Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Full Interview, part of Artists and Their Work: Conversations about Mograph, VFX, and Digital Art.
(electronic orchestral arrangement) - Lovely work. - Thank you.
- So Tim tell me a little bit about how you got started in the business? The business of motion graphics, that is. - Well I was pretty fortunate because when I grew up at home we had a dark room. My dad was always a keen photographer. And then when I went, studied art at school, but then when I went to uni, I studied fine art but ended up doing film, time-based media. So introduced to animation then and we were doing mostly stop-frame animation, showing film on a BOLEX. This was you know 21, 22 years ago.
We had one Mac in the whole, for the whole course. - (laughs) - And it was a Mac SE 30 so it was like, the Mac classic. All all the video that we did there was done on video tape it was like three machine edit sweep. And then when I left, someone showed me Premiere. I was like oh my goodness! Non-linear editing. - You could do that? (laughs) - Yeah and a friend of mine was working in London he was at uni with me as well, he started working at Digital Arts and he came down to my house and introduced me to After Effects.
And it was After Effects 3.1. And I was like hooked from then. So that's how I kind of started. And I was working in an Apple center at the time, running a bureau, doing digital scanning and stuff. And there was a friend of mine who was one of our customers and he decided to leave where he was working and start his own business. And he pulled in a job for Lego, and we got five TVCs to do for Lego and I had just started freelancing for him then. And that was the first time I kind of started doing 3D and stuff.
- So it was the very first job you'd ever gotten paid for? - That was the first, yeah, that was the first job that we did as a professional 3D company. - And what, at the time so you mentioned After Effects what 3D package were you using? Well it's funny actually because for that we used Lightwave. On a Mac, and it was terrible. - It was, yeah. - It was crashy, it was so crashy. And the funny thing is that we were using Final Cut Pro 1 to cut the, shots together, and at the time that was bundled with Cinema4D Go.
- Yes it was yeah, that's right. - And then from then, that's when I started using Cinema. So that was like version 5 I think. - So the marketing guys will be happy to hear that. - Yeah. - Actually the bundle worked. They got one. - I think it was Paul Babb's idea to do that bundle actually. So yeah it worked for me, I've been hooked ever since. I use a few other packages of course, you know like Realflow anything that compliments it but that's definitely my main weapon of choice. - So how did you end up in Australia? Because you're based in Australia everyone you know, most folks know you from the Helloluxx, your training website, which is in Australia but you don't have an Australian accent.
- No I was actually born in Belfast, in Ireland. But then I grew up in the south of England. And then I met a girl and she lived in Sydney. - That's how it starts, yeah. - There you go, the rest is history. And now we're married with two children. - Oh that's wonderful. - Yeah she's a lovely lady and when I moved to Sydney I think I flew over there three or four times that year. - That gets expensive. - It does, yeah. - Cheaper to just get married. - Yeah so I just stayed there in the end. (laughing) Now I've got two daughters and a wife so I think that's probably more expensive.
- So how, you the jump from England to Australia, to get married but did you go down there with work in hand or did you start over from scratch? - Originally when I moved over there we were going to we worked for a company called Hyper, that's the company that we did the lego job and it was a friend of mine that started it. I didn't start the company and then there were two other directors that we part of that company. And they decided they wanted out of the company so we bought them out and then me and Mark became the two directors.
Originally when I moved to Australia we were going to continue working with Hyper but I think he was a bit jaded with the industry by then he decided to, he just didn't want to do it he decided to close the company down and he went off and became a painter. - Oh wow. - And making prints and stuff, which is pretty nice, a nice creative job. So I carried on what I was doing and started Luxx. So that's how Luxx was born. Originally when I first moved to Sydney, didn't really have any clients, but through all the stuff that we've done with Hyper and we had a blog with quite a lot of free training tutorials and stuff, so it had a bit of a reputation which was good and when I first started Luxx I used to just freelance quite a bit for Sydney companies.
