Interview: Jean-Sèbastien Guillemette

The majority of people in the Blender community know your name and the work is represents, but who do you see yourself as? Who is Jean-Sébastien? What makes him tick?

Would it be sad if I answer that what makes me tick is 3D itself? Hehe! Actually, everything that my life consist of revolves around art.  In whatever shape it comes, may it be any of the seven arts or even some other form of it, deep inside. That’s what I live for.  Not necessarily for the art I create, but to witness the art of others. Apart from that, what could I say? In my day to day life, I’m a 22 years old 3D Generalist at Deshed, a 3D animation studio in Montréal. We mostly work on publicity that are aired in Canada. You can see our latest ad here: “Le Rigodon” for the company IGA  http://www.deshed.com/s/IGA/IGA_LeRigodon.mp4 We currently are working on a bunch of ads for the Olympic games in Vancouver.

Most of your Blender work seems to focus around a sci-fi theme with lots of futuristic buildings and vehicles. Would you say this is where your passion in 3D lies?

It is true that I have a passion for science-fiction. Science-Fiction is such a broad theme that it lets you imagine anything. From the ashes of an apocalyptic war to the cleanliness of an utopia civilization, you can explore vehicle design, as well as architecture and how these would evolve depending on the storyline of your universe. Some would say I’m still a small naive kid dreaming of Star Wars and Star Trek, and well, they’d be right to some extent I guess!


I have known you for quite some time, and I know that you are mostly self-taught, but you also went to school over the last few years to study CG. Looking back, which of these two learning methods do you feel was more beneficial to you as a 3D artist? Why?

I wouldn’t have replace my self-taught 3D knowledge to an academic one. Never. Self-learning helped me learn how to learn, how to explore and how to think outside the box. It was a very beneficial experience.  Nonetheless, my cinema study in college, and later my 1 year ‘3D Animation and Visual Effects’ intense training at the NAD Centre gave me something I was lacking from my self-teaching.  It gave me traditional art references to better understand what I was doing in 3D. It also gave me discipline, deadlines, and knowledge on how to optimize my production work-flow. During my classes, the projects and learning process were really straight forward as if what the teacher was saying was the only solution to a problem. In fact, the students in general didn’t have much time to double guess the teacher. We needed to be production ready within a year, starting from zero knowledge for the most of us. This lead several students to narrow their tests and stop thinking outside the box about how this or that tool could be better used. I feel like my personal learning process came in handy and helped me pick the different bit of info we would receive from the teacher and better visualize and imagine how they could be used in different context.

During your studies at school, you were using mostly Autodesk XSI, but traditionally you are a Blender artist. Now that you have had a taste of each, would you say you prefer one over the other? In your experience, what is one thing from each package that tops the other?

Modelling Demoreel Js Guillemette 2007 from Js Guillemette on Vimeo.

Ah! The question that kills! Actually, my answer isn’t that surprising. Each software has its strength and its weakness. Autodesk|Softimage (yep it’s called Softimage now) is by far better suited for a production environment for the sole reason it handles passes to easily ship the rendered frames to a compositing software like Nuke or Fusion. I won’t get into much detail here since I’m not a Softimage vendor, but the way the user can easily give different material and propriety to each object depending on the pass (kind of the equivalent to a render layer in Blender) is simply amazing. Softimage is also very powerful for simulation because of its I.C.E. system which let the user access the object info (or particle system) and generate whatever transformation on it. Using I.C.E. we can create anything from shading, animated deformation, particle system, etc. Blender particle system is also very powerful, don’t get me wrong, but the nodal system of I.C.E. is far more friendly and versatile. On the other hand, Blender is far better suited for creating a project from A to Z. Its render layer system is made that way because the compositing software is, well, inside Blender.  As an independent artist, for whatever project I’d do, I’d use Blender no matter what. It just is more suited for that, and it’s free! It’s not that a software is better than the other, nowadays most software are almost up to par with each other in term of tool quality. It’s just a matter of the context and what needs to be done with what budget and in what time frame.

It was recently announced that you have been invited to join Project Durian, are you pretty jazzed? Can you tell me a bit of what you will be doing and how long you will be there?

Pretty jazzed? Hell yeah! I’ll be making the coffee for the artists and coders and also clean the floor when I have time. Making coffee for the artists is a full time job you know, since they’re drinking so much of it! Hehe! Actually I’ll be working on modelling, lighting and compositing and I’ll also be giving my opinion on the workflow of the studio since I have ‘industry’ experience that, apparently, can be useful for the team. Modelling wise, I’ll be starting on some epic [top secret] and I’ll also do an even more epic [top secret]!


Where do you see yourself in the future? Is there a particular studio that holds your dream job or are you more of a freelance guy?

Hard one. One thing that is for sure is that I’ll be coming back to Montréal after Durian to work at DeShed again. It’s a small studio, but probably the best place to work at. People are fun and projects are interesting! What else can you ask!

