Hosted by Christopher Nichols, the CG Garage podcast is part of the Chaos Group Labs. We talk to our friends, find out what they are doing, talk about what we are doing, and generally look at all things that interest us including CGI, VFX, Design, Rendering, Raytracing, and any other CG Nerdy stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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