- So Luxx just to kind of backtrack just a little bit, most people know the HelloLuxx, which is the website you do your training and tutorials and your blog, and your community outreach through, but Luxx is the studio version of Tim Clapham and so how do you maintain those two and how are they separate and different, equal, not equal? - Yeah well I suppose the way that it started was, when it started when I was at Hyper and I was really fortunate because I was part of the beta testing team for Cinema and stuff and it was just when they introduced Thinking Particles, when they developed Mograph, and you know it's a massive benefit.
And also very lucky and because you get to see the tools and you help the developers with the tools as they're being made, you get it almost a year before it's released to the public which is a blessing. The Internet was more of a fledgling thing then. It wasn't such an integral part of everyday life. - Right, right. - And there wasn't that much training and knowledge out there. So I already had all this knowledge from learning with the developers and I thought I'm just going to share this and give it out to the community. So that's how it really started, as a small blog.
Just before I came to Australia I was approached with Fxphd asked me to do some stuff for them, so I did. And then I decided to make some training for myself and that's kind of how HelloLuxx was born. I don't really manage that side of things very much, I create a lot of the content but my wife she is the you know she's the main workhorse for HelloLuxx. Because I'm just so busy with production work. - Sure. - That she's kind of taken the reigns for that. - That's great though you can work as a team like that. - Yeah it's good, yeah. - So do you find that, the tutorial work competes with the studio stuff? I mean I guess, there's probably a tightrope that you're walking really where you've got to, you want to maintain a presence on HelloLuxx but you've also got the paying clients and things that are bringing in I would imagine more money that way.
Through the production work. Yeah definitely, the production work is definitely my bread and butter and the training is more of a sideline. The thing with the training is that, if there's ever any down time in production work, then it fills the gap, so it's really useful for that. Like we just released some X-Particles training and I've been thinking I'm going to do this since Christmas. You know, it's like when do I find the time. And it's only because of the deadline of coming to CGraph and stuff that I'm like I have to do it, I have to do it. You know and you probably know in this industry, the hours are long.
Late nights. - Deadlines are a powerful thing though. Do you find that you work better with a deadline? - I think it's good to have a deadline, yeah. Even if it's a self-initiated project otherwise you can procrastinate forever, can't you? I think sometimes, I don't know what it is in this industry but people always leave things to the last minute. It's like oh yeah we just want to shoot this TVC for this huge company, multinational global company but we've only got a week to do it. You know, it's like guys you should've realized six months ago when they approached you that you're going to need some 3D in that.
But it happens time and time again. And that's just the nature of the beast I think. - It really is, people leave that, so do you find that, and actually I guess getting back to the Australia line, do you find that most of your clients are coming from the continent there, or are you getting stuff outside because of your, Tim Clapham is a very big name in the motion graphics world. I knew about you long before I started doing tutorials myself. And there's a certain amount of sort of notoriety that comes around and that actually can you know spread your name for work that way so do you find yourself getting work mostly from the continent, or from Europe, all over the world? - Everywhere, just all over the world really yeah.
Been really fortunate to work with people like Discovery Networks in Europe, worked with studios like Tendril in Toronto. Done work for Singapore HBO. I mean obviously some of the local broadcasts and things in Australia. So it's really nice, you know get to meet a lot, well not necessarily meet physically, but the thing with Luxx is that I get projects on my own, and I pull in a few freelances, as and when I need them, other times maybe I'll be working with a different studio. So I might be working with Patrick Clair at Antibody or with Chris from Tendril, or with Ash Bolland at the American stuff, and you get to meet all these different creatives, and like brainstorm with them.
And it's really nice because it keeps it fresh for you you know rather than if you're working on your own all the time, it's easy to stagnate. So it's definitely a good thing. - So the Internet, when you first got started with HelloLuxx it was a, you mentioned it was a fledgling thing so now it's become an integral part of really who you are and how you're getting work and communicating. Of course yeah I mean, when we first started and were working with agencies in London, we did quite a lot of work for like Finish dishwasher tablets and stuff like that.
