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.

Chad Wanstreet and Chris Nichols have experienced similar career trajectories — but this is the first time they’ve sat down together. Like Chris, Chad transitioned from architecture to VFX, and his experience spans working at notable firms including Blur Studio and FuseFX. Along the way, Chad has contributed to projects that pushed the boundaries of visual effects, such as The Sympathizer, SWAT, The Tick, and the short-lived but brilliant Kill the Orange-Faced Bear.

Chad discusses the challenges and innovations brought by technological advancements, such as virtual production and real-time ray tracing, and highlights the importance of understanding these tools. Additionally, Chad shares personal anecdotes about the highs and lows of his career, including the struggles during the economic downturn of 2008 and the unexpected opportunities that led him to his current role.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_480_Chad_Wanstreet.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 12:48pm PDT

Nikola Todorovic always wanted to make films, but encountered a familiar problem: the sci-fi screenplays he wrote would require $200 million budgets. Aiming to reduce this cost, Nikola co-founded Wonder Dynamics with Ready Player One actor Tye Sheridan to develop Wonder Studio, a platform that simplifies the time-consuming tasks involved in adding CG characters to live-action plates.

Nikola breaks down the creation of Wonder Studio, how it ingests and analyses scenes to allow for easy export to software, including Unreal and Maya, and how it generates 3D characters. He also talks through the process of setting up Wonder Dynamics, from its beginnings as a startup company to its acquisition by Autodesk — and what this means for its user base.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_479_NikolaTodorovic.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:58am PDT

Andy Fowler’s career has combined his creative eye with his incredible production skills. Beginning in London’s burgeoning VFX scene with titles such as Lost in Space, 300, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Andy picked up an Emmy for his work on The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. Then he moved to LA to work on Tron: Legacy, Noah, and The Revenant, before moving to Netflix and becoming Vice President of Production Innovation, overseeing an astounding 10,000 shots per year.

In this podcast, Andy reflects on his career and how it’s evolved alongside the technology that makes VFX shots happen. He talks about live-action at Disney, making convincing digital humans for Scorsese’s The Irishman, and how virtual production emerged from the pandemic. Andy also gives his thoughts on AI and how it’s going to affect production.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_478_Andy_Fowler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:24am PDT

Over a 40-year career, Joel Hynek has helped bring some incredible VFX to life, beginning with optical effects for Xanadu, then making the Predator a terrifying opponent for Arnie, and moving onto a range of movies, including xXx, Judge Dredd, Stealth, plus blockbusters from India and China. He picked up a sci-tech Oscar for the design and development of an optical printer, and a VFX Oscar for his quietly revolutionary work on What Dreams May Come.

Joel shares incredible stories from the world of VFX, including how he developed the Predator’s invisibility cloak and night vision, the scrapes and near-misses he got into while filming Stealth, and reveals some interesting trivia about The Matrix and The Bourne Identity. He also talks about working with industry luminaries including Doug Trumbull, Rob Cohen, Doug Liman, and reveals his impressive lineage.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_477_Joel_Hynek.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 11:50am PDT

Kathryn Brillhart has always been ahead of her time. As a teen, she assisted her father in shooting documentaries; then she combined her sharp eye as a cinematographer with her passion for VFX to become a virtual production and volume capture expert. Projects she’s worked on include Las Vegas’ ginormous MSG Sphere, pioneering virtual production short “Ripple Effect,” and the movie Black Adam. Most recently, Kathryn has helped create the stunning, desolate world of the Fallout TV series.

Kathryn shares her unique perspective on the way digital technology has transformed the industry, from her early days shooting on celluloid to DV tapes, as well as the rapid evolution of virtual production technology and how it was fuelled by restrictions created by the pandemic. She also gives her thoughts on artificial intelligence and its potential to democratize the industry by making advanced tools accessible to indie filmmakers.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_476_Kathryn_Brillhart.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:22am PDT

Liz Hitt has worked across VFX departments on some very cool movies — and she’s not stopping there. Beginning at the legendary Dream Quest Images on Deep Rising and Mighty Joe Young, Liz built a name for herself as a talented production coordinator and producer via movies including Hollow Man, Spider-Man, Stealth (with Chris), The Golden Compass, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

In this podcast, Liz reflects on her career, the roles she’s taken and the crews she’s worked with, sharing how she manages people. She shares a rough guide to the “small-but-global” VFX industry, revealing how new technologies often present more challenges, and giving her thoughts on the effects of the pandemic on both the way we work and the films and series we make.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_475_LizHitt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18am PDT

While most five-year-olds were playing with Legos and Barbies, Junaid Baig was taking his first steps with 3D Max. From this early start, Junaid developed an incredibly in-depth understanding of 3D, lighting, and rendering from working on VFX for movies, including Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Avengers: Endgame, and Venom.

