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leigh
01-30-2006, 11:02 PM
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Christopher Nichols
Senior Technical Director
Sony Pictures Imageworks

Like many Artists in VFX, Christopher Nichols’ background came from an unrelated field. His undergraduate degree was in Mathematics and Fine Arts from Colgate University. It was his Math background that first got him into CG that he used to visualize complex multi-dimensional space.

He then carried that interest in his graduate studies, where he got a Masters of Architecture from Rice University. His big passion in CG is in lighting. He has studied CG lighting both artistically and technically for a number of years, starting with architectural spaces, and carried through into VFX. He had studies Global Illumination techniques at an early stage, and has recently released two training DVDs on the subject that are available at the Gnomon Workshop. They are “Global Illunination: Exteriors,” and “Global Illuminations: Interiors,” and focus on Vray lighting techniques.

Christopher’s film credits include “The Day After Tomorrow”, “I, Robot”, and “Stealth,” which he worked on during his time at Digital Domain. Currently, he is a Senior Technical Director at Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Related links:
http://www.redeyetales.com/

http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/christopher_nichols/CN_001.jpg

http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/christopher_nichols/CN_002.jpg

http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/christopher_nichols/CN_003.jpg

http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/christopher_nichols/CN_004.jpg

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FloydBishop
01-30-2006, 11:13 PM
Hello Christopher.

I am wondering what your most challenging assignment has been and why?

Also, what types of shots make you cringe when you think of how difficult they may be to achieve?

Thanks for taking the time to do this Q&A. It's one of the best features of CGTalk, in my opinion.

rblitz7
01-30-2006, 11:15 PM
Hey Christopher!

How much does your education in math effect your VFX work? and what made you want to get into cg? Thanks!

HellBoy
01-30-2006, 11:21 PM
Hello Christopher

Can I ask what's your favourite 3d app?

Also What should we the students who's interested in the VFX field be aware or concerned about? in terms of breaking in

and finally, how easy is it to break in the VFX field compared to other CG fields?

My questions might sound awkward, sryy about that :blush:

Hope you well and further success

cheers

chrisWhite
01-30-2006, 11:27 PM
Hey Christopher,

As someone with a heavy math and technical background, what has your experience been as you've transitioned to being both technically and artistically minded?

What type of path do you recommend for students and semi-pros who would eventually like to specialize in lighting and cinematography? I’ve heard that both of those fields of the industry are beginning to converge, has this been you observation?

Thanks so much for taking your time to answer our questions, the whole community really appreciates your willingness to talk with us!

JocHaan
01-30-2006, 11:31 PM
Hello Christopher.

How many years are you doing the VFX ?

I just want to add, your work is really fantastic.

Thanks!

Canadianboy
01-31-2006, 12:50 AM
hey there i see that you worked on the day after tommorow. Im wondeing did u work on the big wave? If you did did they use mayas fluids stuff to create it or some in house software?

seven6ty
01-31-2006, 01:00 AM
Hey Chris, just curious, what project are you working on here at Sony and what department you're in? Also, got any details on what specific work you did on your previous films? Thanks and see ya round!

SantoAnderson
01-31-2006, 01:19 AM
Hey Chris,
What are the three biggest problems that you as a director see in the noobs, fresh out of College? Aside from having a wicked portfolio, what can we as budding CG artists and animators do to get the job? Win contests? Get Degrees? Pray?:shrug:

Matellis
01-31-2006, 01:33 AM
any advice for people studing cg on there free time with the hopes of making it into the business?

ivanisavich
01-31-2006, 01:36 AM
Hey Chris,

I just thought I'd mention that it's very inspiring to hear how you came from a totally unrelated field and then went to excel so well in cg! You are truly a master at what you do.

Take care!
-Tyson

Avi T
01-31-2006, 03:01 AM
I was wondering if you are at all interested in working on the animated films being made by Sony, in addition to VFX work.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 03:18 AM
Hey guys... Lots of questions... Sorry for the late response, I will try to answer some of your questions below one at a time.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 03:29 AM
Hello Christopher.

I am wondering what your most challenging assignment has been and why?

Also, what types of shots make you cringe when you think of how difficult they may be to achieve?

Thanks for taking the time to do this Q&A. It's one of the best features of CGTalk, in my opinion.

Well challenge is hard one to answer because, due to the nature of what we do, every new challenge, becomes the most difficult one you have done. But I would have to say trying to actually get into the VFX world was one of the hardest things. Most of that is about knowing the right people, being at the right place, finding the right project, and combine that with some luck.

What makes me cringe? It may not be the answer you are looking for, but usually what I hate is when I am asked to do things that are unnatural (in terms of lighting). I want lighting to work the way lights do in the real world. I realize that on set, lighting is not very “natural” either, but it is more natural then what we are asked to do sometimes. I guess that is why I enjoy Global Illumination so much.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 03:35 AM
Hey Christopher!

How much does your education in math effect your VFX work? and what made you want to get into cg? Thanks!

I don't do much shader writing or programming mostly because I like sticking to the artistic side of things. But Math is a very powerful educational tool. It helps you breakdown problems, understand logic, debug issues, and most importantly, try to find the most efficient way of attacking a problem. I always found that the “art” in math was to find the most elegant way to solve the problem.

I got into CG because I was interested in visualization. This started with my math background and continued through my architecture career.

Blur1
01-31-2006, 03:38 AM
I read that VRay was used on the NIN video at DD with very few passes rendered for the final result. The other approach I'm aware of at DD is to render many passes and then build the image in the composite (using Nuke). I know that requirements change on a per-job basis, but do you think that renderers like VRay mean we will see less passes in the future?

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 03:44 AM
Hello Christopher

Can I ask what's your favourite 3d app?

Also What should we the students who's interested in the VFX field be aware or concerned about? in terms of breaking in

and finally, how easy is it to break in the VFX field compared to other CG fields?

My questions might sound awkward, sryy about that :blush:

Hope you well and further success

cheers

I don't really have a favorite app. I think I favor working in lighting, and when I do that, I love working with global illumination.

Getting into the VFX industry is a hard one to answer, as I am sure many have tried. It really has to do with luck. There are many things you can do to maximize your chances. Trying to be at the right place and the right time is one of them. The most important thing to be concerned about is your reel. Try to find the area you are most interested in and study that a lot: lighting, animation, modeling, … It is good to be well rounded, but being a specialist in one area is good too.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 03:47 AM
Hello Christopher.

How many years are you doing the VFX ?

I just want to add, your work is really fantastic.

Thanks!

I have been doing CG for around 12 years, but I got into VFX in 2002.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 03:52 AM
hey there i see that you worked on the day after tommorow. Im wondeing did u work on the big wave? If you did did they use mayas fluids stuff to create it or some in house software?