Some, like a lot of British companies but it was always every meeting we'd be up in London, we'd deliver all the jobs on Digibeta. You know and even the review process would be like that and now we can do a job and I'll never meet the client. You know it's just all done via-email and digital delivery. You know, everything is done over the Internet now. It's absolutely so integral to business. - Do you find that in terms of working with freelancers when you're pulling them are you bringing them physically in-house or are you you know, paying that part of it forward and working with people who are remote as well? - I think it really depends on the role of the freelancer.
Cause one of the things, when we originally had Hyper we had like seven staff at one point. But now it tends, Luxx is mostly just me and I pull in special creatives who have a talent, so if I need a modeler or a storyboard artist or something like that, then you can get someone who excels at that one thing. And I think that's a, almost a better approach because you just find the right people for the job. Rather than having a whole bunch of generalists. So if I've got some modeling I need to do, I don't really mind where in the world they are.
It depends, if it's more of an art direction kind of role then sometimes it's beneficial to have them in a studio with you so you can, like bounce ideas around you can look over their shoulder and work together on it. But modeling, if they're just modeling a car or they're modeling a creature or something like that it's irrelevant where they are. You know you send them the reference and they send you the model. And I've got some great guys in Europe that I use for modeling and they're very cost-effective as well. - That's got to be a big deal. You know the cost of actually operating a studio and owning a studio and the overhead that goes along with that, is something that's pulling down a lot of the big motion graphics houses that have, and vfx work, so do you find that at any point that not having that, a studio not having a presence like that has been a limiting factor or has it freed you up, creatively? - I think from the old days where we had a lot of staff and we had a fairly big studio, and a lot of equipment and things like that it was tough when times, when work was dry, and we had to let a few people go, and now I think it's much more flexible using freelancers.
I do tend to turn away a lot more work than I'd like to. But then I just work such long hours already and the thing is with having a lot of staff you can end up just being a manager. And I really like to be really hands-on in all the jobs. Yeah I mean, I have a studio but my studio is in the loft of my house. I've got like 12 machines up there, there's enough room for a few desks so if we need people they can come and work there. - That's good. Do you find yourself having to wear too many hats, there working by yourself or do you, that's the other danger of being a one-person shop is that you end up spreading yourself too thin.
- Yeah, it's very true yeah, really depends on the project as well, but a lot of the projects that I get they'll be, it'll be with a network broadcaster and they'll have their own creative directors and creative team and they'll just need me for, you know very often it'll be they'll pitch work to me they'll have done some boards or they'll have done, so my role would really just be the 3D and the composite side of things. But yeah I mean it is as a, one-man band I suppose you could say, it would be pretty limiting or pretty tricky to try to excel at being a director.
And doing the audio and doing the texturing, the lighting and everything you know, you can't be that good at all of it. I think that's why you can pull in talent when you need it, so. - Do you consider yourself to be a generalist or are you, you know your title at Luxx is Owner, Creative Director, like how do you introduce yourself? - I say director of Luxx, but whether that's a creative director or technical director or both, I'm definitely a generalist. You know I have certain skills that I'm better at like particle systems, simulation, cloth, fluids, dynamics that kind of thing.
You know I'm not the greatest designer in the world, I'm definitely, if I need design done I'll get people that just excel at creating artwork. You know I just think you end up with a better result if you do that. - Is there anything that you really wish that you could like have the time to get better at? - Probably. (laughing) There's probably a lot of things. - There's always something. Cause that was one of the things I always found troubling is that you spend so much time being a jack of a lot of different trades that I always wanted to be, sculpting was something I always wanted to get really into, and I just never have the time to do that.
- Yeah I mean to be honest it was always really hard trying to keep up with new technology, but then you know what you kind of have to think of it as just a paintbrush really, or it's just an art box. If you approach a job thinking I'm going to do it in 3D I think that's probably the wrong way of doing it. Although most of my stuff is. You know I've also, my background is traditional animation, stop-frame, you know maybe I'll do it as a series of drawings or maybe I'll do it all in After Effects with some vector work. It really depends. I do like, I wish I did a lot more live-action to be honest.