Today, Junaid is head of applied technology at DNEG, where he’s helping pioneer virtual production on films and series including Masters of the Air. Junaid combines his knowledge and passion for technology with deep respect for artists, and he reveals how virtual production — and Chaos’ Project Arena — are changing the way crew and cast can work together to create new worlds for audiences to enjoy.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_474_Junaid_Baig.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 9:44am PDT

Dan Ring is an expert in empowering VFX artists with cutting-edge research. He began his 20-year career by creating tech to analyze surgery videos (so that no one else would have to), then moved to Foundry to develop CopyCat, the Nuke machine-learning tool that applies corrections to sequences based on a small number of frames.

Now, Dan has joined Chaos to help implement machine learning in its visualization products. In this conversation with Chris, Dan covers just about every aspect of modern CG, including generative AI, Gaussian Splats and NeRFs, the surprising VFX roles that AI might not replace, and the steps Chaos is taking to ensure users have access to helpful but unintrusive tools that are ethically sound.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_473_Dan_Ring.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 8:48am PDT

Phil Galler is a true virtual production guru. From the nuts and bolts of LED screens to the 3D software that provides the imagery to the business decisions and financial trends that help fund this new wave of VFX filmmaking, Phil understands it all.

In this podcast, Phil talks about his history in virtual production, beginning with the innovative projections used to make Oblivion’s sets come to life and continually evolving the tech via Tomorrowland, House of Cards, Solo: A Star Wars Story, The Mandalorian, and Bullet Train. Never one to sit still, Phil is leveraging his knowledge of real-time solutions and content to help define the next generation of storytellers. Phil’s holistic understanding of digital entertainment makes this podcast a must-listen.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_472_Phil_Galler.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 11:15am PDT

Chris MacLean’s incredible career in VFX has transported him from documentaries on Cretaceous dinosaurs to the far-flung future for Foundation, Apple TV+’s bold adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s genre-defining sci-fi novels. Along the way, Chris has created and supervised VFX for movies and TV series, including Crimson Peak, Godless, American Gods, Resident Evil, and many more.

Having worked his way up from artist to second-unit director, Chris has a unique perspective on filmmaking and how the crew comes together. Chris also talks about making Foundation, including how they found the series’ extraterrestrial locations here on Earth, avoided blue screens, and even digitally simulated the vintage lenses used on the physical shoot. Chris also shares his informed perspectives on new technology, including Gaussian Splatting, in-camera VFX, and AI.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_471_Chris_MacLean.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 9:13am PDT

Hugo Guerra is the dictionary definition of multitasking. Having taken his eye for compositing into directing short films and commercials, and supervising VFX, Hugo fills his spare time with producing content for his successful YouTube channel and recording the VFX Notes podcast with Ian Failes. If that’s not enough, he’s also produced a cookbook with his wife.

Hugo talks about his early career in Portugal and how he took his love for movies into short films, and then compositing and directing. He also tells you why you need to go on-set, talks about the benefits of teaching, gives his thoughts on AI and “invisible” CGI, and reveals the inner workings of YouTube.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_470_Hugo_Guerra.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 10:19am PDT

As Chris is tied up with a really cool Chaos project, we’re revisiting some of the older episodes of the CG Garage podcast. And we’re starting big with true luminaries of Hollywood revealing how they got their projects off the ground.

First up is Doug Trumbull, the 2001: A Space Odyssey VFX genius who went on to direct Silent Running and continually innovated Hollywood motion picture technology. Recorded shortly before his death in 2022, Doug talks about getting Brainstorm made and gives a prescient perspective on home theater.

