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.

This week’s podcast guest, Scott Meadows, is the crown prince of previz. After graduating in architecture from Texas A&M University, Scott found his way into VFX as part of a two-man team working on the previz of Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II in 2002 — and he’s now Head of Visualization and Virtual Production at Digital Domain. 

In this fascinating interview, Scott shares tales and tips from previz on movies including The Chronicles of Narnia series, Tron: Legacy, Ender’s Game, Black Panther, Ready Player One and the upcoming West Side Story. He talks about how he works with directors such as Steven Spielberg and Joe Kosinski, what post-viz is, and how real-time is revolutionizing the way movies are made — via Xbox controllers and iPhones.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast298_ScottMeadows.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:13am PDT

If you’re a big Japan-fan, you’ll love this podcast. Joining Chris is Shuzo Shiota, CEO of Polygon Pictures, the long-lived and prolific Tokyo-based digital animation studio behind movies and TV series including Godzilla, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Transformers: Prime and Big Hero 6: The Series.

Shuzo and Chris discuss the impact of Japanese art on the west, from its breakthrough at a Parisian exposition in the 1800s, to movies such as Akira, Manga graphic novels and now Netflix’s vast array of anime titles. Shuzo also talks about Polygon Pictures’ origins, why it can be hard to create authentic anime in 3D, and the future of cinema, gaming and subscription-based services.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast297_ShuzoShiota.mp3
Category:animation -- posted at: 1:30pm PDT

Recently released on Netflix, The Babysitter: Killer Queen is director McG’s gory follow-up to his equally bloody 2017 comedy-horror, The Babysitter. Assisting with the blood, guts and mayhem this time is Crafty Apes, a rising studio that’s crafted effects for movies and TV series including Stranger Things, Thor: Ragnarok and Birds of Prey.

Joining Chris are Crafty Apes’ Executive VFX Producer Matt Akey and VFX Supervisor Aldo Ruggiero. As well as talking about working with McG on The Babysitter: Killer Queen’s invisible and very visible effects, they discuss where Crafty Apes fit into the overall scheme of effects houses, photogrammetry versus LIDAR, why they love working for streaming services and how they’re integrating virtual production into their future plans.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast296_CraftyApes.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:32am PDT

Want to be a more successful CG artist? In this podcast, returning guest Allan McKay shares crucial tips on how to market yourself, sell your products and boost your income. He takes down the myth of the starving artist, highlights the big mistakes people make on their showreels and even delves into the psychology of pricing strategies.

That's not all: Allan also predicts the VFX areas to focus on for future success, explains why struggling can be a good thing and talks about his recent CG work. Just like Allan's last podcast, this one is packed with great advice and essential tips for the VFX industry and beyond.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast295_AllanMcKay.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40am PDT

Maciej Kuciara has established himself as a go-to talent for awe-inspiring concept art. Originally hailing from Poland, Maciej quit university to create artwork for tabletop games, then landed jobs at video game developers People Can Fly (Painkiller), Crytek (Crysis) and Naughty Dog (The Last of Us), and then worked on movies including the Ghost in the Shell remake, Blade Runner 2049 and Terminator: Dark Fate.

Most recently, Maciej unleashed his short film “Showtime,” a painstakingly accurate homage to classic animes Akira and Ghost in the Shell. He tells Chris about his life behind the Iron Curtain, his love of role-playing games and anime, how working hard on major games and movies helped him bring his incredible vision to life — and his plans for its future.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast294_MaciejKuciara.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:52am PDT

Asuka Tohda-Kinney was inspired by Titanic to pursue a career in visual effects — and she now works for Digital Domain, the studio that helped bring James Cameron's blockbuster to life. Her first role at the company was on I, Robot, as an intern to Chris himself, and she went on to work on pipelines and lighting for movies, including Stealth, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Ender's Game.

