What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing you as both a 3D generalist and matte painter?
I am not really a matte painter, well not the classic type anyway and instead I use techniques borrowed from matte painters. They should actually invent a name for it and if they won't come up with a fancy one anytime soon, I promise I will [Laughs'>. Everyone does matte paintings nowadays, combining a few photos and a lens flare. I think "mixed media” is a more appropriate name for it. Matte painting is based on production requirements, creating photoreal set extensions or modifying existing sets.
As for challenges, I think making it believable is the most difficult part. Anyone can create an alien, but not everyone can make it an original and believable alien. A realistic alien on a very realistic alien planet, now that's a challenge. I am still working on that aspect, and I might even hit 60 whilst still trying.
I agree that creating plausible designs is indeed a challenge, but what do you think are the best examples you have seen that have looked both original and believable?
I think the whole Alien series is both believable and original; it's one of the best examples I can think of. Everything is so detailed, from the anatomy and the skin texture, which even gives you a good idea of how it would feel to the touch, to the way they organize, reproduce, breathe and eat. Even their planet is carefully conceptualized, making you wonder "what if”.
The Mist, where the creation of truly believable and unique monsters was pretty challenging I think, since they haven't been described in detail in King's
book. Cloverfield also brings a fresh design. Star Wars, Dune, Avatar, The Time Machine, Independence Day, Stargate (the movie) also contain original and believable designs.
Which films have impressed you the most from a CG perspective?
Oh, where do I start? Movies are and have always been my greatest inspiration. I started working in the industry after seeing Jurassic Park, which I think was a great revelation and a step up in the industry at that time. Later on I became fascinated by matte painting after watching The Lord of the Rings, and now I am still recovering after Avatar. It's funny, because each time you think you are actually keeping up with the "big boys”, as I like to call the
big production studios, a new revolutionary movie comes to life; a movie that keeps you staring at the screen for its entire duration and leaves you with a big "what the heck” expression on your face at the end. That's what Avatar did to me. Those guys deserve a lot of credit and appreciation; they keep the industry alive, pushing the limits every time and keeping everyone motivated.
You mention Avatar and The Lord of the Rings, but where do you feel the biggest CG advancements have been made with respect to these films and the general industry over the last five years or so?
I think The Curious Case of Benjamin Button played a major role in the CG development over the past few years, through the use of the Mova Contour system. Also 2012 had some groundbreaking VFX.
There is mention of Homeworld in both your matte painting and 3D portfolio. Can you tell us a little about this project and the idea behind it?
I thought I should make a series instead of plain, different illustrations. I wanted to tell a story and it's a lot easier, not to mention it makes more sense doing so, in a series. Homeworld was born at a time when I was still learning CG, so I could barely convey my ideas and vision on screen.
Which digital artists do you look at for inspiration, be it 2D or 3D?
I was a big fan of Dusso and, heck, I still am. I also like Syd Mead, Ralph McQuarrie, Ryan Church, James Paick, Mark Goerner, Khang Le, Feng Zhu, Dylan Cole, Stephan Martiniere, Raphael Lacoste, Jeremy Cook, Vitaly Bulgarov...there are so many that I could fill the whole page!
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today.
Thank you for your time and consideration.