Interview: Incendii VFX – Anselm V. Seherr – Thoss
Incendii is an award winning visual effects and 3Dimensional design house. We deliver computer generated visual effects with an emphasis on particle simulation and 3D animation for Film, TV and commercials. We just finished a bunch of HTC phone commercials with 1stAvenueMachine in NY.
As a VFX TD while at Prime Focus/Frantic Films, how was this interaction on the Avatar film? Where you given the footage and then worked to match CG to their eyes, hand motions?
We got plates shot in stereo. The tracking and matchmove department did an amazing job here. Every effect stands or falls with the matchmove/track. We had a good amount of freedom designing what is going to happen on the holotable. The icons where all designed in house helmed by AD Neil Huxley. We only got a very draft mesh of the Home tree from previz days and had to extend the geometry and detail certain areas out that were supposed to be seen closer or had to interact. Then we created point volumes using the PRT Volume in Krakatoa. Some of the environment on the ground is actually Vray proxies lit with a tiny mesh like gobo to give it the pointy look. Interactions with the holograms on the table where done using Pflow toolbox#3. Prime Focus also did the envireonments outside the command center when you see them through the windows so a matte painting department worked on that. And a big task were all holo screens in the command center, those where layered out and animated in After Effects and then put on depth layers in 3d and rendered in 3DsMax’s Scanliner. Overall 3DsMax was the tool of choice. The pipeline was the best I have set hands on so far! Almost everything was automated to keep a good overview and keep the chaos to a minimum.
How is 3D Studio Max for doing VFX? Any go to plugins you tend to use?
I personally think it’s amazing. The speed of FumeFX for fire and Smoke simulations is unmatched thus far! Maya and Houdini fluids come close look wise but simulation and setup time wise they stand behind. For rendering there is not much better then VRay that looks great out of the box and has a huge knowledge base and following. Even ready made materials are easy to find online. For partilces and digital destruction there is the Particle Flow extensions (Toolbox #2 and #3), RayFire and Thinking Particles. All those make for a solid vfx pipeline! Max itself is a solid vessel, a boat, it still needs sails and steering though! And that is the plugins
Have you ever taken on a gig and then thought to yourself “Oh man, how am I going to pull this one off?”
All the time It depends…some gigs you get for the skills you are known for in the community and some you get through contacts. You always wanna take a healthy risk! Otherwise where is the fun? You got to stay “hungry and foolish” as Steve Jobs once said.
Average amount of sleep you get a night?
Hah! That highly depends on how smooth things go If it goes well I clock out at 18:00 or 19:00 and have dinner with the lady, play video games, BBQ or go out with friends. Working late is always an indicator that something went bad! Budget VS time, amount of shots VS render/simulation time per artist, etc. If a project is well calculated on one should stay late. Unfortunately this is rarely the case with studios underbidding each other and budget cuts due to competition from countries with over all lower cost of living hence lower rates. There was a quality triangle once: TIME, BUDGET, QUALITY > Pick two. That is no more, you have to have all three these days.
If one were interested in getting into the VFX as a 3D Studio Max Artists.. any advice?
RTFM 3DsMax has a huge following, tutorials are plentyful in text or video. Sounds silly but USE GOOGLE!!! Be active in the forums, ask questions, watch making of’s. And lastly do a lot of RnD. I have over 128 videos on vimeo mostly RnD, never stop learing. I also have 11 video tutorials out myself that can be watched on vimeo for free. They are all collected at http://incendii.com/html/freebies_01.html For more tutorials regarding particles I have 2 DVD sets out: http://www.turbosquid.com/FullPreview/Index.cfm?ID=520846&seo=0
Is this something you went to school for, or more self-taught?
I learned basic 3DsMax during a 6 month internship at Soulpix Studios in Hannover/Germany where I’m from. The rest is self taught with the help of the internet. See above
What sort of music do you listen two while working?
Depends on the mood and time of day. Mostly electronic music, Drum&Bass, Gabber, sometimes Metalcore or Heavy Metal. Everything that pushes me.
Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Naturally if it isn’t set in stone it is not worth taking to the public…but I will work more with 1stAvenueMachine and Encore Hollywood as well as Pixomondo to name a few returning customers. What projects is disclosed at this point
Usually last thought in your head before you sleep for the night?
That depends on question about about sleep If I clock out early I’m thinking BBQ and beer! The studio’s backdoor leads to a patio with a BBQ pit and banana trees…very nice to chill out over a cold beer for a bit when things are simulating, rendering or done for the day. We also have a trampolin to release some demons if things are not working out for you
Interview: Incendii VFX – Anselm V. Seherr – Thoss