Nope... Most of the work that I did on Day that you can see in the movie was modeling. There were a TON of buildings that needed to be modeled for that movie and I was part of that team. I then did some fun look development in lighting on the movie, but it never got used.

As far as I remember, the wave thing was done with proprietary software at DD. They have some pretty cool tools there. But I not part of that FX crew so I really can't tell you much more about it.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 03:59 AM
Hey Chris, just curious, what project are you working on here at Sony and what department you're in? Also, got any details on what specific work you did on your previous films? Thanks and see ya round!

Not sure how much Sony allows us to talk about work that is in progress... but maybe I can mention that it is the movie that involves a lot of fire.

What I did on films... let’s see on Day I was modeling and did some look devel. On Robot, I was one of the sequence lighting leads. On Stealth, I did lighting, and now at Sony I am doing lighting and composting.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 04:04 AM
Hey Chris,
What are the three biggest problems that you as a director see in the noobs, fresh out of College? Aside from having a wicked portfolio, what can we as budding CG artists and animators do to get the job? Win contests? Get Degrees? Pray?:shrug:

I am not really a director... the closest I have bene was a lighting lead on I, Robot. There is nothing like a fresh mind. They are always so eager to do anything. I think the biggest mistake they make is not asking questions. There is this fear that not knowing means you are no good and you try to figure things out on your own, or pretend that you know. Those who ask questions generally get a lot further a lot faster.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 04:07 AM
I was wondering if you are at all interested in working on the animated films being made by Sony, in addition to VFX work.

Sure.. if the right project came along...

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 04:17 AM
I read that VRay was used on the NIN video at DD with very few passes rendered for the final result. The other approach I'm aware of at DD is to render many passes and then build the image in the composite (using Nuke). I know that requirements change on a per-job basis, but do you think that renderers like VRay mean we will see less passes in the future?

Actually not really... Vray has a very rich G-Buffer output. I think it can do really well in a multipass comp world. I did not work on the NIN video at DD since I was on Stealth at the time. But from what I was told by some of the people that did work on it, there simply was no real need for many passes because there was less need to tweaking the lighting in the comp.

But if it were me, I would do a multipass render as often as possible so that if ever I wanted to do some tweaking, I would have it available to me.

sys0ps
01-31-2006, 04:24 AM
chris,

not really a question, but when i saw the few pics posted of your work in the intro post, i was like whoa- that's the guy that had the long argument with another member over the difference between GI and ambient occlusion.
thanks for your input in that thread- helpful when i was learning how to use GI.
always nice to see someone in the industry frequenting the threads.
best of luck on future projects

Bryan

alan.bala
01-31-2006, 04:25 AM
hey chris..
its really inspring for me whenever i see "day after t'rw"...n particulary those waves getting into the city..whhooo...grt 2 knw,u had been a part of tht team...also, i've been fascinated seeing the work done in "stealth" ...how did u achieve such a high speed animation shots???
hey can u say something abt how u got into this industry? 12 years is too gr8...so,u must have crossed a lot of barriers to make urself a name...how did u acheive it?
well...thts it...keep rocking chris!!! :thumbsup:
thnx

ipdesigner
01-31-2006, 04:35 AM
Hi Chris,

I am an active member of cgarchitect as well as here in cgtalk. i have only one question, how would you relate working in architectural works into character modelling works and VFX effects? do you prefer one of the field as your best? how about the workload?:) Tnx

Mr. Sherwin B.
ipdesigner
1.8xl

Blur1
01-31-2006, 04:39 AM
Actually not really... Vray has a very rich G-Buffer output. I think it can do really well in a multipass comp world. I did not work on the NIN video at DD since I was on Stealth at the time. But from what I was told by some of the people that did work on it, there simply was no real need for many passes because there was less need to tweaking the lighting in the comp.

But if it were me, I would do a multipass render as often as possible so that if ever I wanted to do some tweaking, I would have it available to me.

Sorry for taking up more bandwidth here, but my point was exactly that I gather there was no need for extra passes because it "just worked". I think it was a post on the VRay forum from throb (Rob Nederhorst) and he was saying how cool it was to not have to wrangle a bunch of passes, and I know he would be used to that workflow because he uses Nuke a lot. Personally I love the gbuffer approach and I also dig Vray's output, which I comped on the Cartoon Network job at Animal Logic.

Thanks for your time.

mukks
01-31-2006, 04:48 AM
hai ,

ur GI DVDs r great ,u did a good job, n its very usefull to me as an archvis artist.
i just need to know

1. did u used v-ray for any of ur VFX projetcs? for any single shots or ,,,,,,,,,,

2. as a lighting artist , which modern renderengine u like to use for production, ? y ?

thanks.
mukks

evil3d
01-31-2006, 05:17 AM
Hi Chris ,

I'm new to V-Ray, but love it for it's ease of use n gr8 results one can achive with in a few simple steps in the setup.

I've bought both the GI DVDs n as mukks said they r great n usefull.

1. i need to know if u r planning to make any dvd for V-ray newbies with all the details about each n every pice of V-Ray ?

2. which r upcommin titles ?

thankz
prathiush

msc
01-31-2006, 05:33 AM
Hi Chris,

Do you miss anything about the arch & archvis field since you've left for the vfx industry? In the future, would you consider a move into the games industry, and if so, what would attract you there?

Thanks. Your GI Exteriors DVD was very educational.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 05:37 AM
Hi Chris,

I am an active member of cgarchitect as well as here in cgtalk. i have only one question, how would you relate working in architectural works into character modelling works and VFX effects? do you prefer one of the field as your best? how about the workload?:) Tnx

Mr. Sherwin B.
ipdesigner
1.8xl

Actually I did hard surface modeling (which is different from character modeling) but now foucs on lighting and compositing. To be honest, there is less and less difference between the archviz and VFX these days, which is something I had to convince people when getting hired. Generally a talented archviz artists would be a very good modeling and a good lighter in VFX.

I think I am happier with VFX mainly because I got disapointed with design after architecture school. It finally looks like design is making a comeback but generally speaking good taste in architecture is something that is lacking in the US. Plus I really didn't care about fire ratings on doors.

Workload is about the same as archviz... sometimes it is bad, sometimes it is normal. But the pay is a little better. However, from what I have seen, archivz pay is getting pretty good these days.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 05:49 AM
hai ,
1. did u used v-ray for any of ur VFX projetcs? for any single shots or ,,,,,,,,,,

2. as a lighting artist , which modern renderengine u like to use for production, ? y ?

thanks.
mukks

Actually no... The VFX world is a hard nut to crack in terms of changing pipelines. Most of what is used is Renderman, as it has been for a long long time. I like renderman for many reasons, but it is a completely different animal... and I am not sure it is what I would call modern. Then again, in many ways it can be a lot more powerful then others.

