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Interview with Paul Nelson


By Richard Tilbury

Web: http://www.paul-nelson.com/ (will open in new window)
Email: moc.liamg@6sitag

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Date Added: 4th June 2013
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This month's interview is with talented character artist, Paul Nelson. Having been in the industry for 10 years he talks to us about his route into 3D, his approach to character modeling and the demands of the prominent titles he has worked on over his career.

Can you tell us a little about your background and your route into 3D?

Well, like many guys in this industry I grew up watching spellbinding films full of visual effects and playing video games. I remember when I was a kid, there used to be a program on TV called Movie Magic, which would take viewers behind the scenes of movie making and show how all the visual and special effects were done. Having been exposed to all of this, I knew what I wanted to do.

After college I went freelance as an illustrator, producing published pieces and private commissions, and spent some time as a fine artist. During this period I started to get into 3D and, like quite a few people, I'm self-taught and would spend hours of my spare time learning how to model and found it really addictive. I decided at this point that this was what I really wanted to do, so I got a job at Codemasters as a 3D generalist and that's where my career in 3D began.

What do you feel were the most valuable lessons you learned during your first job at Codemasters?

I learnt so much in my first job. I learnt to be very humble; there are so many talented people in this industry and no matter how much you think you know, there are always others out there that know a lot more than you. I absorbed and learnt as much as I could from those around me. The biggest lessons was good working practices and time management, which I still feel are so important especially when you are constantly working to tight deadlines.

Having been in the industry for the past 10 years, where would you say art practice has evolved the most from the perspective of a character artist?

When I began I was working on very low poly meshes and, in a way, you had to be a lot more creative to get the best out of the limitations you had at the time. Due to the increase in technology, things have become a lot more demanding, especially in terms of level of detail and quality. Adding software like ZBrush and Mudbox into the pipeline and creating high resolution meshes has added a whole new dimension to the job.

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You have worked on some prominent titles over your career so far, but which proved the most demanding and why?

Probably my transition into film, which is a different animal in itself; I have now gone back to my roots and once again I'm doing a bit of everything.

In what ways was this transition demanding compared to your previous experiences?

From my experience in games I always had a lot of time and things seemed to be always changing. I would build a character and then six months down the line the brief or the design would change.

It wasn't because it was a bad design; the team and upper management would just get bored of looking at the same character, so they would change it.

I feel sometimes that the luxury of time is a bad thing. People procrastinate and unfortunately this has a damning effect on a project. With film I've observed that we don't have the luxury of time and things have to get out of the door quickly and this is the process I thrive on; a very quick turn around, but obviously one that is a lot more demanding. The difference in visual effects is in a year I can potentially work on three films, compared to spending up to two or three years on one game, with a chance that sometimes those games won't even see the light of day. This isn't such an issue when it comes to film.

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(ID: 201765, pid: 0) Nour Elislam on Sun, 09 June 2013 12:11pm
this is wonderfull !!!
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