My first start in 3D was when I was attending Gnomon School in Hollywood, before that, I briefly touched Maya but I had a slight understanding of 3D using video copilots Element 3D in After Effects. The first 3D tool for me was Maya, when I was in school at Gnomon I had to learn everything from Modeling, lookdev, lighting, fx, and compositing. When I decided to be more specialized in FX one of my good friends in school and work colleague told me to focus on Houdini, that most studios are only hiring Houdini FX Artists and there’s a few studios here and there that use 3DS Max and Maya.
I’m working at DreamWorks Feature Animation as an FX Artist.
When I watched Star Wars for the first time as a kid, it was mind-blowing to me. The Phantom Menace was the first one I saw on my father’s old TV with the VHS tape. When I saw that pod-racing scene, to me that was one of the most amazing FX / Practical FX sequences I’ve seen. From watching one of the pod-racers blowing up in the cave and a huge fireball coming towards the camera to them being blown to bits and crashing. There was such a good mixture of suspense, comedy, and action at that time that made me watch it over and over again. From seeing something like that, to Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park, etc.. a part of me always wanted to work in visual effects. To me it’s not about bringing my own imaginations to life, but it’s about creating work that will maybe someday inspire someone else to make the same career decision I made.
After taking several courses from Rebelway and after graduating from a school like Gnomon. I would say Rebelway is setting the standard in terms of the quality and complexity of its content. Some schools can’t get the same level of experienced instructors because of location, timing, and diplomacy. With Rebelway, you have instructors from all over the world teaching some of the most advanced and current techniques being used in the industry. When comparing its content to other tutorials online, Rebelway teaches you the basic techniques you can learn from anywhere else but you’re also learning the most advanced techniques at the same time. I personally haven’t seen anyone else teach the content Rebelway teaches anywhere else. You might come close enough if you dig deep enough into forums like OdForce, but it’s not nearly as polished, and there’s no one that can explain the concepts to you better.
Rebelway has helped me achieve a better understanding of FX, whether it’s knowing how to create that extra fine detail in Pyro and Flip, or learning how scripting can automate my tasks and get the control I need that’s missing from out of the box tools.
Whether it’s a technique I’ve learned from Rebelway or from production, I have a better understanding of approaching any task and think two steps ahead to get it done on time and at a higher quality. Rebelway has helped me stand out from the crowd. Working on my first feature film I’ve gotten compliments from the Director saying I created one of his favorite shots in the film as well as impressing studio executives.
One of my favorite projects I’ve accomplished in Houdini was probably one of my most current ones, which is just a simple explosion that I’ve spent several months on. I was able to take what I learned from Rebelway and combine it with other industry techniques that I learned at Siggraph while attending WETA’s talk on Combustion for Avengers: Endgame, as well as learning a couple extra shading tips I picked up from Rebelway and Matthew Puchala’s Psuedo Fluid Solver example files. With the techniques I’ve learned from production, Rebelway, and WETA’s combustion paper I’ve been able to modify Houdini’s Smoke Solver and created additional HDA’s that generate detail, wind, temperature, and combustion that is more stable and art directable than Houdini’s Standard Pyro Solver. As well as create a pyro shader that holds up to some feature films that I admire.
This is a hard question because there are so many inspiring artists out there. The ones that most people know about are the ones that post frequently online but there are so many artists that don’t post anything and have made some truly remarkable work. I would say the people I look up to are my co-workers and friends I’ve made in this industry, whether it’s the past or present I wouldn’t be doing what I love for a living if it wasn’t for them.
Anytime I go on Vimeo there’s something that catches my eye. Whether it’s another artist’s work, a company’s show-reel or breakdown. Seeing those videos motivates me to learn and grow as an artist because the sky is the limit in Houdini. Almost anything can be done in that software, and the only limitations and things that hold you back from achieving it is knowledge and time.
Some goals of mine are like any other artist in this industry, I would love to get the responsibility someday to be a lead artist and become a supervisor. It would be so awesome to be nominated for awards like VES! But in the meantime for me, I’m going to keep pushing myself as an artist by learning new techniques to master my craft.
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