Home : Interviews Photoshop : Richard
us something about the past when you started with animation. What
attracted you towards this field?
I remember how stunned I was
when I saw my very first computer-generated
visual effect in "Young Sherlock Holmes". I was amazed at
how marvelous the stained glass window looked when it came to life right before my eyes.
My mind couldn't comprehend that what I was seeing had been generated
entirely in a computer and had never really existed. It was this film
effect, followed by the countless others that followed such as Jurassic
Park, The Mask, The Abyss, etc, that first attracted me to this new
Because I had always been heavily involved in the arts (my parents
both being architects), this seemed like the natural progression for
me. I became heavily involved with computer graphics in the early
nineties during my teenage years, and this is when I got my first
taste of 2D graphics software, primitive 3D software and even computer
graphics programming (which I still do on my spare time). During this
time, I also came into contact with one of the first ever consumer-based
3D software packages, 3D Studio for DOS Beta 1. I spent the next four
years learning and mastering this (and subsequent versions), as well
as numerous other pieces of software, and by my mid high school years,
I was certain I wanted to follow a career in the computer animation
industry. I studied traditional animation for three years at Sheridan
College in order to take the post graduate 1-year computer animation
course. After graduating the 3 year program however, I had enjoyed
traditional animation so much that I decided to work in that field
for an indefinite period of time. Since this was also a very good
time to be in this industry, I decided to venture out into the workplace
instead of going through with the computer animation program.
During the next few years, I worked in the traditional animation industry
producing series animation, CDROM/entertainment animation, etc., but
I eventually became more and more involved in the computer animation
business through projects that would inevitably come my way. As a
result, it wasn't long before I ended up working at TOPIX | MADDOG
in Toronto, a full-service computer animation and design studio. From
that point on, I have worked locally and internationally, exclusively
in the commercial computer animation industry.
have used 3D Studio max exclusively. Do you think Maya is a serious
competition to Max? What are the strong points of max according to
Prior to using 3D Studio MAX,
I was using Softimage 3.x for many years. I enjoyed using both and
to this date, I have never been one to swear by one piece of software
over another. Since most 3D packages nowadays contain the same basic
features, it really comes down to which software you are most comfortable
It just so happened that the studio I am currently employed for used
3D Studio MAX so I adapted to it. Maya is certainly a great software
package as well. More recently we have begun to combine both Maya
and MAX in the studio for various commercials because some artists
prefer Maya while others prefer MAX. We generally stick to only one
package per project as importing and exporting data between the two
can be complicated and often more of a headache than it's worth.
I particularly like 3D Studio MAX because of the user support available
on the internet. If there isn't a feature integrated in the software,
chances are somebody ha already written a plugin for it and in most
cases, it's free or very affordable. The same, however, could be said
for Maya as it is an extremely popular software package. Finally,
a good renderer is extremely important for me as this heavily impacts
the quality of my work. MAX has many options such as Mental Ray, Brazil,
Vray and FinalRender, among others.
you tell us your perceptions about Photoshop? How is it used for 3d
Adobe Photoshop is probably
my favorite piece of software. I use it extensively every day, often
for most of the day, in conjunction with 3D Studio MAX, or any 3D
package. In my opinion, Photoshop is the grandfather of image editors
- it has been around for more than a decade, it is absolutely rock
solid in stability, it's extremely powerful, and most important of
all, it's easy to use. In commercial production, we use it for almost
everything. From conceptual design, to background painting to texture
map generation and editing, it's always used for something or other.
Specifically, I get the most use out of it for texture maps. Generally
we look for the textures we need on the internet or shoot them with
digital cameras, and then piece them together within Photoshop to
suit our needs. Photoshop for a long time was lacking an image warper as we often
have to distort textures to conform them to geometry. As a result,
we always had to use After Effects or more specialized software such
as Elastic Reality, but ever since the integration of the "Liquify"
feature, this problem has been resolved.
us your opinion about third party Photoshop plug-ins and the plug-in
you have created.
Well, I for one never have
a use for any third party filters. If I ever need to use filters for
anything, I can always get the job done with the built in Photoshop
filters. Every once in a while I come across an effect that requires
a specialized filter and in most instances, I just code it myself.
