Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Part 3: Balance, part of Artists and Their Work: Conversations about Mograph VFX and Digital Art.
- In terms of balancing, you talked before about the need to do things sort of for yourself. How do you balance the need to get paid also? Because when you have a mortgage, you have a wife, you know, you've got your family obligations, you've still got to pay the bills. - As my career has sort of progressed, time has definitely been the most important thing to me. You know, it's great to make cool work. It's great to have a great reel and portfolio. But the most important thing at the end of the day, especially as we get older, is time with our friends, family, you know, just being away from our work.
And I think that as artists we sort of get lost in just constantly working. You know? It becomes our work and our hobby. You know, if you look at a banker or a doctor or something, when they clock out they're done for the day. Maybe not a doctor, because they're always working. But you know what I mean. They take on hobbies. They'll be like golfing or painting or whatever, right? Or driving their yacht around. (laugh) But for someone like me, it's like I go home and I do the same thing that I do at work.
You know? It's all related, which is great because I love what I do. But what's been important to me is learning how to properly work efficiently. How to, sort of, approach problems almost like a triage. So when I'm at work, I'm trying to figure out, "Okay, we could do this. "We could do that. "What makes the most sense? "What's going to make the client happy? "What's going to make us proud of what we've done? "And what's going to get us home on time?" - Right. - Because, I don't want to stay late. They don't want me to stay late. They don't want to pay overtime. I don't even want overtime.
I don't care about that. I want to be home, with my family. So, that's kind of one thing. The other thing is how do you do these things on the side? Like these side projects? Well that's tough. I mean, that's like a balance. One great thing is that I'm not in a hurry to finish any of these things. Epoch took like nine or ten months. I mean, it didn't take that long to make it. We shot it in two weekends. - Sure. - Edited it in a week. And then. like, the post, which was sort of here and there. But it was just because I could, once or twice a week get on the computer for a night and stay up late and work on stuff.
- Nice. The behind the scenes that you had was fantastic. - Well thanks. Yeah, well it was one of those things where one my friends knew this location. We were trying to find where to shoot out in the desert. And we didn't have permits. So we wanted to find a place where we wouldn't be bothered. And actually, outside of Apple Valley, sort of on the way to Vegas, there were these OHV areas, where people go to ride dirt bikes. And kind of like this lawless land. You know? You can pretty much do what you want there. So figured that was the perfect place for it. So we got out to this sort of dried out lake bed, and the whole area, I mean from this angle it looked like desert.
From another area, angle, I mean it was all kind of deserty. But we did different things. But there was sort of like the wild west mountain range. You know? And there were sort of like these rolling hills, they were a different sort of environment. So it was really cool, just sort of renting an RV and driving at sunrise, and just filming out there. And I feel like that's sort of another thing too. That I'm always going to cherish about these projects. Is no matter where I go with my career, these were a lot of fun to do. And it wasn't like a union crew. You know, where we have just tons of people standing around.
I mean they're all doing their job, but obviously if you've ever been on a big film set, there's a lot of equipment. There's a lot of people. And there's a lot of inefficiency. Because the right sort of, hierarchy of command has to go into each department, to make sure that stuff is going on. And for me, it wouldn't work for this. So it was nice having a small crew. Where I didn't even have a DP. Basically I had a few guys that I trust who know how to use cameras.
Who are also Mograph artists, you know? So we could sort of revolve duties. And I could trust them with a camera. And we just figured out what worked best. who could shoot this better? That sort of thing. And then the actors, who were awesome. They went out of their way to do everything. Our actress, Denise, she ran barefoot in the snow. And that was her suggestion. That sort of camaraderie between the whole cast and crew was just amazing. Because we felt like a family when we were shooting this.
It didn't feel like a job to anyone. Everyone enjoyed the process. - And film making is such a collaberative process. There's a certain amount of work you can do by yourself, but you always have to bring people into it at one level. How do you find your collaborators. The people you work with on your team? - First it's sharing with my wife. She gives good feedback, you know? She obviously gets me, because we're married. But she'll sort of let me know if something seems weird or sort of stands out.
And then beyond that, I have this tight group of colleagues, they're friends. But they're people that I work with who do similar stuff. I help out on their films too. And they give me good feedback. And ideas as far as what works and what doesn't. And there's that part, there's actually the script, where I would say it's a little more just sort of in my hands to make this script right. But then when we actually start filming on set I get a lot of creative advice. Which is great, you know? There's no sort of hierarchy. Where it's like, "I'm the director, "just do your job." I'm always open to whatever idea there is.
And even if actors and, you know, that's what helps sort of make it better. - We have visual effects, we've got motion graphics, we have communication, we have story telling, all of those things are coming together. Is it just going to continue to mish mash, or is something or one thing going to merge out of that? I think the thing is that, these days there isn't really all that much that's just pure motion graphics, as far as, the sense of the terminology being sort of, things you would see in commercials, like animated titles, or whatever.
It really has sort of blended with visual effects, you know. Because motion graphics stuff. We do so much more than just titles, or whatever. So it's kind of a weird term. Also, the industry's always changing. - Yeah. - I mean, we've seen that, I know in the last decade I've seen a lot of change. And you know, main titles don't make any money anymore. Except for, like, two companies that are the best and they've been the best since 2000. It's hard to say because everything is always changing. Things are becoming more interactive.
There's sorts of mediums that we're working with now. A lot of installation graphics and stuff like that. So I don't really know. I think that motion graphics is just a terminology that better describes it. Because for example, if I say I'm a V-Effects artist, then I think that more people would assume that it's more like working on plates for a film or something like that. When it's just everything. - So what is the-- can you tell me about the most difficult job that you ever did in a C4D.
What was the biggest challenge you took on. - Well, I think some of the most difficult jobs I've done in C4D are just ones where, it's not so much about the software, it's not a limitation, it has more to do with the type of project and the artist that you're working with. You know? And it's really sort of a matter of whether the studio you're working with understands the software, like what it's purpose is for the job. You know. So there hasn't really been a project that's been super difficult.
It's been more about miscommunication with other people. Or, like having inefficient render capabilities. Like if we're going Photoreel, we need to have enough nodes to render on or else we'll just be sitting at a screen. I think, I did a few projects from small offices with some friends over the years, and sometimes people would like, let's say we were rendering a whole city, we'd be rendering a whole 3D model of the city, so the buildings way out in the background are 3D and they're calculating, right? And that was before I really learned, and we as a team learned, it's like facades in a movie.
All you need to see is that front wall, if there's nothing behind it, if you can't see another angle, what's the point? All those things are adding up. Every little thing. Even some of the default settings. like the subdivision is higher than you need it to be. If you have something really small in the scene, and you can't tell the different, then you should turn down the subdivision so it's more simplified. Those sort of things. Learning how to optimize your scene. Going in and turning off generators. Like when the animation is locked. Just killing all the generators so it's just geo.
And it speeds up the scene a lot. So before I do a lot of that stuff, that was when I was staying late, just trying to figure out why everything was so slow. I think for me, the worst thing is having a heavy scene. Especially if you're still trying to animate stuff. Sometimes you open a project that someone did and you can't even move one frame forward. But it's not hard. There's all the capabilities in there. You can solo stuff out. You can turn stuff off. You can create layers and you'll get it to work efficiently. So, it's just a learning process.
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- Mike Lowes, 3D animator and technical director
- Lorcan O'Shanahan, motion graphics artist
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Watch for fresh insights into the careers and creative processes of these working professionals.