Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Part 1: Illustration to computer graphics, part of Artists and Their Work: Conversations about Mograph, VFX, and Digital Art.
- I grew up in California in the Silicon Valley, so we got Mac Apple, Apple IIs in second grade. - Wow. - We were playing with those all day, even during recess. Just fun little turtle things but it wasn't until high school that I sat down with Qbasic on DOS. - Okay.
- And started writing my own little screensavers and whatnot. I actually wanted to be an illustrator. - Oh wow. - So I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design. It wasn't until I got to the intro to computers that it really hooked me. I found how sexy it was that you could just make up this world and the computer would do, not all of the work for you, but I was a little less limited. The brush strokes were more in the code as opposed to on the canvas itself.
- As you grew up ... Actually, I should ask what year that was when you went to Savannah and got to that point? - I started at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 1994. - Okay. - They had a traditional animation focus. The computers were there but it was only as an interesting aside, like, look at this new technology that's coming out. - Right.
- It really hooked me and I started doing some animations. I remember one of my first animations was just a bunch of spheres moved out and some cylinders for legs and it kind of make a little pig and rotated its legs around. - Yeah. - It's little steps like that, I think, that get people hooked. - Absolutely. At the time, were there ... In 1994, desktop computers had been around for a good five or six years at that point in really usable form.
Did you find that the students around you were, what's the word I'm looking for? Were acceptant of that technology or were they resistant? - There was a lot of excitement for computer technology, even that early in '96 and '97 when I actually got to sit down with the machines. - Right, right. - I remember waiting outside of the computer building at 6:00 am and sitting there all day at the machine working until they kicked us out at, like, 8:00. (laughs) People were fighting over the first Kodak digital camera that actually took three and a half inch floppies-- - Right.
- As its medium. Is it this box? No, it's that box. I'm trying to make a sink, here ... - Mm hm. - To eat up all of the fluids. Select object? Yes. Then we go in there. Oh, I have to select it manually. Aha, there we go. But back to college, the computers there were all SGIs. - Mm hmm. - Like, Indigos. We didn't have any Octanes.
There were two O2s that people fought over. - Yeah (laughing). - You could leave the desk for 30 minutes-- - And someone would, yeah. - If you were gone for longer than 30 minutes then somebody could swipe it. (laughs) - It was fair game at that point. - Absolutely and people were watching like vultures. - Yeah. Once you got out of school where did you ... Did you immediately set off into visual effects or did you start off in other mediums first? - Since the program was traditional animation, they were kind of more grooming animators.
- Mm, okay. - Now, I really wanted to do effects, motion graphics, a little more abstract stuff. I actually got scooped up by Square USA-- - Oh wow. - In 1994, I actually got a interview out in Hawaii before I graduated. - Right, right. - Then they scooped me up two months after I graduated, flew me out to Hawaii, set me up for a month. - Wow. - This is when they were kind of burning through money like it was going out of style.
- Yeah. - Everything was really new. - Yeah (laughing). - It was really exciting. Not that you have to be old and jaded these days but the industry has changed a little bit. - Yeah. - It's gone from really experimental to razor thin profit margins. - Right. Not a lot of room to play around. - No. Not a lot of room to make mistakes sometimes either. - Do you find that in the work you're doing now with the shorter deadlines and the lower budgets, do you feel like the work's suffering at all or are you people just doing more with less, now? - I think Moore's Law where computers get faster and faster, faster and faster the more that we accelerate.
Kind of keeps up. Like the power that I'm fiddling around with right now, I think it's 100 times faster than what I had when I started. - Yeah. - That really lets artists iterate faster and faster and that kind of lets directors say, "Oh, I want this to go here," and then they can just turn it around in a day. - Sure, sure. So we're still pushing the computers as hard as we were, we're just able to do more in a shorter amount of time.
- There's still a little bit of lag between the really revolutionary stuff you get from academia-- - Mm hmm. - Where people are able to sit down and work on the same problem for four years, or what have you, and come up with really interesting, live solutions. - Right. - Like this fluid I'm fiddling with right now. There are algorithms that would let me do tons more, but it just hasn't wrapped into the software itself.
- Right, right.
- Nick Campbell, motion graphics artist, photographer, and entrepreneur
- Marc Potocnik, designer and 3d artist
- Tim Clapham, VFX artist and educator
- Alan Torres and Stephen Morton (Cantina Creative), design and visual effects artists
- 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.