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.

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

Kevin Mack’s skill lies in applying scientific theory to three dimensional art and visual effects. He shared an Oscar for his VFX in “What Dreams May Come,” used computer algorithms to create the neural pathways of Edward Norton’s brain in “Fight Club,” and, more recently, 3D printed seemingly impossible organic forms. Now, Kevin’s mashing science and art in virtual reality with two titles:  “Zenspace” for Samsung’s Gear VR, and “Blortasia” for HTC’s Vive from his new company Space Space VR

In his second podcast with Chris, Kevin talks the creation of his VR experiences, and how he’s been helped by the indie games industry. He also gives his thoughts on how virtual reality fits in with games and films: VR, he argues, is a medium which engages our senses of space, presence, and our vestibular system, and conventional storytelling or gaming mechanics can distract from compelling VR worlds. It’s a deep and engaging listen which raises some important and even existential questions.

ShapeSpaceVR, Kevin’s company [http://www.shapespacevr.com/]

“Blortasia” on Steam [http://store.steampowered.com/app/497450/]

“Zen Parade” on Oculus Store [https://www.oculus.com/experiences/gear-vr/442303342561096/]

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast106_KevinMack.mp3
Category:VR -- posted at: 10:45am 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

Chris’s guest for this ridiculously entertaining episode is Erick Schiele. Erick and Chris worked together at architectural studio Gensler, and then followed similar career paths into visual effects, with Erick working on “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” “Stealth,” and “Iron Man 2.”

Erick has an incredible array of stories from the worlds of visual effects and the music industry. He tells Chris how he almost incinerated Stephen Stills, chatted to Eric Clapton at a laundromat, and rearranged the Eagles’ Glenn Frey’s Internet Explorer bookmarks—for three days.

There’s some sound advice for creatives here, too, including how to avoid creative burnouts—and how not to make short films. There’s also a surreal but gruesome explanation of what it’s like to have cataract surgery under local anesthetic.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast103_ErickSchiele.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:55am PDT

We first spoke to Craig Shimahara for Podcast #26, way back in June 2015. Since then, his film Masterless has debuted in Japan, and his architectural visualization practice Shimahara Illustration has gone from strength to strength.

On his second visit to the Chaos recording suite, Craig talks about all things VR. A lot of questions come up: Where are we in Gartner’s “hype cycle” of VR? How do VR experiences deal with scale? Is VR accessible to old, or short, or tall people? And how can we use it to tell stories?

Chaos Group's CCO Lon Grohs adds his thoughts to this engaging listen, which highlights some of the frustrations of a medium which is still finding its feet.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast102_CraigShimahara.mp3
Category:Archviz -- posted at: 6:53pm PDT

Ever since the T-Rex stomped onto the screen in 1993, audiences have been captivated by “Jurassic Park.” Steven Spielberg’s film heralded a new era of family-oriented event movies, and Chris has already discussed the film’s groundbreaking effects with Matt Winston and Steve “Spaz” Williams and Mark Dippe.
In this podcast, Dan and Chris thoroughly eviscerate the franchise in velociraptor-like fashion. They examine the good and bad of each film, from “Jurassic Park’s” fresh take on ageing tropes, to “The Lost World’s” incredible set pieces, to “Jurassic Park III’s” competent adventure, and “Jurassic World’s” attempt to re-engineer the story and themes for a modern audience.
In doing so, they cover the way the MPAA has shaped movie making, the joys of musicals, and the dearth of creativity in franchise films. And there’s a hilarious moment where you can literally hear Chris’ jaw drop at the mention of Brett Ratner’s name.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast101_DanielThron_JurassicPark.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 5:07pm PDT

Since November 2, 2014, Chris Nichols has interviewed 99 people for the CG Garage Podcast. Legendary photography Norman Seeff, architectural pioneer Art Gensler and director Wes Ball are among some of the big name guests who’ve graced the Chaos Group recording suite. But it’s also served as a platform to discuss the deeper and more esoteric nature of just about anything CG related, as well as Chaos Group’s new products.

For this extra special live episode, Chris’ guests are two of the hottest directors in Hollywood right now: Tim Miller (“Deadpool”) and Joseph Kosinski (“TRON: Legacy,” “Oblivion”). Both come from backgrounds in CGI and VFX, and they offer indispensable insights on how Hollywood works.

Tim talks about the casualties of Blur Studio’s Nerf battles, why he’s not involved in “Deadpool 2,” and the tantalizing animated sci-fi project he’s working on next. In his podcast debut, Joe tells us about his rise from architectural imagery to cutting-edge blockbusters, and “Granite Mountain,” his forthcoming feature film.

You should tune in whether it’s your first or your hundredth listen. And here’s to another 100 podcasts!

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast100_TimMiller_JoeKosinski.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:02pm PDT

Art Gensler’s name will be familiar to architects and designers, but if you haven’t heard of him, here’s a rundown. In 1965, Art founded M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, which is now the world’s biggest architecture firm in terms of revenue. It creates everything from wine bottle labels to the biggest buildings in the world. Chances are you’ve set foot in a Gensler-designed space at some point in your life, be it a Gap store or the Shanghai Tower.

Despite the enormous success of his company, Art comes across as humble and amiable in this interview with Chris. This genial nature extends to the whole company—it was years ahead of Apple and Google in valuing its employees, and providing nice surroundings where they could be creative and productive. As well as talking about his company, Art also tells Chris about how he played a round of golf with Arnold Palmer, and his book on the principles which have made Gensler so successful.

Gensler’s official site [http://www.gensler.com/]
Art’s Principles on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Arts-Principles-hard-learned-world-class-professional/dp/0986106909/]

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast99_ArtGensler.mp3
Category:Architecture -- posted at: 5:55pm PDT

David Lee Strasberg is the son of Lee Strasberg, the acting coach who introduced the method theory of acting to Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Marlon Brando. David has followed in his father’s footsteps, serving as an acting coach and actor in his own right.

But why was he at this year’s THU festival in Portugal, and why did Chris record this podcast with him? It turns out that digital and 3D art has a lot in common with acting: it’s all about faking things. And they’re both about embracing passion, and changing your approach to art so you get it right.

Strasberg’s knowledge of all things theatrical has a lot of relevance to digital humans, too—especially when it comes to avoiding a trip down the uncanny valley. It’s a blindsider of a podcast, and David’s thoughts on how we recognize and interact with fellow humans are literally mind-blowing.

The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute [http://www.methodactingstrasberg.com/]

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast98_DavidLeeStrasberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:32pm PDT