Meet the Studio: Blur Studio

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  05 May 2005
Hi Guys,

My name is Gabor Marinov and I work at Digic Pictures. It's a small but very enthusiastic VFX/CG Animation studio in Hungary.

First I'd like to congratulate you, your work is really spectacular and we all like them very much here. It's absolutely fantastic how you've grown and how you handle the various jobs while keeping the very high quality.

My question is connected to that topic too. Are you using any commercial project management system? Or do you have an inhouse one? And how about asset management? Are you using Alienbrain or any other CMS system?


Gabor Marinov

Last edited by gaborca : 05 May 2005 at 03:28 PM.
  05 May 2005
howdy blur ppl.
aside from all the artistic, technical and cinematical compliments that i can shed for you
(and so many did before me), i'd like to say that for me, you guys are really a studio to
look up to, in terms of studio goals and development. and thats mainly what i wanted to ask:

- in this highly competitive and expensive industry, its hard to keep your head above the water,
let alone do things you really love or believe in, and not just work for the money.
you guys, seem to be going by your goal in great persistance and success.
how do you manage to do it ?
you've been there for over 9 years, and started it because you didn't like what you had to do out there, for other bosses....
how do you manage to get funding for "fun" projects from the heart ?
it is widely believed that shorts don't pay, but that they are a mean to prove yourself feature-worthy.
it seems you guys are proving the second part of that belief right.
so what about the first part ? how do you manage to pull out all these shorts, if a client didn't order them in advance ?
do you take strictly "for the money" projects on the side ? how do you balance between the two ?
it seems to me, that to anyone aspiring to establish a studio, and create good stories and animation,
this is one of the biggest issues to deal with.
since you are almost the only example of a growing studio that did it,
i'd love to hear about it.

- and a small second question, that might have been asked here before-
whats the chance for foreigners with no US passport, to get accepted to work with you
and obtain a work visa ? (assuming the applicant is good enough to be accepted).
are you accepting applicants only from the US or that are already working in the US ?

keep up the excellent work, and setting an example for the whole animation world.

Argaman Creative - FeeD YouR HeaD !
  05 May 2005
zoo from SCIFI 3D

I just read that you guys did the HELLGATE trailer too?? I think that is my favorite so far.
SCIFI 3D (staff member)
  05 May 2005
yes i've also just seen this and it is amazing job. but i prefer dawn of war
  05 May 2005
Just figured I'd throw my name in here. You guys are amazing and I really admire your work. I loved the WH4K reel.

I would love to work for someone like you when I graduate collage. I am only in highschool now, so I plan to work as hard as I can now so that I will have some experience when I go to collage. I know this is a very difficult industry to get a job in.

I know this has probably already been posted, but how would you suggest the best way to get a job with a top name studio such as Blur? What do you guys look for when hiring? Do you take into consideration collage degrees, or are you just focused on portfolios and resumes? What kind of roles do you most look for?


  05 May 2005
Hi all at Blur Studio!
It's a priviledge to ask something to you experts in this wonderful art...
I have a tecnical question... I find really difficult to work with 3D environments(lands , sky and clouds...etc...) In particular I find difficult the horizon zone. Do u have a suggestion for how setup and paint a 3d environment?

PS.= I.E. The project where I have this problem now, is a plane (the mytical Hiroshima's Enola Gay) that fly with camera that move around him. Now, I modelled it in Maya, I try to make a 360° environment in terragen with a bit of post 4 make it real,and I mapped it on a sphere, but I don't like the result...Background appear flat.

I go crazy... Can u gimme'suggestions?
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| my demoreel on cgtalk | |

...... O L D F U T U R E d i g i t a l ......

Last edited by neofg : 05 May 2005 at 03:55 PM.
  05 May 2005
Thanks Tim, Paul, and Ian for answering our questions and giving us a peek inside of your world.

My question is concerning the diversity at Blur. How many, if any, female modelers, animators, texture artists or compositors do you have on staff, and can you estimate how many demo reels you get from women?

In my opinion one of the major elements missing from animation (and most modern forms of storytelling) today is a female perspective, much as it was missing in other areas of creative employment such as industrial design and web design until recently. As grizzled veterans, have you seen a rise in the participation of women in this industry, or has the interest level remained steadily low throughout your experience?

(can of worms warning!) Any opinion why?

