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Interview with Chris Nichols

By Richard Tilbury

Web: http://www.porkpiesamurai.com/ (will open in new window)
Email: moc.liamg@iarumaseipkrop

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Date Added: 26th April 2012

Can you tell us something about the worm creature in your gallery and the background behind it?

It was for a film test I worked on at Spin VFX back in 2008. It's a parasitic worm that crawls out of a toilet and attacks a woman. I think we named it Blinky. We had a clay design maquette provided and from that I modeled and sculpted the worm in Mudbox and worked with a Lookdev artist to create the slippery skin textures for the shots.

Which people do you feel have had the greatest influence over your development as an artist?

Bay Raitt was a big inspiration to me when I was getting interested in 3D. I was really impressed with the work he did on Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and had hoped to get into films and model creatures.

Before I moved to Vancouver I was really into the art of Marco Menco, Kolby Jukes, Pete Zoppi and Miguel Ortega and I've been aiming to reach their skill level ever since I started focusing on characters. I added people's work I really liked to my MSN or networked with them in other ways, and through that got critiques on my work from some of my favorite character artists. Since I've moved here I've worked, or become friends with, a lot of the talent I used to and still look up to, which has been a really rewarding experience.

What have been the most challenging projects you have worked on and why?

Each project has its own challenges and issues to deal with ,whether it's complexity or just plain
deadlines. Thor was a difficult film to work on, just because the schedule was tight in some ways so we constantly had to find ways to get our assets looking as good as possible in a short amount of time.

What do you find the most interesting to work on between props, environments and characters, or does it really depend on the project ?

Characters are great. Usually you get more time to work on a character than a prop or environment, and generally they are a lot more fun to do. Props or environments are usually done quite quickly and because of camera views, as long as it looks good in the shot there's no need to refine the details.

Characters can get quite refined as they need to deliver a performance and be realistic at the same time. It's a lot of noodling back and forth with rigging and Lookdev usually before it's finished, but I love the process and the final result is so satisfying.

Which films have made a lasting impression on you and what were the most significant aspects?

Definitely The Lord of the Rings. I was just so impressed by The Fellowship of the Ring and the sequels and that's really what motivated me to try and get into the industry. I was mesmerized by the Balrog, Cave Trolls, Gollum and the Nazgûl. I think I have a disposition for scaly, leathery or slimy creatures and ever since childhood I've found reptiles and amphibians to be fascinating. In recent times I love the Harry Potter films and I think District 9 was amazing too, but I don't think anything will compare to that first experience of watching Fellowship.

If you were given the opportunity to translate a book into a film, what would it be and why?

Enders Game - I read it recently and loved it. It's very visual, but has an intelligent core. I think it also covers a lot of great sci-fi ground to do with environments, creatures and vehicles. I'm excited to be working on it next at Digital Domain.

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