I used Vray when it first came out around 2001, and have continued to use it in some form ever since. I had a passion for GI since even before then. After being with it for so long, it became second nature to me.

thematt
01-31-2006, 08:06 AM
Hello Chris, and thanks for your time.


As you mention you use a lot of Gi for the project, is it the case now for most of the movie you work on?Or is GI still too heavy for those kind of job?.

Finally Do you still use what we cal the good old trick in lighting? (3 point lighting, gobo light, ect..)

thanks

xenry
01-31-2006, 08:21 AM
do you plan on a new dvd, and if so, what topic will you cover

idhahbi
01-31-2006, 08:23 AM
Hi,
Besides your demoreel, is there any other place where we can see more of your work?, and last question. On the technical side of things, did you attend any formal training (when learning how to use programs etc....), or are you self taught?
Thank you.

criticalmechanism
01-31-2006, 08:32 AM
Hi Chris,
this is very convinient because I rescently watched your DVD about global illumination; exteriors. I noticed you only use Vray to get the realistic light solutions. So here's a couple of questions;
__
What is your opinion about the new rendering technology (Full Spectral Rendering ) seen in Maxwell renderer, where the program simulates electromagnetic waves ?
__
Do you think that this new technology will soon be aquired by large studios such as ILM, seeing as how computer strenght grows everyday and Maxwell, although slow, giving very realistic results and almost no limits to lightning artist souch as yourself ?
__
There is no doubt that computer strenght will be powerfull enough one day to harness an even more powerfull solution than simulating electromagnetic waves, seeing as how these things progress very fast, this could happen soon, so in your opinion what should happen next ?
__
I noticed you know alot of things about light in the real world, rendering softwares only provide a limited number of functions/features compared to the real world, so, if you could add 1 extra feature to your rendering software, what would it be ?
__
I started building a scene and your DVD helped me alot, I switched from Brazil to Vray. If you can post a critique about the lightning in the scene I'd be honored :)
http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?t=269435&page=1&pp=15
__

This is it for now, it would be nice if you answer all of my questions, and sory about my bad English, I hope I wrote all these questions correctly, cheers.

Nazirull
01-31-2006, 09:49 AM
Hie Chistopher....Its an honor to be able to post directly to you and congrats for being featured here.

criticalmechanism (http://forums.cgsociety.org/member.php?u=90932) has already come up with most of the question. But my only question would be a bit about the film industry.

What do you think is THE next thing in film? We are talking about revolution of what Lucas has brought into the film industry.

Thanks in advance Christopher.

ipdesigner
01-31-2006, 12:15 PM
*Thanks for the info Chris and more power!:thumbsup:

Joblh
01-31-2006, 01:30 PM
Hi Christopher,

what do you think are the most common mistakes beginners make in lighting?
And what are the most important things in lighting/ compositing that makes a piece stand out from the crowd?

thanks! Good luck in the future :)

neofg
01-31-2006, 02:40 PM
Hi Chris!
I think that all this work is fantastic... Vfx today is the new Michelangelo's work....
I have ever had problems with lighting, and when I'd finish a scene(when u think that you have made the big of the work)you discover that a bad lighting Can destroy weeks of work.
So...My question is... What are the general rules that you apply to start the lighting of a scene?
An exterior scene, for example... How u setup lights, and how many lights u use in a cg scene for a film in average? Yes, it's a generic question...
Another little question... How in films are managed a big scene(like NY in The Day after tomorrow...)? Do your computer work slow? :rolleyes: He He...
Go on so...Good art!

LEGC
01-31-2006, 02:46 PM
Sorry my English!
Hi Christopher,

what are your future goals in the industry? or you just achieved all your goals in the industry.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 02:53 PM
Hi Chris ,

I'm new to V-Ray, but love it for it's ease of use n gr8 results one can achive with in a few simple steps in the setup.

I've bought both the GI DVDs n as mukks said they r great n usefull.

1. i need to know if u r planning to make any dvd for V-ray newbies with all the details about each n every pice of V-Ray ?

2. which r upcommin titles ?

thankz
prathiush

I am glad you enjoyed my DVDs.

hmmm... upcoming titles. People have asked about this. There are a few things that are holding me back from doing another title right away. Lots of things going on in my personal and professional life make it hard, being at the think of it on my current project, my wife and I having a baby, trying to buy a house...

Also, there are a lot of "things" going on with Vray that will be very interesting. New versions, new features, new platforms. All of this is up in the air but it looks like the dust is settling and I want to make sure that my next title takes advantage of it.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 03:11 PM
Hello Chris, and thanks for your time.


As you mention you use a lot of Gi for the project, is it the case now for most of the movie you work on?Or is GI still too heavy for those kind of job?.

Finally Do you still use what we cal the good old trick in lighting? (3 point lighting, gobo light, ect..)

thanks

Since every movie I have worked on has been a renderman show, GI was not really an option.

I really don't think GI is to heavy for features if used in the right way for the right sort of project. It is something that will creep into it from the ground up. You will start to see it on things like digital sets. Rendering engines such as Vray first started to dominate the archviz world (which BTW may be the largest community in the CG world) and now you can really start to see it more and more in broadcasts such as commercials.

Renderman has the ability to be completely customized and be built for a massive complex pipeline. That is what makes it so powerful for films. It is not just a renderman rendering engine, it becomes a “Stealth” rendering engine, an “I, Robot” rendering engine. Once rendering engines like Vray have that ability (and they will), it will be a lot more common on features in big studios. It is either that tools such as Vray have to become more like renderman, or renderman has to start "modernizing".

Either way, I don't think anyone can deny that GI WILL be in the near future of all feature film VFX.

Oh and one last things. Three point light and gobos are used in real world lighting so there is no reason why you can't use that in a GI world as well.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 03:18 PM
Hi,
Besides your demoreel, is there any other place where we can see more of your work?, and last question. On the technical side of things, did you attend any formal training (when learning how to use programs etc....), or are you self taught?
Thank you.

I don't have much personal work out there. I think it is because I do it at work, and I can't really show my work until the movie comes out.

I had a few "formal" 3d classes in architecture school, but to be honest most of what I have learned has been on my own.

On the other hand I have experience teaching, as I was an assitant professor at Rice University School or Architecture for 3 years. I sorta miss it. Maybe that is why I enjoyed making the DVDs

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 04:49 PM
Hi Chris,
this is very convinient because I rescently watched your DVD about global illumination; exteriors. I noticed you only use Vray to get the realistic light solutions. So here's a couple of questions;
__
What is your opinion about the new rendering technology (Full Spectral Rendering ) seen in Maxwell renderer, where the program simulates electromagnetic waves ?
__
Do you think that this new technology will soon be aquired by large studios such as ILM, seeing as how computer strenght grows everyday and Maxwell, although slow, giving very realistic results and almost no limits to lightning artist souch as yourself ?
__
There is no doubt that computer strenght will be powerfull enough one day to harness an even more powerfull solution than simulating electromagnetic waves, seeing as how these things progress very fast, this could happen soon, so in your opinion what should happen next ?
__
I noticed you know alot of things about light in the real world, rendering softwares only provide a limited number of functions/features compared to the real world, so, if you could add 1 extra feature to your rendering software, what would it be ?
__
I started building a scene and your DVD helped me alot, I switched from Brazil to Vray. If you can post a critique about the lightning in the scene I'd be honored :)
http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?t=269435&page=1&pp=15
__

This is it for now, it would be nice if you answer all of my questions, and sory about my bad English, I hope I wrote all these questions correctly, cheers.