But then obviously there's the big overhead of getting a production team and crew, and whenever I do work which is with live-action, I'm normally there as like the visual effects supervisor, and a 3D guy. And it would normally be some other studio that would be producing the actual piece. - That's one of the things that's been I think the biggest and best change technologically is the access to really good cameras. And when I first started teaching at Art Center, the students were being asked to be multimedia people.
But even back then, even Art Center didn't have enough cameras to go around for people and they, they couldn't get the time they needed behind the lens to really get even mediocre at the craft. And now that you know everybody has access to that kind of camera technology, have you thought about incorporating more of that just yourself going out and shooting things and experimenting? - Yeah I would like to have more time to do personal projects, but generally I'm just so busy with commercial jobs, and then with family and then the tutorial side of things.
Although I have this wish to create more personal work just finding the time is not easy. It really isn't. - That kind of begs the question, do you feel like you're ever like falling behind or that you need to, there's some mythical thing that you're chasing that you can't keep up with? Other than father time? - I don't know I don't think so, I think like when I first started out I like spent a lot more time learning. I wish I had more time to learn new software, new technology. That is one of the nice things about doing the beta testing.
You know I beta test for X-Particles, for Adobe and for Maxxon so, that forces you to like learn the new tools because if you're not an efficient beta tester then they're going to boot you off anyway. So I tend, I know it's a bit risky but I tend to use the betas for all my production work. Which has, - (laughs) - Yeah, which has bit me a couple of times. When they first brought out Dynamics with R12, and like the developer was away for one week and I was doing this gig, and obviously I got dodgy.
You know there was one, there was a spelling mistake in that code somewhere. That week was like, I was thinking oh my God how am I ever going to get this done? But the great thing is that you have this relationship with your developers and you know emailed him and then bang he just like recompiled fixed that problem and everything was sweet. I was like, wheew. (laughing) - That is a bold move to try and actually use that for production. Cause that's one of the things they tell you right off the bat, do not use this for production. - No but the thing is that I don't have any time and I wouldn't learn any of the new features and I think that probably the best way to learn new features is to use them in production.
The most recent job that I did, Actually did it all with V-Ray 3 beta. And I never really even use, I use V-Ray very slightly, but I was like well that's going to be a good way to learn the software. So that's what I did and it was a bit of a challenge. You know? - So was that, is that the Agda piece that you're? - That's the Agda piece yeah. - Oh you want to, do you have it with you? We could take a look at it. - Yeah sure. So Agda is the Australian Graphic Design Association they're a not-for-profit company. And they have an awards ceremony and they invited various creatives to do like a creative response.
And the nice thing about the job was the brief was that it just had to have triangles in it. - (laughs) That was the whole brief? - Yeah and it's like so-- - One sentence. - It was almost like that's the chance to do a personal project really. So I thought I'd just create this triangle and have various weird layers that layer up on top of each other. Well you can see the piece, it's quite abstract. (ethereal subsonic soundscape) And the nice thing about this as well is that since doing this they've invited me to go and do a talk at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney where they have these quarterly presentations and they've invited me along so that's great.
So I'm really looking forward to it. - So really that becomes kind of a gateway, so have you done a lot of these sort of pro-bono things before or? - No not really, it's not something that I do regularly. There's a bit of, I think there's quite a lot of stigma around that kind of thing working for nothing. There's so many of these companies like Fiverr and stuff that really devalue our industry, and people saying oh yeah if you do that then you'll get lots of exposure for it or there will be more work down the line. You know you hear it all the time I really don't take those kinds of things on.
The reason I just took this on was they are not-for-profit I thought it was a good cause and it was just like selfishly a good excuse to do some work you know, a personal project. - Right exactly. And that can be a very big challenge like you said earlier, which is finding that time. So taking on a client like that forces your hand, really. - Yeah definitely, and I really enjoyed it. - So some of the components that you used in that, I saw, you know obviously there's modeling to model the mountainous shape and some texturing and lighting in Mograph and that sort of thing.
