Meet the Artist: Colin Strause, [Hydraulx]

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  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by Steve Newport: I find it hard to be confident and display confidence about my work when pitching an idea for the exact reason you posted of seeming to have too big of an ego. How do you display confidence, the belief in your own idea and the quality thereof without seeming like a cock-ass. What turns you off to potential working artists? What's good to see?


Ahhhh, the ole' catch 22...


This is all about the fine art of balance. Having an ego isn't bad, and when dealing with tough clients or people working for you, you need it to be able to exert a show of force and confidence. The trick is knowing that you aren't always the smartest person, and even dumb people can have great ideas. You also need to know that sometimes you have to lose a battle to win a war.

Cock-ass's and ego monsters don't do that. They think they are always right even when presented with evidence of the contray, which goes to show thier cock-holer-ly.
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Colin Strause
http://www.hydraulx.com/
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by maxx10: Hi, Colin, first of all let me tell you that I've always enjoyed reading your posts here on cgtalk and, of course, watching what you've accomplished on DAT and Constantine and the others

On with some questions:

- How many artist work at [Hydraulx] and how are they subdivided between 3d, compositing and editing?

- Do you prefer specialized artists (a modeler, a lighter, an animator and so on) or people that can manage an entire shot?

- What's your position regarding "off the shelf-but customizable" software versus proprietary solutions like the ones from ILM, DD, R+H.... Do you feel somewhat limited or you develop smaller custom cut tools?

thanks for the time you're taking answering all these questions

P.s. - post some pics of your new studio


We are between 60-70 people right now, but we are still building up. It's a pretty even split between 2d and 3d, with support people filling out the rest. I'm sure by summer we might be just under a 100.

I like generalists because I can throw them at anything, and I don't need to worry about them running out of stuff to do.

We make alot of our tools and shaders now. We don't have thier massive R&D staffs, but we make do with what we got, and there are several programers and coders building tools everyday. I can see where smaller shops have a harder time without having a coder on staff. Almost every job we do uses our custom shaders, database, render manager, etc, etc.

The pics for the studio will be up in 2-3 weeks once we move in. I think people will dig it. We went a little nuts with the place.
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Colin Strause
http://www.hydraulx.com/
 
  02 February 2006
Hey Colin,

The next Tool album is coming out this Spring. Will we be seeing a new video from the Brothers Strause?

What was the toughest job Hydraulx has ever worked on?

And finally...

Is there a Jilldeth and what are her measurements? j/k

-mental
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  02 February 2006
Colin,

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer all of our questions.
Your a man to admire.

- What are your future hopes for the business? Who are your current rivals and furthermore, who would you like rival in the future?

- You have already answered most of my questions but one i am sure most aspiring artist would like to know is.... What is the range of income for beginning designers and animators just hopping into the feild, or does it depend on who you work for and your specialized skillz
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  02 February 2006
all was going well then someone asked a "how much money" question...
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Rob Wilson
Hybrid Medical Animation CGer
 
  02 February 2006
skipping over the money question.

I'm going to shoot a question about mental ray to you colin. I know you guys are a big mental ray studio, have you gotten to try out the various buffer output systems?
 
  02 February 2006
Hello Mr. Strause. Thanks for answering some of our questions, very insightful and informative!

I just had a few compositing questions:
1. Along the lines of another question, which file format do you find to be the best in working with for film production in terms of best overall quality, ease of working with it in post, best results?
2. Which compositing program do you enjoy the most besides the higher end Inferno systems?
3. The "must-need" skills a compositor should have when entering the field, more specifically, which ones do you use more in the film industry?

Thanks again, and great work on The Day After Tommorrow!
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by Kahlan Amnell: Colin,

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer all of our questions.
Your a man to admire.

- What are your future hopes for the business? Who are your current rivals and furthermore, who would you like rival in the future?

- You have already answered most of my questions but one i am sure most aspiring artist would like to know is.... What is the range of income for beginning designers and animators just hopping into the feild, or does it depend on who you work for and your specialized skillz



Our rivals are all the usual suspects. We bid against everybody, but obviously each studio has it's own strengths and weakness, so sometimes we win and sometimes we don't.

As for income range, the range is so wild and varied that it's impossible to define easily. The differences between employees, freelancers, co-owners, owners, etc, etc, is too extreme to list.
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Colin Strause
http://www.hydraulx.com/
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by Lorecanth: skipping over the money question.

I'm going to shoot a question about mental ray to you colin. I know you guys are a big mental ray studio, have you gotten to try out the various buffer output systems?



We haven't played too much with those because we have our own pipeline for breaking renders up into seperate passes that we are already used to. I think we'll take a look at it after we get a few of these movies in-house finished.
__________________
Colin Strause
http://www.hydraulx.com/
 
  02 February 2006
Red face

Hi Jackdeth, your one of very few i scroll a thread just to look for that certain avatar and their opinion.

