Meet the Artist: Colin Strause, [Hydraulx]


Colin Strause
Director, 3D Supervisor

Brothers Greg and Colin Strause grew up in the suburbs of Chicago where they began experimenting with visual effects in their early teens. In 1995, they moved to Los Angeles and started working on the special effects for “The X-Files.” From there they moved on to big-budget hits such as The Nutty Professor, Volcano, and the iceberg sequence of the Academy Award-winning Titanic. They then broke into the music video and commercial arena, handling the special effects for artists such as U2, Tool, Britney Spears, and Aerosmith as well as spots for Nike, Jeep, and Pepsi. In 2000, Colin won a MTV Video Music Award for Best Art Direction for the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s video, “Californication.” This led to Greg and Colin directing together under the moniker “The Brothers Strause.” Their Linkin Park clip “Crawling” was nominated for Best Direction and Best Rock Video at the 2001 VMA’s. Other artists they have directed for include A Perfect Circle, Nickelback, Disturbed, and Staind.

Greg and Colin’s visual effects company [Hydraulx] is at the forefront of the industry. [Hydraulx] has delivered groundbreaking work on the blockbusters Fantastic Four, Terminator 3, and The Day After Tomorrow, for which Greg won a British Academy Award (BAFTA).

The Brothers have recently directed spots for Coca Cola, Ford, The
United States Marine Corps, Fresca, Gatorade, Universal Studios and Sony PlayStation’s “God of War.” Their latest music video for A Perfect Circle’s “Passive” marked the Brothers second collaboration with the band. The video was shot almost entirely with thermal cameras and featured on the Constantine soundtrack and DVD.

The Brothers Strause are signed with Tight Films for their commercial and music video work. They look forward to continuing their strong reputation as versatile directors and innovative visualists.

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Hi Colin,

Thanks for sharing your thought with us here… ( Yohoo… first respond!)

Question 1:
Since you first started in VFX industry, did you set a vision to be doing what you are doing right now or is it like grab things as you go and this is where you end up? The reason is I’ve seen places that has gigantic ambition only to find themselves doing crappy works later to survive.

Question 2:
Maybe it seems obvious, but what are qualities you’re after in hiring a new (stranger) employee. Is it 100% reel based or attitude/presentation still play a big role? And what do you think the big problem with new guys on the market looking for work? Are they more like… really good but shy and inexperience or they are more like… so so and very arrogant (generally)

That’s all for now and Thanks again, you are f@#$%g rock!

Ferry Taswin


nvm… edit


Hey Colin!

I was just wondering what pushed you to create a VFX studio? and were you expecting [Hydraulx] to turn into a popular studio like it is now? Lastly what was your biggest challenge in creating [Hydraulx]? Thanks so much for your time!:scream:


Hi Colin!

I’ve been waiting for this chance to ask you some questions. I’m really excited. I’ve been a fan of your work for 6 years now, and really enjoy your level of commitment to quality visual effects in film. There isn’t an emoticon for this!!

1.Do you find that sometimes you hire artists that have good reels, but then cannot deliver on their supposed expertise? How do you deal with that?

2.Do you goo around to colleges looking for talened younger artists, or do you just make reel requests and see what happens? Or is it more who people know?

3.In a more aesthetic regard, do you think that excellence in the art of being a cg wizard goos along with traditional training, or something that can be learned through experience? I mean the difference between a goo d artist and great one.

…okay. that’s it for now. If you have to choose one question, I’d prefer you go for numbers one and three.

Jeremy Butler


Colin, you’re known on the forum for having a pull-no-punches opinion in many matters, which is very refreshing. I have a lot of respect not only for your visual prowess but your level-headed industry sense.

[li]What is your opinion of the the level of ability prevalent in the new wave of people looking for work? Is it ample, or is finding strong reliable talent a diamond in the rough?[/li][li]I recall you mentioning once that finishers are the hardest people to find. How do you handle people that can’t push that last 10 percent?[/li][li]Since you and Greg run/own the company, do you find yourself having to step out of the grunt work to oversee others?[/li][li]What part of the process do you enjoy the most?[/li][li]Could you give an example of a common Hydraulix day?[/li][/ol]I’ll leave it at that for the moment.:slight_smile:


Hey Colin good to see you here!

I was just wondering what it was like doing FX’s for Tool and A Perfect Circle???


What the hell, I’ll uncloak a little early just for this one. Couple questions:

  1. If you could make any change to cgtalk, including altering the behavior of its users, what would you do to make it better?
  2. How does one best begin to accumulate business acumen?
  3. Given that you’re an extremely driven individual, I wonder what your thoughts are on the balance between personal life and a career.
  4. Why are you doing this Q&A? It isn’t the sort of thing I pictured you doing.


Hey Colin, thanks for taking the time to do a Q & A.

  1. Do you have a personal preference between concept/storytelling and the actual nitty gritty of making each shot (modeling, animating etc.)?