Do you have the C40 file that you could? - I do yeah, actually I didn't model that rock it was one of the things about the project I bought that it was a scan, it was a scan of a regular rock from TurboSquid. But I just used like some deformers and reshaped it into that shape. - Nice. - Yeah i think I've got this file open on here. - Do you find yourself using, TurboSquid quite often or do you, you know some folks take it as a matter of pride, that they model every single thing that they do.
I think it's cost effective to do that, really, because I can model things, I'm not the most efficient modeler in the world but if I had to model a car, it would probably take you know, the best part of a week to do a decent model. I can go and buy one for you know, a few hundred bucks, so really if you're trying to manage finances and budgets of jobs it's much better to go and purchase it. Of course if it's a bespoke model, then it needs to be modeled. And then I'll get some, I have some really good modeler in Spain that I use for stuff. And he's really, you know he's a good price, and he's very good at it as well and he's good at texturing and UVs.
So I just send it to him. - Nice. When you were doing the animation for this, so describe a little bit of your, sort of the thinking behind this particular shot. Which is, this is one of the closeups of the surface, right? Yeah it was an unusual project because I had like a vague idea of what I wanted to do. But I didn't really do it in the traditional sense of planning it out with boards or doing style frames. I just-- - You broke all the rules.
- Yeah like this, this came from looking at close up pictures of mold. And you know when you get really down to the macro level, and you can see all of the individual components. Yeah that's right and the other thing as well is like the underwater sea life. That, I was trying to kind of get that feeling for it. So I didn't really know what I was going for. When I did it, to a certain extent. But I had all these references from nature and I wanted it to feel, you know close up, natural, almost like breathing, and the same with the part with the jelly part I wanted that to almost be like fetal, that's why I used the subsurface effects so that you feel like there's something inside it almost.
- Absolutely. - So this shot for instance, I think there's like 50,000 of these clones. The Cinema handles it pretty well, you know, you can scrub through you get a fairly good playback. The thing is on here we've got a display tag so we are only viewing a detail level of 10 and we've got it in box view so things like this are pretty important I think for-- - Maintaining efficiency? - Yeah, it's really easy to get bogged down with technical limitations of software especially nowadays you know, it doesn't matter what these programmers do in the hardware manufacturing, it doesn't matter how fast they make these machines, we always, we bring them to their knees.
You know I think it was like nearly 8 hours of frame for some of the, jello shot. Cause we've got four or five layers of geometry with like Ray-traced refractive subsurface scattering through there. - And did you send that out to a farm or did you re-render that in your place? - No I rendered that in my studio. I have one of those little IKEA Helmer things that I made. - Nice, yeah I've seen those online. Those are wonderful. - Yeah it's awesome I saw Brave Rabbit, it's a studio in Germany they kind of did one they did a blog post all about it.
- Yeah that blog post is famous now actually. - Yeah I know it's amazing. - They almost got me. - Yeah I know it was a really good thing to do. The thing is my dad was in the army, he was in the signals, and he was a radio operator. And like the whole time I grew up, anything broke my dad would pull it apart and fix it. You know and then when I was in my teens they owned a computer shop, so this is in the 80's. So there was like Commodore 64, - TRS-80s and those kind of things? - Yeah and Spectrums. So we had a computer shop then so I was pretty familiar with it all.
And when I worked at the Apple center, after I left uni before I started doing more animation, I did quite a lot of engineering then so, you know. I'm not shy with pulling open electrical things and wiring them all up. Even when we were at uni we did some crazy stuff like we, got some pressure pads that we made, and we pulled apart some cine cameras and we linked the pressure pad to the shutter release. And then we put it on the street so as people walked past, then it's firing so then we just get this crazy film with people's legs. (laughing) But it was fine art, you know? - Yeah, it's all in the name of art.