I know the industry is totally different from what we see on cgtalk, I have just completed a 6 month internship over here in Australia with a popular government funded program.

Anyway, I've been teaching myself and looking out for another gig however i'm still unsure on what area I want to specify myself. I read one of your replies above that you like generalists so you can throw everything at them. Now i'm always told down here that we must specify and because I'm unsure what i just want to stick with and because i enjoy the entire process (except uv mapping lol) then it's kind of hard to get a studio job they tell me.

1. I'm a generalist myself and I think if I'm going for FX animator then why is it a bad thing that i'm just as good in other areas aswell?

2. Mental ray pipeline. Do you guys use GI/FG? and if you do how far do you go when it comes to render time?

3. I know you guys would have a farm but is a artist expected to be able to render frames without the use of a farm?

Thankyou for your time it's great to see a professional as yourself posting regularly.

Julius
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by Jackdeth:
2) They don't last. Even though we do a lot of work our core team is still small, so if you can't finish your shots you won't stay around. That does make it hard for us to find people, but it also gets rid of lots of internal politics and in-fighting that bigger shops have between artists and mangement once quality problems become obvious.



Is this becoming a necessity for artist working in smaller shops. I see that many artist that move into smaller shops begin to pick up other skills aside from what they already know.

IE. an expert animator, learning compositing,modeling, etc.
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Learn by doing.
 
  02 February 2006
Hi Colin

Huge, huge respect for the attitude, the hard work and the skill

My question - do you feel that recent graduates have enough/not enough experience of working on group projects?

I ask because I'm directing a small group film at college atm and we're enjoying it so much I was thinking of making my final year film in the same way... will it impress potential emplyers that I can work well with other ppl, or would they rather see what I'm personally capable of on my own? (Of course i'd do a proper shot breakdown on my reel etc).

Thank you very much

Amy Scott-Murray
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Our graduation film

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  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by Jackdeth: -One of the biggest pitfalls with many students is thier total lack loyalty, and lack of fore-sight.
Could you expand a little more on your loyalty statement? I'm not a student or just out of school but have heard this from a few people. Personally I don't get it coming from an employee POV (unless I'm misunderstanding your statement).

Most employers give me very wishy washy start and end dates, so I don't see how I can be loyal and keep consistently employed at the same time? If I'm not putting out feelers a month or so ahead of time before the end of a job I may or may not be employed for 1-6 weeks after a job is over. I'm always told "oh we are bidding on this job or that one and we want you on this next job if we get it". I have heard that a million times and it is a 50:50 chance of happening so I must always look for other work no matter how much of a guarantee it is that they will land that show.

Shows are given out and pulled in the blink of an eye in this biz depending on much bigger forces way up the chain at a large studio. Employers want us loyal but they can't be loyal back because of this. What is your take on this?
__________________
-deke
 
  02 February 2006
Originally Posted by beaker: Could you expand a little more on your loyalty statement? I'm not a student or just out of school but have heard this from a few people. Personally I don't get it coming from an employee POV (unless I'm misunderstanding your statement).

Most employers give me very wishy washy start and end dates, so I don't see how I can be loyal and keep consistently employed at the same time? If I'm not putting out feelers a month or so ahead of time before the end of a job I may or may not be employed for 1-6 weeks after a job is over. I'm always told "oh we are bidding on this job or that one and we want you on this next job if we get it". I have heard that a million times and it is a 50:50 chance of happening so I must always look for other work no matter how much of a guarantee it is that they will land that show.

Shows are given out and pulled in the blink of an eye in this biz depending on much bigger forces way up the chain at a large studio. Employers want us loyal but they can't be loyal back because of this. What is your take on this?


Maybe we are just different than most places, but when we bring junior artists on board, we do so expecting them to be around for a long time. They aren't project hires, so the goal is to home-grow new talent that is tuned to our pipeline. It's really hard breaking into this biz, and it really amazes me how relaxed and arrogant some people get once they get thier big chance. I wonder if the schools are teaching them that it is easy to get a job, so they don't seem to care if thier behavior might get them fired, or that they can bail in the middle of a project after we've invest a lot of training into them. I've seen this enough times (not just at our shop) that it feels more like a trend than just a few bad apples.


The sad fact is that it's making me less inclined to hire junior artists, but then I'm reminded that the ones that did work out our some of our better artists on staff today.
__________________
Colin Strause
http://www.hydraulx.com/
 
  02 February 2006
ahh, yea, that makes more sense.

I full heatedly agree about putting in your time when your new to the biz (swimming with sharks is my favorite example). Yes your making crap money but it will pay off in the long run. Put in a year or two at the place that got your started and then go somewhere else. Bailing after 3-6 months because you got 1 movie credit and now can get a job elsewhere is bad taste.

I was refering to people saying this about regular seasoned artists, which I think is BS.
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-deke
 
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