Today, Asuka works in Digital Domain's dedicated digital humans department, where she's swapped heads for The Twilight Zone and TIME Magazine's Martin Luther King Jr. VR project, which even graced the magazine's cover. Asuka talks in detail about Japan's working culture, how DD helped her adjust to new languages, motherhood and lockdown — and how her coding prowess and creative skills help her solve problems.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast293_AsukaTohdaKinney.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:49am PDT

CGarchitect has established itself as a go-to website for the arch-viz community, giving talent a platform to share their work with recruiters and studios, as well as serving as a blog, forum and gallery. But, as CEO and Founder Jeff Mottle explains, now 19-year-old the site needed to move with the times and reinvent itself.

In this podcast, Jeff tells Chris about the super-powered new CGarchitect, which launched in May this year. Jeff reveals how he trained its smart AI to pick the best images among the thousands submitted without ignoring more abstract works. He also sheds light on how its new subscription, recruitment and content creation features work, his plans for the site's future and the data it’s collated, and managing the increasingly momentous CGarchitect awards.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast292_JeffMottle.mp3
Category:Archviz -- posted at: 9:04am PDT

Throughout his career, Jose Gomez has blended entrepreneurship with creativity. After founding and selling a skateboard clothing firm, he discovered a passion for motion graphics and animation. He then started his own creative production company, Shilo, then joined Reel FX to form ATK PLN, a company specialized in design, animation and live-action.

Jose presents some interesting points on the modern motion graphics and commercials industry. He reveals how the prevalence of software has made it easier to create great visuals but harder to stand out and how he sees commercials evolving alongside livestreamed media. There’s also a neat final-act twist as Jose and Chris work out where they’ve met before.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast291_JoseGomez.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:21am PDT

SHoP Architects has made a name for itself in its native New York via distinctive projects including Brooklyn’s Barclays Center — and now it’s expanding globally via Uber’s San Francisco HQ, US embassies in Honduras and Bangkok, and an innovation hub in Botswana. To create these buildings, SHoP has embraced technology and started its own in-house visualization team.

In this podcast, Visualization Director Mengyi Fan and Visualization Associate Samantha Anderson join Chris to talk about the various methods SHoP uses in the design and development processes, from videogame techniques to simple illustrations. They also discuss clever technology that allows them to oversee construction over thousands of miles or simultaneously experience VR spaces.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast290_MengyiFan_SamanthaAnderson.mp3
Category:Architecture -- posted at: 8:23am PDT

Released earlier this year, V-Ray 5 for 3ds Max and V-Ray 5 for Maya represent a new generation of Chaos Group software that does more than just render. In this podcast, Product Specialist Alex Yolov and Software Tester Peter Matanov reveal the research and development process that’s expanded the capabilities of V-Ray.

You’ll discover how V-Ray 5 integrates the retooled V-Ray Frame Buffer, Light Mix, Light Path Expressions and the ACESCG color space, and how they make artist workflows more efficient. Peter and Alex also discuss how user feedback, testing on real-world productions and input from Vlado himself helped create this innovative new version of V-Ray.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast289_AlexYolov_PeterMatanov.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 10:37am PDT

Aron Hjartarson originally dreamed of being a rockstar — but he became more fascinated with CG and 3D. After founding a studio in his native Iceland he created commercials for Visa and Coca-Cola, but his understanding of software propelled him on a career path that took in Italy, London, New York, Iceland (again) and now Los Angeles, where he works as Executive Creative Director at Framestore.

In this upbeat podcast, Aron delves into the history, culture and politics that have made Iceland a literal hotbed of creativity. He also talks about working on Gravity and Contraband, the difference the lockdown has made to where we work, and his positive philosophy for the future.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast288_AronHjartarson.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:22am PDT

In the near future, we may find ourselves talking to and interacting with digital humans as if they were real people. They’ll be there to help us find clothes that fit, or to act as virtual assistants — and they might even take our places during Zoom calls. The architect of this new age is likely to be Hao Li, the former director of the Institute of Creative Technology (ICT) research lead who founded Pinscreen to create seamless, instant CG avatars.

