I was watching your demo reel and can’t help to sense that some of these were inspired by Battlestar Galactica cinematography?
First off, thanks for taking a look at my reel, and for your interest in my work. I appreciate that.
Being a life-long sci-fi and VFX fan, BSG TOS (the original series), as well as neo-BSG have been a big enjoyment, and thus influence in my life and art. BSG TOS was the first high-level motion-control-based VFX show to hit the airwaves after Star Wars came out, and I was of course an instant fan. When neo-BSG came along years later in the full-on era of CGI VFX, it obtained a new level and set a new benchmark in regard to the quality of broadcast VFX, both in terms of model-building, VFX as a whole, and VFX “style” in general. A good friend of mine was the CG Supervisor on neo-BSG, and continues that roll on the spin-off series, Caprica. The whole BSG in-house VFX team just continues to produce simply amazing VFX work, IMO. So yeah, I look to their work on neo-BSG as a benchmark of quality to aim for, as well as for personal inspiration. And fun viewing as well!
What made you choose Modo as one of your tools of the trade?
Around 2004, I began my first serious modeling with LightWave 3D, working in it for about two years, in the end (modeling-UVing-wise) finishing with building my Slave 1 in that program. Then, I was on Jose A. Perez’s website (whom I so admire and respect in regard to his VFX career) and saw that he used modo. I said, “Well, if it’s good enough for Jose, I’ll give it a shot.” I bought a copy of modo (then v.102 (IIRC) and never looked back as far as modeling and UVing goes. 20 minutes into opening “the modo” (as Brad sometimes calls it on the ‘cast) for the first time I thought to myself, “Oh heck yeah, this is how modeling should be! Thank you, modo!”
When you are not working on the computer and cranking on Modo, what do you do to fill your time?
First and foremost I love to spend time with my darling wife, Christina, our two dogs and our cat, as well as the rest of my family, esp. my brother, as we have been best-buds for life. I enjoy travel and spending time in nature, hiking, skin-diving, bike-riding, and just smelling the flowers in general. I enjoy playing sports (don’t really watch ‘em though), as well as being a mixed martial artist. I am also a life-long student of the Tao Te Ching. In addition, I love watching movies (at the show or at home), as well as certain television shows, sci-fi and/or action-adventure of course, as well as pretty much anything educational, astronomy/universe, animal, or history related. Oh, and I’m a life-long Marvel Comics fan and collector, as well as a life-long Trekker, esp. TOS, so, peace and long life, everyone!
How long do you usually spend on a single project? For example the Slave 1 ship from Star Wars has some micro details.
Slave 1 was my finally get serious about modeling and painting, and to do so; my “pick-the-hardest-model-I-can-find-detail-wise-and-build-it-baptism-by-fire-sink-or-swim über-learning project. Plus I just love that ship! At the time, I was “OK” at best at modeling, but I knew I wanted to reach a new level. I figured if I could build Slave 1, after that I could build most anything hard-surface-wise. At the time, I really didn’t know anything (much anywho), so it took me like 10 months to build her. Now, she would take 3-4 weeks (less if I was to really crank on her), as there is an insane amount of detailing on her, and when you hit the detailing phase of a model, time sloooooows down! Come to think of it now, I think time actually stopped while building Slave 1 due to all the seemingly never-ending detailing to her undercarriage! LOL
She, and much of my work-to-date, are fuss-over-every-detail-to-perfection personal projects with no dead-line time-limit though. In production, two weeks is a fair average for a “ship-of-the-week,” six plus weeks for a hero model, and I can (and have) hit those production time requirements, with excellent quality, no prob now. Building for production is a whole other animal than hobby-modeling. Quality as well as speed must always be honed if one desires to work professionally in the film and/or television industry.
As a contract artist, how do you maintain a steady flow of work?
