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Mike Hardison - Lighting and Composition Demo Reel 2012

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Date Added: 13th August 2012
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Mike Hardison has posted a lighting and composition reel, with work from Blizzard Entertainment cinematics and more.

 
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Tsabszy (Forums) on Fri, 17 August 2012 8:00pm
thank you very much! don't get me wrong! i don't feel like i'm a bad artist, i just know where i am and where i want to be, recarding skills. that's all. and just as you said it, i'm trying to aproach people with respect. i'm kinda new here, i've only started to bother 3d forums daily almost 2 years ago and i have very few works to show, so compered to my idols (which i have a ton :) ) i'm nothing. but i'm trying to improve myself when i have the strength and trying to get closer to the level that i'm satisfied with. within these 2 years i filled up some black spots in my knowledge and am still working on those. plus i've had the oportunity in this country to work with a lot of jerks who were not clear about their knowledge and they thought they are a lot more than they really were. i don't want to make the same mistake, i always need to know my limits and my goals! so again, thank you for the compliment Mike! it really means a lot! and for the great and depletive answers as well!! it's just really great and inspiring to realize that those cinematics really are made by real living people, who once started like us!
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MikeH (Forums) on Fri, 17 August 2012 6:31pm
[QUOTE=tsabszy;924172]very well said!! and the answers are appreciated again! btw [B]Mike[/B], sorry if i missed but it's not clear to me if you have ever been into freelancing? or have you always worked full-time at companies? [/QUOTE]I have done some freelancing, yes. But not much of it. I've mostly (fortunately) been employed. When you're a full time employee, it can be hard to find the time to do even more work on top of that. When I first started out, I did do more freelance. This helped put content on my reel. But 3D was starting to hit mainstream when I started looking, so I companies were looking for anyone at that point.By the looks of the stuff you've done, on 3dTotal, Tsabszy, I'm amused you think little of your talents. Your work is pretty solid. You can only get more awesome from here on.Thank-you for asking some good questions, astroAJ. I hope it helped in some way. :)
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AstroAJ (Forums) on Fri, 17 August 2012 11:40am
Thanks Mike and tsabszy I really appreciate your valuable advice and you've helped steer me in the right direction. I'm already doing a few of the things you've suggested so I think I'm off to a good start. I really need to keep growing and learning as an artist and the work that you guys produce keeps me inspired and motivated so keep on making brilliant works!!Thanks once again both of you for passing by the forums to answer a few of my questions, I really appreciate it when very talented artists do this. :)
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Tsabszy (Forums) on Fri, 17 August 2012 7:48am
very well said!! and the answers are appreciated again! btw [B]Mike[/B], sorry if i missed but it's not clear to me if you have ever been into freelancing? or have you always worked full-time at companies? i'm curious, coz i have seen many talents starting with freelancing. but i don't have an ide how they could get the recognition to get work without reference when they started? [B]astroAJ[/B] you didn't came here for my advice, but if it can help i agree with everything Mike said! i have only a little experience and only in game-development, but i have experienced some of these myself. i got my first job through a friend who was an ex-school mate of mine. not because he said to the company that they should apply me, but because i had no idea at the time, where or how could i find place to work in the 3d industry and at the time 5 years of 3d learing at home was behind my back (only on weekends and without internet at home, so it took me time). i couldn't point out these points so well but the first thing i would have said is just try to immerse yourself into it yes! coz after i got my 1st job i became to be surrounded by artist with experience and we learned from each other a ton, really. and i have a friend here on 3dtotal as well who got job through me, but not becasue of i'm good or anything, no.. but he had the talent and i have more experience, i knew people in the industry so i could pointed him to the right direction and that's all. so make friends yeah! i left my last company because they didn't pay my salary but we still kept the good relationship (as Mike said because the industry - and in my case our country - is small). trying to keep a good relationship with other people in the industry is also important, yes! i usually don't like stress at work, because i have just enough from deadlines and sometimes requirements from designers or animators, so i never try to be a jerk even if i'm in a bad mood, coz we still have to work with each others. and yeah, later corporate ladder could change so you can end up being supervised by a guy who you showed you hated and that will not be good for you :) i just recently realized how important to keep track of news in the industry and learn from others on the internet, and always know the quality and technical standards. so yes.. these are really essential thnigs to keep in mind.