In this podcast, Hao talks about how lockdowns and social distancing have fast-forwarded digital humans’ evolution. He discusses the technology his company uses to capture and create CG likenesses, and their subsequent roles in video games, fashion and VFX. Hao also addresses some of the ethical concerns that surround digital humans.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast287_HaoLi.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 10:29am PDT

Over the past few years, Blender has gone from niche software to a significant part of the CG landscape. The free, open-source 3D package has shed its geeky image and steep learning curve in favor of an accessible interface and simple workflows. And for anyone who wants to learn Blender, Blender Guru’s YouTube tutorials are the perfect place to start.

Joining Chris for this week’s podcast is Andrew Price — AKA the guru of Blender Guru. He tells Chris how he went from debt collector to a key player in the CG industry, how he found his voice as a YouTuber, how he’s taught Blender to prisoners — and why it’s better to model a park bench than a spaceship. He also talks about Poliigon, the CG asset site he founded, and the future of Blender.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast286_AndrewPrice.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:24am PDT

With his latest Disney project on hold due to COVID-19, lighting artist Afonso Salcedo seized the opportunity to explore his other passion: Photography. Equipped with his trusty camera, he took to Los Angeles’ streets to capture their emptiness during lockdown then documented the surge of crowds for the BLM protests.

In his second CG Garage podcast, Afonso explains how these unusual circumstances have allowed him to explore the streets of Los Angeles — a city he’s still new to. He also talks about how animation and photography complement one another, how to take great shots in hostile environments, and the diversity of LA’s neighborhoods and nature.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast285_AfonsoSalcedo_returns.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:27am PDT

This week’s podcast features a truly legendary guest: Douglas Trumbull. Over the past 50 years, Douglas has pushed the boundaries of filmmaking via stunning effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and directed his own films including Silent Running and Brainstorm

Today, Douglas still works tirelessly to enhance the cinematic experience at home and in theaters. His intricate understanding of cameras and projectors led to the creation of the Showscan format which has now evolved into Magi, delivering high-framerate films without the soap-opera look. In this podcast, he gives exclusive insight into his experiences in the movie industry and explains his involvement in Ang Lee’s Gemini Man as well as Kevin Margo’s CONSTRUCT.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast284_DougTrumbull.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 8:58am PDT

Glenn Derry began his career in practical effects, creating advanced puppets for movies, including A.I. Artificial Intelligence. As CG took over filmmaking, he transferred his skills into visual effects via films such as The Aviator, Real Steel, The Jungle Book and Avatar — for which he coined the phrase “virtual production.”

In this discussion with Chris, Glenn talks about the rise of virtual production in filmmaking and his role in making it happen, as well as how real-time and rear-projection, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, have the potential to transform the movie-making process. He also talks about Technoprops, the company he set up to create bespoke motion-capture systems, and how he’s introducing a new generation of directors to old-school filmmaking techniques.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast282_GlennDerry.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 12:44pm PDT

Andy Lomas has always been fascinated with math and filmmaking. On graduating from Cambridge he founded a video production company, then worked on VFX for movies including The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. At the same time, he explored his passion for CG art, making use of render farms in their downtime.

In this podcast, Andy goes into detail on his artwork and how he uses technology, including deep learning and NVIDIA’s OptiX API, to create unruly but controllable plantlike and cellular forms. He talks about how he brings together influences from nature, physics and biology, as well as his work on Katana at The Foundry and his current lecturing post at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast281_AndyLomas.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:26am PDT

Matthew Bannister has been a key player in the evolution of arch-viz. Having founded arch-viz studio DBOX in New York in the mid-90s, he’s watched the medium grow into an industry unto itself, borrowing techniques from VFX — such as greenscreen, depth-of-field and helicopter shots — to create awe-inspiring work. 

But, as Matthew explains, the arch-viz business has become a victim of its own success, with social media accounts reposting artists’ work without giving credit. For this reason, Matthew has founded The Credit Revolution, a movement that seeks to remarry artists’ titles with the artwork they’ve poured their blood, sweat and tears into. Matthew also talks about how his musical project, The Beautiful Fear, has helped him tackle personal demons.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast280_MatthewBannister.mp3
Category:Archviz -- posted at: 8:28am PDT

Mike Wuetherick’s story begins in the world of videogames, where he created games as well as the engines and middleware that make them work. Today, Mike heads up the Tech, Media and Entertainment division at Unity Technologies, the company behind the ubiquitous game engine that is fast becoming part of the VFX, architecture and automotive pipelines.