We all have our idols in 3D, is there a particular artist that captivates and inspires you? If so why and who is it?

Tough question.  My ‘inspiration’ folder probably contain work from over four hundred artists. I’ve always loved the work of Dusso (http://www.dusso.com/), a matte painter working at ILM (I believe he’s still working there). First because he does science-fiction, secondly because he’s one of the most amazing matte painter on earth. His style, his speed and his skills are simply unbelievable. Recently I’ve also stumbled across an artist I had never heard of: Alex Roman. He’s coming from a field that is often forgotten by 3D artists: architectural visualization. He recently finished a short movie that is probably the most beautiful CGI short movie I’ve ever seen in my life. The title of his short is ‘The Third and the Seventh’ (http://www.thirdseventh.com/index.php?/4thdimension/film/)

Outside of 3D, what do you like to do on a day to day basis? Any hobbies/interests?

Demoreel 2009 from Js Guillemette on Vimeo.

Apart from my family and my girlfriend which of course are a big part of my life, I love to read a good book. May it be science-fiction, thriller, etc. I love to discover new writer and their universe. I of course loved Asimov’s books, as well as Arthur C. Clark and I’m currently going through everything that is Orson Scott Card. Cinema probably fill what is left of my free time. My study in that domain lead me to appreciate the art of creating a film for an audience. I love to go through a movie several time and notice the different tools the author used to achieve something specific on the audience. I have a particular taste for experimental film, which you may have noticed by watching “The Third and the Seventh” I talked about in the previous question.  I’m also slightly crazy about technical achievement in big blockbuster movie. Stuff like Avatar are a true pleasure to watch for me!


While you are on the spot, is there anything you wish to share with the rest of the Blender community?

Yep! Back when I started in the Blender community, I always had a strong opinion against the other software, which is quite common in the community to say the least. We love our software so much, that we want to defend it at all cost against the giant that is Autodesk.  Although I was right to think Blender is amazing and defend it against the comments of other people, I was wrong to say Blender was ‘the best’.  There is no best. Only better suited solution depending on the context. By learning Softimage, it lead me to better put in perspective the strength and weakness of Blender and how I could use those to my advantage during my projects. One must realise that the software is just, well, the software.  The outcome is what really is important in a project, whatever software your use. What is great about Blender, is that for an independent artist that is low on cash or even small studio, it is the best solution for their context. That is why Blender is so great. Not because it is better than the others, but because it’s an amazing project in itself that helps thousands of us get some food on the table.

Have a nice day!

Jean-Sébastien Guillemette


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12 Responses to “Interview: Jean-Sèbastien Guillemette”
  1. Posts: 1
    BassCore says:

    Nice Halo figure!

  2. Posts: 95
    Solineoz says:

    Nice interview :)
    He do a great job and the Durian project can just getting better.
    Maybe he’s gona give some hints to the Blender’s developpers about what to improve in the next release (2.5).

  3. Posts: 7
    Shiretoko says:

    “[Top Secret]”
    Quite the mystery 😀

  4. Posts: 43
    Corniger says:

    Man, I wish I could go back to 3d school! Too old :( But hey, there’s always school at Mavenseed!
    Anyway, cool interview! Different because of the XSI thing. People always read “Blender is the best…” but tend to miss the “…for animation!”
    At least we can say “Blendercookie is the best for education” and not be as biased as with Blender itself! 😉
    Cheers to J.S.@Durian!

  5. Posts: 8
    Thomas says:

    Undoubted a very competent artist.
    Just like it’s protogé.

    By the way: Happy birthday Johnathan.

  6. Posts: 234
  7. Posts: 66
    Mr Tomado says:

    I was kinda bummed when you said that you weren’t going to make coffee. It sounded so exciting!

    Were all those screenshots made in Blender? They are pretty amazing.

  8. Posts: 13
    Pascal P. says:

    Nice and intersting interview. Jean-Sébastien has made awsome 3D masterpieces so far.

    And, as I’m ‘Froggie’, let me add a line in French : Bravo Jean-Sébastien, continue de nous faire rêver et bonne chance pour le projet Durian! 😉

  9. Posts: 1
    Jean-Sébastien Guillemette says:

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments 😀

    Potado: Yep, all the screenshots are from Blender Internal renderer. The only Softimage|XSI stuff is in my 2009 demoreel.

    Have a nice day all :)

  10. Posts: 98
    Tobey says:

    WOW. This was one jaw-dropping interview.
    Glad to finally get to know a little closer the author of the great futuristic city render, which my memory has been holding for a long time since I saw it first. The works are impressive and the revelation of the J.S.’ background leading to his success is much inspiring. Nice to read the forward-propelling inertia is shared by many of us, including the 2 great A’s mentioned, Asimov & Avatar.

    Good luck and thank you for sharing some of your [top secrets]. 😀

  11. Posts: 1
    Alyson Stelting says:

    Illuminating and Enjoyable to read! I have added your blog to my favorited sites. Please keep writing!

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