We follow with a seminal live show that celebrated the podcast’s 100th episode with a pair of VFX experts turned blockbuster directors: Joe Kosinski and Tim Miller. Recorded at Gnomon School, Joe talks about how he leveled up Tron: Legacy and brought Oblivion’s stunning visuals to life, while Tim talks Deadpool and reveals some of the interesting choices that led to the beloved but very R-rated superhero movie.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_469_Recap_Doug_Trumbull_Tim_Miller_Joe_Kosinski.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 12:21pm PDT

With V-Ray 6 for Maya and Houdini, update 2, Chaos adds an important feature to its powerful renderer: MaterialX support. With this addition, artists and studios can seamlessly use materials across different DCCs and get identical results, removing many of the pain points of increasingly complicated modern 3D pipelines.

In this podcast, V-Ray for Maya Product Manager Alex Yolov and V-Ray for Houdini Product Manager Gosho Genchev reveal how they’ve worked with studios to implement MaterialX in the latest software updates. They also tackle some frequently asked questions about MaterialX, such as how it works and whether it can be used with existing projects, and they reveal some of the additional features that have recently been added to V-Ray.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_468_Alex_Gosho.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:25am PDT

Over his 30-year career, Julian Levi has produced VFX for Hollywood movies, beginning with Braveheart, moving into O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Day After Tomorrow (with Chris), Speed Racer, X-Men: First Class, Prometheus, and many more. Most recently, he helped director Gareth Edwards bring the world of The Creator to life, earning four VES awards and a VFX Oscar nomination in the process.

Julian talks about how The Creator marks a return to the guerilla-style sci-fi Gareth pioneered with his debut, Monsters, utilizing cheaper cameras and preferring real-world locales over sets. Julian reveals how Gareth’s background as a VFX artist also means that he understands where corners can be cut while delivering awe-inspiring shots, and he shares his thoughts on how the industry is changing. 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_467_Julian_Levi_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:03am PDT

Archviz artists love Chaos Corona. This renderer has become a go-to for visualizing everything from compact kitchens to sky-scraping towers, giving users stunning results straight out of the box. But what’s on the horizon for this popular renderer?

In this podcast, Product Manager Tom Grimes discusses what makes Chaos Corona a popular choice for the architecture industry and how its philosophy differs from other renderers such as V-Ray. He also talks about the software’s future and plans to make it an integral part of the Chaos ecosphere, as well as how it’s getting real-time functionality via Chaos Vantage.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_466_Tom_Grimes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:23pm PDT

Tram Le-Jones has an eye for detail, a people-centric personality, and a passion for computer science — making her perfect for VFX production roles. After getting a job on The Matrix Revolutions via craigslist (no, really), she became a sought-after coordinator and then moved into producing VFX for movies including Spider-Man 3, Tower Heist, and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, as well as commercials, moving from west to east coast and back again along the way.

Having served on the front line of VFX, Tram has taken her expertise into project management software for media and entertainment, starting with Autodesk’s Shotgrid and moving to Backlight’s ftrack. Tram talks through her fascinating career, from lugging huge CRTs around Digital Domain’s office, to working with Spike Jonze on his short film “I’m Here,” to the challenges of integrating cutting-edge virtual production technology into traditional VFX pipelines.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_465_Tram_Le-Jones.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 10:36am PDT

VFX visualization might just be the closest you can get to being a film director without stepping behind the camera. This technology has become a key part of the VFX process, with previz storyboarding growing into pitchviz (to get movies greenlit), techviz (to figure out logistics), and postviz (to create temporary VFX). It’s an area Casey Pyke has become an expert in via his role at Halon Entertainment, which has helped visualize movies including The Batman, Pinnochio, Argylle, and John Wick: Chapter 4.

Casey breaks down how the technology required for visualization differs from that for VFX — speed is of the essence, but looking good is increasingly important. He also talks about how his background as an amateur filmmaker helped him understand what directors want and the satisfaction of recognising his work on the big screen. Casey concludes with his experiences using LED walls and AI tools in visualization pipelines.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_464_Casey_Pike.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 3:27pm PDT

Richard Crudo began his career in New York City, learning from some of the best in the business, including László Kovács and Gordon Willis, and helping shoot movies such as Ghostbusters 2, Raising Arizona, and Broadway Danny Rose. He then served as cinematographer on movies including American Pie, Out Cold, and Brooklyn Rules, as well as television series such as FX Network’s Justified, The CW’s Jane the Virgin, and CBS’s SWAT

In this podcast, Richard discusses the transition of motion pictures from film to digital, and the concurrent rise of new visual effects techniques. He also talks about being president of the American Society of Cinematographers, the popularity of dark shots in Netflix TV series, and the rise of artificial intelligence and the democratization of movie making.