In this podcast, Mike tells Chris how techniques and tools from filmmaking and gaming are merging via projects such as The Lion KingBlack Mirror: Bandersnatch and Oats Studios' two sequels to Unity's original Adam short film. Mike offers some fascinating insights into how we’ll experience entertainment in the future and where cloud computing, user-generated content and real-time rendering fit into the picture.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast279_MikeWuetherick.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:40am PDT

“When you start taking care of other people, amazing things happen,” says David Guthrie. And he’s right — after discovering the lack of PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic, he took matters into his own hands and founded a company to manufacture and distribute face masks, making use of contacts he’s made in app development and fashion design.

David also discusses how he teaches the fundamentals of design at Rice University and the University of Houston via projects involving cubes, mandolins and furniture, imposing constraints to investigate and understand form and function. He gives his thoughts on how modern architecture and technology don’t encourage socialization — as well as his hopes for the post-COVID future.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast278_DavidGuthrie.mp3
Category:Architecture -- posted at: 8:22am PDT

In 18 months, audiences will be transported back to Pandora for Avatar 2 — and Ben Procter is one of the people who’s preparing to take us there. This concept artist turned production designer gives insight into the sequel’s seven-year production journey, as well as some of the technology his team along with Lightstorm Entertainment and Weta Digital are using to create James Cameron’s sumptuous digital world.

Ben also tells Chris about his ascent through the visual effects industry, from his early days at previz pioneer Pixel Liberation Front to The Matrix sequels, Transformers, Tron: Legacy and Ender’s Game. He reveals the organized chaos of VFX and art departments, celebrating the characters and methods that can quickly turn around and tweak incredible work. He also gives insight into how virtual production marks a return to more traditional, in-camera filmmaking processes.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast277_BenProcter.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 9:18am PDT

Jim Lammers knows 3D like no other. Since 1994 his company, Trinity3D, has been vending 3D content and software (including V-Ray). At the same time his studio, Trinity Animation, has created content for technical and medical projects as well as visual effects for the movie Starship Troopers and backdrops for animated sitcom Archer.

In this podcast, Jim joins Chris and Lon to reminisce about SIGGRAPHs past and long-lost data storage media, as well as the shifts that have taken place in the 3D industry since the mid-90s — and how new technology is throwing up familiar problems. Jim also talks about how his team creates and delivers Archer’s painterly backdrops while giving the show’s designers creative control, the issues that make legal animations so challenging — and the inner workings of industrial flour-sifting machines.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast276_JimLammers.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 10:58am PDT

Over the past 20 years, Jody Madden has worked her way to the top of the visual effects career ladder. She began her career at Industrial Light & Magic and Lucasfilm in San Francisco, then moved to Los Angeles to work for Digital Domain. Today, Jody is CEO of Foundry, the London-based company behind essential VFX software Nuke, Modo, Katana, Mari and Modo. 

In this podcast, Jody discusses how interesting new approaches to working may come out of the COVID situation, as well as how her experience at Digital Domain and long-distance management of Foundry have prepared her for managing people through times of uncertainty. She also tells Chris about Foundry’s history as a Digital Domain off-shoot and how it’s preparing for a shift in the way media is produced and consumed.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast275_JodyMadden.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 7:39am PDT

Michael Golden’s winding career path has taken in philosophy and creative writing degrees, charter fishing in Alaska as well as work for celebrated New York arch-viz studio DBOX and a role as Head of 3D for timesaving worldbuilding asset company KitBash3d. Today, Michael runs arch-viz studio Three Marks while indulging his love for fantasy and sci-fi architecture and sculpture via his Droquis alter-ego.

Michael is full of sage-like wisdom on how to create great arch-viz. His more holistic approach to creating imagery makes it easy to get clients on board with projects while maintaining creative control. He also discusses why a bad photorealistic image is worse than no image, reveals the subtle details that breathe life into renders — and explains what we can all learn from Japanese comic books.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast274_MikeGolden.mp3
Category:Archviz -- posted at: 8:25am PDT

Warning: This podcast contains explicit language.