These are all very good questions. Doing a "full spectral rendering" is not as much a challenge in terms of creating the rendering engine, as it is a challenge to get it to work efficiently. Maxwell opened everyone’s eyes into seeing a workflow that was based on setting up lighting and cameras in the real world. THAT is the next step. I also think it opened up everyone’s eyes as to the perils of an "unbiased" world. There is a fine line between "reality" and "speed."

I think in terms of GI, conceptually, the maxwell solution is very elegant. But I also think that the speed and optimization of rendering engines like Vray are also elegant.... there is something pretty about getting 99% there in 1/10 of the time.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 05:01 PM
Hi Christopher,

what do you think are the most common mistakes beginners make in lighting?
And what are the most important things in lighting/ compositing that makes a piece stand out from the crowd?

thanks! Good luck in the future :)

hmm... interesting question. I would say artistically, in terms of lighting, it to keep in simple. People sometimes feel that they have to tweak every single setting and every shader and every variable. They end up getting lost. If you try to minimize your variables, it is easier to control what you are doing. The key is learning what are the important variables that you need in terms of control.

Compositing is much the same. People sometimes feel the urge to tweak everything.

Alberto_Ro
01-31-2006, 05:36 PM
Hello!
I can say I´m a noob in ilumination, but I know some modeling tecniques and stuff. I´m working on a huge scale project, and I am looking for a way to finish it and render it without see max crashing everytime I try.
As you already saw the making of some very good movies, can you tell me if you use Xref ( Xreferences ) for huge scale scenes? I heard that you can render huuuuuuuge scale scenes with it without consuming allot of memory.
Is Xref very used in the vfx industry?

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 08:40 PM
Hi Chris!
I think that all this work is fantastic... Vfx today is the new Michelangelo's work....
I have ever had problems with lighting, and when I'd finish a scene(when u think that you have made the big of the work)you discover that a bad lighting Can destroy weeks of work.
So...My question is... What are the general rules that you apply to start the lighting of a scene?
An exterior scene, for example... How u setup lights, and how many lights u use in a cg scene for a film in average? Yes, it's a generic question...
Another little question... How in films are managed a big scene(like NY in The Day after tomorrow...)? Do your computer work slow? :rolleyes: He He...
Go on so...Good art!

Setting up a scene... well there are many ways to talk about it and I could for hours. But generally it all depends on what you are trying to do... do lighting from scratch, match lighting to a plate...

As far as big scenes, what is really needed is some sort of delay read archieve. Renderman has a great way of doing this, and Vray has they VrayProxy tool which is in essence the same thing. Xrefs don't really work to optimize the scene since at rendertime it loads the whole scene. Delay read archives and VrayProxy load the data as needed.

cpnichols
01-31-2006, 08:42 PM
Sorry my English!
Hi Christopher,

what are your future goals in the industry? or you just achieved all your goals in the industry.


Hmmm.... I like doing VFX, but what I really want to do is Direct... hehe... kidding.

BRUTICUS
01-31-2006, 08:47 PM
The key is learning what are the important variables that you need in terms of control.

Compositing is much the same. People sometimes feel the urge to tweak everything.

So what would you say is the most important lighting variables to learn?

arquiteck09
01-31-2006, 08:49 PM
First of all sorry for my english.

We can clearly see that you enjoy the 3D aspect in VFX, but what about 2D ? did you use any resource for matte painting ? or you just use 3D apps ?. I have hear that matte painting is very useful in VFX, even for lighting, what did you think about this ?

And congratulations for you work, i`m a architecture student and you are one of my Idols in cg world.

thewave
01-31-2006, 08:53 PM
Greetings and Salutations,

Through your experiences what are some tangible aspects of digital animation which make a piece of work stand out versus lesser works?

If you choose to answer my question I thank you for your time and response in advance.

Benjamin Dean

geoffrey
01-31-2006, 09:06 PM
Hello Chris,
Got a couple of questions for you

Do you like the films you've worked on?
i.e. do you think that they are just VFX films?
I personally loved the VFX on I robot and TDAT but the plots are erm....hollywood (how's that for tact eh?)
What new piece of technology are you most looking forward to?

Thanks for the DVD, I actually understand what some of the settings mean now which helps!

Geoff

Alberto_Ro
01-31-2006, 09:14 PM
Setting up a scene... well there are many ways to talk about it and I could for hours. But generally it all depends on what you are trying to do... do lighting from scratch, match lighting to a plate...

As far as big scenes, what is really needed is some sort of delay read archieve. Renderman has a great way of doing this, and Vray has they VrayProxy tool which is in essence the same thing. Xrefs don't really work to optimize the scene since at rendertime it loads the whole scene. Delay read archives and VrayProxy load the data as needed.

So vray proxy works allot better on huge scenes than Xref? So what does Vray proxy do when it comes to rendering the scene? How does it render the scene without loading all the objects?
Sorry for my noobish questions. :shrug:
Thanks for the advice.:thumbsup:

cpnichols
02-01-2006, 04:17 AM
So what would you say is the most important lighting variables to learn?

Well it may seem obvious but first is to makes sure your lights have real world properties such as a proper inverse square decay or is a photometric light. Then I would say that position, intensity and color in that order are what you need to deal with 99% of the time with. In terms of shaders color and glossiness are the most important factors. Of course things can get more complicated. I have never used Maxwell, but from what I understand, that is what makes it "easy to use" is that it limits the user from to many variables. It is pretty obvious and fundamental but sometimes people forget (including me).

cpnichols
02-01-2006, 04:20 AM
First of all sorry for my english.

We can clearly see that you enjoy the 3D aspect in VFX, but what about 2D ? did you use any resource for matte painting ? or you just use 3D apps ?. I have hear that matte painting is very useful in VFX, even for lighting, what did you think about this ?

And congratulations for you work, i`m a architecture student and you are one of my Idols in cg world.

