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.

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Syndication

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

Trojan Horse was a Unicorn - aka THU - isn’t like other digital arts gatherings. Rather than taking over a crowded convention center, it takes place in a luscious beach resort in Portugal. Headline speakers, or “Knights,” aren’t treated like VIPs, but instead mingle with crowds. And the emphasis for guests is on personal growth and development, as opposed to being wowed by technology or targeted by marketers.

One of the people behind this revolutionary festival is André Luís, and in this podcast he offers a peek behind the scenes at THU. He talks about his struggle to keep a globally-renowned festival small and intimate, and how it’s in competition with online information sources. Chris - who’s been Knighted for THU 2017 - also discusses how the festival and the architecture community could benefit immensely from one another.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast113_AndreLuis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52pm 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

CG Labs is very proud of Vladimir “Vlado” Koylazov’s recent Scientific and Technical Academy Award win. In fact, Chaos Group’s co-founder had barely stepped off the red carpet when Chris and Lon wrangled him into the CG Garage recording studio for this special podcast.

As well as talking about the sci-tech awards, Vlado goes into detail about what to expect from Chaos Group’s latest 3.5 update to its flagship V-Ray for 3ds Max software. He talks about how adaptive lights can accelerate render times, the unexpected benefits of resumable rendering, and interactive VR output from within V-Ray. V-Ray for NUKE’s imminent 3.5 update is also covered, including its new and improved volume grid, deep rendering, and denoiser. Finally, Vlado talks about the future of Chaos Group and the exciting roadmap for V-Ray products in 2017.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast110_Vlado.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 9:07pm PDT

Visual effects artist and supervisor Daniel Trbovic hails from former Yugoslavia, where he learned 3D Studio on a 386 computer in the early 90s. He then ventured to Portugal, where he created a surprisingly long-lived lotto jingle, restored old movies about Lisbon, and added noxious gasses to sci-fi movie “Low Flying Aircraft.”

In the United States Daniel spent time at Real FX in Dallas, did two long tours at Blur, and spent time at ILM where he worked on “Lucy,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and “Terminator Genisys” He also took a year out to record an album. In his new role as founder and creative director of Gone Coyote VR, he’s investigating how VR can deliver experiences rather than stories. Daniel’s enthusiasm and knowledge is astounding, and his thoughts on VR tie in neatly with those of Kevin Mack, with their passion for Art and VR.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast109_DanielTrbovic.mp3
Category:VR -- posted at: 8:01pm PDT

“Plug” neatly combines sweeping cinematic visuals with an intriguing tale of identity in a post-apocalyptic future, and it’s one of the best short films you’ll ever see. With over 600,000 views on the internet and a host of awards, it’s proof that shorts can be every bit as good as their feature-length brethren.

The man behind “Plug” is concept artist and director David Levy, who joined Chris for this absorbing podcast. David talks about everything from his early days as a beach bum in the south of France, to working in horrendous conditions in the French and British games industries, to his cinematic debut on Joseph Kosinski’s Tron: Legacy. He also discusses his work on "Prometheus" and "Ender's Game" and explains just how much hard work goes into short films.

David Levy’s official site [http://vyle-art.com/]
“Plug” on Vimeo [https://vimeo.com/109873939]

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast108_DavidLevy.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:36am 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

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