Also, it was great to see Rockfish on the big screen at the Animation Show 2005. I know you have said that Gopher Broke will probably be unscreenable for a while, but I would like to put my vote in to see In The Rough on the 2006 edition.

Thanks for your brief and very valuable time.
  05 May 2005
Hey people at Blur Studio.

- Roughly, how many shorts/trailers and so on have you made?
- Was there any reason for starting Blur Studio? Did it just happendt by working with friends, A long time plan, or did you just think "hey, i'll start a kick ass animation studio"?

Thanks for answering everyones question.

Best Regards, Øystein Sollesnes
The tool doesnt make a good artist. If you gave me Leonardos pencil, I still wouldnt be able to paint Mona Lisa.
  05 May 2005
What did you use (programs) to create the Warhammer video ?
  05 May 2005
Hey guys, a quick question about employment and Visas from me.

What's your policy on hiring people from outside USA? Do you go through the whole visa dance or do you prefer to keep it simple and hire people that already have either a visa or a us citizenship?

I'm wondering since I've been wanting to work for you for almost as long as I've been using 3d studio (started on release 2.0 for DOS ). And being a swedish citizen it feels like the chances of getting hired by you or any other studio in the states are pretty slim since most don't want to bother with the expenses and trouble getting a visa entails...

Looking forward to seeing Gopher Broke in the future and keep kicking ass
Environment artist blog - iPhone 2D Shmup Ultrablast!
  05 May 2005

Hi Tim,

1. In your experience, when hiring foreign talent to work in Blur, is a degree crucial for acquiring a visa? Would a diploma coupled with a few years of work experience suffice? I have had a few interviews with US-based companies and after they check with their lawyers, they say it is worth way too much effort to bring in someone into the states with the credentials i just mentioned.

2. What do you catch artists often doing in office apart from work?


Last edited by dominicqwek : 05 May 2005 at 07:39 PM.
  05 May 2005

I have a few question about animation that I'd like to ask Jeff Fowler. These are very basic questions so I hope I wouldn't bore you

1. When animating a character in different emotions, for example in a scene he is happy, in the next, he is sad, do you think the animator should use the body weight to communicate emotion (make him heavier when sad or lighter when happy) or should the weight of a character remains constant throughout the film?

2. On walks, specificaly a walk that shows personality and attitude, what are the questions you ask yourself before and during animating?

3. Where do you find inspiration for the poses/gestures of a character?
do you put yourself inside his head or does it come from memory and observation of real life and live action films? for example, the little dance the monkey does in the "Monkey Pit", where did you get that idea from?


4. what would be the most important animation-principle for a student to nail down? I know they are all equaly important, but if you could only pick one, which one would it be?

And lastly...

5. Who's your all-time favourite animated character? and why?

  05 May 2005
critique please

You guys do fantastic work....

a simple critique of my work from you would mean a great deal.

  05 May 2005
hi,i have a somewhat banal question,but i found out its actually pretty tricky.
i find that as a studio that produced lots of very succesful shorts and no larger scale
features,its seems the right place to ask

im an animator,but i go around on all the rest pretty reasonably too,and now i feel like
having my very own 5min short.

the point is,im having a problem getting a proper story,since you usually will have an idea
that will be way too wide or complex for a 5 min short,my question is how do you keep it
simple and restrained...meny bad shorts have that problem that they just go all over the
place,and its either very boring,not very clear,or just plain annoing...
it may sound stupid,but its actually pretty complicated to get it just right.
most your shorts seem to work great,very small story,very simple...

are there any methods?are there specifics you should avoid,or care for?
what makes you see that"this ones gonna work"?
in case you dont have any direction at all(in terms of subject),how do you build it?
do you start whith a character and then build a story around it,or try have a story
and then build what you need for it?
are there any prefered or better ways of aproaching it?
how do you build a small simple idea to have a point?(otherwise there wont be a point
watching it).
how do you make your story fit the fact its animated?(or doese it matter at all,i meen,
should a short be fitted for animation or treated the same as live ones?)

thank you.
  05 May 2005
Ok, here goes...... I may skip over a few that Flap and Miller have already answered...

- What's the biggest lesson learnt from your time with Blur (one per artist)?

When sleeping on the library couch, head towards the bookshelves feet towards the door.