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MikeH (Forums) on Thu, 16 August 2012 7:16pm
[QUOTE=Freespace-3DT;924027]Mike,Why don't they apply that same principle for their night scenes? Say hello to Vitaly and David Luong from me if you see them around. :)[/QUOTE]tsabszy said it best. Blizzard Cinematics has a it's own stylized look. Because we have full control over our lights, we are able to push the boundaries of realism and what can realistically be done as opposed to the limitations you have in lighting for film. The Blizzard look weighs heavily on the correct balance of key, core and rim lighting. We make heavy use of rim lighting to help separate the characters from the heavy detail we apply to the backgrounds.In film, vfx lighting it largely dependent on however the practical plates are lit. If you deviate from the practical plates, your vfx fails to look integrated into the shot and you've failed your primary objective. So lighting in film does not try to push the boundaries in that regard.[QUOTE=astroAJ;924037]What made you decide to go into lighting and compositing was it something youve always enjoyed or did you pick it up more with work etc?[/QUOTE]I was originally a 3D generalist (and still love to dip my fingers into all aspects of C.G.). However, in the film industry, the bigger studios began catering their production pipelines into specialized jobs, animators, riggers, lighting/compositing, etc. So I had a choice to make if I wanted to work in a bigger facility, what do I specialize in? I chose lighter/compositor because it catered mostly to my past c.g. supervising skills. So, to answer your questions, it was something I picked up, but picked it up because of my affinity towards it. :)[QUOTE=astroAJ;924037]When developing game cinematics for Blizzard how much creative freedom do you get over your work or is everything already pre-defined earlier in the pipeline or is it more up to you to develop the look and feel ? [/QUOTE]Good question. One thing to remember is that you're dealing with a lot of money to make a c.g. production, so it's important to nail down the look as early as possibly and try not to deviate from it in the later stages. If you do so, it's going to cost more time, money and effort. This is something you want to avoid if you can. Therefore, a lot of the creativity goes on in the beginning stages of the production, during concepting, previz, etc. The bigger the production, the more control there needs to be over creative decisions. Without that check, a production can spiral out of control and be incredibly over budget. As an artist on a big production, this is simply something you have to come to terms with. The individual changes you make to your shot or assets have a repercussion to the continuity of the show. So you better know what your doing. :)Now at Blizzard, I think you have more input than on film work. We're smaller than a film studio and Blizzard has seen success in listening to multiple inputs.[QUOTE=astroAJ;924037]Me being a student and just about to finish up my studies, youve probably seen loads of showreels and work but do you have any advice or tips for students trying to get into the industry? [/QUOTE]Another good question. 1. Immerse yourself into it. Try to be surrounded by as much talent as you can be. That means making friends who also do c.g. for games or film, going to meet-ups about c.g. It's amazing how much energy you feed off of each other and how much inspiration you get from just being around others who share your same interests in c.g.2. Try to attend some graphics conferences like SIGGRAPH, GamesCon, E3, etc. (volunteering is a good way to get around having to pay for a conference ticket). You soak up so much, you meet so many people and you're inspired tremendously. Plus, there's a lof of opportunities at employment and friendships there.3. Think about investing in online learning material like Gnomon, CGSociety or Digital Tutors to help learn where the industry is going in terms of new tech. Incredibly, these online sites have more up to date material than colleges. However, they don't teach you the core foundations of art.4. Study the [U]craft[/U] of art. Analyze art in all it's forms, from painting to film to c.g. artists. Break their stuff down and find out why they chose to put a light there, choose a color here, or design a silhouette for a certain object. 5. Know your strengths, know yourself. Find out enough about yourself to know what motivates you to be passionate about the aspects of c.g. This will help you focus in on what will define you as an expert in modeling or lighting or animation. Being an artist is tough on your self confidence at times. It's because we tend to invest so much of ourselves into it that it ultimately defines a lot of what we are. So have a secure foundation of who YOU are before you have your art define you. I could go pretty deep on this subject alone. :)6. Network. VERY important. Make friends in the industry. Recruiters get you an interview, but it's people like you that get you the job. Never "burn bridges" (it means stay mature when you are in a negative situation and really want to tell someone to go to hell or suddenly up and leave). This stuff can haunt you. It's still a small industry of people. You WILL meet them later, and they might be your superior the next time you meet them. So ALWAYS think when dealing with someone that "we'll meet again. How do I want that person to view me the next time we meet?"7. Set a 5 year goal. Imagine where you want to be 5 years from now and keep that goal your focus. Judge your actions and studying off of that 5 year plan in order to stay focused. Work towards that plan.8. Plan to take a break. Work hard, but plan to set some time aside to recharge and re-evaluate things. 