I first started 3D around the age of 14 when my dad had 3D Studio Max 2006 or 2007, telling me about how he had to learn on DOS haha. I liked creating things in all the level editors of video games for my friends, and I just had fun while growing up in 3D packages, not thinking it would be a career until many years later when I decided what I eventually wanted to do!
I eventually attended a school of VFX in LA, studying extremely hard in modeling and texturing. During the last year before graduating, I took a course with Saber Jlassi, now founder of Rebelway. I wanted to figure out how it could make me a better environment artist or even matte painter, since I saw incredible amounts of potential.
As I was doing my projects at school, I was infusing Houdini techniques into them, which gave me unique approaches and ideas! I had such a blast doing that. However, that’s where I also got converted into an FX artist, as there was too much to keep up with in the world of Zbrush, Maya, Mari, Painter, on top of traditional learning, and then finally the major Houdini. I decided to fully embrace Houdini, which was so great because now I’m not keeping up with dozens of black boxed software and only have to learn 1 package to essentially do it all. That freedom in investing in 1 product that gives you so much access is what really made me love Houdini, the community around it, and the incredible developers pushing the boundaries, every – single – year. The best part is however, the side effect, buh dum tshh, of learning Houdini, is that your Computer Graphics understanding accelerates incredibly fast and I get to help my friends all the time in other packages with issues or solutions because of that!
This pretty much meant I went from many years of experience in my career path to 0 and now have 6 months or 2 school terms to get a job in FX! And I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Rebelway being my stepping zone.
I was recently at The Mill as a permalancer haha. The current job market is of course sticky at the moment and am currently working on improving myself!
What drives me to learn the craft of CG is the fact that I want to create with my friends, personal cinematics and shorts. This has been my dream since I was a kid watching the behind the scenes of Warcraft 3’s cinematic trailer, how all these different people just had to figure all this stuff out and start assuming roles like FX Artist, with so little experience! I want to bring a group of people’s imaginations to life in fact! I love the idea of collaboration and hearing everyone’s ideas. It’s the drive that my hobby just gets to be my job.
Rebelway is incredible. The idea that it’s a vetted program, with many incredible artists with different specializations and backgrounds typically specializing in Houdini is what makes the content consistently high level. I personally like hearing the people’s thoughts on the subjects at hand, or reasons for their approach. As well as seeing what errors come up. This is why I find it interesting as I’m a firm believer in learning how to think, rather than just executing, and getting into the mind of others is what improves me personally.
The cherry on the top, is all the organization and thought that goes into the lecture. It’s incredibly easy to understand what intentions are, what they’re talking about and why.
Rebelway helped me learn how to think, and the foundations of CG for FX. And more importantly fast tracked starting my career in 6 months from ground zero.
My favorite project is my Starcraft Creep Growth project RnD because of a milestone it represented for me personally. What made it interesting is that, it’s essentially creating your own solver out of your own rules completely custom with houdini, where it’d be impossible in a lot of other traditional software. For me this was challenging because there wasn’t a traditional go to answer to do something.
The challenges I faced was thinking about how to implement ideas and a lot of the RnD in it was scrapped into the bare essentials to focus and hone that. Essentially it’s growing a volume by some interesting mask, using a long list of rules like curve attraction and art directed attributes to tell the system when or where to do something. I encountered issues with creating a user velocity field associated with the growth originally but since have figured out a stable way to transfer a generated field that’s stable! The main challenges at the time were just going through the whole motion/process in my own way, finding all the interesting scenarios like animated values in a loop, why a PBD sim can break, how to approach all the different ways of deforming changing pt counts, when to cluster and hide those seams, the timing and how to create a pulse motion – and the logic of applying that.
My teacher, FX supe, and friend Peter Claes! I look up to him because of his excitement and technical, yet artistic, prowess in pushing the boundaries of CG. He’s as technical as can be and yet knows when to stop being entirely procedural, and start art directing. I think he strikes a perfect balance of art and tech. On a further note, he also knows how to organize and communicate which I think is an incredibly strong skill not everyone notices they should try to have! Essentially he’s a living venn diagram of all the sweet spots to hit in CG in my opinion! Funnily enough this is all analogous to Saber Jlassi too.
Peter Claes’s youtube channel is exactly what I love about tutors and how effective they can be. He explains his thought process, the tech behind something and how to push yourself farther setting people up for success in a thorough, unique way.
Currently, I’m trying to do a few things with all this time, I’ve learned Substance Designer and some Game VFX Foundations for a few months. Due to the upsurge of Games recently. It broadened my thinking of what you could apply in film and vice versa – however, I missed Houdini dearly and have a lot to prove to myself before I go down that rabbit hole!
At Blizzard, I learned that almost all these FX Artists have incredibly diverse backgrounds, and are quite incredibly tech savvy. So I’m hitting the books in math, in tangent with more vex (Will probably re-watch that amazing Rebelway Vex series with Corbin with my own twist). In general, I just want to learn to think better! And in between that, improve my reel artistically as of no fault but my own, it is quite weak on the execution / art side! As I wrote that, I’m smiling because, with all the tools Rebelway and more has given me, I know it’ll be such a fun personal journey.