Among the many pleasures of Love, Death & Robots, “The Witness” was a particular standout: Its mind-bending story and vivid art style combined to create a unique and challenging short film. In this inspirational podcast, director Alberto Mielgo breaks down the making of the project.

You’ll find out Alberto’s influences, from Tintin to Disney to Blade Runner and the films of Éric Rohmer. He also talks about blending simple 2D and advanced cloth techniques to achieve “The Witness’” distinctive look, the inspiration behind its story — and his ambition to make animated movies that are regarded in the same light as live-action features.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast273_AlbertoMielgo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:39am PDT

Large-scale realistic cityscapes have never been more important — whether they’re for blockbuster VFX, open-world videogames, architectural planning or even training self-driving cars. This week’s podcast guest, Matthias Buehler, is an expert in generating realistic urban environments thanks to his work on the CityEngine procedural city modeling software.

Matthias talks Chris through his career, from learning about architecture from industry legends such as Hani Rashid and Greg Lynn, to his work building CityScape into VFX company Scanline’s pipeline, to his new CG city-focused company, vrbn. It’s a fascinating conversation about the methods and rules that we can use to effortlessly create realistic CG metropolises.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast272_MatthiasBuehler.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:19am PDT

Over the past 12 years, V-Ray GPU has been developed alongside the CPU renderer to take advantage of increasingly powerful and specialized hardware — and now it’s coming of age. Joining Chris this week is Alex Soklev, whose passion for ray tracing has propelled him to the position of Team Leader in Chaos Group’s V-Ray GPU team.

Fresh from his online GTC presentation, Alex breaks down the components that make V-Ray GPU such a versatile renderer. He goes into detail on integrating the Optix API to make the most of NVIDIA's latest RT cores, explains how clever technology such as out-of-core and on-demand rendering help keep GPU ray tracing fast and efficient, and gives a thorough breakdown of how static, dynamic and evictable geometry can keep rendering fast and efficient. 

It's a perfect refresher on ray tracing techniques — and you'll find out why V-Ray GPU can handle any scene no matter how much GPU memory you've got.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast271_AlexSoklev.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 9:51am PDT

Pixar’s unique fusion of cutting-edge technology with storytelling has changed the face of cinema and given us some memorable movies along the way. A key player behind-the-scenes has been Esdras Varagnolo, who contributed to lighting and compositing on Pixar movies including Ratatouille, Up and Cars 2, as well as shorts “La Luna,” “Piper” and “Lou.”

As Esdras begins a new chapter in his life, at David Ellison’s Skydance Animation, he reflects on the technical innovations he’s helped make possible, from “shampositing” at Digital Domain to integrating deep compositing and Katana at Pixar. He reveals how Pixar uses its short films as testbeds for new technology, how Incredibles 2’s production schedule was slashed by 12 months and the fascinating reason why the company’s early characters had that iconic eye glint.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast270_EsdrasVaragnolo.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 11:27am PDT

Lauren Mayer-Beug has come a long way since working at Sway Studio with Chris. This multi-talented artist cut her teeth in compositing and VFX supervision for movies and music videos before moving into motion graphics, animation and social media features. She’s created pieces for Apple, Google, Facebook and Beats, and her clientele include Dr. Dre, Ron Howard, Barack Obama and George Lucas.

In this podcast, Lauren gives Chris a rundown of how she’s worked up to the position of creative director at Chapeau Studios, a brand think-tank with roots in the world of VFX. She imparts vital advice on how women can make their voices heard in a traditionally male-dominated industry and reveals the techniques she uses to make smart, innovative creative decisions.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast269_LaurenMayerBeug.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am PDT

With digital humans and deepfakes becoming increasingly prevalent in both traditional and social media, the law surrounding virtual humans has become more complex. Here to save the day is Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, who has served as head lawyer and second-in-command at the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) for the past 20 years.