  2. Do you find yourself constantly being challenged? If so, where do you find challenges and how do you rise above?

  3. Some may read about how you experimented in vfx at a young age, moved to LA and worked on X-Files then movies, music videos, commercials and also starting up your own company and think that it all sounds like a fairly straightforward and somewhat easy progression. Did you have your fair share of sacrifices, obstacles and doubts?

Thanks :slight_smile:

  1. I had 2 dreams growing up. Work at ILM, and be a film director. I guess the first one didn’t really pan out.

  2. I perfer attitude to skill. Many kids fresh out of school have too much ego for having such weak demo reels. They have no idea what they are getting into.


Hey Colin. I’m stoked that they have you doing a Q & A…

On the buisness side: How often have you had to walk away from the table for the sole reason you couldn’t settle on a price?

What position(s) do you find you have a tough time finding people for? (Artist/otherwise?)

Have you ever “blacklisted” an employee? Have you blacklisted anyone professionally because of thier online etiquette? Pretty much: what does it take to truely get in your bad books?

What would you do for a Klondike bar?

And Finally: I know you hand your employees thier ass at Mortal Kombat, but if you ever want to get your ass handed to you at Mario Kart wiFi…

DS code: 262058608470

Mike R

  1. Very few people that vocalize here seem to have any clue about how this industry really works. I think the fan boys and the assholes scared the “ones that know” away. I don’t see any way of fixing that. People always act like jerks on the internet because they think they are safe hidding behind some fake name, so many professionals don’t bother any more.

  2. Fail and learn… Rinse, repeat.

  3. There is no balance for me. I went to Paris to relax and I was bored after 5 hours. I need to work.

  4. Our Mortal Kombat machine is packed away for the big move, so I need something to for those 5 free minutes I have every day.


Hi Colin! It’s great to see you in QA section :slight_smile:

  1. What sort of reel do you get most of the time in your company? and what sort of reel do you like to see the most? Do you still accept reels even when there’s no current position available?

  2. How many people working in Hydraulx at the moment? What type of people do you have the most in your studio, is it character animator, fx guy, programmer, or generalist who tend to do everything?

  3. I heard that your studio is pure maya based, for the 3d department. Are you completely satisfied with it, or are you from times to times still looking for a 2nd software to be implemented in your pipeline.

  4. Maybe without going into too much detail, could you share a little bit on what’s going on during the bidding job time. Do studios get jobs based on performance, name, or purely base on price? And how do you find yourself competing with the larger studios such as ILM and Digital Domain?

Thanks for sharing your times and experience to the CG community.



I have 2 dream, working for ILM and film director. now I am going to university,do think going university help me make my dream reality, and did you go university?
thanks for your time and sorry for my english.


I dont really have a question about your “job” but more the creative aspect:

When working with other creative parties, like A Perfect Circle and Chili Peppers especially, how much of the creative process is up to you? Do the bands/directors usually come to you (you guys) with a solid idea of what they want, or do you handle the creative aspect from start to finish?

Off topic: how do you feel about the Directors Label and DVD series of the same, and when can we get The Brothers Strause DVD?


Hey Colin, nice to see you doing a Q&A, Just a few questions for now, what is it like having two directors for various projects? Is there a lot of conflict, not enough. (Edit: your bro can pitch in on this one too)

Describe a typical day at the shop. What activity do you do the most? this question is just out of curiosity.


Hey Colin,

no questions…just wanted to say I always love reading your posts…you cut to the point, no BS (although I haven’t seen you post much lately)

good luck with your company

Ryan Heuett


Amazing stuff.

Some questions:

  1. What keeps you going?
  2. What is the worst situation you have encountered at your work?
  3. Latest fxshot that made you go WOW?

Thank you, all the best!

Jari Saarinen


Hey Jackdeth, thanks for doing this. I look forward to reading your replies. I’ve had something on my mind lately and you seem like a good person to ask since you are a very hardworking and driven individual.

I’ve been making my way into the 3D industry for the last couple years, putting a ton of time and effort into my studies and working alot to support myself. (Doing games now, but hopefully film someday). For example, for the last 8 or 9 months I’ve probably been averaging 70 - 80 hours a week or so (work during the summer, school in the Fall/Winter). Most people would think that’s kind of crazy and not a good thing to do, and I would agree. But I absolutely love what I’m doing and I’m very happy with my progress and I’m excited to see where I wind up. I often times find myself telling myself I need to relax and time some time off, but I don’t. As for the health aspect, I don’t smoke, rarely drink, in good shape, I exercise 4 or 5 days a week, eat very good, drink lots of water and take good vitamins, so I am handling he workload pretty well, for the most part. (do drink a bit of coffee pretty much everyday though). I don’t see myself doing this forever, but I’d like to see how far I can go over the next couple years.

So my question is, what advice, warnings or guidance would you offer to someone who’s motivation towards their craft is a little excessive or extreme like this?

Thanks for your time.


Hi Colin,

I remember that that I read a thread some time ago, where you described how you and your brother started working on cg and that it was a very hard time. Hearing that story was really a good motivation for me. So I want to congratulate you that you didn’t give up and are now runnning a successful studio and besides that also find the time to contribute a lot here on cgtalk.