Of course, a lot of my filters are therefore specifically targeted
for the 3D end user as they deal with texture mapping issues, lens
distortions, image tiling, etc.
In addition, many digital artists are hesitant to use filters that
produce particular effects that can be easily identified and traced
back to the filter. This is why, for example, the lens flare filter
is often frowned upon and used very sparingly by professionals.
we expect 3D max used for Web animation in the future?
I believe the internet is
going to continue to grow at an exponential rate and, as it does,
the need for internet media will also increase steadily. In addition,
with the introduction of faster data transmission speeds, internet
animation will become more and more elaborate until, I predict, it
matches broadcast quality, resolution and playback. Again, I'm fairly
certain web animation will not be limited to only one particular 3D
package but rather any software capable of producing advanced 3D animation.
have seen a long journey of animation. Please tell us about this path,
the changes and the future expectations from the professionals like
It has been fascinating to
see how computer hardware has developed over the last decade as this has directly influenced the quality of digital
animation in today's world. It was interesting to see computers start
with a 2 color video display and see the slow technological improvement
leading up to today's sixteen million color video displays (and even
higher with the recent introduction of HDR images and monitors). It
humorous how impressive a chrome teapot reflecting a checkered floor
was a decade ago (at that time state-of-the-art computer graphics),
in comparison to today's completely digital lead actors in feature
films. And it has been rewarding to see PIXAR and PDI, early pioneers
in computer graphics, develop into the outstanding feature film studios
they are today.
Within the last few years, global illumination rendering has been
one of the single most important developments in the field of computer
graphics. While it was always far too time consuming and intensive
to be used for any kind of production, it is now commonplace at our
commercial studio, as I imagine it is at others as well. Fire, water
and smoke have also seen significant technological advancements within
the last few years, most notably in feature film effects.
There really is no way of predicting what will come next but as computer
hardware continues to improve, new facets of computer graphics will
according to you, the essential qualities of good animation?
The basic fundamentals of
animation such as timing, squash and stretch,
secondary action, follow-through, hang time, etc, are what differentiates
good animation from poor animation. These fundamentals must be taught,
preferably by professionals, in an institution which focuses on these
subjects as well as other basic creative skills such as staging, color
theory, lighting, composition, etc. While it is possible for someone
to learn this on their own, it is incomparable to the skills that
one learns in a course that specializes in animation.
It has been said many times before that anyone can learn how to use
a computer but not everyone can develop strong creative skills. It
is for this reason that we look first and foremost for artists who
are clearly talented in these areas, and only secondarily for people
who know how to use specific software.
people want to take animation as their career. Please tell us the
qualities required for good animator.
It's very important to carefully
select a good school. There is much information available on this
subject both on the internet and at the various institutions. It's
important to know what background the instructors have, if they are
(or were) working professionals in the field, and what the course
covers. Again, it's important to also understand that there are courses
which are more technically oriented while others that are more creatively
driven. It is important for the individual to immerse himself or herself
in as much animation as possible. Know what is out there and what
level it is at. Learn and study all the classic and modern animated
films. When I used to instruct animation at a school several years
ago, it was always evident that in each class there were always one or two students
who excelled beyond everyone else. These were the first students to
also be picked up by major studios.
Finally, while it is possible to make a very good salary in this field,
do not expect to graduate and make a six-figure salary. Animation
is an art and only those who have a passion for it are the ones who
tell us your philosophy about this amazing world of digital animation.
I absolutely love the digital
medium and I can't get enough of it. I will work at an animation studio
for eight hours straight, only to come home and continue to work on
my own projects. I feel fulfilled and satisfied when I finish a project,
and I don't think I could feel this way from any other job out there.
I suppose I'm very lucky to have found something I am so passionate
about and enjoy doing so much. Although the hours and schedules can
be hectic, it doesn't feel that way because I enjoy every minute of
I would therefore encourage anyone who has even the slightest curiosity
about this intriguing industry to give it a shot and see what it's
all about. You might find it's your calling in life.