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Jack Jagerman

Jack Jagerman VFX Artist

How did you start in 3D? How did you discover Houdini?

My start with 3D was during high-school. I’d had a burning interest in filmmaking for quite a while and dabbled in After Effects when I felt that I wanted to take the next step towards the VFX industry which for me was 3D! After that I studied the Advanced Visual Effects at Escape Studios in London and during one of the last weeks I got a tip to try out Houdini – which turned out to be one of the best tips I’ve yet received in my life! After that I did all the classical stuff (the procedural table, the RBD-wall-smash, the campfire etc.) and fell in love with the nature of the software.

Where do you currently work?

I currently work as a freelance 3D Artist working mainly with product visualization and ads. Most of my day-to-day is lighting, comping and rendering various products and interiors for a variety of clients. Maya being my current bread and butter, I always try to use Houdini as much as I can and show clients that the software rules!

What are your goals as an artist?

My goal would be landing a full-time FX job! Helping convey a story and a mood through awesome-looking effects at a VFX studio would be the dream. My non-career related goals would be to always keep learning and keep finding new ways to do things. The sense of accomplishment when you find a new, better or more efficient, way to something always gives a huge boost to morale – so that’s something I continue to hunt after!

Tell us about your favorite project accomplished in Houdini. What made it interesting? What were the challenges you faced?

Oh, this is a hard one. I’ve done many fun projects in Houdini and all of them have had their own charm. But if I had to pick one I would say “Downfall”, a project I did for the “Advanced Houdini FX – Rise” here at Rebelway. It was an amazingly fun project to work on as there were so many different approaches and techniques to work with. One of the main points of interest was trying to balance my vision for it, my available hours, and all while still learning many of the procedures used at the same time. It was immensely fun and engaging to block out the main story, the camera angles and then start crafting the FX to best work from those angles.

Downfall Houdini Project Breakdown

The biggest challenge was my time and by extension my core hours to the amount of work that needed to be done. I chose that I wanted to be done with the project during the 10 weeks of the course to avoid it lingering around in the “it’s not yet perfect”-void. This came with the challenge of having to pick my battles and focus on some areas over others – but it made for a very good learning experience since I’ve yet to work on a professional project where I have time to polish stuff forever.

Here’s the final project below:

Have you learned any helpful VFX tips or tricks recently?

I pick up some little things every now and then being a part of the various Facebook groups, forums, and Discord channels in which talented artists commonly share information and tips for attentive people to pick up! But most recently I decided to go back to “The Joy Of Vex” written by the awesome Matt Estela and take another run at quaternions. Knowing their functionality (not the actual math in my case haha) has proven to be immensely helpful – I’d warmly recommend having a look at it for all Houdini interested people!

Who inspires you as an artist? Why do they inspire you?

Almost every form of creativity, though mostly visual, can be a huge inspiration. All the way from straightforward examples like awesome 3D and movies to paintings, sculptures, and even books. I’ve always had a special soft spot for the terrific cinematics made by the amazing artists at Blizzard.

Being a true fantasy nerd, the chance to be able to take part of the storytelling and artistry gives me goosebumps. For a specific person I’ve always admired Peter Jackson, especially in his early years. The grit, hard work and pure determination behind his filmmaking has always been a guiding light on work ethic and fighting for what you truly enjoy doing.

What online resources keep you motivated to grow as an artist?

I usually read 80LVL and Art of VFX as soon as they have any new articles up. Both to keep up with new techniques and software, but also to read about the many talented artists you can find all over the globe. Other than that I have the Chrome app for Artstation installed so that every time I open a new tab I get a new artwork and that way I’ve stumbled onto some very inspiring works.

There are many VFX schools & tutorial websites. In your opinion how does Rebelway compare?

Out of the ones that I have tried Rebelway has been the best fit for me. All the videos are neatly structured, informative and well divided between the weeks – usually tackling one larger topic each week. While it’s not like a normal class in the sense that you have a set schedule I find that this kind of training works very well if you’re already employed or otherwise busy for a multitude of hours a day. Other than that you get access to the awesome Discord filled to the brim with helpful, skilled artists to ask for help or just socialize with!

What did Rebelway help you achieve?

Rebelway’s training was the final push I needed to know that FX was the field I wanted to pursue even though I find most steps of the pipeline enjoyable. On top of that Rebelway gave me a solid knowledge base to help me work more freely within Houdini and spend less time understanding how things play together. 

What’s next for you on your artistic journey?

I’m starting to sound like a broken record here haha, but once again – more Houdini! I’m trying to free up more and more time to rework and improve my reel. So I’m looking at doing another project along the lines of “Downfall” but probably very different – and hopefully better! And my hope is that this will be my segue into VFX from product visualization.

Where can people see more of your work?

www.mazevfx.com (currently being rebuilt, hopefully up within a few weeks)

https://vimeo.com/jackjagerman

Jack Jagerman VFX Artist

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