3DTotal : Hi Anders, thanks for talking to us. Anders : Hi, and thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed!
How did you get started in CG? Anders :
I don’t know if you remember the Vectrex system? It was a vector based console available on
the market during the early eighties. It had a black and white screen and you had to snatch on coloured plastic screens in front of it to be able to see the games in colour. Google for “Vectrex” images and you will see what I mean. Anyway, I got one of these in 1982 from my parents, and I also got a “light pen”
with which you could draw up to two hundred - or something - vector lines on the screen. I think I actually managed to draw a Star Wars snowspeeder, and this was probably my first CG type of “art”. I wish I could show it to you but the system had one big drawback: you couldn’t save your work! Later on I loved to play around with DeLuxe Paint on the different Amiga systems, and in 1995 my dad bought me a Mac copy of Bryce 1.0 (you know the landscape generator) from the U.S.
As with many others, I think this program introduced me to the wonderful world of 3D. Some of my renders where actually published in 1995 in the British magazine “MacFormat”. It was the first time I had something published, and today I can’t believe anybody wasted ink and paper on those renders. In 1996 I had my first real job, after graduating from University, which was as a bank clerk, and my main task was to staple papers and… well that was basically it. During the same time I attended an evening course at the University in CAD and visualization.
I picked it up pretty quickly and one year later I was hired by the University to lead the same course.I remember lecturing being great fun, and making up practical assignments; making up questions for the final exam and then correcting and grading the students was (when almost everybody passed) also great fun.
3DTotal : You have a website which allows users to download or purchase your virtual models. Is it a good way for artists to get their work out there? Anders : Yes I think it is - providing “free stuff” and tutorials attracts a lot of visitors. Tutorials and short “how to’s” actually attracts a lot more visitors than free stuff. I wrote a tutorial about how to model, texture and rig an aeroplane and I’ve noticed that, even if it is now getting a little out of date, it still attracts loads of visitors.
A fun detail is that I have a render called “Dirty job” on my site. It is a render of a dirty computer mouse. This particular image is generating huge amounts of traffic from people Googling for “dirty job”. I wonder what they are looking for… Strangely, as it may seem, selling a model for a couple of bucks involves less hassle and generates more appreciation compared to when providing it absolutely free. When I was giving away everything for free I was drowning in mails from people not only asking, but demanding all kind of things - some of these mails were also pretty rude. I guess when you give something for free then people assume that your time and effort is worth nothing. It may appear cynical but I now get a lot more thank you messages from people buying models, compared to when everything was available for free download. I still have lots of material available for free download, because I believe in the idea of sharing as much as possible. I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do today if others didn’t share their knowledge with me in the first place.
3DTotal : You have a great talent for final renders (amongst other things) but you don’t
seem to use any fancy plug-ins. How do you get so much realism from the images? Anders : Thanks. Yes, that’s right, I only use Cinema4D with its built in rendering engines. There are others renderers available for Cinema4D, like Final Render 2 and Maxwell renderer. I’ve player around with the Maxwell demo but haven’t been able to generate satisfactory results, not yet anyway. I’m sorry but I have no special tricks up my sleeve. I wish I had. You can get quite interesting results by using a well balanced combination of a standard 3-point lighting setup, and a cartoon ish look can sometimes be at least as interesting as a photo realistic render. I often see renders created using all kinds of fancy stuff, like HRDI. GI, Ambient Occlusion, etc., but without attention to the balance and detail it makes more damage than good. Lighting a scene is of course only half the work - the rest lies on working with the textures/shaders and the different shader channels available. Tweaking diffusion, specularity, reflection etc., and painting specific textures for each channel, is at least half of the job. I post a lot of work-in-progress images in different forums - each forum has a different crowd, and the comments
and suggestions I receive therefore span across a lot of issues. In this way I can improve details I never thought of in the first place, and improve settings I thought I had done my best with. I use some post production tricks and have created a couple of actions scripts for Photoshop. This is however nothing fancier than channel mixer settings and adjustments of saturation and
3DTotal : Apart from the site, what else do you do to make a living from CG? Anders : I work as a Project Manager and Consultant at one of Europe’s leading digital agencies, and in my present position I have mostly worked with clients within the automotive industry. I’m currently working with a major visualization project for Volvo Cars Corporation (VCC) but unfortunately I cannot reveal any juicy details about this until it has been launched. There is of course a lot of CG involved, but my part is ‘just’ a Project Manager’s role, and
unfortunately I’m not very involved in the creative or the CG technical parts. You will have to come back to me at a later point in time once it is launched, and hopefully I will be allowed to tell you more about it - it is a very interesting project both from a CG and technical perspective. Working for a global corporation - like VCC - has of course both its ups and downs. The scope of the projects and the creative heights is usually very high and I’ve had assignments around the globe; everything from Amsterdam (Holland) to Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). Lately however my most frequent trip is just a 3-hour drive between Malmoe (where I live and where our home office is) and Gothenburg (where VCC has their headquarters) – not as exciting as taking a flight to Asia during the SARS disease breakout some time ago though. At the same time, working for such a corporation can be a tad frustrating. The production pipeline requires much more administrative effort compared with when working with a smaller company. As you may know, VCC is owned by a US based Ford Motor Company (FMC). The requirements on processes and control are now - after the Enron scandal - much more strict, which has had its affect all the way down to my projects. Read a couple of Dilbert cartoons and you will understand what I mean. Maybe this is why I am also a big fan of office - and cubicle - humour.