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.

Digital humans are playing an increasingly important role in our day-to-day lives. CG replicas of people dominate entertainment, from epic movies such as The Irishman to simple YouTube videos. Interacting with AI assistants has become second nature. And social media and news headlines are dominated by the issues surrounding deepfakes.

Joining Chris for this week’s podcast is Koki Nagano, who has become an expert in virtual doppelgangers via his research on digital humans at USC and his work at Pinscreen, a company that uses AI to supercharge the creation of 3D personal avatars from a single photo. Koki gets under the skin (literally) of what it takes to create a detailed digital human and talks about how he’s approached the uncanny valley from both sides. 

Listen to find out some incredible facts about your face — and how combining old and new technology could result in the most accurate digital humans to date.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast265_KokiNagano.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 12:16pm PST

Want to learn how to do 3D in motion graphics? EJ Hassenfratz is your man. After landing on his feet in motion graphics for NBC, PBS and ABC, EJ wound up giving a presentation for Cinema 4D company Maxon, which inspired him to learn more about the software and start creating tutorials. Today, EJ works as a freelance motion designer while crafting courses for the renowned online learning platform, School of Motion.

In this podcast, EJ gives a frank and funny insight into the world of education. He highlights some of the pitfalls of learning for free via YouTube tutorials or graduating with massive debt from college. He presents some dependable advice about taking on challenges and investing in yourself, as well as a nostalgic view of the rapid evolution of technology, animation, education and computer graphics.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast264_EJHassenfratz.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 5:24pm PST

"Deepfake" videos have become hugely popular online — for better or worse. This AI-powered technology results in hilarious celebrity head swaps but, as Jordan Peele demonstrated with his manipulation of Barack Obama's speech, they could play a more disturbing role in online misinformation. Computer vision scientist Wael AbdAlmageed's mission is to develop tools that can quickly detect deepfakes with a good degree of accuracy.

As digital human experts, both Chris and Wael took part in a SAG-AFTRA panel at CES and recorded this podcast afterwards. Wael explains some of the telltale signs that you’re watching a deepfake video and the approaches computer algorithms use to detect them. He also tackles digital de-aging in movies such as The Irishman and the ethics of facial manipulation. This is a fascinating look at a fight against a technology that is improving day by day.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast263_Wael_AbdAlmageed.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:46am PST

Originally, Olcun Tan wanted to be a car designer — but seeing Jurassic Park ignited a passion for VFX. Today, he runs Gradient Effects, a global studio that has provided effects for Game of Thrones, Watchmen and Stranger Things. Olcun’s career has been defined by finding his own solutions to problems — whether it’s creating procedural effects in Maya, using forbidden programming languages at animation studios or setting up his own businesses.

Olcun also breaks down some of the innovative work he’s done on a variety of projects, such as crumbling statues in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and crashing helicopters in Black Hawk Down, to more recent projects, including digitally de-aging John Goodman for TV series The Righteous Gemstones with his own Shapeshifter software. You’ll find out his role in digitally slimming Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant, as well as tips for starting and locating your own business.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast262_OlcunTan.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 11:21am PST

It’s been five years since VR director Justin Denton last joined Chris on the CG Garage Podcast, and in that time he has truly pushed the boundaries of the medium. He’s produced jaw-dropping tie-in experiences for Ghost in the Shell, Mr. Robot and Legion. And he’s indulged his passion for Dickens’ A Christmas Carol via Chained: A Victorian Nightmare, which uses techniques from games and immersive theater to deliver a unique, personalized experience.

Justin is an authority on how the VR industry has shifted and settled, and its uses as a tool and a medium. Meanwhile, in his new role as Staff Director at Blur Studio, he’s taking VR techniques into filmmaking with his exhilarating PUBG trailer. He also details his contribution to DD and Time Magazine’s project, The March, which takes participants into a VR recreation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic rally.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast261_JustinDenton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32am PST

This week’s podcast is something a little different — the first-ever CG Garage podcast “takeover.” Helming the mic are three talented, funny and smart employees of cutting edge experience studio, Magnopus. Between them, Sally Slade, Kat Harris and Emily Van Belleghem have sent Hololenses to the International Space Station, filed patents, started non-profit organizations and pioneered software development.

Over two and a half hours the trio (plus moderator Chris, and Bella, the dog) discuss the incredible projects they’ve worked on in the past and dream ideas for the future, the enormous benefits of having a diverse team, Hollywood attitudes to minorities and on-screen hacking — and lots more. Listen to find out why we need more male voice assistants, the dangers of mansplaining to pro devs — and how to help Mark Zuckerburg stir dragon vomit live on stage.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast260_MagnopusTakeOver.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:15am PST

Andrea Blasich’s love of sculpting began on the beaches of southern Italy and it’s taken him all the way to Hollywood, where his talents have been put to use on movies including Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Brave and Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. In this podcast, recorded at THU, he explains why time-honored techniques are still relevant in digital pipelines.

Andrea sheds light on his working process, which involves using clay in combination with 3D scanners and 3D printers to create and modify his work. He offers his thoughts on ZBrush and VR sculpting tools, talks about his experiences working on games such as The Witness and BioShock 2, and details the complexities of sculpting lips, kilts — and Mickey Mouse.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast259_AndreaBlasich.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 11:36am PST

Much has changed in the three years since director Tim Miller recorded a the 100th episode of the CG Garage podcast. After the runaway success of Deadpool, he returned to the big screen with Terminator: Dark Fate. At the same time, his Heavy Metal-inspired anthology series Love, Death & Robots busted boundaries via Netflix.

In this podcast, he reveals the pressure of directing the $200-million-budget Terminator: Dark Fate, the storytelling and technical decisions behind that beach scene — and why he wound up hugging two audience members. In contrast, he talks about creative freedom and collaboration he enjoyed for Love, Death & Robots and offers some sneak peeks for season 2.

Regular listeners will be pleased to hear that Hollywood stardom hasn’t gone to Tim’s head, and this podcast offers a truly fascinating insight into the movie industry.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast258_TimMiller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55am PST

1