Meet the Artist: Christopher Nichols

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  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by gsuhy: 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.
 
  02 February 2006
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.

Last edited by Ministry : 02 February 2006 at 06:45 AM.
 
  02 February 2006
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
 
  02 February 2006
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
 
  02 February 2006
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.
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  02 February 2006
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
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by Ministry: 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.
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by ASW_Design: 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.

Originally Posted by ASW_Design: Also just wondering how gnomon approched you about this oppitunity?


A good friend of mine, Eric Hanson, approached me about doing it.
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by the_jigu: 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:

 
  02 February 2006
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 -
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by raptor|3D: 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...
 
  02 February 2006
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
 
  02 February 2006
Question

What people from the VFX&CG scene do you admire?
__________________
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  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by Zeoyn: 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/VRa...orials_anim.htm
 
  02 February 2006
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
 
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