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.

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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

Over almost 25 years, Phil Miller has helped bring products such as 3ds Max, Combustion, Dreamweaver, and NVIDIA’s commercial rendering solutions to market — and dabbled in his own software and his original vocation of architecture. Now, Phil has brought his wealth of experience and knowledge to Chaos Group where he serves as vice president of product management.

This podcast is a treasure trove of long-lost computing terms like Pentium processors, MS-DOS and ISDN lines. Phil gives a potted history of the ups and downs of technology, including the ingenious method he used to give plotted architectural illustrations a hand-drawn look, the success of his books on 3D Studio and 3ds Max, and how Chaos Group shook up the rendering industry with V-Ray RT.

Phil is always a few years ahead of his time, and the podcast concludes with his thoughts on the future of CG, real-time rendering via Project Lavina and why speed increases are only part of the battle.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast205_PhilMiller.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 12:36pm PST

Artificial intelligence has gone from sci-fi subject matter to part of our day-to-day lives via assistant services such as Apple’s Siri and machine learning which helps 3D artists create better work more quickly. But is this merely another technological leap forwards, like photography or computer-aided design, or a genuine threat to lives and livelihoods?

That’s the question Chris posed to an expert panel at this year’s THU festival. Among his guests were Daimler futurologists Sabine Engelhardt and Alexander Mankowsky, CG supervisor-turned-Google technical director Jeff Kember, anatomy specialist Scott Eaton and Lenovo’s head of media and entertainment Rob Hoffmann.

This entertaining, informative and occasionally heated debate tackles everything from the intricacies of neural networks and image learning, to the science and psychology of scents, and the way Netflix and Hulu stats help create entertainment precisely calibrated for certain audiences.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast204_THU2018_AI.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 4:09pm PST

Virginie Bourdin’s astonishing career whisked her from a small town in France to art director on blockbusters including X-Men: Days of Future Past, Harry Potter movies, and the upcoming Captain Marvel. In this podcast, recorded at the THU festival, Virginie explains how she’s become one of the most sought-after art directors in the VFX industry.

Virginie talks about her work on the otherworldly villains of Wrath of the Titans and Edge of Tomorrow, how she uses mood boards and the importance of keeping everything loose and fluid. She goes into detail on her French origins and the reasons behind its supercritical national stereotypes.

Virginie is a tour de force, and you'll come away from this podcast with lots of inspiration on how to generate great ideas.

Direct download: Podcast_VirginieBourdin_01_mixdown.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 11:14am PST

Few people have seen the rise of VFX like Kelly Port and Matt Butler. Over the course of 25 years, they’ve risen from digital artists to VFX supervisors at effects powerhouse Digital Domain. The watershed moment for both was their work on Titanic, and they discuss the million-dollar computers used to generate the 2TB of effects in the film.

Of course, software and hardware have moved on a great deal since Jack and Rose's perilous adventure. Kelly talks about the groundbreaking technology and performance capture which made Avengers: Infinity War’s CG supervillain Thanos a reality, and Matt discusses his input on Ender’s Game and Ready Player One. They also muse about what makes Digital Domain a great place to work and their tactics for avoiding conflict and nurturing talent.

Kelly and Matt have great chemistry with one another and Chris, and you’ll hear about their experiences of working with actors Dan Stevens and Josh Brolin, and directors Steven Spielberg and Gavin Hood. Plus, there’s a bonus pearl of wisdom from none other than Ron Howard.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast202_MatthewButler_KellyPort_DD.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 10:47am PST