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PaulHellard
02-04-2010, 06:24 AM
Volker Engel
Co-Producer and VFX Supervisor - '2012'
Uncharted Territory

Read his Artist Profile on CGSociety, by clicking the image below, and come on back to ask Volker questions about his career.

http://features.cgsociety.org//images/plugs/feature/VolkerEngel_plug.jpg (http://features.cgsociety.org/story.php?story_id=5470)


To talk to the man himself, please feel free to post your questions and comments.

Please make a warm welcome to CGSociety’s Meet the Artist, Volker Engel.

boomji
02-04-2010, 08:34 AM
good one.
thanks.


b

azozel
02-04-2010, 12:07 PM
Very cool guy. Thanks for the share.

Neuro69
02-04-2010, 03:55 PM
"He said, 'I watched you cutting apart those 500 pieces and knew you were insane enough to work with us.'"

Excellent stuff :-)

PaulHellard
02-04-2010, 09:40 PM
OK I'll start.

Firstly, thank you Volker for being a part of CGSociety's revamped 'Meet the Artist' threads, from your home in Berlin I understand.

What are a few of your cherished sequences in films from your past. I understand '2012' stands out, but what still brings a smile to your face when you sit down to watch back? Please describe and tell us a the story behind one favorite sequence from your past films.

HellBoy
02-05-2010, 01:04 AM
Hello Volker

Without a doubt you have an amazing portfolio and well done on your achievement.

With that said, I have a some questions on your producing role. What's the toughest part of being a producer and how was it like the first time you took the producing job? how would you advice someone who wants to get into the producing role?

Thanks and God bless.

stillframepictures
02-05-2010, 08:41 AM
Volker,

I have grown up being inspired by your work in films, but until now, have never had a name and face to put as a source of the inspiration. Thank you!

My question: To someone whom has had a passion from childhood of building miniatures for film, should that passion be set aside as just a hobby and turn completely to CG modeling? Or will there still be a need for miniature artists in the industry?

mcscher
02-05-2010, 03:57 PM
Hello Mr. Engel,

very nice story and an impressive career you have there. As a matter of fact it is so impressive that it leads me to my questions about your career.

What would you concider to be your most valuable skill that lead to your VFX supervisor role instead of an artist down the line and what would your recommendation be to anyone who wants to achieve a similar role in VFX for feature films?


Thanks.

oppman
02-05-2010, 04:53 PM
You mentioned that once the door to the industry was opened a bit you took full advantage of that opportunity and proved your skill set and talent. However, the opportunity you took on was it based off of pure talent or do you believe Emmerich was interviewing your personality in the four hour conversation you had with him?

What brought on this question for me was that I consistently hear it is who you know in the industry which then starts an opportunity to success. Compared to a person's talent opening the door for them without knowing a person in the industry. Over all, I am student trying to figure out the best method towards entering the vfx/3D animation industry.

Thank you for sharing your story, it was very entertaining and informative.

-Greg Oppman

flamander
02-05-2010, 04:58 PM
Whoa is so awesome! but.. havent happen to you that one day u say "yeah.. shoot.. I can do anything" because lookin back to the things u done u start to think u really can do anything?

xcEmUx
02-05-2010, 06:47 PM
Hallo Herr Engel,

vielen Dank erst einmal für Ihre "Biografie", ich fande es sehr interessant, sie zu lesen.

Jetzt mal zu meiner Frage: =)

Ich selbst bin zurzeit noch Schüler (16) und mache mir meine ersten Gedanken zu meinem Werdegang im "3D-Business".
Hätten sie Vorschläge für bestimmte Universitäten ?
Mein Favorit wäre im Moment noch die FH in Kaiserslautern, da ich ansonsten keine Universitäten in Deutschland mit einem vergleichbaren Thema zu "Virtual Design" gefunden habe.
Würden Sie überhaupt einen so speziellen Studiengang belegen, weil es in naher Zukunft evtl. keine Arbeitsplätze in dieser Branche mehr geben wird ?

Sorry, für die, für Sie, wahrscheinlich komplizierten Fragen, aber ich wollte die Möglichkeit einfach mal ergreifen :)

Vielen Dank im Vorraus und viel Glück für Ihr weiteres Leben,

Christian M. - Frankfurt - Germany =)

PS.: Sorry that i didn´t write this text in english, but because i´m still a pupil now (16) my english isn´t good enough :blush:

gamedeveloper
02-05-2010, 11:45 PM
This was an excellent read and an inspiring story!