- That's what you go to uni for, isn't it? Just to do crazy stuff like that. - So art school was a huge part of your development now. Do you still see that kind of value in that sort of education? - Yeah for sure yeah I think that a lot of design stems from fine art and there's so much you can learn, even just if you wanted to learn lighting skills, you know look at the great masters, look at Rembrandt, look at some of like the Renaissance paintings, things like that, it doesn't matter they've got such an amazing eye to capture that on a canvas, and you can learn so much from it.
The same with looking at you know film directors look at Scorcese and look at like Clockwork Orange and things like that and just look at how they compose the shots and how they light it. I think that everything can influence you. Nature you know? One of the things I learned from being at uni was how to see things you know, ways of seeing. You look at things in a different way. You look at things more deeply. In some ways if you watch a film, it could be detrimental because you're analyzing a bit too much but I think really, it's not.
I think you really enjoy, you can really appreciate the craft, maybe you'll watch a Marvel film and realize quite how bad it is. (laughing) But then you'll watch a masterpiece and you'll be like this guy is a genius. And then you know it will teach you things. - So that analysis that understanding, like how has it changed since you've gotten out of school? - Sorry, I don't know what you mean? - Well you know when you came out of school, you went to school for fine art and then you were exposed to the computer animation, and now you're a motion graphics artist incorporating a whole ton of different skills into these amazing pieces that you're doing.
How has your analysis and your understanding of art and components changed from when you just got out to, how do you feel about it today? - Okay yeah well probably a bit more of a cynic about it now. You know? Though I still don't mind looking at a pile of bricks. (laughing) Yeah I think if you understand the concept. I definitely don't follow fine art as much as I used to. I'd like to, I follow, but you know I do the same as everyone, surf Behance or like Found and get influenced by that but you know I still like to think that it definitely influences the way I think about design.
- Is it, you mention Behance, is that one of the main places you go for inspiration, are there other places that you go to get inspired? - Yeah like that's always a good one, I kind of like just maybe just surfing through Tumblr. Things like that. Because I do a lot on Twitter, Twitter is probably my biggest social media escape. And there are some, I mean the whole community is full of some very inspiring, great people. Vimeo, pretty much every day.
And I think the thing, with things like Vimeo is if you follow cool people, cool studios and they like a lot of good stuff. You can get a bit saturated with it. There is a lot on there. But you know like people like Patrick Clair I always take a moment to look at his stuff. Things like that. - How much time a day, like what part of your day is that, creative, is it every day? Is it from 9-7 on Tuesdays like what you know what is it? - Well when I look for other creative work? Every day I'll have a surf around, it's a good excuse to break out of the work that you're doing and sit back with a cup of tea.
I normally would like to do Vimeo every day. Cause what I like to do as well is always post a new Vimeo on my Facebook page. Try to do that every day for an inspiration. It helps to bring in more followers, but it also is nice to just share creative work. You know, if I watch something and then enjoy it, I think it's really rad or something then I want everyone else to see it. - That's I think probably the most wonderful thing is you can find so many amazing artists.
It can be, it's both glorious and intimidating. At how much talent there is out in the world. Like do you ever feel yourself sort of being intimidated at all about the crowdedness I guess of the motion graphics scene? - Yeah you know it's strange cause when we first started out like you'd have to, you needed a lot of money for like a Silicon graphics O-2 or something or you know for rendering, and the home machines didn't have the power that they have now, you could, some kid coming out of school might have an iMac, and he's brilliant.
They've got the chance they can create some really cool things so the market is a bit saturated, I'm really fortunate having worked with some amazing people. And it's very humbling to be with them. You know I'm like I don't deserve to be here. You know? Cause like as I say I'm not the most amazing designer in the world I can take someone's vision and bring it to life, a reality you know? And I love doing that for people. - Looking forward into the future, where do you feel like motion graphics is going? You know cause there was a time where motion graphics was a strictly 2D medium you know coming up through the 70s and the film titles and things that kind of gave rise to what we think of today.
