Mon, 22 July 2019
The uber-talented Sonja Christoph’s career path has been a twisty one. After graduating from film school in Miami, she worked as an assistant director on-set on Hollywood movies and TV shows. During the 2008 writer’s strike, she was inspired to take a VFX course at Gnomon School in Hollywood, where she discovered a knack for matte paintings. She went on to create environments at ILM for Tomorrowland, Doctor Strange, Agent Carter and even the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run ride at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland.
Now, Sonja has crossed the Atlantic to work for Swedish Ubisoft subsidiary Massive Entertainment on video games including Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. In this podcast, recorded at Total Chaos 2019 ahead of her inspiring main-stage presentation, Sonja talks about the differences between working in VFX and video games in terms of timelines, teamwork and tools. She also discusses how games subtly direct the player, and why they’ve become such a lucrative part of modern culture.
If you’ve ever thought about making the jump from movies to games — or vice-versa — this podcast is for you.
Mon, 4 March 2019
Known as “eSports Mom” — or “CoD Mom” — Kim Meltzer, the CEO of KidKesty Productions, is an unsung heroine of the professional gaming industry. This competitive and lucrative business can whisk kids from their bedrooms to stadiums and make them millions in a short space of time, and in this podcast, Kim tells Chris how she reassures parents that their children are in safe hands — while helping upcoming pro gamers keep their lives and careers on track.
Chris and Kim both have kids who are into video games, and they also talk about some of the benefits of the medium, from building friendships in Fortnite, to just plain building in Minecraft, to the surprising benefits of Call of Duty's simulated war. Kim also highlights some of the ways the industry is likely to change in the future, including her role in advocating gaming scholarships, and latest phenomenon Apex Legends.
Mon, 3 December 2018
Games have compelling narratives worthy of Hollywood movies — so it should come as no surprise that cinematic talent is swapping cameras for controllers. Joining Chris this week are two men who've made the leap and now work on EA's blockbuster Madden sports franchise.
Producer Robin Cowie went from Nickelodeon idents to box office phenomenon The Blair Witch Project, which taught him how to tell a first-person narrative on a tight budget. Animation director Tony Stanley cut his teeth on Disney classics The Lion King, Lilo and Stitch, and Mulan, the latter of which has just turned 20 — and had an enduring legacy in the Chinese animation industry.
The pair tell Chris how they created Madden NFL 18: Longshot and Madden NFL 19: Longshot Homecoming campaigns, which seamlessly mix dramatic player-driven branching stories with action from the gridiron. You’ll find out about the technology and techniques Robin and Tony use to create and edit in-game cinematics, how they fashion game design documents into scripts and why motion capture has become a vital part of the realism of modern games.
Sun, 6 August 2017
The worlds of videogames and VFX are colliding. Realtime rendering is changing the way movies are made, while blockbuster games borrow techniques and tech from Hollywood. No one knows this landscape better than Naughty Dog’s Josh Scherr, who’s worked his way from animator on PS2 flagship Jak and Daxter to co-writer of the epic Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
In this podcast, Josh gives Chris a comprehensive guide to gaming. He goes from its humble origins in the basements and arcades of the 1980s, through Hollywood's ill-fated attempts to piggyback the industry, to today’s ubiquitous, multifaceted gaming culture — and its superstars and controversies.
Hardcore gamers will get a kick from Josh's deconstruction of the design process, while VFX fans will find out how Naughty Dog creates cinematic visuals on limited hardware.