Using examples Chris has encountered in his professional life, Duncan gives a level-headed and clear-cut primer on how copyright law applies to performers and CG artists. He tackles everything from the highly detailed digi-doubles of Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher created for Star Wars movies to amateur fan art at local markets, and the emerging world of deepfakes.

Obviously, this podcast does not constitute legal advice, but it’s a fascinating listen whether you’re a CG pro, an actor — or just an entertainment fan.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast268_DuncanCrabtreeIrland.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 10:51am PDT

This week, Chris meets an old friend and former Digital Domain co-worker Alex Nijmeh — and this joyful podcast is a testament to how much fun they had together on movies such as The Day After Tomorrow and I, Robot. They reminisce about how unfeasibly tight deadlines pushed them to learn software and techniques, as well as the characters they met and funny antics they got up to at DD’s studio.

Today, Alex's enthusiasm for all things CG has taken him to Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he graduated from working on movies such as Frozen and Zootopia to overseeing the company's workflow. He tells Chris how a lack of practical experience with 3ds Max didn't stop him from beginning his career, and he gives his thoughts on the future computing trends that will reshape in the industry.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast267_AlexNijmeh.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:07am PDT

Like Chris, Juan Gomez worked at Digital Domain on some of the company’s biggest and most innovative projects: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Maleficent and Tron: Legacy. But Juan has followed a different career path, first into the world of virtual reality at Method and on to Epic Games, where he’s spearheaded game-changing real-time virtual production for movies.

This podcast offers a comprehensive overview of the ways Unreal Engine is turning the entire production process on its head and making it faster and easier to create VFX-heavy movies. Juan tells Chris how the company is able to offer tailor-made tools so directors and DoPs can use familiar interfaces and not get overwhelmed with technical aspects of VFX. He also reveals how the tech is pulling VFX artists away from workstations and onto the set, giving them god-like powers in the creative process.

Virtual production is about to make the film industry more agile and transform the end result — and this podcast is an amazing head start.

CTA: Experience tomorrow’s technology today with a 30-day V-Ray for Unreal trial.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast266_JuanGomez.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 2:28pm PDT

Digital humans are playing an increasingly important role in our day-to-day lives. CG replicas of people dominate entertainment, from epic movies such as The Irishman to simple YouTube videos. Interacting with AI assistants has become second nature. And social media and news headlines are dominated by the issues surrounding deepfakes.

Joining Chris for this week’s podcast is Koki Nagano, who has become an expert in virtual doppelgangers via his research on digital humans at USC and his work at Pinscreen, a company that uses AI to supercharge the creation of 3D personal avatars from a single photo. Koki gets under the skin (literally) of what it takes to create a detailed digital human and talks about how he’s approached the uncanny valley from both sides. 

Listen to find out some incredible facts about your face — and how combining old and new technology could result in the most accurate digital humans to date.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast265_KokiNagano.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 12:16pm PDT

Want to learn how to do 3D in motion graphics? EJ Hassenfratz is your man. After landing on his feet in motion graphics for NBC, PBS and ABC, EJ wound up giving a presentation for Cinema 4D company Maxon, which inspired him to learn more about the software and start creating tutorials. Today, EJ works as a freelance motion designer while crafting courses for the renowned online learning platform, School of Motion.

In this podcast, EJ gives a frank and funny insight into the world of education. He highlights some of the pitfalls of learning for free via YouTube tutorials or graduating with massive debt from college. He presents some dependable advice about taking on challenges and investing in yourself, as well as a nostalgic view of the rapid evolution of technology, animation, education and computer graphics.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast264_EJHassenfratz.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 5:24pm PDT

"Deepfake" videos have become hugely popular online — for better or worse. This AI-powered technology results in hilarious celebrity head swaps but, as Jordan Peele demonstrated with his manipulation of Barack Obama's speech, they could play a more disturbing role in online misinformation. Computer vision scientist Wael AbdAlmageed's mission is to develop tools that can quickly detect deepfakes with a good degree of accuracy.

As digital human experts, both Chris and Wael took part in a SAG-AFTRA panel at CES and recorded this podcast afterwards. Wael explains some of the telltale signs that you’re watching a deepfake video and the approaches computer algorithms use to detect them. He also tackles digital de-aging in movies such as The Irishman and the ethics of facial manipulation. This is a fascinating look at a fight against a technology that is improving day by day.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast263_Wael_AbdAlmageed.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:46am PDT

Originally, Olcun Tan wanted to be a car designer — but seeing Jurassic Park ignited a passion for VFX. Today, he runs Gradient Effects, a global studio that has provided effects for Game of Thrones, Watchmen and Stranger Things. Olcun’s career has been defined by finding his own solutions to problems — whether it’s creating procedural effects in Maya, using forbidden programming languages at animation studios or setting up his own businesses.

Olcun also breaks down some of the innovative work he’s done on a variety of projects, such as crumbling statues in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and crashing helicopters in Black Hawk Down, to more recent projects, including digitally de-aging John Goodman for TV series The Righteous Gemstones with his own Shapeshifter software. You’ll find out his role in digitally slimming Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant, as well as tips for starting and locating your own business.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast262_OlcunTan.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 11:21am PDT

It’s been five years since VR director Justin Denton last joined Chris on the CG Garage Podcast, and in that time he has truly pushed the boundaries of the medium. He’s produced jaw-dropping tie-in experiences for Ghost in the Shell, Mr. Robot and Legion. And he’s indulged his passion for Dickens’ A Christmas Carol via Chained: A Victorian Nightmare, which uses techniques from games and immersive theater to deliver a unique, personalized experience.

Justin is an authority on how the VR industry has shifted and settled, and its uses as a tool and a medium. Meanwhile, in his new role as Staff Director at Blur Studio, he’s taking VR techniques into filmmaking with his exhilarating PUBG trailer. He also details his contribution to DD and Time Magazine’s project, The March, which takes participants into a VR recreation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic rally.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast261_JustinDenton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32am PDT

This week’s podcast is something a little different — the first-ever CG Garage podcast “takeover.” Helming the mic are three talented, funny and smart employees of cutting edge experience studio, Magnopus. Between them, Sally Slade, Kat Harris and Emily Van Belleghem have sent Hololenses to the International Space Station, filed patents, started non-profit organizations and pioneered software development.

Over two and a half hours the trio (plus moderator Chris, and Bella, the dog) discuss the incredible projects they’ve worked on in the past and dream ideas for the future, the enormous benefits of having a diverse team, Hollywood attitudes to minorities and on-screen hacking — and lots more. Listen to find out why we need more male voice assistants, the dangers of mansplaining to pro devs — and how to help Mark Zuckerburg stir dragon vomit live on stage.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast260_MagnopusTakeOver.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 11:15am PDT

Andrea Blasich’s love of sculpting began on the beaches of southern Italy and it’s taken him all the way to Hollywood, where his talents have been put to use on movies including Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Brave and Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. In this podcast, recorded at THU, he explains why time-honored techniques are still relevant in digital pipelines.

Andrea sheds light on his working process, which involves using clay in combination with 3D scanners and 3D printers to create and modify his work. He offers his thoughts on ZBrush and VR sculpting tools, talks about his experiences working on games such as The Witness and BioShock 2, and details the complexities of sculpting lips, kilts — and Mickey Mouse.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast259_AndreaBlasich.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 11:36am PDT

Much has changed in the three years since director Tim Miller recorded a the 100th episode of the CG Garage podcast. After the runaway success of Deadpool, he returned to the big screen with Terminator: Dark Fate. At the same time, his Heavy Metal-inspired anthology series Love, Death & Robots busted boundaries via Netflix.

In this podcast, he reveals the pressure of directing the $200-million-budget Terminator: Dark Fate, the storytelling and technical decisions behind that beach scene — and why he wound up hugging two audience members. In contrast, he talks about creative freedom and collaboration he enjoyed for Love, Death & Robots and offers some sneak peeks for season 2.

Regular listeners will be pleased to hear that Hollywood stardom hasn’t gone to Tim’s head, and this podcast offers a truly fascinating insight into the movie industry.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast258_TimMiller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55am PDT

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