Tim talks about an ad for the Australian Graphic Design Association he did pro bono. He addresses modeling, texturing, shape, and mograph tools and software that he used in the process. For daily inspiration he searches Twitter, Behance, and Vimeo where artists are always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with new technology and creativity.
- 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 creator to do like a creative response. And the nice thing about the job was that the brief was it just had to have triangles in it. - (laugh) That was the whole brief. - Yeah, and that's like. - One sentence. (laugh) - 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 pieces.
It's quite abstract, but. (sci-fi music) (crackling) (whoosh) (low growling music) (liquid groaning) (zapping) (low dramatic tone) - Excellent. - And the nice thing about this as well is that since doing this, they've invited me go and do a talk at the Power House Museum in Syndey. - Oh wow. - Where they have these quarterly presentation.
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 is, have you done a lot of these sort of pro bono things before, or is this new? - No, not really. It's not something 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 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'll be more work down the line.
- Right. - You know you hear it all the time, I don't, I really don't take those kind of things on. The reason I just took this on was they're 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, personal project. - Right, exactly. And that can be a very big challenge, like you said earlier. Which is fine in that time. So, taking on a client like that forces your hand, really. - Yeah, definitely. I really enjoyed it. - So, some of the components that you used in that, I saw, you know, obviously there was 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? - I tell you yeah, actually I didn't model that rock. It's one of the things about the project, I bought that. It's a scan, it was a scan of a like a regular rock from TurboSquid. - Okay. - But I just used like some deformers and reshaped it into that shape. - (laugh) 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 don't think it's cost effective to do that really, 'cause, I mean 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, a 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, describe a little bit of your, sort of the thinking behind this particular shot. Which is, this is one of the close-ups 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 and doing style frames.
- (laugh) So you broke all the rules. - Yeah, like this this came from looking at looking up close up pictures of mold and stuff. And you know when you get really down to the macro level, and you can see all the individual components. - It looks like landscapes really. - Yeah, that's right. The other things as well is like the underwater sea life. I was trying to kind of trying to 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.
The same with the part with the jelly part. I wanted that to almost be like fetal. You know that's why I used the sub-surface effect. So that you, 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 fairly good playback. The thing is one here we've got a display tag, so we are only viewing level of detail of 10, and we've got it in box view.
So, I things like this are pretty important I think for-- - Maintaining efficiency, and. - 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, and the hardware manufacturers. It doesn't matter how fast they make these machines, we always (laugh) we bring them to their knees. - (laugh) Yes. - You know I think it was like nearly eight hours a frame for some of the jello shot. 'Cause we've got four or five layers of geometry with like ray-trace refractive sub-surface scattering through there.
- And did you send that out to a farm, or did you, were you rendering that then? - No I rendered that at my studio. - Wow. - I have one of those little Ikea Helmer things that I made. - Yes. 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. - They did. That blog post is famous now. (laugh) - Yeah. I know it's amazing. - They almost, they almost got me. - Yeah, no 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. And then when I was in my teens, they owned a computer shop, so this was in the 80s. So that was like a Commodore 64. - TRS 80s and things like that. - 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'd left uni, before I started doing more animation, I did quite a lot of engineering then. So, 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 then we pulled out parts from cine cameras, and then we linked the pressure pad to the shutter release. (laugh) And then we put it on the street, so as people walked past then it kept, and it's firing. So then we'd just get this crazy film of people's legs. - (laugh) Yeah. - But it was fun. - It's all in the name of art, yeah. - That's what you go to uni for, isn't it. To just do crazy stuff like that. - (laugh) 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. Doesn't matter how, you know 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 Scorsese, look at Clockwork Orange and things like that, and just look at how they composed 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 it a bit too much. But, I think really, it's not. I think that you enjoy, you can really appreciate the craft. Maybe you'll watch a Marvel film and realize quite how bad it is. - (laugh) - (laugh) But then you'll watch a masterpiece, and then you'll be like this guy's a genius.
And then, you know, it will teach you things. - Yeah, so that analysis, that understanding, how has it changed since you've gotten out of school? - Sorry, I don't know what you mean. - Well, when you came out of school, you went to school for Fine Art, and then you were exposed to the computer and animation. And now you're a motion graphics artist, incorporating a whole ton of different skills into these amazing pieces that you're doing.
Like how is your analysis, and your understanding of art and components changed from when you were, when you just got out to like, how do you feel about it today? - Yeah, okay, yeah. Well, probably a bit more of a cynic about it now. - (laugh) - (laugh) You know? When I-- Although I still don't mind looking at a pile of bricks. (laughs) Yeah, so 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 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 mentioned 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 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, people like Patrick Clair, I'll 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, that creative.
Is it every day? Is it from 9-7 on Tuesdays? Like what, what is it? - When I look for other creative work? - Yeah. - 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 and do that every day. - For an inspiration. - Sure. - It helps to bring in more followers. But it also - It's nice to just share - It's good for you too.