What is the Key things that People needed to have to work within the Blur Domain and whats the longest time it took to finish a project from start to finish and what was the major problems faced.

I think Tim has already answered this one.

Mysterious X:
first of all congratualtions for the wonderful job your doing and keep on trying and you'll nail the oscar soon

Thanks, we're definately gonna keep on trying

Cool, you guys are one of my favorite studios.
I know you use (or at least used to use) max. I'm just interested to know what you think of it comparing to other programs (I am talking mainly for pipeline comptability and stability in large projects). I also know you have an RnD team and i wonder what they think of max's source (comparing mainly to maya).
i am asking this mainly because alot of ppl i know from large studios keep on claimming that maya is way better for those things and i cant convince them to see the light

Thanks Dude. We still use Max, I was personally using lightwave before I joined Blur and started to use Max, I think it's great, no problems switching over at all. I came from a small studio in South Africa and it's amazing to have scripters here constantly provide us with kick-ass tools to get our job done faster and make it all look better. It's just awesome to walk over to some of our guys and say "Hey, I've been thinking, it would be great if we had this tool which would....." and then a few days later..... there it is. It's amazing. I can't really make any comparrisons between maya and max since I've never used Maya, but all I can say is that we are really in NO way limited by using max, if we ever do find that we need to makes things better in Max, we're always able to, but at the end of the day it ALWAYS comes down to the talent of the artist or skill of the scripter using the package.

What do you like for in aspiring talent- with regards to 3D artists? What is the kind of demo material that amazes you? What doesn't impress you?

Again, I think Miller has answered this, but a short kick-ass piece of JUST your best work is most likely to get you in. Even 30seconds of amazing work is often enough. We've hired quite a few people just based on work on their website, that just being stills and a few tiny clips of animation.

This is great. Hello BLUR guys, first of all, u guys rock, i'm a big fan of urs. okay i have so many things to ask. heres some that i can remember
- I wanna know how you organize a team who will work on a short or game cinamatics. And how many people do u work with in projects like 'Gopher Broke' or 'In the Rough'?
- What are the softwares you use to do dinamics?
- Do you guys use a lot of GI? or what kind of lighting do u mostly prefer?
- What software do u use for rigging?... i dont think Max's built-in rigging/skinning system is not good enough for your kind of works. or do u use any inhouse sotwares for that?
- as many wants to know, what are your future plans? is there any ned masterpiece in making?
well thats about it... i'll be waitng for ur replies

Thanks!!! Once we've bid out a project supervisors will pick their team based on what they need. It normally begins with a CG Supervisor and an Animation Supervisor on a project, CG Supervisors handle pretty much everything but the character animation. The Animation Supervisor handles much of the story work, day to day animation supervision, mocap shoots etc... Cg Sup will handle, modeling, texturing, lighting, rendering, compositing, clients, etc etc...

Jeff and Paul can let you know exact numbers on the shorts, but we do often ramp up a little more towards the end of productions, so we can keep the quality high and meet our deadlines.

Yeah we have been using Brazil's Skylight for Ambient Passes on Characters with some custom light rigs thrown in there too to accompany it, but we've started to switch over to HDRI lighting on some of our character passes now too. GI is great, but it's great in certain areas, we still use normal point and spot lighting ALL over the place, nothing beats a great eye for awesome lighting.

We do have custom rigging tools we've developed here at Blur, but I'll let those more appropriate than I give you those answers.

As always, we're on the move towards a Feature Film, we're all VERY excited about it!!

So, how do you decide which story to choose for your shorts? And how do you see the potential a simple idea can have?

Everyone in the studio can submit ideas for a short story and the Supervisors vote for the best one, then after Miller has gleefully re-read his 200 times and skimmed over everyone elses, the best short wins and is made into that years shortfilm.

Is it possible that we will be seeing a "trend" of other studios, setting up their pipelines to create their own shorts. Given that it took you guys 3-4 weeks to complete the Warhammer cinematics. Maybe not a trend, but given the success of your shorts it has certainly made some people go "hey, we can do it too".
If so, how would it affect the independant folks creating their own shorts.

I think one of the reasons we were able to get the Warhammer project done in 3 weeks was because we have been around for a while and our pipeline has been refined down to the point where we can handle stuff like that. Don't get me wrong, we carried our bleeding bodies over the finish line to get it done, but there was nothing but big smiles on our faces when we did. I had so much fun supervising and working on that project, everyday was like Christmas seeing all the cool shit we were producing. I don't know if we would have been able to get that sort of project done in that short amount of time at that quality 2 years ago, the tools we've developed over the past 2 years, especially with regard to Scene Assembly are amazing and they've really allowed the incredibly talented artists here to just focus on making their shots look cool!

I don't know if you'd just be able to set up a studio and immediately start banging stuff out like that that quickly. I think we were just ready for a project like that when it came along, and it was a great test to see just how far we could push our pipeline, and ourselves Plus the talent on that project was amazing, 10 years of getting some of the best artists out there resulted in Flappy and I being able to have our team of "untouchables" as I liked to call them making us incredibly proud every day on that project. It was AWESOME!

I´d like to know how many animators you have there. Not all 3d people. Just the animators. And How many do you need to do a feature film? By the way... When will you make a feature film?

I think Miller got to this one.

Where did you guys go to school or have you just learned alot by doing it? What do you use for compositing? Last question.........Have you used any other 3d packages besides 3DS Max?

I studied Computer Science at the University of Cape Town, dropped outa that Then a small traditional animation school in Cape Town for one year, after that I worked at various studios in Cape Town and then moved out here, I learnt a lot all along the way, but my learning curve just sky rocketed when I got out to Blur, the environment here is so conducive to interaction between artists that it's difficult NOT to learn something new everyday, I had a great mentor when I got here too, lil Timmy Wallace helped me get rid of my max training wheels in no time at all

First off you guys are spectacular.
I would like to know if you could give some pointers for someone trying to start an animation studio of their own.. Maybe some of your experience, and things to look out for...

Uh..... don't No, I didn't care too much for the business side of what I do, I always just wanted to really focus on the creative end, a small degree of it is fine, but having to deal day in and day out with corporate crap can get your creative side down. If I was to give some advice, I would just say read flappy's reply He He, no seriously, he is right though, at the end of the day you gotta do what makes you happy.

The visuals are stunning and the animation is top notch...
I am currently in Animation and are anxious to get out into the fray of things...
Hopefully my demo will make it to you...
I have just a few questions:
#1) Does Blur work only with 3dsmax, if so are there any plans on expanding to different software such as XSI?
#2) I am also a digital Grunge/Graphix/PhotoManipulation Artists, I have seen some bits about your 2D side, I am wondering what kind of opertunities lie with Blur in a 2D Advertisment feild?

Thanks! Yeah we really only use Max, we have a few licenses of XSI which we're using to test out a few ideas, but no big plans to move off Max just yet.....
As for the 2D field ? Not too sure there, our Design Department may do some of that but I am not 100% sure, Jen might be best suited to this. We do do some promotional material, magazine covers, billboards, posters etc... but it's usually an add on to 3D work we're already doing for our clients.

I'm gonna go with the flow and first congratulate you guys on every single project you've done so far. All the shorts, plus the game cinematics and so on are all really awsome. I'm definately a fan...if a feature film does ever come out, you have my ticket
As for questions, I think most of it has been covered, but I wanted to know, if having a college background is often necessary when hiring someone?
Also, do you guys look for specific skills too? For instance, if someone can't really texture well, but can do great modelling work, or lighting work, he might be considered?
Finally, does drawing godlike (IE: Feng Zhu) is a necessity to all positions? Or having basic notions, maybe enough to pass on an idea, is enough? Granted, the person meets other requirements...
I'm really just curious about your hiring guidelines. I'm thinking of getting in the industry, and wanted to have an idea on how a studio like yours goes with that stuff

Thanks! A college background is definately not neccessary, all comes down to talent.
For sure we look for specific talents, we do split up the production here, generally modelers do their own texturing. Like I said earlier most environment modelers move on to lighting and scene assembly but Character modelers generally just stick to character modeling. If you ARE particularily strong in one area, then go for it, tailor your reel to that, but yes, we do hire specific skillsets.
Drawing is not a neccessity at all. hiring guildines are simple.... you're talented, welcome to Blur

What do you think about this school for animation?
I know you'd preferr CalArts Alumni, but I keep seeing people that teach at CalArts also teach at the Academy......You're in Venice, the school is in Santa Monica...I was hoping you would have some insight.