VolkerEngel
02-08-2010, 11:12 PM
#5

Paul,

tough one to answer - it's always the previous one I like the most... Ok, there is one that stands out in today's CG world. The establishing shot of Airforce One against a sunset in "ID4". The background is a blown-up print (4x6 ft) archive photo of a sunset, the plane a 747 model kit painted like Airforce One by Mike Joyce's incredible model shop. The two accompanying F18s are 4-inch metal toys I bought at toys`r`us. All hung on 0.07mm fishing wire. We smoked in the stage and the camera was hand-operated via a zero-gravity arm. I had done my homework reading the Cinefex article on "The Right Stuff". When they shot a model it needed to appear as if shot from another plane flying next to it. When the sun peaks into frame behind the plane we dimmed up a small light bulb attached to the camera's matte box just off frame - to shoot a flare right into the lens. Courtesy of my brilliant DPs Anna Foerster and Phillip Timme. That's a true "in-camera" shot. There's a nice behind-the-scenes pic in the Making-of book... Yes - that shot makes me smile when I see it. :-)


Volker

VolkerEngel
02-08-2010, 11:44 PM
#6

Nail,

thank you.

Being a producer is a blessing and a curse. You can only take on that additional role if you are ready to take on a lot of responsibilities. Some people need this comfort zone of having someone else being responsible. Marc Weigert and I produced this small adventure film called "Coronado" in 2002 - and it felt like jumping off a plane with a dozen other people after each person was responsible for packing the other's parachute... Real teamwork and trust. You have to have a sense of leadership, fiscal responsibility and you have to LOVE moviemaking (that love that helps you survive the 2-year journey of financing, casting, shooting and post production). You can't be a one-man-band. As weird as it may sound, you have to like other people and understand that you can only learn by taking the risk of making mistakes. A great mentor helps, too - like I met Roland Emmerich, who is one of the nicest and most generous people I know. Before "2012" Marc and I had produced or co-produced (and VFX supervised) three projects with our own company - and that's why Roland accepted us as co-producers on a $200 million project. Talk about trust.

Volker

VolkerEngel
02-08-2010, 11:53 PM
#7

Jonathan,

there will still be the need for miniature artists for several years to come, and it will probably have it's niche for several more - but it's a good idea to check out alternatives and learn how to sculpt and model using the computer as a tool. In "2012" out of 1315 VFX shots we had 4 shots using miniatures - but then again look at Weta's amazing miniature work for King Kong.

Volker

VolkerEngel
02-09-2010, 12:06 AM
#8

Rene,

tough one.

The ability to listen. The ability to improvise and think 'out of the box' is an important skill. Being able to lead in a (hopefully) non-egotistical way. As supervising is not so much about putting yourself center stage, but the skill to bring out the best in other people.

But that's just my opinion :-)

Volker

VolkerEngel
02-09-2010, 12:33 AM
#9

Greg,

when I met with Roland for the first time, I was 90% listening and 10% talking. But he could hear how passionate I was about what I had done with my Super 8 films. You have no idea how many young people I interview for a job who appear wide-eyed and clueless or somewhat indifferent. I can always spot people with a passion for what they are doing.

In the end this industry is about people. It might start with talent and passion - but to get anywhere you can't just send out links to your show reel or send out DVDs - you have to meet people who know people who know people etc. It does not have to be Jerry Bruckheimer's assistant...;-) I met Olaf Rappold, a young freelance journalist who taught an evening course about Walt Disney in Stuttgart, who eventually (after a year) introduced me to a young design student, Oliver Scholl (later one of ID4s production designers) - and they both happened to cross paths with Roland Emmerich and told him about me. That's how I "got in".

My favorite story is how Kerry Conran got to do "Sky Captain". If you haven't heard it, rent the DVD and listen to the commentaries and interviews.

And you don't have to live in Hollywood... I'm the best example ;-) I grew up middle class in a small town in Germany with only fishing and ship-building industry...

Volker

VolkerEngel
02-09-2010, 12:53 AM
#10

Flamander Dragoon,

well - that would be boring if I would think I could do anything :-)

There are always new challenges and new obstacles... Instead of over 1000 artists and 15 companies and a gazillion dollars for "2012", now for "Anonymous" we will work with about 25 artists (right now there are only 6 during pre-production). It's an independent movie - and with over 350 photo-real shots it's going to be a challenge... But that's part of the fun.
Roland came to my office the other day and told me about a new story he is developing - something (like with this Shakespearian story) you would never expect from him - and I was thinking "Right now I have no clue how we could do this... - let's do it!"

There is also a reason our company's name is Uncharted Territory :-)

Volker

VolkerEngel
02-09-2010, 01:41 AM
#11

Christian,

danke fuer Deine guten Wuensche.

Christian is 16 and is asking me about recommending a University in Germany for learning 3D.