Oh sure... Matte painting is critical... but I am not a matte painter. They are a different type of specialist.

gsuhy
02-01-2006, 04:24 AM
Hi Christopher... I too have had some good fortune to work in films.. (Underworld2 being the latest) but usually for smaller VFX shops. Larger shops scare me. My fear of having to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with 50 (or more) guys crammed into a small office space has probably cost me a lot of $ over the years. My question to you is.. being a senior TD do you still have a lot hands-on work? or is it more about supervision? Do you ever fear getting into a Director-type roll where you are no longer sitting in front of a glowing screen all day?

cpnichols
02-01-2006, 04:27 AM
Greetings and Salutations,

Through your experiences what are some tangible aspects of digital animation which make a piece of work stand out versus lesser works?

If you choose to answer my question I thank you for your time and response in advance.

Benjamin Dean

Well mostly what I do is to incorporate CG into live action plates, so I would say that if you don't notice that it is CG, then that is what makes it stand out. If the animation looks wrong, the lighting does not match, the blacks don't match... and you notice the CG, then it pulls me out of the moment and the effect failed.

cpnichols
02-01-2006, 04:31 AM
Hello Chris,
Got a couple of questions for you

Do you like the films you've worked on?
i.e. do you think that they are just VFX films?
I personally loved the VFX on I robot and TDAT but the plots are erm....hollywood (how's that for tact eh?)
What new piece of technology are you most looking forward to?

Thanks for the DVD, I actually understand what some of the settings mean now which helps!

Geoff

They always tell you that when you work on a movie you have no idea if it is going to be good or no good. Even actors and directors say that. I think it is true for VFX people as well. I have resigned to enjoy the moment and enjoy what I do.

cpnichols
02-01-2006, 04:40 AM
So vray proxy works allot better on huge scenes than Xref? So what does Vray proxy do when it comes to rendering the scene? How does it render the scene without loading all the objects?
Sorry for my noobish questions. :shrug:
Thanks for the advice.:thumbsup:

Actually it is very clever. In renderman, which is a scanline rendering engine, what it does is load the model as the scanline passes the object and unloads it when it leaves. In Vray it is a little different because it is a raytracer. The issue with raytracing is that you never know where the ray will hit, so normally you need to load the whole scene in ram... that is what causes problems. But Vray proxy saves the object in a special format that is optimized to match the BSP tree. So it loads sections of the model, as it needs them.

cpnichols
02-01-2006, 04:45 AM
Hi Christopher... I too have had some good fortune to work in films.. (Underworld2 being the latest) but usually for smaller VFX shops. Larger shops scare me. My fear of having to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with 50 (or more) guys crammed into a small office space has probably cost me a lot of $ over the years. My question to you is.. being a senior TD do you still have a lot hands-on work? or is it more about supervision? Do you ever fear getting into a Director-type roll where you are no longer sitting in front of a glowing screen all day?

Not really... Sony is great! Nice desks, tons of tech support, a great production team. In fact, I love the production guys because they make sure that the details are being taken care of and that the right people are talking to eachother so that I can spend my time working on shots rather than coordinate the workload.

Ministry
02-01-2006, 05:42 AM
hello christopher,
I've seen many movies which u ve played a roll behind the scenes. . awe inspiring. the movies that u worked are some of the best in my list. We use it for reference sometimes. entire team does it frame by frame just trying to figure out how it is being done. I'm a lighting and rendering artist working for some local projects back in india. I understand how u feel when u ve to break the rule in lighting. . i'm almost the same kind of person who profers to project just the way it is. Many arguments will run between me and the client. well, i should listen to them i suppose.

well my question is . .

U r my inspiration . . and no doubt in that. I would like to know if there is someone who inspired u?

regards.

AshtonWoolley
02-01-2006, 11:21 AM
Hey man!

Big fan of your work, im a maya user my self and i was just looking at your GI DVD's on the gnomon website & there in 3d's max, would they be any use to a maya user like my self and meny others?

Also just wondering how gnomon approched you about this oppitunity?

Another think did you know your on imdb? "http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1436759/"

I also loved your little insperational line on page 2

There is nothing like a fresh mind. They are always so eager to do anything.
I think the biggest mistake they make is not asking questions.
There is this fear that not knowing means you are no good and
you try to figure things out on your own, or pretend that you know.
Those who ask questions generally get a lot further a lot faster.

Anyway thanks for stoping by hope to see you around the forums!

ASW

JorgeIvanovich
02-01-2006, 03:09 PM
Hi Christopher,nice work, in the movie Stealth could you tell what render engine was used.

Also the planes landing look better than in the sky i mean some shots the were used just one render engine?

Thanks,sorry for me english:)

jigu
02-01-2006, 03:34 PM
First of all thanks for ur time answering so many questions!!!:)

Just one question ::

I see that u used GI for many films and as it's very time consuming and it's sometimes hard to get Flicker free animation using GI(renderengine feature).

Also i see if u r using GI then how do u render out ur passes? i.e. we render generally diffuse color,lighting,shadow etc passes and rendering out ambient occlusion pass just save a lot of time of rendering GI(If AO is slow then good old spherical lighting works well..)

Yeah my question is how do u use GI with those different layers in compositing software?
Or u just render out whole object (suppose I-robot's "robot" character) in one pass including each layers ?

Thanks for ur time...i hope u will get my question..sorry for my bad english...

-Jigu.

osmangazali
02-01-2006, 03:41 PM
Christopher hi!

I heard ur name here, in this post n i ve read the posts here. It really seems a good job u r doing! Congrats!

I ve a simple n short (but i think important) question for u:

-Whats ur advice on ppl just entering the FX world? (especially compositing)

Enjoy ur lights! ;)
Osman

cpnichols
02-01-2006, 04:23 PM
hello christopher,
I've seen many movies which u ve played a roll behind the scenes. . awe inspiring. the movies that u worked are some of the best in my list. We use it for reference sometimes. entire team does it frame by frame just trying to figure out how it is being done. I'm a lighting and rendering artist working for some local projects back in india. I understand how u feel when u ve to break the rule in lighting. . i'm almost the same kind of person who profers to project just the way it is. Many arguments will run between me and the client. well, i should listen to them i suppose.

well my question is . .

U r my inspiration . . and no doubt in that. I would like to know if there is someone who inspired u?

regards.

hmmm.. that is a hard one... I'm all for inspiration and mentorship. I think it is critical to have. We are in a very young field and mentors are hard to come by. I must say, while I admire some of the greats in VFX, I am not as inspired by them as I was when I was in architecture by some of the great architects. While I really don't regret leaving the field, I do miss the inspiration of the the greats.

Like I said.. it is a young industry, and at my tender age of 35, I am on the older side of the work force here. You will find few over 40 and those over 50 are ever more rare. But it is an amazingly creative industry with lots of great ideas. Sometimes all you need to inspiration is to look at what the guy next to you is doing.

cpnichols
02-01-2006, 04:27 PM
Hey man!

Big fan of your work, im a maya user my self and i was just looking at your GI DVD's on the gnomon website & there in 3d's max, would they be any use to a maya user like my self and meny others?


