wanted podcast guest list for a long time — and it’s not hard to see why. This talented designer, concept and visual development artist has a wealth of knowledge and experience, which makes this podcast utterly enthralling from start to finish.

Robh tells Chris about his adventurous career so far. From his early movie experience at effects shop Boss Film Studios to a sojourn to Wisconsin for Dungeons and Dragons; his tenure at Disney and his work at Uncharted games studio Naughty Dog; the roles he played on masterful comic-book movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and David Fincher and Tim Miller’s upcoming Love, Death, and Robot.

It’s Robh’s insight into the creative process that truly makes this podcast stand out. Referencing everyone from Sergei Eisenstein to Sergio Leone to Alfonso Cuaron, Robh delves into the technical and artistic choices which produce iconic cinematic imagery. He also talks about how big TVs and streaming services have changed the way entertainment is created and consumed and offers plenty of solid advice to up-and-coming artists.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast212_RobhRuppel.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 9:15am PDT

Andrew Maximov has a vision for how to change the gaming and CG industries from the ground up. His Promethean AI is a super-smart piece of software which allows designers, developers and artists to create and populate environments simply by asking for them via voice or text. It neatly cuts out the fiddly, time-consuming parts of the CG creative process, and allows users to get straight to the fun and interesting parts of decorating virtual sets.

In his chat with Chris, Andrew reveals how his work at Wargaming (World of Tanks) and Naughty Dog (Uncharted and Last of Us) led to the creation of Promethean AI. He and Chris also debate the creative industry's fears about AI's potential to replace jobs en masse, and Promethean AI’s potential applications in other areas such as e-commerce and storytelling.

Want to know more about Andrew and Promethean AI? Come to Total Chaos and see his presentation, as well as many more fascinating and inspiring talks.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast211_AndrewMaximov.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:40am PDT

This week, Chris is joined by the versatile talent of John Hewitt. As a child, John was addicted to sketching and drafting everything he saw on TV, and this drove him into automobile design. After helping out on Schwarzenegger movie Eraser, John moved into visual effects and his impressive IMDb page includes credits on Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Star Trek Beyond and Alice Through the Looking Glass.

John’s career has taken him from visual effects in post-production to the movie-planning stages in previz. He discusses the differences between the two: the time-consuming and intricate crafting of beautiful FX shots versus the fast and furious timelines of previz. He also talks about his infamous shader networks for movies such as I, Robot and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, as well as how great previz can help directors make confident decisions and the future of film production.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast210_JohnHewitt.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 11:05am PDT

From the age of two, Colin Aguiar has been fascinated by music. It’s an obsession which has paid off: over the past 20 years he’s scored numerous projects and worked with mentor Mychael Danna on films including Life of Pi. His talent caught the attention of Construct director Kevin Margo who called on his abilities to create an experimental score for his groundbreaking short film.

In this podcast, Colin joins Construct producer Chris Nichols for a chat about the process of creating its score, including some of the challenges of adding dubstep elements, creating themes for specific characters, and working from a temp score. The discussion opens up into a wider discussion of music in general where Colin reveals how he loves everything from North African to German experimental to US industrial styles, and talks about some of his all-time favorite composers.

Scores are an oft-overlooked part of cinema, and Colin gives a huge amount of insight into the most important elements of movie music.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast209_ColinAguiar.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 4:27pm PDT

When Kurt Lawson isn’t assembling effects for some of Hollywood’s biggest movies, he’s in backcountry California creating astonishing long-exposure shots of the natural landscape. In this engaging podcast, he tells Chris how teenage experiments in visual effects and Olympus cameras inspired his successful career and awe-inspiring hobby.

Kurt and Chris reminisce about working together at Digital Domain with director Joe Kosinski on a jaw-dropping effects shot for Oblivion, and Kurt talks about his more recent work on 300: Rise of an Empire and The Spy Who Dumped Me. He also discusses the current state of the visual effects industry in Los Angeles and the work which goes into setting up his photography projects.

Listen to find out how certain VFX artists are presented with pineapples, why rocks in Death Valley seem to have a life of their own, and some of the tricks compositors use to make the audience believe CG is real.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast208_KurtLawson.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 11:14am PDT

From a young age, Joe Farrell knew he was destined for a career in entertainment. After helping interview musical superstars, he ‘tweened for Disney and Warner Brothers animations, moved into commercials at their hedonistic peak, and then traveled to Vancouver and Los Angeles to work as a concept artist, VFX supervisor and compositor on films including Star Trek, The Wolf of Wall Street and Hereafter — the latter of which earned him an Academy Award nomination.

Today, Joe runs Tangerine Apps, an innovative studio which brings his experience into the worlds of AR and VR for experiences based on The Jungle Book, Los Angeles’ Olympic bid and an enticing upcoming opera project.

Joe is a fascinating podcast guest with some funny, insightful stories about the visual effects of Aeon Flux and I, Robot. He also reveals the more rewarding aspects of VR experiences and the advantages of being a small and agile company in Los Angeles.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast207_JoeFarrell.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 10:17am PDT

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast206_MattFairclough.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 10:29am PDT

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