Meet the Artist: Christopher Nichols

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  01 January 2006
Originally Posted by Job.: 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.
 
  01 January 2006
Hello!
I can say Im a noob in ilumination, but I know some modeling tecniques and stuff. Im 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?
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  01 January 2006
Originally Posted by neofg: 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? 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.
 
  01 January 2006
Originally Posted by super_dios:
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.
 
  01 January 2006
Originally Posted by cpnichols: 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?
 
  01 January 2006
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.
 
  01 January 2006
Seperated from the pack

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
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www.benjamindean.com
 
  01 January 2006
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
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  01 January 2006
Originally Posted by cpnichols: 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.
Thanks for the advice.
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The Journey Begins entry
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by BRUTICUS: 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).
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by arquiteck09: 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.
 
  02 February 2006
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?
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  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by thewave: 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.
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by geoffrey: 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.
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by Alberto_Ro: 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.
Thanks for the advice.


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.
 
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