I think I tried to gear my DVD towards the general workflow of GI. Vray is the primary engine, but I think the general concepts are still important. Also, when Vray for Maya comes out, it will be even more relevant.


Also just wondering how gnomon approched you about this oppitunity?


A good friend of mine, Eric Hanson, approached me about doing it.

cpnichols
02-01-2006, 04:44 PM
First of all thanks for ur time answering so many questions!!!:)

Just one question ::

I see that u used GI for many films and as it's very time consuming and it's sometimes hard to get Flicker free animation using GI(renderengine feature).

Also i see if u r using GI then how do u render out ur passes? i.e. we render generally diffuse color,lighting,shadow etc passes and rendering out ambient occlusion pass just save a lot of time of rendering GI(If AO is slow then good old spherical lighting works well..)

Yeah my question is how do u use GI with those different layers in compositing software?
Or u just render out whole object (suppose I-robot's "robot" character) in one pass including each layers ?

Thanks for ur time...i hope u will get my question..sorry for my bad english...

-Jigu.

Actually feature films is the slowest to adapt GI lighting. There is a "don't rock the boat" feeling. You will see GI used nearly exclusively in archviz, and you are starting to see it more and more in broadcast stuff such as commercials. Ironically, in terms of features, more GI is used in full feature an animations like Shreck and The Incredibles.

One of the reasons that GI is not used to much in features is that the industry is in tied to renderman which is not geared towards GI lighting.

But to answer your other question. There is no reason why GI can't be used. There are several tricks to make it work, including baking of lighting with point samples or textures, adaptive sampling, etc...

As far as compositing, a rendering engine like Vray breaks out the lighting nicely so that it can be recomposed:

http://www.redeyetales.com/forum/Vray/Diagram_01.jpg

raptor|3D
02-01-2006, 06:27 PM
Hello Christopher,

I would like to ask which books and other learning materials would you recommend to beginners in order to learn general fundamentals of lighting (how the light behaves, how to light various scenes, ...) ~ whether for purpose of traditional painting or matte painting, lighting in 3D CG etc.




I am also interested what do you think about miniatures? How big do you think is the role of miniatures vs. digital sets these days in Effects world?
Thanks a lot for your time.

- excuse my English -

cpnichols
02-01-2006, 06:39 PM
Hello Christopher,

I would like to ask which books and other learning materials would you recommend to beginners in order to learn general fundamentals of lighting (how the light behaves, how to light various scenes, ...) ~ whether for purpose of traditional painting or matte painting, lighting in 3D CG etc.




I am also interested what do you think about miniatures? How big do you think is the role of miniatures vs. digital sets these days in Effects world?
Thanks a lot for your time.

- excuse my English -

I always think it is good to look at non-CG books over CG books about lighting, as traditional artist have been doing it for a lot longer. In order to pick the right kind, think about the type of lighting you like to do. If you do non-GI lighting, the best type of books to read about is books on painting, as they teach you how to balance key to fills, etc. If you plan on doing more GI lighting, I would recommend to add books on photography and cinematoraphy. GI allows you use bounce cards, reflected surfaces, etc...

Zeoyn
02-01-2006, 10:07 PM
Hi Christopher,

One of the main reasons why GI is extensively used in ArchViz is because most architectural animations do not require animation of elements in a scene, making it the ideal situation for keeping and loading irradiance maps.

In a case in which GI and animated elements are required (considering that this elements should receive and generate GI to/from the scene), which, in your opinion would be the best/most efficient approach to lighting?

Thank you for your time!
Zeoyn

ktxed
02-01-2006, 10:13 PM
What people from the VFX&CG scene do you admire? :)

cpnichols
02-01-2006, 10:17 PM
Hi Christopher,

One of the main reasons why GI is extensively used in ArchViz is because most architectural animations do not require animation of elements in a scene, making it the ideal situation for keeping and loading irradiance maps.

In a case in which GI and animated elements are required (considering that this elements should receive and generate GI to/from the scene), which, in your opinion would be the best/most efficient approach to lighting?

Thank you for your time!
Zeoyn

Well there is there is a brute force approach, but Vlado, the creator of Vray, outlined an approach to rendering the envionment and the objects seperatly and compositing back together again. That way the envionment can take advantage of the Irradiance maps, the the brute force approach is limited to the object and the environment that is next to it. It is a very unique idea IMHO:

http://www.spot3d.com/vray/help/VRayHelp150beta/tutorials_anim.htm

Zeoyn
02-01-2006, 11:09 PM
Hi Christopher,

The gamma compensation you use in your lighting technique was a revelation to me.
Could you please explain why there is a curve deviation in our perception in relation to linear light space? Does it have to do with the fact that the iris of our eye opens in darker light situations and closes with brighter light?

Sorry if I am saying something dum here, but I am really curious about this :)

Zeoyn

SebKaine
02-02-2006, 09:36 AM
Hy Christopher !

First of all thank's for sharing your time & knowledge with us.

I'm a student in CG & i would like to know if you can give us some great reference book or tips for beeing a good lighter ...

- i know jeremy birns great book, but is there other one that help you a lot ?
- Do you study classic european painters like Rembrandt, Durer, Turner etc ?
- Do you read lot of book about Photography ?

My last question is about renderman ! Does SPI use the new renderman for Maya Plug'ins or Does they still work with the Renderman artist Tool at 100% ?

Thanks a lot for your lights & good luck for your futur projects !

RorrKonn
02-02-2006, 09:44 AM
Pretty kool 3D Nichols.:thumbsup:

RorrKonn
http://www.atomic-3d.com (http://www.atomic-3d.com)
TS 6, LW 7, C4D 9, zBrush 2.

Bourbon Thret
02-02-2006, 12:01 PM
hey chris,

i'm in the archviz field myself, kinda fell into it due to my geography (where i live there is no film industry but a heckuva lot of building and development so if you want a job as a digital artist, thats the sector you work in).

eventually i would like to get into a VFX role so i am curious how exactly you went about it. was it your hard surface/architectural modeling skills that got you in the door at DD? once 'in', was it easy to switch over into the lighting department?

was your portfolio purely archviz up to that point?

i have a quite a few big archviz projects behind me so am curious if a VFX employer would even consider someone with my background.

cheers!

cpnichols
02-02-2006, 03:12 PM
What people from the VFX&CG scene do you admire? :)

This is a hard one to answer... When I was in architecture I admired several peoples works (still do). In VFX, I admire some great artists, but not in the same way. I am not in awe with people, that is mainly because it takes a whole team of people to make something. So, I am in awe of that team. I am in awe of the NYC team, and the fur lighting team on King Kong for example.

Don't know if that makes any sense. If you want names of people, I can talk about architects if you want...

cpnichols
02-02-2006, 03:20 PM
Hi Christopher,

The gamma compensation you use in your lighting technique was a revelation to me.
Could you please explain why there is a curve deviation in our perception in relation to linear light space? Does it have to do with the fact that the iris of our eye opens in darker light situations and closes with brighter light?