- creative work. And if I watch something and enjoy it, I think it's really rad or something, I want everyone else to see it. - (laugh) That's, I think probably the most wonderful thing. Is you get, 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 the crowdedness, I guess, of the motion graphics scene? - Yeah, you know it's strange.
'Cause when we first started out, you needed a lot of money for like a Silicone Graphics o2 or something. Or, you know for rendering. And the home machines didn't have the power that they had. And now, 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. I'm like, I don't deserve to be here. - (laugh) - You know. 'Cause like.
As I say, I'm not the most amazing designer in the world. I can take someone's vision make it real. - Bring it to life. - Bring it to life, a reality. And I love doing that for people. - Looking forward into the future, where do you feel like motion graphics is going? 'Cause there was a time where motion graphics was a strictly 2D medium, coming up through the 70s and the 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. Then 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 have all the little jokes. Where there looks like dinosaurs are coming down, that kind of thing. - Right. (laughs) - GMUNK recently did that one where it's all drones chasing a car. - Yeah, exactly, exactly. - I think that probably it's gonna be, we're gonna be more and more saturated with it. It's gonna 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. - (laugh) - That's actually gonna be, that's not far away. We already do, we go online and we go to a website.
We look at something, I wanna buy some new trainers. I go to another website and then 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 individual people. I don't know, I'm not sure how they'll do it. They'll probably just do it from where you've got your phone in your pocket, they'll know you're there. - Or, maybe they will scan your retina. (laugh) - Maybe they will, yeah, 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.
- Yes. - You know you kind of shoot it all blind. - Yeah. You didn't know what was gonna. - Now people have more power in their phone. And you can shoot some amazing stuff at really hi res. - One of the things that Minority Report the movie did was make everybody want to touch stuff. And people looked at that movie and said, well how come I can't just swipe the air? And you saw, now 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 Xbox Connect and that sort of thing. So, you know, how much are we as artists driving... - Yeah, I guess is 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. 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 they're brainstorming ideas, and they're coming up with concepts, and they're working out how to actually achieve that by building the technology or taking what technology we've got and abusing it or something. - (laugh) 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. I think it was Universal Everything that 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, 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 the 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 and. - Just like Minority Report. - Yes! Pretty amazing. - (laugh) - It is pretty amazing, really. And I know that it's kind of a fuse between motion graphics and coding, so they have like Python programmers that are writing all the back end scripts. And at the same time as they're doing this, it's tweeting it out, you know.
And it is amazing how they're doing it. So, I don't think any one thing is driving it. I think all of us as a civilization are like just constantly pushing technology and creativity. - Do you write code yourself? - Not really, no. I mean, actually I've got an A level in computer science. - Oh wow. - But, I'm 43 and then when I did that, I was like 17. - (laugh) - 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 and 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 and after effects is 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. Where as with nodes, it's much easier. You just wire them up. - It's lots easier to trace back your problem. - 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.
Is there, is there a danger of code coming and taking our jobs? - (laugh) - Killing us all. - Maybe there is. Woowoo. You know the deep dream thing that Google did recently. I mean that was just so far out, it was so trippy. It was amazing. But, I was reading this article about the developers, and they were saying that they don't even understand - How it works. - 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, yeah, that is a bit like iRobot. - (laugh) - 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, the things that people do with that, it's phenomenal. - It really is. And they're just writing some algorithms and things and letting it do it's stuff and then guiding it, and you come up with these beautiful images. So, no I definitely embrace, I embrace that. - I think that 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.
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 and audience with that sort of thing? And I think that's the part of the equation that for now, knock on wood, that computers won't be able to touch for a while. That's the human element that I think will keep us safe for the time being. - Yeah. I totally agree. I don't think that the computer, it will be a long time before they have their own aesthetic.
- (laugh) - They can look at things so like. - Then they'll be the clients. (laugh) - Like half the things as well is when you do, I imagine when people do the processing stuff, they're not really aware of what they're gonna get out of it at the end maybe. Or they may have a rough idea, but through the whole process. And it's the same when you're doing 3D. The experimentation. And suddenly something happens and you're like, oh man that is so cool. And, you didn't know you were gonna arrive at that point. - Yeah. And you save it real quick. (laughs) - 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 you know, we'll have robots walking around the house and stuff. - (laugh) Yes. - Who knows, I imagine that will happen. - Kind of getting back to that, the idea of not really dystopia, because that's a little too I think pessimistic a thought. But, you know, motion graphics, the vast majority of motion graphics is done in the service of some commercial enterprise, right? Except for the rare opportunity where you do something for a not for profit 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. So, do you ever feel, cheap and tawdry would be too strong a phrase, but do you ever feel like 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, it's really. This industry is a bit sad like that. Because places, a lot of places like Rythm & Hues and what happened there. And it's because these big companies they keep pushing and pushing artists to work later and 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. So, 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. You keep working on products. And 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 when they're doing a project, - They take a stand that way. - 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. So you get a buzz out of doing that. If you make a TVC and then when you sitting down with your kids, and you see it on telly. - (laugh) - You know, even now, after doing this for nearly 20 years, I still think, yeah, I did that. (laughs) - Nice.
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