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.

If digital humans are evolving, Isaac Bratzel is the scientist altering their DNA. Beginning his career as a character artist (because it represented the biggest challenge), Isaac helped create Amelia, a conversational AI with a digital human face, and then went on to establish virtual social media phenomenon Lil Miquela.

Today, Isaac is bringing his expertise in AI and digital humans together in AvatarOS, the company he founded to create digital humans with personalities. In this podcast, Isaac reveals how he overcame some of the technical challenges of creating digital humans that work across the platforms of tomorrow and reveals his ultimate goal for the company.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_427_Isaac_Bratzel.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:52am PDT

For the past 30 years, Digital Domain has been ahead of the CG curve, delivering everything from True Lies’ CG jet to The Last of Us’ desolate landscapes. But what does the future hold for this innovative VFX studio? This week, Lala Gavgavian, the president and COO of DD, explains how it's charting a course through the waters of new technology.

Lala talks about how Digital Domain has branched out beyond blockbuster VFX and is now taking on gaming projects and medical imaging. She also talks about how AI and machine learning have been changing things behind the scenes at Digital Domain and how the technology behind its Digi Doug and Digi Zoe projects is helping create the perfect digital double.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_426_Lala_Gavgavian.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 4:04am PDT

Could Macroverse change the way creative content is created and consumed? In this podcast, Chris is joined by Adam Martin, an assistant director who has worked on productions including Transformers, Dave, and Barry. After growing frustrated with the Hollywood system, Adam co-founded Macroverse to give writers and artists a platform to share their stories and visions.

Adam gives a full overview of Macroverse and what makes it work, explaining how its Tap Story system enriches comic stories and gives them a cinematic flair, and covering how this democratized web 3.0 platform gives everyone a chance to tell their story and adds a level of transparency to funding and payments.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_425_Adam_Martin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:22am PDT

We want some of Chris Browne’s energy. This multiskilled VFX supervisor, currently working at Sony Pictures Animation, has helped bring animated series to life, including The Fast and Furious Spy Racers, Kung Fu Panda, and Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous. At the same time, he’s devoted his spare time to his own award-winning short films, beginning with “Gibb” at university, alien sci-fi “Beating the Abductors,” and now “Pleroma,” which examines themes of AI versus humanity. 

Chris breaks down what it was like to work on “Pleroma” during the pandemic, talks about shooting in a dangerous particle accelerator facility, and shares how he single-handedly created 200-plus visual effects shots and built robots for the short. He also reveals his big plans for the future of “Pleroma,” as well as discussing what’s coming up in the world of animation.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_424_Chris_Browne.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:20am PDT

With John Wick: Chapter 4, the sleeper franchise reaches a violent crescendo, peppering the rogue assassin’s globe-trotting bone-crunching fights with jaw-dropping plot twists. This week, the film’s Production VFX Supervisor Janelle Croshaw Ralla, and Prep and On-Set VFX Supervisor Johnathan Rothbart join Chris for a spoiler-free discussion of the movie.

Janelle and Jonathan talk about working with director Chad Stahelski, who takes a meticulous, frame-by-frame approach to filmmaking and prefers to work in camera and on location over bluescreen or virtual production sets. They reveal the feats of stamina and endurance performed by star Keanu Reeves, share how to hit someone with a car or set them on fire without hurting him, and discuss the creative decisions behind the film’s incredible 1,500 invisible VFX shots.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast_423_Janelle_and_Jonathon.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:02am PDT

Over the course of his career, Sean Looper has gone from humble beginnings as an architectural draftsman to chief technology officer at VFX studio Crafty Apes. Along the way, the pipelines he’s built have provided seamless effects for movies including Zathura: A Space Adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Edge of Tomorrow.

In this podcast, Sean talks about his career and reveals a natural inclination toward the technical nuts and bolts that help a VFX pipeline run smoothly. He shares some of the important lessons he’s learned from being in the industry and gives his thoughts on how machine learning, cloud, and gaming technology will reshape the way movies are made.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast422_SeanLooper_02.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:42am PDT

This week, Chris takes a trip to Pandora to delve into the design of Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron’s latest jaw-dropping cinematic epic. His guide is Ben Procter, the super-talented production designer who specializes in creating vehicles and environments for Avatar antagonists the RDA — to the extent that he thinks of himself as the “bad guy” of the art department.

Ben goes into a fascinating deep-dive into the design and construction of the S-76 SeaDragon, the formidable whaling ship that becomes the setting for the film’s final act. Ben talks about how the design process works between the writers, other artists, VFX studios, and James Cameron himself. Ben also gives his thoughts on artificial intelligence and how it’s going to change a generation.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast421_BenProcter.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 8:35am PDT

Inspired by scary movies to pursue a career in the film industry, Molly Pabian has worked her way up to head of studio at VFX company Crafty Apes. Along the way, she’s worked on over 100 movies and TV shows, including Avatar, Real Steel, Star Trek: Picard, The Last of Us, 1923, John Wick: Chapter 4, and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

Molly talks about her roles and responsibilities as she’s risen up the ranks. She also discusses the differences between working at big and small companies on 2D and 3D shots, how the bidding and budgeting processes work, and the effects of the pandemic and AI on the VFX industry. If you’re about to start in VFX, this podcast is an essential primer on its inner workings.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast420_MollyPabian.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:25am PDT

Almost every major recent and upcoming film and TV series has had THE THIRD FLOOR involved in the visualization stage — and beyond. Recent productions include Avatar: The Way of Water, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and The Mandalorian season 3.

This week, Co-founder and CEO of THE THIRD FLOOR, Chris Edwards, reflects on his 20-plus years of experience in the VFX industry. He also discusses how crucial visualization has become in the movie-making process and reveals how his colleagues Casey Schatz and Ryan Champney developed the Eyeline system, which enabled Avatar actors to convincingly interact with one another even if their performances were separated by time and space. This episode is an unprecedented insight into what goes on behind the scenes of movies — and you’ll even learn how THE THIRD FLOOR got its name.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast419_ChrisEdwards_02.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:41am PDT

Philipp Wolf has always had a passion for storytelling. He began his career in journalism, then helped shape stories for the reality TV show Big Brother before moving into visual effects production on movies and TV series, including Game of Thrones, Ghost in the Shell, and The Predator. Today, Philipp works at DNEG in Montreal, where his credits include Dune, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Altered Carbon, and The Battle at Lake Changjin.

As well as discussing his incredible career, Philipp details his role in the RealTime Society and how he’s helping the industry tap into more diverse pools of talent. He also talks about the effects of the pandemic on the industry, and he offers some interesting thoughts on virtual production, AI, and what’s needed to take the metaverse to the next level.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast418_PhilippWolf.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:40am PDT

The Martini Giant is back! It’s been almost five years since Chris and fellow VFX artists and frequent CG Garage guests Daniel Thron and Erick Schiele created the Martini Giant podcast to indulge in their love of all things cinematic and argue about Star Wars. This week, Dan and Erick return to their roots and talk about what they’ve been up to since they last visited the CG Garage.

Which turns out to be a lot of stuff! Dan is back in the videogames industry, while Erick is using AI to help realize his childhood experiences with rock star Alice Cooper. Both discuss their experiences with AI and share thoughts on how it’s changing the industry, but also reveal how important it is to keep doing the things you love. As ever, this is a hugely entertaining discussion, and it’s great to hear Dan and Erick’s voices again.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast417_MartiniGiant2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:01am PDT

James Blevins has been involved in pretty much every step of the filmmaking process, from driving vehicles to virtual production. Films he’s contributed to include Waterworld, Armageddon, Pleasantville, and, most impressive of all, Space Jam. He’s also worked at some of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Disney, Netflix, Amazon, and LucasFilm for virtual production on The Mandalorian.

In this podcast, James delves into some funny stories from behind the scenes of movies, including Crimson Tide, Armageddon, and Pleasantville. He also gives an interesting perspective on the emergence of AI and talks about MESH, the virtual production consultancy company he set up. He also goes into detail about the Hollywood Professional Association and its Tech Retreat — which is where Chris recorded this podcast.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast416_JamesBlevins.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 10:19am PDT

Andrew Schmied has established himself as an authority on all things related to computer graphics. He’s helped companies, including Samsung, Apple, and Microsoft, explore technology and drive innovation. He’s also a counselor and AI special interest group leader for the RealTime Society, which hosts a community and conference dedicated to the future of CG.

In this conversation with Chris, Andrew shares his expertise on artificial intelligence, which is dramatically changing the world of computer graphics and beyond. Andrew reveals how AI works and what we need to do to make it fairer for artists whose work it may be taking influence from. He also answers some of the more ethical questions surrounding AI, such as whether we can trust it and if it’s safe enough to drive our cars.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast415_AndrewSchmied.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:28am PDT

Becoming VFX supervisor on HBO’s The Last of Us has fulfilled a lifelong dream for movie and game fan Alex Wang. In this podcast, Alex tells Chris about his journey to this hugely prestigious position via his work on movies including The Day After Tomorrow, Sin City, Tron: Legacy, Deadpool, Fast & Furious 8, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Dominion, and Terminator: Dark Fate.

Alex also shares some of the key lessons he’s learned throughout his career, including whether it’s better to work on animation or VFX, how working in-house compares to being employed by a studio, and the benefits of technical versus artistic knowledge. Chris and Alex also discuss the growing prevalence of AI in the VFX industry.

 

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast414_AlexWang.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 7:50am PDT

Much has changed since Mike Seymour last guested on the CG Garage podcast almost six years ago. Not only has the VFX sage and digital humans expert become Dr. Mike, thanks to his doctorate from the University of Sydney, but the entire industry is facing a seismic shift thanks to neural networks and artificial intelligence.

Or is it? In this podcast, Chris and Mike consider the idea that the latest changes in VFX, art, and technology could just be the next step in a continuous evolutionary process. Mike also talks about his work on The Champion, a Netflix film that used neural rendering to seamlessly put English words in the mouths of Polish actors, which sparks a related conversation about the relationship between technology and acting.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast413_MikeSeymour.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:45am PDT

Jonathan Egstad knows Nuke like few others. He started working with the compositing software at Digital Domain, where he developed a 3D subsystem and bagged an Academy Award, before moving to the pioneering animation studio Image Movers. Subsequently, he joined Dreamworks Animation (formerly PDI) to help integrate Nuke into its compositing pipeline.

In this podcast, Jonathan demonstrates the rare combination of artistic and technical talents that have made him one of the most respected names in the CG industry. He discusses his first jobs at DD on Apollo 13, how the company upgraded Nuke to handle Titanic’s epic shots, and he reminisces with Chris about faking ray tracing for I, Robot. He wraps up with details on his new role at Foundry and what’s in store for Nuke.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast412_JonathanEgstad.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 10:06am PDT

Meats Meier is a unique combination of artist and technical director. Not only does he create incredible biomechanical pieces with ZBrush, but he’s also advanced VFX via projects including Hellboy and The Day After Tomorrow. More recently, Meats has art-directed virtual production for Obi-Wan Kenobi and Netflix’s upcoming live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

In this balanced conversation, recorded in person at Meats’ Yucca Valley residence, the artist discusses his background in computer graphics and then delves into some of the questions rapid advances in AI art pose: Is it ethical? Will it steal artists’ jobs? And what does it mean for the future?

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast411_MeatsMeier.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:32am PDT

Chris has interviewed many VFX supervisors and directors on the podcast, but it’s rare to meet someone who does both. Not only does Yuval Levy direct (and creative direct) commercials for the likes of BMW, Ford, and Microsoft, but he’s also VFX supervised a wide variety of Hollywood films, including The Adjustment Bureau, Smile, and Tower Heist.

Yuval and Chris dive deep into the world of car commercials, discussing the benefits of shooting in the real world versus using CG. You’ll learn what makes Nascar vehicles unusual, the secrets of Emily Blunt’s dancing in The Adjustment Bureau, plus what a U-Crane is (and was). Yuval finishes with a little insight on upcoming movies Beau is Afraid and The Nickel Boys, plus his thoughts on advances in AI.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast410_YuvalLevy.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 10:06am PDT

Andrew Bardusk is a humble legend of the VFX industry. He started as a dustbuster on movies, then moved to compositing for Medium and Once Upon a Time and effects supervision on Arrow. Today, Andrew serves as visual effects supervisor on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Andrew talks about how streaming services have revolutionized Zoic’s wheelhouse of episodic work and how demands for 4K HDR content have made small-screen effects more cinematic. Andrew also discusses working from home and going on-set, and he breaks down creating an octopus attack for Legends of Tomorrow.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast409_AndrewBardusk.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 9:21am PDT

Digital humans are back on the podcast! This week, Chris is joined by (real humans) Culley Bunker and Richard Kidd, a pair of VFX veterans who have given stars the beauty treatment and worked on dozens of movies. They’re part of the team that formed Prototype, a new company that specializes in creating digital humans, using machine learning to perfect them for cutting-edge projects.

Chris, Culley, and Richard discuss the latest in digital humans, including advancements in facial capture, avoiding the uncanny valley, and how digidoubles can be used for everything from entertainment (such as Abba’s Voyage show) to personal assistants. It’s still a hugely exciting and innovative field within VFX, and we can’t wait to see what Prototype comes up with.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast408_Prototype.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 9:12am PDT

2023 gets off to a flying start with this podcast guest: Evan Jacobs, who has become a critical part of Marvel Studios’ VFX pipeline. Before joining Marvel, Evan created miniature submarines for The Hunt for Red October, herded digital cockroaches in Silent Hill, extended sets for Olympus has Fallen, and converted Alice in Wonderland and Conan the Barbarian to 3D.

Evan talks about creating visual effects on low budgets and how he found his niche role at Marvel. He discusses the advantages of working with HDR technology, what makes some films suitable for stereoscopic conversion, whether 3D is still important to global audiences, and taking notes from Sam Raimi on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Direct download: CGGarage_Podcast407_EvanJacobs.mp3
Category:VFX -- posted at: 8:58am PDT

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