Sorry if I am saying something dum here, but I am really curious about this :)

Zeoyn

As you may know, what your eyes see, and what the data is very different. I have found that this is one of the most difficult things to explain. The person that explained it the best is Dan Lemmon, who is now a sup at Weta... but he had cool charts and diagrams that makes so much sense.

Basically, in an oversimplified way, visually, half the light is not equal to have the value. But when dealing in linear space, you make it so that half the light IS half the light IS half the value so that everything gets added correctly, then add that curve back to it so that you can see it correctly.

cpnichols
02-02-2006, 03:28 PM
Hy Christopher !

First of all thank's for sharing your time & knowledge with us.

I'm a student in CG & i would like to know if you can give us some great reference book or tips for beeing a good lighter ...

- i know jeremy birns great book, but is there other one that help you a lot ?
- Do you study classic european painters like Rembrandt, Durer, Turner etc ?
- Do you read lot of book about Photography ?


Actually I focus mainly on photography and cinematography. My interest in GI push me that way. I like books such as this one:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0966250400/104-5195287-1206310?v=glance&n=283155



My last question is about renderman ! Does SPI use the new renderman for Maya Plug'ins or Does they still work with the Renderman artist Tool at 100% ?

Thanks a lot for your lights & good luck for your futur projects !

SPI uses their own interface for renderman. This have their own package that they have used for many many years. As far as the Renderman for Maya... I don't think that large sudios would use it that much as it is not as customizable as RAT.

SebKaine
02-02-2006, 04:38 PM
Thanks for your answer chris !

cpnichols
02-02-2006, 06:28 PM
hey chris,

i'm in the archviz field myself, kinda fell into it due to my geography (where i live there is no film industry but a heckuva lot of building and development so if you want a job as a digital artist, thats the sector you work in).

eventually i would like to get into a VFX role so i am curious how exactly you went about it. was it your hard surface/architectural modeling skills that got you in the door at DD? once 'in', was it easy to switch over into the lighting department?

was your portfolio purely archviz up to that point?

i have a quite a few big archviz projects behind me so am curious if a VFX employer would even consider someone with my background.

cheers!

I too was doing archviz in a place that had a lot of building and no VFX: Houston, Texas. I left there because I thought the sense of design that was being build at the time was... well pretty dull. I moved to LA hoping that I could get exposed to a higher sense of design. It also ended up being a good place to be around VFX and I met a lot of people that did it.

As far as convincing people that I could do it, I got lucky there. Two of the people that were involved in me getting hired were ex-architects. The one that recommended me, and the one that hired me. You will see that there are many ex-architects in VFX. They can quickly tell if the person is ready for VFX or not.

Oh and one last thing... If you have been in archviz for a while and make a good living going into VFX is a big risky jump. Your first job may not pay as well as you think, and you have to live with the fact that you will probably get laid off the moment the job is over (3 to 9 months for feature films). You just have to be OK with that and realize that your second job will be a LOT easier to find once you have your first one under your belt…

Rumr
02-03-2006, 12:12 AM
Sup Chris!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and answer some good q's.
Inspiring!

For some time now I have been learning alot about rendering and so on [XSI]. It kills to render using GI FG and all those killer options. I dont work in a studio were theres render farms or anything so its pricey to view good renders or try out new options to get good results. What do you suggest to learn at great speeds. I have been looking to get a new machine as well. Id like to hear some ideas on how to climb the latter as fast as i can or maybe you can recomend a graphic card and so on.

Thanks!

cpnichols
02-03-2006, 12:25 AM
Sup Chris!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and answer some good q's.
Inspiring!

For some time now I have been learning alot about rendering and so on [XSI]. It kills to render using GI FG and all those killer options. I dont work in a studio were theres render farms or anything so its pricey to view good renders or try out new options to get good results. What do you suggest to learn at great speeds. I have been looking to get a new machine as well. Id like to hear some ideas on how to climb the latter as fast as i can or maybe you can recomend a graphic card and so on.

Thanks!

Oh you know... I don't really deal with computers at work, and my home computer is pretty old. It is a 3 year old dual AMD 2600+... More important than the speed of the computer is the efficiency of the artists an the rendering engine. For example, that rendering under the freeway overpass was a pretty quick rendering all things considered. At 800x600 that took around 8 mins to render on my old computer.... and that is without baking the lighting.

bluemagicuk
02-03-2006, 09:14 PM
Hi Chris

My girlfriend is an interior designer student and is a huge fan of Zaha Hadid .. she was wondering what you thought of her work.
And who is your favourite architectural designer .... designers.
Love your renders awesome stuff !

FelixMB
02-04-2006, 12:34 AM
The DVD is great - well structured, giving a good overview!

thx



How do you think will rendering evolve in the next 10 years
and what is your fav architect and building?

keep them bouncing

cpnichols
02-04-2006, 01:31 AM
Hi Chris

My girlfriend is an interior designer student and is a huge fan of Zaha Hadid .. she was wondering what you thought of her work.
And who is your favourite architectural designer .... designers.
Love your renders awesome stuff !

Zaha's work is great. I love her bold style. I got to meet her once. Interesting woman... I hear she is really hard to work for.

I have always liked some of the paper architects of the last 30 years. Architects like Lebbeus Woods and John Hejduk and Lars Lerup and Steven Holl. I love good design too, but I think I love some of the stories that are behind these amazing designs that never get built. Zaha has some of that too. It is a lot more interesting to think of architecture in that way than it is to think about spec office buildings and strip malls.

For those of you that don't know who I am talking about... this is an example of Lebbeus Woods' work:

http://www.artnet.com/artwork_images_807_127367_Lebbeus-Woods.jpg

As far as my favorite building, that is a harder one to answer. But I visited the Salk Institute not to long ago, and it has been a long time since a building inside the united states moved me like that. The Salk Institute is designed by Louis Kahn, arguably in my mind, the greatest american architect. I also never miss a chance to see the Arab Institute when I am in Paris designed by John Nouvel.

atd
02-04-2006, 01:52 AM
Hello Christopher


I'm new in the VFX world and everybody talk about that effect or the other effect but anybody talk about pay. I have a big curiosity about how much is the pay is such works, I hope some people like you that have travel for modeling to lighting and viz could tell me.
I'm talking about working on a place not freelance. How much hour per day, how much hour a week, how much is paying out there at a year.

Please fill this big gap that I have and sorry my poor english.

Thank you for your time.