If you are interested in Virtual Design for museums, virtual shopping centers or even set design for TV it sounds like the University of Applied Sciences in Kaiserslautern is the place for you.

If you want to get into digital visual effects or specialize in 3D, say, the Pixar way - there are other schools for you.

I can always recommend the "Animationsinstitut" der Filmakademie Baden Wuerttemberg in Ludwigsburg (I studied there for two semesters and then organized the traditional animation class for three years).

http://www.animationsinstitut.de/

With the annual "fmx", organized by Thomas Haegele, who also runs the institute and with the neighboring annual "Trickfilmfestival", Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg are Germany's hub for Animation and 3D.

I also met some talented students from the HFF (Konrad Wolf), near Berlin
http://www.hff-potsdam.de/ and from the Media Design School, Berlin http://www.mediadesign.de/index.php?id=205

And yes - for what you will learn in these schools there is a long and bright future!

Hope that helps a bit -

Volker

mcscher
02-09-2010, 03:55 AM
Volker,

I thank you very much and really appreciate you taking the time to answer all our questions. I have gained a lot also from your answers to questions of others as well and wlll keep them in my mind.

I wish you all the best. Hopefully I will make the step into the feature film industry, maybee work under your supervision some time in the future and learn even more.

Cheers
Rene

HellBoy
02-10-2010, 02:52 PM
#6

Nail,

thank you.

Being a producer is a blessing and a curse. You can only take on that additional role if you are ready to take on a lot of responsibilities. Some people need this comfort zone of having someone else being responsible. Marc Weigert and I produced this small adventure film called "Coronado" in 2002 - and it felt like jumping off a plane with a dozen other people after each person was responsible for packing the other's parachute... Real teamwork and trust. You have to have a sense of leadership, fiscal responsibility and you have to LOVE moviemaking (that love that helps you survive the 2-year journey of financing, casting, shooting and post production). You can't be a one-man-band. As weird as it may sound, you have to like other people and understand that you can only learn by taking the risk of making mistakes. A great mentor helps, too - like I met Roland Emmerich, who is one of the nicest and most generous people I know. Before "2012" Marc and I had produced or co-produced (and VFX supervised) three projects with our own company - and that's why Roland accepted us as co-producers on a $200 million project. Talk about trust.

Volker

That was a great read.

Once again, thanks

xcEmUx
02-11-2010, 02:33 PM
Hope that helps a bit -

It does ! =)
Thanks very much ! :)

blackcomb
02-12-2010, 11:48 AM
you know miniatures help's the better.
But in old tv dramas these miniatures were seen as minature itself by the audience saying simple card boards. But today they say it is real unless they were said they are miniatures adding vfx.

oppman
02-16-2010, 04:07 AM
Volker,

Thank you for the great words of advice and direction. It has definitely assured me that I am very passionate and ready to step foot into the this industry for my future career!

Thanks,
Greg

meleseDESIGN
02-17-2010, 11:07 PM
Werter Volker,

first of all let me say, you and your team did a really great job on this movie. I remember that hot car driving scene in the Limousine and that giant Randy´s Donut rolled across the street, you guys must have had a lot of fun with this shot.

I have only one question to you.
When can we buy your autobiography?
I would love to read more about your person and your distinguished career in depth.

Hoping to hear from you soon.


Spezialeffekt(freie) Grüße aus einer kreativen Region im Hochsauerland.

Hochachtungsvoll
Melese

VolkerEngel
02-18-2010, 11:46 PM
Melese,

thanks for the suggestion. No autobiography on the horizon, yet ;-)

I still feel like I just started in this field... so much to learn!

Regards,

Volker

automat
02-21-2010, 06:27 PM
Hallo Volker,

I have a question after seeing the interview you gave on CG Channel
How far the german facilities of Scanline and Pixomondo have been involved in the production of 2012?
Or did you only worked with the LA based Studios?

Grüße aus Ludwigsburg

VolkerEngel
02-23-2010, 11:08 PM
Hallo Martin,

both German companies played a key part in the creation of the VFX for "2012" - they both did about 100 shots each.

Pixomondo created the amazing crash-landing of the Antonov on the glacier when the cars are tumbling out and the plane slides over the edge in the end. They also did most of the previz for us. Rainer Gombos was the supervisor.

Scanline did all big water shots in the film, especially when the Himalayan Mountains are flooded and the water rips one of the arks off its mooring. But they also did the incredible shot when the cruise ship is hit by a tidal wave - and they only had a few weeks to do that one. Stephan Trojansky was the senior supervisor.

Both companies did an amazing job!
So did Alex Lemke VFX in Germany with the Airforce One lift-off sequence.

Volker