9. Make a website. Use this to market yourself. Keep your reel up to date. When you get a job, always be prepared to land the next one. I'm not saying that you will leave, but the games and film industry can be very volatile. Companies can flounder almost over-night. Look at Zynga, for example. It's always good to be prepared.10. You are not an island. Someone, somewhere is better than you at something (and usually many more things than you realized). Always be open to learning from them, no matter how old or established you think you are. Approach everyone with respect. Doing so much more likely makes them respect you and allows them to be the best they can be around you. That means you, also, learn from them at their brightest. There's nothing more incredible than working with a group of people that are working at the best of their abilities. It's the source of your greatest growth as an artist.[QUOTE=Freespace-3DT;924027]Mike,Say hello to Vitaly and David Luong from me if you see them around. :)[/QUOTE]Yes! Major props to Vitaly, Fausto and David Luong. I love working with them (and the other crazy talented artists we have) and growing from them. Major artists and mad crazy skills. Ack! Wall o' text! TL;DR Pandas are cool.
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Tsabszy (Forums) on Thu, 16 August 2012 8:09am
i just love this thread :D i love discuss theese things, when i saw the 1st cg stuff in my life i knew this is what i really wanna do for living! thanks Mike again for the answers, and your time you spend on us!! that is very true that you have to keep up with technical changes, i mean i work in game-industry not cg-movies, but i only started to really pay a lot attention on 3d forums like thready here. and it turned out at the time how short-sighted i was. btw on the 1st starcraft 2 movie, we couldn't recognize any sign of you guy's suffering, since the quality at the end is just mindblowing!! that's the video i watched sometimes 20 times a day, before sc2 arrived! so you guy's effort was REALLY worth it!! i'll think on some more question when i'll have time. and keep watching this thread! thank you! [B]Freespace[/B] in my opinion cg films like avanger and Blizzard movies have different look. in cg usually they try to aproach a hyper-real look, but Blizzard sometimes also make their videos look a little bit "idealized" as i call it. i mean not just hyper-real, but something more, sometimes even a bit kinda "unrealisticly looking cool"-look :D if you catch my drift. especially for characters, if you have a look at Tyrael from D3 or Mengsk from SC2 or King Terenas from WC3. their faces don't look like people do on photos, their rather look idealized. so don't get me wrong coz they look awsome, but i think Blizzard videos have their own stlye because they don't create hyper-real videos only, but something more, something different, something idelized. at least that's my opinion :D i'm curious what Mike answers on this question. and about Vitaly, yes.. as a character artist i admire his works as well and i was really, really disappointed that on the behind the scens dvd of d3 ce there was very little peak about high poly models from cg-cinematics and there was NO ANY interview from guys, like Vitaly Bulgarov or Fausto De Martini at all :( i was really happy to see my sc2's bonus dvd as there was a little interview from Fausto and his work on modelling Tycus' armor and Kerrigan's body. i hope next starcraft collector's edition will provide more insight of thinks like those on the bonus dvd :(
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AstroAJ (Forums) on Thu, 16 August 2012 4:56am
Mike everyone on this forum really appreciates you dropping by to answer a few questions and giving us an insight into the blizzard cinematic’s. Love the showreel to!I’ll keep my questions short because I know you’re probably quite busy. :)What made you decide to go into lighting and compositing was it something you’ve always enjoyed or did you pick it up more with work etc?When developing game cinematic’s for Blizzard how much creative freedom do you get over your work or is everything already pre-defined earlier in the pipeline or is it more up to you to develop the look and feel ? Me being a student and just about to finish up my studies, you’ve probably seen loads of showreels and work but do you have any advice or tips for students trying to get into the industry? Thanks one again for dropping by we really appreciate it.
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Freespace-3DT (Forums) on Thu, 16 August 2012 2:35am
Mike,Thank you very much for coming here and answering our questions. We really appreciate it!I have a question. In regards to darker scenes, I always admire how you and your peers at Blizzard still add the necessary rim lighting to give shape to the important objects. This way, there is atmosphere, but that is not in detriment to the viewer. For example, the Kerrigan vs Zeratul cinematic. Everything is perfectly visible thanks to smart lighting.On to the question. Let's look now at films like The Avengers. Why don't they apply that same principle for their night scenes? For example, Thor vs Iron Man night scene, or the post-credits secret scene? It is barely possible to see anything, and THEN add the fact you're most likely seeing it through those blasted 3D glasses that darken everything some more. How can this be an oversight on so many massive projects? No highlights, no rim lighting, just a soup of low tones. I dread night scenes in 3D movies for this reason, and they keep having them in there.On another note, I am counting the moments until the reveal of the new WoW cinematic tomorrow. Can't wait! Will post it on the frontpage immediately as I see it.Say hello to Vitaly and David Luong from me if you see them around. :)
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MikeH (Forums) on Wed, 15 August 2012 7:38pm
[QUOTE=bobi;923945]Hey Mike. Great demoreel, and very well chosen music. Through, I would remove the shot of that cartoon kids, because it seems to me that is pretty down in quality compared to the rest of the stuff. Not because it's cartoon (I like cartoons :) ), but because of some flat looking shaders, and not so rich lighting. But then I guess, maybe that's the shot you are somehow emotively connected, so you choose to place that in demo reel. It's great that you're here to answer some of our questions. Apart from Blizzard graphics, lighting stuff (which are excellent by all means), I am mostly impressed with Blizzard directing the shots (since from Broodwar and Warcraft 3 cinematics), and some of the shots that even great world directors would not be ashamed, but proud. So, who is in charge for directing? Is that Nick Carpenter? I can't google much of him, but I would like to hear if he have formal school (which is not that important), what are his influences, what movies he likes to watch. Sorry for this type of (not your field) questions, but you can ask Nick to hop over here, I am sure he has plenty of time to answer questions on the forum. :D Just kidding, to conclude... great demoreel, hope you'll find some great job in some big compan... oh wait... forget... :)[/QUOTE]Haha! The shots with the cartoon kids was from the movie Monster House while at Sony Imageworks. It's on there more for technical reasons as it showed the use of the Arnold render in production. I think the movie lost a lot of it's richness in the conversion to Blu-Ray.Yes, Nick Carpenter has be very influential in driving the Blizzard look in Cinematics. We're fortunate to have his talents leading the team. I doubt he has the time to drop in say hello, sadly. I'm not even sure I do. :)Apart from Nick, we have a few more directors, all are being groomed to adhere to and expand on the Blizzard Cinematic look.