Rayan
02-04-2006, 04:55 AM
hi
at first thank you for your time.I am new in cg,I want to go univesity next year and I want to study Mathematics,is it good idea,can it help me in future? or is it good idea I am going to study software engineer or Fine Arts?
thank you.

cpnichols
02-04-2006, 05:37 PM
hi
at first thank you for your time.I am new in cg,I want to go univesity next year and I want to study Mathematics,is it good idea,can it help me in future? or is it good idea I am going to study software engineer or Fine Arts?
thank you.

I notice that you are in Iran. Is that where you would be going to school? I am not sure how it works there, but in the US we do not have to select a major until the middle of our second year. I was taking CS, Math, Fine Arts, Physics.. not really knowing what I liked yet. The year and a half helped me make up my mind. Math is very helpful general way, not as much in a direct way such as medicine or law for example. I enjoy finding simple solutions to complex problems. Plus Math is a lot more visual than Computer Science.

Adriano-Zanetti
02-04-2006, 07:58 PM
Hi Christopher,

Quick question, will you bother coming up with an other Dvd covering characters lighting, Fluids and Atmospherics lighting ? I'm sure lots of us would really appreciate if in there you'd share with us more of your experience with movies like TDAT, or even IRobots, which were involving many animated cg elements. I really found your previous Dvds interresting and educational, but I'm craving for tips and tricks that would cover the topics I previously mentionned.

thanks for your time,

Adriano Zanetti

exigolight
02-05-2006, 11:57 AM
Hi,

As I know, by looking at your work, one of the best cg lighters I've ever found.
I'm an intermediate 3d modeler and wanna ask you something abt,
You're a 3d lighter and you have done it in several applications (ex. max, maya). That means if some one's doing 3d,if he wants to be skilled in one area, he doesn't have to stick to one programe to specialize on something (modeling, lighting, animation) like the way you do lighting (interior, exterior,gi etc.) in different softwares. IS that the way you've become a master 3d lighter ???

thanx.

pailhead
02-05-2006, 02:38 PM
Hello Christopher,

I would like to know more about your education as an architect and how it influenced your work in the VFX field.
I am not really familiar with the high education system in the USA, so if I may ask exactly how many years have you spent studying math and how many studying architecture.
How wide was your education as an architect, was it concentrated solely on the design aspect or had it touched the technical aspect like structural engineering?
I am studying architecture myself, you can only guess in what context judging by the location below my avatar. I am currently on my second year with three more to go, and I am covering stuff like structural engineering, city planning, a lot of technical stuff (which is mostly outdated) and some theory that I don't really find that interesting.

So do you feel that you've lost something by studying architecture, that maybe it would had been better spent by studying math some more, so maybe you could had explained the linear space issue better than Dan Lemmon (for example), or anything else for that matter that might have helped you improve your work in the VFX field?

You've mentioned something about fire ratings on doors :) that's why I thought that there was certainly something you didn't find interesting or useful in architecture, so I'd like to know how much there was to it.

I feel that I am wasting a lot of time studying architecture here. I really enjoy designing a house but what I enjoy even more is doing a 3d model and rendering it afterwards. I even enjoy thinking about the fact that someone should live there and that it should really be a house rather than a bunch of lines creating some concept sculpture thingy that looks cool but no one can actually use it (I consider this to be the emperors new suit).
But city planning, le Corbusier, the emphasis on boring, irrelevant and outdated stuff, banned usage of computers... I feel it could be better spent learning math, programming, improving drawing skills.

So, if even after getting my diploma as an architect, I decide to dedicate myself to VFX how severe a handicap will I have compared to someone who has dedicated himself completely to VFX much before me?

cpnichols
02-05-2006, 06:45 PM
Hi,

As I know, by looking at your work, one of the best cg lighters I've ever found.
I'm an intermediate 3d modeler and wanna ask you something abt,
You're a 3d lighter and you have done it in several applications (ex. max, maya). That means if some one's doing 3d,if he wants to be skilled in one area, he doesn't have to stick to one programe to specialize on something (modeling, lighting, animation) like the way you do lighting (interior, exterior,gi etc.) in different softwares. IS that the way you've become a master 3d lighter ???

thanx.

Yes... you constantly have to learn new software. In fact, many larger studios have their own rendering engines. Places like R+H, Blue Sky, PDI... even Sony Imageworks. While Sony uses renderman, they have their own interface to it so it is like learning new software. The most important thing to know is what lighting does and how it works rather then what settings to use. 3D software is the same thing. A place like PDI can't expect people to knwo their software as that is the only place that uses it. On the other hand going from non-GI to GI lighting is a different challenge (artistically speaking) as people have to learn to light differently. They have to learn to light like it is in the real world.

cpnichols
02-05-2006, 06:53 PM
Education is never a waste of time. It is up to you to take advantage of it. Lets take your example of city planning. I studied that too... think you would not use that in VFX? Think again. I has glad I had that skill when I was given the task of figuring out how to create cityscapes for New York on Day After Tomorrow. When they need someone to make generic buildings for a city shot, the one that can come up with it and design in a fast an believable way is the ex-architect. In terms of fire ratings on doors and stuff, that realization came when I was working as an architect not when I was in school. Another important thing that school teaching you is not what it teaches you, but that you learn how to learn. After learning so many things, you became good at getting the important information and figuring out how to digest it.

Hello Christopher,

I would like to know more about your education as an architect and how it influenced your work in the VFX field.
I am not really familiar with the high education system in the USA, so if I may ask exactly how many years have you spent studying math and how many studying architecture.
How wide was your education as an architect, was it concentrated solely on the design aspect or had it touched the technical aspect like structural engineering?
I am studying architecture myself, you can only guess in what context judging by the location below my avatar. I am currently on my second year with three more to go, and I am covering stuff like structural engineering, city planning, a lot of technical stuff (which is mostly outdated) and some theory that I don't really find that interesting.

So do you feel that you've lost something by studying architecture, that maybe it would had been better spent by studying math some more, so maybe you could had explained the linear space issue better than Dan Lemmon (for example), or anything else for that matter that might have helped you improve your work in the VFX field?

You've mentioned something about fire ratings on doors :) that's why I thought that there was certainly something you didn't find interesting or useful in architecture, so I'd like to know how much there was to it.

I feel that I am wasting a lot of time studying architecture here. I really enjoy designing a house but what I enjoy even more is doing a 3d model and rendering it afterwards. I even enjoy thinking about the fact that someone should live there and that it should really be a house rather than a bunch of lines creating some concept sculpture thingy that looks cool but no one can actually use it (I consider this to be the emperors new suit).
But city planning, le Corbusier, the emphasis on boring, irrelevant and outdated stuff, banned usage of computers... I feel it could be better spent learning math, programming, improving drawing skills.

So, if even after getting my diploma as an architect, I decide to dedicate myself to VFX how severe a handicap will I have compared to someone who has dedicated himself completely to VFX much before me?

leigh
02-06-2006, 03:25 PM
I'd like to give a huge thanks to Chris for his generous participation in this thread :thumbsup: