Interviews that focus on the CG creative in visual effects, architecture and beyond. Christopher Nichols of Chaos 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.

Chris’ exploration of NFTs continues with returning guest and virtual architecture expert Alex Coulombe and podcast newbie Samuel Arsenault-Brassard. Samuel has set up the Museum of Other Realities to display virtual works of art but lacked a convenient way to monetize and distribute them. Enter NFTs, virtual worlds such as Somnium Space and marketplaces including SuperRare and Foundation.

In this in-depth discussion, Samuel and Alex cover the good, bad and ugly of NFTs. They break down what makes them so ideal for selling virtual art, how you could steal an NFT, what happens when an owner posts offensive content in virtual space and the potential for forging 3D artwork. They also cover potential solutions to the high energy demands of cryptocurrencies.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast325_SamuelAB_AlexCoulombe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46am PDT

This week, Blur’s Franck Balson and Gabe Askew join Chris to discuss the intricacies of cel-shading, which gives 3D visuals a unique cartoony look. You’ll find out how Blur combined advanced hacks and simple techniques to create stylized animation for Love, Death & Robots episode “Suits,” which features mech-touting farmers, and the frenetic trailer for Riot Games’ Valorant.

Franck also discusses his multi-cultural background and how he landed a job at Blur, while Gabe covers his previous job directing commercials in New York. They talk about what it’s like to get hired and work for Tim Miller and Blur Studio, and shed light on some of the approaches to animation that can bring characters to life.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast324_FrankBalson_GabeAskew.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:57am PDT

Our exploration of how NFTs apply to CG artists continues with esteemed NYU Stern professor, David Yermack, an expert in cryptocurrency.

But don’t worry, you don’t need a finance background to understand this. David breaks down key concepts behind NFTs in the most accessible way possible, so you can figure out how they factor in your world. We get into issues of ownership, the value of digital copies and how NFTs are enabling CG artists to finally become part of the gallery system.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast323_DavidYermack.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35am PDT

This week’s podcast tells the fascinating story of Doug Wilkinson, who worked with Chris on Tron: Legacy and is now head of CG at global creative company Buck. Inspired by Jurassic Park, Doug helped create cutscenes for video games before moving from Boston to LA to join effects companies including Digital Domain, Sway and Buck.

Doug recounts his numerous adventures in visual effects, including creating a David Fincher-directed Heineken ad starring Brad Pitt, working with Joe Kosinski on car commercials, and his latest work, including Apple’s “Share Your Gifts” spot. Doug also shares his thoughts on the CG industry's future, talks about how Buck balances creative freedom with technical innovation and reveals surprising connections to Chris’ friends and co-workers.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast322_DougWilkinson.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:28am PDT

Over the past 15 years, Matan Abel has worked on lots of cutting-edge VFX projects, including the game Call of Duty, numerous car commercials and movies such as 2012, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Last Airbender, Red Tails and Fast & Furious 5. Now, Matan’s getting into real-time via John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum’s virtual pre-production and The Mandalorian’s virtual sets.

In this podcast, Matan tells former boss Chris how his laid-back approach and honesty have helped his career trajectory. He talks about how he loves lighting tail lights despite knowing nothing about cars; overcoming cultural, linguistic and time barriers when he worked in China; and the practical and financial reasons behind the rise of real-time in movies.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast321_MatanAbel.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 7:48am PDT

NFTs — or Non-Fungible Tokens — have hit the headlines recently after digital artist Beeple sold a JPEG for $69 million. But there are many questions about this new way of selling art: Is it a scam? How easy is it for artists to make millions with NFTs? What does “fungible” even mean?

In this podcast, digital artist and returning guest Sally Slade tells Chris everything she’s learned about NFTs in seven days. She talks him through turning one of her artworks into an NFT, beginning with buying cryptocurrency Ethereum to “minting” her artwork and listing it online. Sally digs into some of the ethical and environmental concerns about the NFT process and discusses what it could mean for the future of art and filmmaking.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast320_SallySlade_NFTs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:11am PDT

Joining Chris for this week’s podcast are old pals and seasoned professionals Leighton Greer and Paul Ghezzo. Having met Chris at VFX studio Sway, Leighton and Paul have worked for Rhythm and Hues, Zoic and Scanline. Today, they’ve been reunited at Technicolor, which produces visual effects alongside traditional post-production fixes for shows including Star Trek: Picard, Westworld, Snowfall and Bridgerton.

Leighton, Paul and Chris reminisce about work they’ve done in the past, including Scion ads for demanding directors and the physics of power sliding minivans. More importantly, the trio shares the important lessons they’ve learned from one another. Leighton and Paul also discuss some of their upcoming projects, including Firefly Lane, Reservation Dogs and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, as well as Technicolor’s acquisition by the increasingly large Streamland Media.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast319_TechnicolorPost.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 12:26pm PDT

VFX veteran Ari Rubenstein has quite a story to tell. After spending a few years in unrelated fields, he gravitated towards visual effects, where a cloth sim experiment landed him work on The Matrix Revolutions. He went on to work at Blue Sky Studios, the company behind animated movies including Horton Hears a Who!, Epic and Rio.

At the same time, Ari has indulged his creativity and embraced new technology via short films. Ari talks enthusiastically about how he’s always chosen creative paths, his deep-rooted love of music, and how individuals across the industry and around the world have helped him bring his visions to life. 

Since this interview, Blue Sky Studios has closed its filmmaking operations. Nimona, which was slated for January 14, 2022, is no longer being released.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast318_AriRubenstein.mp3
Category:animation -- posted at: 8:40am PDT

Chaos’ Key Account Group are unsung heroes of the CG industry. They understand the trends of the VFX, arch-viz and design industries; they’re happy to be woken up at 3AM on Christmas morning to help customers solve problems—and they help gather feedback to help shape Chaos products.

Heading up the Key Account Group is the dynamic and energetic “Mother of Dragons,” Albena Ivanova. After studying business at university, Albena honed her skills in film production before joining Chaos. Albena discusses the unusual ways customers use Chaos software, reminisces about epic parties for clients and talks about her newest recruit—Chris Nichols himself.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast317_AlbenaIvanova.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:16am PDT

Chaos Group is no more; long live Chaos! In this week’s podcast, Richard Pay from design agency Uniform and Chaos’ own Melissa Knight talk us through the year-long process of reinvigorating the computer graphics company’s presence to reflect the increasing diversity of its products and customers. 

Rich explains why a brand is far more than just a logo, and how Uniform has united Chaos’ previously fragmented elements into a more cohesive and colorful whole. Melissa also talks about the advantages of simply being called Chaos, the huge amount of work that went into the rebrand—and reveals a planetary secret hidden in the new logo.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast316_Richard_Melissa.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:36am PDT

This week’s podcast guest is a true visionary in the CG world. Ash Thorp came from a humble background and perfected his artistic skills via a year-long stint at film title specialist Prologue. Since then, he's contributed to Ghost in the Shell, Ender’s Game and Captain Marvel, while pursuing his love for cinema via personal projects including Ghost in the Shell homage “Project 2501,” electric Ferrari concept “Evinetta” and short film “NONE.”

Ash offers invaluable advice on avoiding creative blocks, the importance of collaboration, getting great performances out of actors, and dealing with criticism and social media. It’s an honest and inspirational discussion and, touchingly, Ash hasn’t lost any of the humility he had at the start of his career.

Direct download: 315_AshThorp_finalmixdown_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18am PDT

Christian Debney’s incredible career began awesomely and has only become more awesome: his first job was building lightsaber props for Star Wars: Episodes I and II. After learning 3D for his own short films, he created VFX for Farscape, directed music videos, made animations for the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, set up a VFX firm and second-unit-directed little-known but much-loved Australian comedy Swinging Safari. Phew!

Now, Christian is putting his 20-plus years of experience in the movie industry to good use as VFX supervisor on sci-fi thriller Ascendant and as director of three films (one in VR) and a documentary. In this podcast, Christian talks about his career so far and shares tips and anecdotes about how he’s learned to create great work within budgetary and time constraints.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast314_ChristianDebney.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 9:41am PDT

Andrew Murdock is a man of many talents. His career began in a recording studio, alongside Chris Isaak, and he went on to join Mondo Media to work on gaming projects including The Daedalus Encounter and Westwood’s Blade Runner. After founding his company, Lots of Robots, he created his own short films, beginning with “Rocket Pants,” while producing scientific animations for National Geographic.

Today, Andrew still creates his own short films and he’s recently joined forces with 3ds Max creator Gary Yost on his “Inside Covid-19” VR project. Andrew discusses his independent approach to his projects’ sound and visuals, his passion for Chaos Cloud and tyFlow, and Automatron, his character animation plugin for 3ds Max

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast313_AndrewMurdock.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 10:15am PDT

Over the past 30 years, Habib Zargarpour has helped create some of the most innovative and iconic VFX shots in cinema and pioneered virtual production. Beginning with The Mask’s eye-popping protagonist, Habib went on to instigate Twister and The Perfect Storm’s freak weather conditions, race pods for Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and use game-engine technology to build The Jungle Book and Blade Runner 2049’s captivating worlds.

Today, Habib works as head of film development at Digital Monarch Media, a division of Unity Technologies. He deep-dives into how he helped director Denis Villeneuve and DoP Roger Deakins explore LA 2049’s wastelands, and details the physics of pod racers. For VFX fans, this podcast is a treat from start to finish.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast312_HabibZargarpour.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 11:11am PDT

This week’s podcast guest is Robert Durnin, a talented and agile technical director who can turn his hand to just about anything. He’s perfected pipelines for movies including Pan’s Labyrinth, The Mist, The Amazing Spider-Man and Tron: Legacy, and polished in-engine cinematics for Batman: Arkham Origins and Crysis 3. He's also helped build content for the Leia 3D holographic display and worked out how to create a theme park-size XR experience.

Robert talks about his career so far, the numerous companies he’s worked for, including Digital Domain, The Mill and Magnopus, and how he’s wrangled multiple content creation platforms into working with one another. He also discusses some of the fun challenges he’s faced, and the computer-vision AI training he’d like to tackle in future.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast311_RobertDurnin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:13pm PDT

Intopolis aims to turn video game conventions on their head. Players assume the role of an art historian from the distant future, tasked with finding patterns in detailed, otherworldly artworks. In this podcast, the extraordinary talent behind the game, Kirsten Zirngibl, gives a fascinating glimpse into how she’s translated her imagination into a tangible, explorable world.

Kirsten discusses everything from her childhood in Ohio to her experiences working for companies including Google, Riot Games and Wizards of the Coast, as well as the real-world and virtual influences that have helped create Intopolis’s psychedelic visuals. She also offers insight into the array of technology she’s using to build her game’s environment, and gives her thoughts on why bright, positive worlds have never been more tempting.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast310_KirstenZirngigl.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:35am PDT

In a little over a year, Mondlicht Studios has made a global name for itself in CG advertising projects. Its large-scale, award-winning images for Netflix series literally wrap around buildings, and it also provides animation, retouching, AR and VR services. Here, co-founders David Schaefer and Dmitriy Glazyrin tell Chris the story behind the studio.

You’ll find out about the technology David and Dimo use to create 95MP images, how media and advertising are moving away from stills and into animation, and how new AI tools make their lives easier. They also share some useful tips they’ve picked up from working in automotive CG and photography, and talk about how they add character and story to their images.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast309_MoonlichtStudio.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:37am PDT

Bilali Mack has always wanted to tell stories. Originally hailing from West Africa, Bilali was at Emerson College in Boston when he realized it was easier to make movies with computers instead of cameras. After graduating, he worked on Coca-Cola and BMW commercials, where he developed an affinity for Flame, Autodesk’s VFX and finishing software.

Today, Bilali is taking his experience to the next level as a VFX supervisor on feature films and TV series, including Let Him Go and Power Book II: Ghost. In this insightful and animated discussion, Bilali talks about the pros and cons of working with Flame, the creative differences between VFX for commercials and features, and how he directs smoke and blood to enhance the narrative. This podcast is a perfect upbeat start to 2021.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast308_BilaliMack.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:31am PDT

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