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MikeH (Forums) on Wed, 15 August 2012 7:24pm
[QUOTE=tsabszy;923893]How long have you been in the industry? and what are your plans to the future? do you feel like you reached your destination in this profession, or you are close to it? i'm just really curious how a person feels like who is an important cog wheel in the "machine" that creates theese awsome products. what was the favorite project you worked on? and what was the worst if i can ask such a question :D[/QUOTE]Wow, some good questions. I started 3D around 95-96. I've been in the t.v./film industry since 1999 and in game cinematics since 2008. Here's my IMDB page if that answers the question a little more clearly ([url]http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0362431/[/url]). While I've certainly reached some goals I set out for myself in life, but you always end up striving to be more. If you don't, you start to get stale. Plus, the industry changes on you. You have to keep up with those changes. It's funny, Gabe Newell once said something in an article I read that was pretty insightful. "We think the future is very different from the successes in the past" -G.NewellIt means the techniques/skills/talent that got you to where you are today are not going to get you any further in the future. You have to expand to be more. Sometimes that means reinventing yourself too.I think it's valuable to really sit down and figure out where you want to go within the next five years and then strive to achieve it. It keeps you on track. You'll also find that along your journey, life changing events like getting married and having kids can really alter what you once thought was valuable. For example, getting my names at the end of a movie credit was a big deal when I was younger. Now, it holds little value today. Working on a movie or game my kids can see sounds more appealing than it was when i was younger.Keep in mind that productions like this are the sum of many talented people, not just me. We all have a part to fill in the creation of this, each specialized in his own area of expertise; from modeling, to lighting, to production management and art direction. Don't be daunted because your own projects don't meet a standard set by a team of 50-150 people. Be proud of what you do well. Discover your strengths and improve them. The most valuable aspect of all of this is being able to work as a team and utilize the strengths of those around you to bring the project up as a whole.My favorite project to work on...Hm.I'll just span the last 5 or so years for this question. I actually enjoyed Cataclysm because the team dynamics felt good and it had some challenges that I really enjoyed. My least favorite project was the first cinematic we did for Starcraft II. The team had taken on a lot of changes and we had not yet completed the tools or structure to fully handle the scope of those changes. This resulted in lots of extra work to get things done. That is to be expected when you have a department and project that absorbs as many changes as it did.
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Bobi (Forums) on Wed, 15 August 2012 12:16pm
Hey Mike. Great demoreel, and very well chosen music. Through, I would remove the shot of that cartoon kids, because it seems to me that is pretty down in quality compared to the rest of the stuff. Not because it's cartoon (I like cartoons :) ), but because of some flat looking shaders, and not so rich lighting. But then I guess, maybe that's the shot you are somehow emotively connected, so you choose to place that in demo reel. It's great that you're here to answer some of our questions. Apart from Blizzard graphics, lighting stuff (which are excellent by all means), I am mostly impressed with Blizzard directing the shots (since from Broodwar and Warcraft 3 cinematics), and some of the shots that even great world directors would not be ashamed, but proud. So, who is in charge for directing? Is that Nick Carpenter? I can't google much of him, but I would like to hear if he have formal school (which is not that important), what are his influences, what movies he likes to watch. Sorry for this type of (not your field) questions, but you can ask Nick to hop over here, I am sure he has plenty of time to answer questions on the forum. :D Just kidding, to conclude... great demoreel, hope you'll find some great job in some big compan... oh wait... forget... :)
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Dfgdssasa (Forums) on Wed, 15 August 2012 8:54am
Thanks for the compliment, Csaba. Having seen the excellent work you yourself have done (posted on 3dTotal), I'm honored. If you (or anyone else) have any questions, I'll be glad to watch this forum space and answer anything to the best of my knowledge.Mike Hardison______________________[url=http://www.maillot-de-foot-pas-cher.net]Maillot De Foot[/url]
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Tsabszy (Forums) on Tue, 14 August 2012 7:12pm