And then we went through a period in the mid to late-90s when 3D just became the only thing anybody ever wanted to see and then we hit the DSLR revolution and cameras became more accessible and then you know, live action became a much bigger component, and now we're kind of balancing things out again people are kind of starting to mix mediums and get back around again to a variety of things. So where does it go next? - Yeah well that's a tricky one isn't it? I mean the thing is as well is that the whole world has changed with the advent of social media everyone has a phone in their pocket now.
And you see all these interactive billboards. That interact with people passing by. And you know in the bus stops and things where they'll have all the little jokes where it looks like dinosaurs are coming down. She-monk recently did that one where it's all drones chasing a car, you know? I think that probably it's going to be, we're going to be more and more saturated with it it's going to be in every part of our life it's a bit like, the film like Minority Report and stuff like that you know, where they're scanning the retina. That's actually going to be, that's not far away.
You know, we already do it we go online and we go to a website we look at something I want to buy some new trainers, I go to another website and all I see is trainer adverts. You know so, all these companies out there are mining all this data from us, it won't be long before we walk down the street and the billboards and things like that are all you know, focused on the individual people. I don't know, I'm not sure how they'll do it they'll probably just do it from what you've got your phone in your pocket, they'll know you're there. - Or maybe they will scan your retina. - Yeah maybe they will yeah. But like that's almost like a bit dystopian but at the same time, the technology that we have and how it's changed since you know when I first did animation it was on film.
You know you kind of shoot it all blind. You know, and now people have more power in their phone. And you can shoot some amazing stuff at really high res. - One of the thing that Minority Report that the movie did was make everybody want to touch stuff. And people looked at that movie and said how come I can't just swipe the air and you saw, now you know everybody's got an iPad and they're doing just that kind of thing. And it's, I don't see it as being too long like there's things like leap motion, where you can actually interface with your devices and the you know Xbox Kinect and that sort of thing.
So you know how much as we as artists driving the point? - Yeah I guess it's probably six of one and half a dozen of the other you've got people like Google with Google Glass and you've got Oculus and things like that and I imagine the scientists behind that are like aspiring to keep developing it more and more but then you have people like you know United Visual Artists or Universal Everything who are doing these huge outdoor interactive installations and things like that. So I guess that they're brainstorming ideas and they're coming up with concepts and then they're working out how to actually achieve that by building the technology or taking the technology we've got and abusing it or something, you know? - Yeah changing it, making it do something it wasn't intended to do.
- Yeah I mean like every year they do a Vivid in Sydney and I think it was Universal Everything did it this time and they got artists all around the world and they do the projection on the opera house and things like that. But you know that pulls in massive crowds, the people love it so every year they obviously, they're trying to do something more. And you know, so the artists want to expand upon what they did the year before, and now when you go there they have like these interactive projections on the side of the building where you can go up and you do stuff with your hands and it gives you all the stats. - Just like Minority Report.
- Yeah, it's pretty amazing really. It is pretty amazing and I know that like it's kind of a fuse between motion graphics and a coding so they have like Python programmers that are writing all the backend scripts, and at the same time as they're doing this it's tweeting it out you know, and it's on there, and it's amazing how they're doing it. So I don't think any one thing is driving it, I think us all of us as a civilization are like just constantly pushing technology and creativity. - Do you write code yourself? - Not really, no, I mean I actually have got an A level in computer science, but I'm 43 and when I did that I was like 17, so.
It was mostly Basic, and we were on like Commodore Pets which were green screen, and I didn't really keep doing it so I can, I know my way around a little bit of code, I can write some expressions in After Effects, things like Expresso and Cinema I'm more comfortable with, like a node-based system, because you can, the problem for me with like expressions in After Effects is that knowing the syntax and unless you do it day-to-day it's quite hard to know exactly how to write it. Even if you know in your head the logic, whereas with nodes it's much easier.