It’s an enlightening and entertaining discussion, and it’s great to get another perspective on the filmmaking process.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_463_Richard_Crudo.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 12:04pm PDT

Could Paolo Berto Durante really be Chris, but from another dimension? These outspoken CG enthusiasts have a lot in common: an extensive knowledge of 3D software and render engines stretching back decades, a history in VFX and teaching CG, and strong opinions on the current state of the industry.

Paolo talks about his roles in the research and development of 3D software, starting from Alias|wavefront, to mental images. to Jupiter Jazz, up to his current role at J Cube, their team has developed CG tools for artists such as Multiverse USD, Maneki, and the futuristic WeRender generative service. Paolo also reveals some interesting thoughts on AI and creativity, and discusses how he comes up with new creative and business ideas.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_462_Paolo_Berto_Durante.mp3
Category:CGI -- posted at: 10:20am PDT

Robert Moggach has experienced the full arc of the VFX artist career, from being treated like a rockstar in the early days of CG to working on personal, small-scale indie projects today. Along the way, he’s racked up credits on movies including Harry Potter, I, Robot, and Stealth, created ads for the world’s biggest brands, bagged a VES award for the Halo ODST trailer, and helped make music videos for the likes of Moby, Muse, Garbage, and Tori Amos.

Rob and Chris discuss the dynamics of cloud versus local workflows, the nuances of small-scale creative projects such as the short film Go For Grandma, and the logistical challenges of collaboration across time zones. The conversation culminates in speculation about AI's potential to catalyze new creative forms in Hollywood and beyond.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_461_RobertMoggach.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:03am PDT

In this podcast, Vikkal breaks down his career so far, from his beginnings in architecture and on MTV series Room Raiders, to founding Ataboy Studios and making use of the latest VFX and motion graphics technology to create eye-catching ads in a variety of formats. Vikkal and Chris also discuss their common ground in architecture and talk about how Apple could potentially revive VR and the metaverse with its Vision Pro VR headset.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_460_VikkalParikh_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52am PDT

Ben Hansford has his finger on the pulse of filmmaking — the prognosis is excellent. Beginning his career in VFX, Ben moved into directing short films and commercials for the likes of Old Spice, Starfield0, Call of Duty, Nike, and many more. He also teaches AI at the University of Southern California (USC), giving him unfettered access to the minds of a new generation of filmmakers.

Ben shares his thoughts on how converging pipelines and creative innovations like AI will create a new kind of filmmaking, in the same way that lightweight cameras enabled the French New Wave and, in turn, New Hollywood. He also talks about the legal and quality issues that surround AI technology, and he finishes with an upbeat vision for the future of filmmaking and telling stories.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_459_Ben_Hansford.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25am PDT

Here’s the perfect start to 2024: Kat Dawes and NOWism’s particular blend of positivity for creative people. From busking in her native Brisbane to traveling through Africa, Kat has combined her love of performance art and spirituality to create NOWism, a playful philosophy that embraces the present moment and focuses on becoming the hero of your own story.

In this podcast, Kat tells Chris how artists struggling in a modern, ever-changing world can overcome anxieties related to AI and financial woes. She also talks about how to find joy in a world that seems to be fuelled by negativity and conflict, and reveals how storytelling can help us understand our predicaments. If you feel that you’re stuck in a creative rut, then Kat’s infectious enthusiasm might just help you turn 2024 into your year.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_458_Kat_Dawes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:19am PDT

2024 gets off to an explosive start with this week’s guest: CG supervisor Jonas Ussing, who is on a quest to give visibility to the VFX artists and studios who create invisible effects. He’s doing this via his YouTube channel, The Movie Rabbit Hole, where his impeccably researched and presented arguments have racked up over a million views.

Jonas and Chris talk about how studios are making it seem like films such as Oppenheimer, Top Gun: Maverick, and Mission: Impossible 7 favored practical effects, undermining VFX studios’ hard work and even making it hard for artists to get hired. They also talk about the politics of VFX, from Jurassic Park’s celebrated dinosaurs to Andy Serkis’ controversial take on his performance as Gollum. Jonas also reveals how to get the public on board with CG again.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_457_Jonas_Ussing_Returns.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 8:26am PDT

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