I'll check it out, although Miller would really be the one to comment here.

Blur is a place I would dream of working sometime after I am done with college. What things could I do or should I do to be about the competition? examples would help!
Thanks, keep up the awesome graphics

I think Miller has kinda answered this already.

-I hate to come off as a nuissance or anything (I'm sure you get these kinds of questions every day), but I'm particularly interested in how internships are handled through you guys. I guess I'm just assuming they're offered, though I didn't really see anything on it through your website.
Could you offer some insight on this, perhaps? Maybe some examples of the kind of work that has gotten people internships at your studio in the past (again, based on the assumption that you offer internships)? Obviously, there's going to be more to it than how pretty your renders are. I'm starting to feel like I have the technical knowledge to be able to take on an internship, but can't say much beyond that.

We don't really do internships, I think Miller would be best suited to answer your questions here. He does occasionally take on people to prepare his cabbage diet lunch for him, stroke his fragile ego, read his shortfilm submissions and tell him how great they are and to rub his belly while he works to keep the hunger pangs down, but he can elaborate on the whole internship thing for you.

-You all obviously have your Max pipeline worked out well enough to be able to produce film-quality animations. I'm sure I've read interviews in the past where some of you have spoken of the way that using Max has strengthened your pipeline, but are there ever any cases where some aspect of Max completely breaks the development cycle apart - where you've started concidering adding additional 3d apps to the pipeline? Some apps just do some thing better, but then with a studio like Blur, I would guess that the artists are always able to find ways to get around some of the problems well enough for it to not affect the workflow too greatly.

We've always managed to work around any problem we've had software wise, the scripters here are awesome at helping us solve problems that we can get done with our usual tools. Discreet is also pretty good at updating us when we run into issues, I can't tell you how amazing it is to work at a studio where when you pipe up about something that isn't working properly or could be better the developers actually listen and fix it for you, that concept was just unfathomable for me before I reached Blur.

-Somebody needs to give your web designer a pat on the back. That menu bar is quite sexy. Of course the same comment applies to all of the animations as well, but web designers need a little bit of recognition too.

I'll make sure our Design Department sees this then Thanks !

I am very intersted in how you came together and initially started Blur. What's the breakdown of your core staff, and how many projects do you generally work on at once?

Tim can answer how Blur started for you, but breakdown wise, I'd say 20 Animators, 5 Dedicated Character Modelers, 20 Modelers and Scene Assemblers, A few dedicated rigging guys, 6 Dedicated FX Artists, Couple of Layout Artists, Handfull of Producers, 3 Concept Artists.... I'm sure I am missing something, and I really plucked these numbers out of the air.....

I think everyone else has already covered any questions I had...
So I'll just take this opportunity to congratulate all the amazing artists at Blur.
Thanks for the inspiration - keep up the great work!

Thank YOU!

it funny that this pops up today not even 10hrs ago i sent an email to Bobby Beck threw his site asking where i could find a downloadable copy of Hubert's Brain and Vanilla Pudding. After i went to your site and was planning sending and email to you guys to find a downloadable copy of your films, but fatiuge assaulted and i had to go to bed. I was hoping that seems cgnetworks has preview of 3 of your fine films it wouldnt be that bizarre to download them from somewhere? (i ask this because it is soooo much easier to download the film once and stop wasting my downloads on viewing all of these once a week

Are you asking where you can download copies of our shorts ?

i wanted to ask what in the next short the studio is working on and if there was a url to check it out?? and also what is there to look out for in the future for blur??

We have selected and begun preproduction work on our next short, but nothing is publically available yet. As for the future, we're all holding thumbs for the feature film.....

oh 1 more thing (i promise) i wanted to know what u guys think is quality inspirational animation... and by that a couple urls to artist and animations. And if like your films they are 'protected'?? pfffft please just mention them and ill do my own research

Hmmm, to be honest I couldn't metion one thing in particular that inspires me, everyday I am either sent some new amazing animation I've never seen before, or I find something awesome up on CGnetworks. There's just too much out there...... I will however see what I do have stashed on my PC at home and maybe a few old inspiring pieces of work will come to mind. Sorry nothings popping up there right now other than I'm only on page 2!!! of this questionaire :( I'm SO slow......

and congrats on all of you achievements to date and best of luck for the future

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