You just wire them up. - Lot easier to trace back your problems. - I think so yeah. - One of the things I'm seeing a lot of around the Internet is code being used to create and drive not just simple effects but actual projects as well. And you know is there a danger of code coming out and taking our jobs? Killing us all? - Maybe there is. You know the deep dream that Google did recently, I mean that was just so far-out wasn't it? So trippy, it was amazing, but I was reading this article about the developers and they were saying they don't even understand how it does it, you know they understand some of the code, but they've written this code and the artificial intelligence is so deep that even the programmers are like I don't even know how it's doing that so like I mean, that is a bit like I, Robot.
And all that but, I don't think they'll be taking our jobs. Maybe they can help us, but at the same time if you look at things like processing and stuff, you know and things that people do with that it's phenomenal. You know and they're just writing some algorithms and things and letting it do its stuff and then guiding it and you come up with these beautiful images. Yeah so, I definitely embrace it. - I think that's probably the single missing ingredient that everyone always leaves out of those equations when they talk about that sort of thing is the idea of communication.
And it's one thing to write a beautiful algorithm that makes a beautiful image on screen, that is maybe hypnotic and draw you in, but where does it go from there and how do you tell a story with that and how do you, you know, actually reach and touch an audience with that sort of thing and I think that's that's the part of the equation that for now, knock on wood, the computers won't be able to touch for a while. So and that's the human element that I think will keep us safe for the time being. - Yeah I totally agree, I don't think the computers, it will be a long time before they, you know have their own aesthetic.
You know, they can look at things you know so like-- - Then they'll be the clients. - You know and like half the thing as well is that when you do, I imagine that when people do the processing stuff they're not really aware of what they're going to get out of it at the end, maybe or they'll have a rough idea but through the whole process, and it's the same when you're doing 3D, the experimentation, and the you know suddenly something happens and you're like oh man that is so cool. You know you didn't know you were going to arrive at that point. - And you save it real quick. - Yeah I don't think code would be able to think oh I like that, you know? Cause they don't have the consciousness that we do.
But that's not to say that artificial intelligence isn't going to keep developing so that we'll have robots walking around the house and stuff. Who knows. I imagine that will happen. - Kind of getting back to that you know the idea of not really dystopia cause that's a little too I think pessimistic a thought but you know, motion graphics most, the vast majority of motion graphics is done in the service of some commercial enterprise right? So except for the rare opportunity where you do something for a not-for-profit you know to promote that thing.
But really it's about communicating some sort of, value proposition for a product. That's the vast majority of things that people do, but so do you ever feel cheap and taudry would be too strong a phrase but do you ever feel like you know, a little bit commercialized and long for more random things like this? - Yeah you can do, certainly, because I don't know it's funny like companies, agencies, they put a lot of pressure on people to do jobs and they want you to keep doing it and that's you know, it's really, this industry's a bit sad like that because places, a lot of places, like Rhythm and Hues and what happened there and it's because these big companies they keep pushing artists but later they want perfection and perfection at the end of the day we're not like curing cancer or anything, you know we're just selling a product.
It's kind of gross in a way that that happens. And you can get a bit, it can be a bit overwhelming I suppose. If you keep working on products. But I think that's maybe why some companies are a bit more ethical about the jobs that they do. You know they won't work for certain companies and things like that so at least that when they're doing a project-- - They'll take a stand. - Yeah but you know, at the end of the day a lot of the time we're creating exciting images, they're fun to make, they're enjoyable to watch, we're entertaining people, you know so you get a buzz out of doing that if you make a TVC and then when you're sitting down with your kids and you see it on the tele, you know even now after doing this for like nearly 20 years I still think, yay I did that.
(laughing) You know?
- Nick Campbell, motion graphics artist, photographer, and entrepreneur
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- Aaron Limonick, concept artist
- Mike Lowes, 3D animator and technical director
- Lorcan O'Shanahan, motion graphics artist
- Scott Keating, 3D artist and illustrator
- Clear Menser, visual effects artist
- John Robson, motion graphics artist and filmmaker
- Grant Miller, VFX supervisor
- Tomasz Opasinski, creative director and movie poster artist
Watch for fresh insights into the careers and creative processes of these working professionals.