Oooo, the biz side of it, eh. I love the biz side as much as the art side itself, as I love being of good service to peeps. As such, as a successful contract graphic designer for seven years, I did so by following the good-business basics (as I see them anywho); I provided a good product with friendly and dependable service (at the time of the project, as well as follow-up service if needed). I believe in always going the extra-mile in regard to good service provided. I believe in doing this in the spirit of helping others first, and allowing the rest to naturally take care of itself (and stepping in if required, as billing can be “tricky” at times with certain clients). I believe in the Golden Rule in general, thus in business as well. I strive always to treat peeps how I would like to be treated myself, on all levels, including business. And if I mess up in any way for any reason, I own up to it, and try my best to set it right again as quickly as possible.
I am forever a shoot-from-the-hip, keep-it-simple, straight-shooter type o’ guy, always letting my clients know exactly what is going on with me during a project, or in regard to my schedule if already booked on another project. I always give clients the straight dope, so-to-speak. This is how I prefer to be treated as well. I have found it keeps projects (present or incoming) in proper focus and best on-track for all concerned, allowing for informed schedule adjustments if needed. No “yes man/ma’am” maneuvering from me, or for me, please. I strive to keep it simple and straight-forward, honest and honorable. This methodology served me (and my clients) perfectly for a successful seven-year run as a graphic designer. I now am on the first steps of applying that same business philosophy and application in the VFX industry. So far, so good. Heck, providing and receiving good business is not rocket-science, IMO, as I know I will always return to a place if I received good, dependable, and friendly service(s) and product. I feel most peeps will as well. It just makes life and business all the more easier, and thus more enjoyable for all, in my experience anywho. Oh, and produce an excellent demo-reel and then send it out everywhere you can think of that you feel you might be able to be of good service.
If you could meet anyone in the world, whom would you meet and why?
Hmmm, interesting Q, eh. I do not really think in those terms, as I am the kinda guy that just lives in the moment and flow of life and enjoys that so much as is. However, I believe it would be Lao Tzu, the author of the Tao Te Ching. Though I’d have to travel back in time as well for that meeting. I’d like to just sit and riff Tao philosophy back-and-forth with him for an afternoon, as I feel like ol’ Lao, he’d be a pretty cool and chilly dude to just hang with, just smellin’ the flowers an’ all.
If just in the world (per your Q), I’d like to meet my bud Doug Drexler in person, as he and I are “brothers from another mother” as he calls us, and it would be sO nice to finally be able to shake Doug’s hand and hang out. deg and dug; good times had. Be nice if Johnny (Eaves) could be there as well, but I see him next month. So yeah, my friends, I like meeting my friends. But oh heck, I just like meetin’ new peeps in general, eh.
Working with Modo, what do you feel it does best and where do you think it could use some improvement?
Well, IMO, hands-down; modeling and UVing, esp. UVing! I can’t even express how much I love modo in those regards. I love Allen’s render-engine as well for many things. I like the Shader Tree, too. As to what to improve; I pretty much leave that up to the Lux boyz and their big-brains, eh. They have done sO well so far, sO quickly, and thus made my 3D life sO much more enjoyable (and my life in general easier as well), that, at this point, I pretty much just live in a constant state of gratitude to them. If I do run into a sniggle now-and-then, they always seem to iron it out come update time, or will answer Qs posted on the modo forum promptly and comprehensively. Lux just rocks, product, and service-wise, IMO. They are an inspiration business-wise, as well as their modo just being a joy to work with. Thank you, Lux!
Can you explain where you came up with the Production Triangle?
Oh geez, that’s no credit to me, eh. I just made my own graphic of the concept and have it up as a staple/funny in the “on the beach…” section of my website. The PT has been around forever. I can’t even recall where I first came across it at this point. As far as I know, it’s just an industry production truism/funny (maybe not so much for un-objective and/or unreasonable clients) in any industry that operates within the fast-paced dead-line framework.
Hey, thanks for the opportunity of being interviewed, modocookie! It was a pleasure. Happy modo-ing to all my fellow modonauts!