Three years later…
I can’t quite believe that three years have passed since I last posted here. Lots of things have happened (mostly good, but a few bad!) and I thought it would be appropriate to summarise them before I move on to posting other articles.
So this all came about from an Autodesk presentation meeting we had at their office back in early 2012. They asked if anyone was interested in reviving the old Softimage user-group. Those meetings were something I remembered from years ago when Matt Morris used to organise it, and so I jumped at the chance to get involved in its revival, along with several others including Matt himself.
The launch event was a massive success, and we had a huge turn out. Many more than we expected, and more than was really practical for the style of presentations that we were trying to do. But everyone enjoyed themselves and there was a massive sense of achievement for all involved.
We must have done about 4 or 5 meetings, when on March 4 2014, Autodesk announced Softimage was going to be dropped. It’s hard to know what to say about that that hasn’t already been said. For me, there’s no question that Softimage is still the best all round 3D package out there. It enables small teams to work in an agile way and create high quality content incredibly quickly. The exact story of why Softimage was dropped has still to be made completely clear, but it seems to be more about the numbers than anything. It certainly wasn’t to do with giving the customers what they wanted.
So despite the hard work, we all had a great time putting the Softimage Creative meetings together. We always came away buzzing with a sense of achievement after getting through the night by the skin of our teeth. The rumours were always there that Autodesk would pull the plug and we hoped we were making it harder to do that with every meeting we had. It didn’t work out that way, but we were pleased that we tried.
In 2013 I decided to leave The Mill in search of a new challenge. I had an offer from Rushes to become their Head of CG, and it was exactly what I was looking for. I really felt that I needed something to test me to see what I could achieve. If you’ve never done it yourself, then take it from me… looking after a team of people is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, particularly if you’ve never done it before, but it can also be very rewarding.
I stayed at Rushes for only a year and it was the hardest I’ve ever worked. There were high points and the occasional low point, but I can honestly say that I came away a stronger person for it. What’s more, despite making a few mistakes, I know that I helped leave the team in a better place than when I started. What more could you ask for.
There were three main pieces of work that the team did that stood out for me.
The first was the Tiny Worlds micro-films that were done as an in-house project. It was a super cool and funny concept they came up with, and was hugely popular when it was released online, even managing to garner a Staff Pick on Vimeo.
Second was when we had the opportunity working with Mother’s digital department for IKEA. This was no small challenge, particularly because at the time we were using Renderman 17. It would be an understatement to say that rendering architectural interiors with that renderer was a difficult task, and I won’t even start to talk about trying to render glass! For this job, I was able to get hands-on and deal with the technical animation. That meant figuring out how all the kitchen parts could fit together in one big seamless loop. It was a really fun technical challenge and I’ll do a separate post about that sometime. Click the picture to go to Rushes website to view, or play with the interactive version online here on Ikea’s website.
Finally, a music video directed by up-and-coming director Karim Huu Do that just oozes coolness. The spot for band Last Night In Paris featured a number of in camera effects, and an oversized CG bug. The whole piece has an edgy, slightly freaky tone to it which I love. Click the picture to watch it on Rushes website.
Any lessons learned from my time managing a department? Waaaay too many to put here! Again, that deserves a separate post.
After taking a bit of time off in between Rushes to go travelling, as well as helping out with student assessments at my old film school, I got pulled into Glassworks to work on Honda with Chris Palmer directing. From the outset, it was clear that this was going to be something quite original. Jobs like these don’t come around often, so it was impossible to turn it down!
I was brought in about 2 months before the shoot, and had fun with the team working out all the technical gotchas and making schematics for the set, before we finally shot the commercial at the end of January. Post was relatively simple, although the tracking was a quite challenge. The environmental weather effects for the website version were tricky too. It’s kinda hard to fill an environment with rain or snow when you have a constantly changing scale!
Below is a making-of video showing behind the scenes. It doesn’t go into too much detail about the process, but you should get a good idea.
Now that that’s done, I’m on a new job that involves creating content for the Oculus Rift. In fact, I’m typing this now from a hotel room in LA. We’ve had two weeks of shooting, and we’re just about to start the third. I can’t say more than that for now!
So that’s me up-to-date. Forgive the slightly self-indulgent post. Some new content to come soon. Watch this space.