thank you very much Mike, for the complete answer!! could we know how long have you been in the industry? and what are your plans to the future? do you feel like you reached your destination in this profession, or you are close to it? i'm just really curious how a person feels like who is an important cog wheel in the "machine" that creates theese awsome products. what was the favorite project you worked on? and what was the worst if i can ask such a question :D
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MikeH (Forums) on Tue, 14 August 2012 6:44pm
(Hm. my previous post did not go through yesterday for some reason. So I'm retyping it now)Ha! No questions are stupid, Csaba. Curiosity is the engine of greatness.First off, before I go into any details, even though I am an employee of Blizzard, my comments do not represent Blizzard. Naturally, there are some questions I simply cannot answer.How Did I Learn My Profession?/How Did I Get to Blizzard?It's a long story but I'll try to be brief. In college, I pursued an C.G. animation degree. However, C.G. was so new that many people had no real training. I mainly taught myself. I did so by taking $5000 out of my credit card to purchase a copy of Lightwave and a computer. I could have gotten a cracked/hacked version, but I'm extremely glad I didn't as it was one of the smartest decisions I've done with my career. Why? If I had gotten a cracked version of Lightwave, I would have dabbled with the program until I hit my first major obstacle, then would have quit. However, by paying for it, I was committed to making something out of the $5k I had sunk into this tool. My learning accelerated voraciously after that. I blew through the classes in the first month and was begging the teacher for more work to do. I was directed do animation for the local college news show, then I soon landed an intern at a local animation company that did animated commercials. At the same time, I volunteered to work at SIGGRAPH in order to get entry into this growing conference simply to get further immersed in the world of c.g. A few years later, I landed a job at a Los Angeles animation company that did the FX for television shows like Star Trek and Babylon 5. The hardest obstacle to overcome was getting entry into the t.v. and film industry in Los Angeles (this is less of an issue now than it was before. The film industry has spread itself out globally). From there, I worked through various companies. The bigger the company, the more they require specialization, so my specialty moved from 3D Generalist/Supervisor to Lighter/Compositor. Contacts are very important. Let me really stress that fact.It was a contact that alerted me to Blizzard's growing Cinematics Department. Knowing their past work, I looked into the job position. I liked what I saw and decided to take the job. What Software Does Blizzard Cinematics Use?Cinematics uses a variety of software. We're always evaluating the lastest stuff. We even have a tools team that makes custom software for our use. however, the major tolls we use are: Maya, 3DSMax, Nuke, Houdini and Renderman.What is Cinematic's Pipeline like?Heh. This is a long and difficult question to answer. We model our pipeline mostly off of the film industry's standard setup, with specialized departments working on pieces of of the show. Down the end of the pipeline, all of these pieces are assembled together, lit and rendered. This is a simplified explanation. In reality, organizing it is quite a challenge.Why Do I Have a Demo Reel?You mean you guys don't!? :) One should always have a demo reel handy whether you are looking or not. It's also good for self reflection.Great questions. If you have more, I'll be glad to answer what I know.
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Freespace-3DT (Forums) on Tue, 14 August 2012 3:37am
Hi Mike,Yeah we're huge fans of Blizz cinematics here, and in many cases such as myself, it's the reason I started CG in the first place.If there's anything you can shed light on in regards to your workflow, we would all geek out.One additional question, are you moving on from Blizzard, or why the demo reel?
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Tsabszy (Forums) on Mon, 13 August 2012 11:05pm
thank you very much for the chance! i just wonder, how you learned this profession, and how much time have you worked before participating in theese awsome projects? starcraft 2 - wol cinematics and the wow - wotlk trailer are my all-time favorites. with such an amazingly epic and perfect mood, lighting, music, cutting... everything just fits together perfectly! i have watched every blizz cinematic thousand times and i bet Freespace (who posted this) would agree :D also i'm curious what softwares do you use and how is your work pipeline exactly? i mean i don't know too much about lighting and compositing in cg movies, but i'm really curious. sorry if i asked stupid questions!
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MikeH (Forums) on Mon, 13 August 2012 10:06pm
Thanks for the compliment, Csaba. Having seen the excellent work you yourself have done (posted on 3dTotal), I'm honored. If you (or anyone else) have any questions, I'll be glad to watch this forum space and answer anything to the best of my knowledge.Mike Hardison
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Tsabszy (Forums) on Mon, 13 August 2012 7:55pm
awsome!!
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