3DTotal : Hi Richard. Thanks for talking to us. How did you begin your 3D Journey? Richard :Like many others, when I saw my very first computer generated visual effect in 1985’s “Young Sherlock Holmes”, I was instantly captivated by this new artistic medium. I immersed myself in the creative and technical aspects of computer graphics in the early nineties during my early years and this is when I got my first taste of 2D graphics software, primitive 3D software and even computer graphics programming (which I still do occasionally). During this time, I also came into contact with one of the first consumer-based 3D software packages, 3D Studio for DOS v1.0. I spent the next few years learning this software as well as trying out various other 3D applications, and by my mid high school years, I was certain I wanted to follow a career in the (still budding) computer graphics and animation industry. By the time I’d graduated high school, I had experimented with most consumer-based 2D and 3D applications, I had coded a primitive 3D sphere rendering program, and I had developed a two-player computer action game also heavily focused on graphics and animation.
I studied classical animation for three years at Sheridan College with the intent to take the post graduate 1-year computer animation course afterwards. However, upon graduating I’d developed such an enjoyment for classical animation that I decided to work in the field for an indefinite period of time. During the following years, I worked in various cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, etc, in the classical animation industry producing series animation, game animation, etc. However, as time passed, I eventually became more and more involved in the computer animation industry through 3D projects that would inevitably come my way. As a result, it wasn’t long before I ended up working back in Toronto at TOPIX, a respected computer animation and design studio, using Softimage 3.0. I began animating on commercials and eventually ended up directing. From that point forth, I have worked primarily as an animation director locally and internationally, in both the commercial and short film computer animation industry, at various studios throughout. From 2000 to 2006, I assembled and led the 3D department at Redrover AnimationStudios Ltd. in Toronto, Canada; directing computer generated commercials, as well as co-directing my first fully CG short film “Plumber” which was later nominated for “Best Animation” at the 2004 British
Academy Awards. In 2006, I left Redrover and formed my own studio with two other partners (Randi Yaffa and Larissa Ulisko), called Hatch Studios Ltd, located in Liberty Village, downtown Toronto, Canada. The purpose was to maintain full creative and financial control over my projects, continue to produce cutting-edge animated commercials and short films, and of course, to take the next logical step in furthering my career. We opened the doors of Hatch in June 5, 2006 and before even having the studio set up, we were immediately handed wonderfully creative projects from various local agencies. Today, I’m pleased to say that we are busier than ever working on numerous spots that are interesting, challenging, and creatively inspiring.
3DTotal : What was your first project? Richard :Although my first “official” production was a short 15 second commercial for “Mopar Vehicle Accessories”, I was producing CGI animation long before that. It was mainly for educational purposes, but it still paved the way to where I am today. My second commercial project was for “Bluewater Seafood” and it required
making a live-action shark smile and wink. This was executed without CG software and rather through
the use of digital warping. Although both of these projects were extremely simple in many ways, they introduced me to a new kind of working structure I hadn’t previously been part of: how to efficiently
divide a production among a group of individuals. This was probably the first time I became aware
of what the role of a director really was.
3DTotal : Looking back, how far have you come since then? Richard : It’s certainly been an interesting ride. It’s not really about how far I’ve come but rather in what ways I’ve developed. For instance, when I began working at TOPIX, I was primarily interested in the art of animation and nothing else. I would focus heavily on this one aspect, studying the fundamentals and learning examples from books, films and tutorials. Eventually however, I began to deviate from this and became more and more fascinated by art direction in commercials, short films, and feature films. I began to experiment with lighting,and this led me to research photography and cinematography in an effort to learn the tricks of the trade.It soon became apparent to me that I
was now more interested in producing beautiful computer generated imagery rather than focusing on the specific art of animation. I realized that no matter how good your animation is, if the final rendered image is lacking, the whole production has been in vain. And of course, the exact same thing applies the other way around. At this point, I am still heavily involved in art direction, lighting, rendering and compositing,
as well as pre-production aspects such as character design, storyboarding, and conceptual design.