Is there anyone who you would say has inspired you or given you any great advice that has really helped you in your time working in CG?
I'd say my image teacher at Supinfocom, Marc Bigeast. He knows nothing about CG, but has a very good knowledge of graphic arts in general and many other interesting things. He really helped me to not focus too much on technical aspects when creating something (it can be difficult in 3D sometimes; at least it was for me), as the priority is artistic impression, whatever medium you're using.
I also learnt a lot about how the brain works to identify shapes, so you know what to keep and what to put aside in a scene, depending on the message you want to pass on in the image or animation.
It sounds like you really enjoyed making the Ghost Recon trailer. If you could choose any project in the world to work on what would it be? Also have you ever thought about branching out into the movie industry or do you see your future firmly based in gaming?
There aren't any particular projects I'd like to work on, but obviously it would be a project with a lot of time and freedom to give the best I can, with some cool, realistic, natural environments to make and the whole thing would be focused on the environments.
I like to work on trailers and cinematics for games because they are short-term projects, so it's a good opportunity to do different kinds of environments. I'm not working on the games themselves (although I did until 2004); I'm not even a real gamer myself, so I like to work on any type of project as long as it involves making substantial 3D environments. By
the way, I did work on a few commercials and music videos, and even a ride for a theme park, but of course working on a movie is the ultimate experience and I hope that I won't stay in the games industry all my life!
You seem to have been working in the games industry for quite a few years - how have things changed over this time period? And if there is one piece of advice you could give to someone wanting to get in to the industry, what would it be?
First of all, I'm glad that pre-rendered animations still exist for games. It was quite a big concern five years ago, but despite real-time technology's fast evolution (more on the hardware side these last years), so far they still haven't managed to compete with the level of detail and quality of lighting that we can get in pre-rendered cinematics. So that's good news for those of us who don't like converting a
highly detailed ZBrush model into a 1000 polys mesh!
Otherwise, the industry is so big now it's truly amazing. On one hand it's good for employment (even during the worst period of the economic crisis we were very busy a Blur), on the other hand the games tend to look the same, and as always it's all about making things quickly and making lots of money. It was already the case ten years ago, but it has become an empire bigger than the movie industry and that's not necessarily a good thing.
If I can give any advice, I think developing your personal style is the most important thing. It's normal to be influenced by other artists and copying what you like is a good way to learn, but if you watch too much TV, see too many films and play too many video games then you will end up doing the same things as everyone: warriors, orcs, naked ladies with guns and shiny robots. Well, if you work in the game industry you may have no choice, but at least you can do it with your own style! (Laughs).
It must be great being so close to the beach and being able to spend time with your family there. Your son must think that you have the best job in the world! Do you and your son play many computer games at home? When you play games do you find yourself concentrating more on the environments than the game?
My son is three years old so when he's watching me while I work he thinks it's definitely not a lot of fun! By the way, I don't want him to get too addicted to computer screens so I try to keep him away from them, but since I always have something to do on the computer I tend to give him bad habits!
We play a lot with a game called Vehicle Simulator, which is a simple simulation game where you can control any type of vehicle and he loves it. When playing games I often spend more time looking around than anything else. Like in Far Cry, for instance, I spent many hours exploring with the hang-glider, away from enemies!
Thank you for the interview; it has been a real pleasure speaking to you.
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to express myself!
To see more by Olivier Vernay-Kim, check out Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection
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