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.

Softly-spoken VFX supervisor Bill Spradlin currently works at Zoic Studios on TV shows such as Arrow, Iron Fist, and Legends of Tomorrow, and his previous credits include Oblivion (with Chris), Transformers, and Iron Man 3.

In this podcast, he talks about how his childhood fascination with Star Trek helped him choose his career path, as well as his early ventures in computing and MMOs. He highlights the many differences between working in TV and film, how both are seeping into gaming and VR, and what it’s like to work with industry personalities such as Joe Kosinski, Eric Barba, and Jeff Baksinski.

It evolves into a deeper discussion of the relevance of working in VFX today, and why the industry is about so much more than getting your name in the credits of a big movie. An essential listen if you’re considering a career in VFX.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast185_BillSpradlin.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 7:25pm PDT

On the verge of his 50th birthday, Chris’s former colleague Ken Ibrahim looks back at an incredible career in which his childhood dreams came spectacularly true.

Ken’s interest in visual effects began at the age of nine, when he and his brother were inspired by Star Wars and Star Trek to create Super 8 films, complete with hand-drawn visual effects. He was introduced to computers at high school, and shortly afterwards he made the leap to Japan where he ended up as a programmer – and occasional voice artist – at SEGA.

Then Ken returned to the US to work at companies such as PDI, Cinesite, Square and Digital Domain on movies like Shrek, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, X-Men 2 and 2012. He landed in nerd heaven, and met some of the universe’s heroes, when he joined JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot studio, to work on the franchises which inspired his career.

Ken’s an entertaining podcast guest, and he and Chris discuss everything from digital humans to Isomorphic web design. You’ll also find out how he enjoys free beer, ball games and concerts in San Francisco.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast180_KenIbrahim.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 9:46pm PDT

Steve Blakey has been in visual effects since 1989, beginning with animated logos and commercials in New York, and then moving to Los Angeles to work on movies. He and Chris first met at Digital Domain, where they worked on disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow.

Recorded over a bottle of whisky, this podcast covers everything from the megabucks contracts digital artists could command in the early days of CG, to the beginning and end of Digital Domain’s infamous Martini Nights, to the rapid evolution of CG software features starting with grouped objects in Wavefront.

Chris and Steve offer some important words of wisdom to young people working in the field, and Steve sets up an intriguing story involving DD co-founder Scott Ross. Hopefully we’ll hear more on this in coming episodes...

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast173_SteveBlakey.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:57pm 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

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

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

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

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

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

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