This podcast is part of the Chaos Group Labs. In this podcast, we talk to our friends, find out what they are doing, talk about what we are doing, and generally look at all things that interest us including CGI, VFX, Design, Rendering, Raytracing, an d any other CG Nerdy stuff.
Episode 347 - Steve Griffith - VP of Production, Legend
1:09:01Steve Griffith’s impressive IMDb page includes The Matrix sequels, Captain America: The First Avenger, Ant-Man, the Watchmen TV series, Jungle Cruise, and many more blockbusters. Over the course of 20 years, he’s gone from intern to VP of Production at Legend, taking in stints at major VFX studios including Rodeo FX, MPC, Luma Pictures, Atomic Fiction, and Digital Domain. In this podcast, Chris and Steve reminisce about some of the projects they worked on together, including I, Robot and Stealth, before tackling the current state of the visual effects industry. They track the evolution of virtual production from Gravity and Oblivion to Murder on the Orient Express and The Mandalorian and discuss how real-time and AI are changing the way studios work.
Episode 346 - Jack Evans - Lighting Lead, Image Engine Design
1:12:02Jack Evans’ illustrious VFX career has taken him to some of the biggest studios in LA and Vancouver, including Digital Domain, ILM, Disney, and Image Engine Design. His impressive roster of credits includes lighting on Speed Racer, TRON: Legacy, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Fast & Furious 8, Solo: A Star Wars Story, The Mandalorian, and Aquaman. In this entertaining podcast, Jack talks about his career so far, from his early days of creating TV graphics with Photoshop and 3ds Max to learning Nuke, V-Ray, and Gaffer. He also discusses working from home in the pandemic, goes into depth on shots for TRON: Legacy and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and gives insight into different cultures at visual effects houses.
Episode 345 - Craig Weiss — Executive Creative Director: CBSVFX
56:35V-Ray won an Emmy! And joining Chris this week is Craig Weiss, a committee member on the board for the Engineering Emmy Awards. Craig explains how Chaos’ rendering engine has changed the way TV VFX are made and why the board chose it to win this prestigious award. Craig also delves into his role as CBS VFX’s executive creative director, from his humble beginnings in stop-motion animation to the high-resolution, cinema-quality CG home audiences have come to expect. It’s a fascinating journey into the past, present, and future of the technology that helps bring stories to life.
Episode 344 - David Siegel & David Wolgemuth - Exceptional Minds
52:16The big wide world can be a scary place for neurodiverse people — but Exceptional Minds can help them find their place. Founded in 2011, this remarkable non-profit training academy trains individuals on the autism spectrum to become visual effects and animation professionals. It also runs its own studio, which has put graduates to work on Black Widow, Loki, and a whole animated segment for Sesame Street. In this podcast, Exceptional Minds’ Executive Director David Siegel explains how his six-year-old son inspired him to join the academy. He also describes how he works with studios and software companies to give students the knowledge they need for a career. Joining him is VFX Studio Supervisor David Wolgemuth, who discusses finding common ground with students and helping them make the most of their skillsets.
Episode 343 - AJ Jefferies - CG Illustrator/Animator, MDI Digital/MoonJam
54:31AJ Jefferies’ art is unmistakable. Whether he’s indulging in passion projects or designing campaigns for companies including Cadbury’s, Virgin Atlantic, and MTV, this UK-based 3D illustrator and animator’s work is eye-catching, playful, and colorful — and large, sometimes up to 10K in resolution. In this conversation with Chris, AJ breaks down his career so far, from how Toy Story inspired his early adventures in computer graphics, learning 3D and illustration in Bournemouth, and joining a two-person studio in Norwich where he remains to this day. AJ also talks about the essential tools in his workflow, how V-Ray helped boost his render times, and the future of rendering technology.
Episode 342 - Edward Dawson-Taylor and Jacqueline Cooper - Becoming a CG Pro
1:15:29Real-time CG is quickly taking over the film industry — but learning about its virtual cameras, lenses, and sets can be tricky. Tackling this is “Becoming a CG Pro,” an online virtual production course aimed at filmmakers and CG artists hosted by Edward Dawson-Taylor and Jacqueline Cooper, a pair of VFX industry pros with credits on Jurassic World, The Jungle Book, and The Lion King. In this podcast, Edd and (returning guest) Jackie talk to Chris about what he learned through taking the course, and how virtual filmmaking brings back on-set collaboration and puts CG tools in the hands of traditional filmmakers. They also discuss the history of filmmaking, from Eadweard Muybridge to The Matrix, and the applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the real world.
Episode 341 - Ruairidh MacNeill - 3D Modeler, Moving Picture Company
1:00:52Ruairidh “Roo” MacNeill’s love for 3D modeling began with sandcastles in Lightwave—and now, he’s working in London on blockbusters including Thor: Ragnarok, Alita: Battle Angel, and Wonder Woman 1984. In this podcast, Roo brings fresh insight into the trends reshaping the way VFX are produced, with procedural tools such as Houdini removing the industry’s reliance on hard-surface modelers. Roo gives some candid tips about working in VFX, including his thoughts on getting a VFX-related degree, the importance of attending dailies, and why he’s on a race to the bottom of Rotten Tomatoes scores. He also dives into why he loves Modo—and talks about taking a rabbit across European borders.
Episode 340 - Bernard Frischer - Archaeologist, Flyover Zone
1:07:44In this week’s podcast, Chris digs into the relationship between CG and archaeology with world-renowned archaeologist Bernard Frischer. Having studied Classics, Bernie discovered a passion for the past and led excavations of Horace’s Villa in Licenza, Italy. At the same time, he maintained a keen interest in the evolution of computing technology and used it to reconstruct Rome for his Rome Reborn project. Bernie reveals his vast knowledge of ancient history, explaining what made ancient Roman and modern American societies similar, how chariot racing was the spectator sport of its time, and why he prefers Rome to Athens. He also tells Chris how he founded Flyover Zone and reveals his plans to bring history to the world of videogames.
Episode 339 - Elizabeth Montes - Head of Production, The Third Floor
56:49Liz Montes bumped into someone at an LA party—and landed a job at Digital Domain. Here, she worked alongside Chris on movies including Real Steel and Oblivion. Then she moved to visualization specialist The Third Floor, where she worked as a production manager and producer on blockbusters including Edge of Tomorrow, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Avengers: Endgame. In this podcast, Liz talks about how The Third Floor’s expertise in previs has made it a perfect fit for the emerging world of virtual production. She delves into how The Mandalorian’s immersive set, Volume, helped the cast and crew create incredible worlds in real-time. She also discusses The Third Floor’s work on Loki, how gaming graduates are taking over VFX, and how working from home has changed the industry.
Episode 338 - Chris Harvey - VFX Supervisor
1:00:14Chris Harvey’s brief encounters in biology and theater set him up perfectly for a thriving career in VFX. After taking an animation course, he went on to work on movies such as Chappie, TRON: Legacy, and Zero Dark Thirty. Then, he helped Neill Blomkamp launch independent production company Oats Studios and now he works as a freelance VFX supervisor. In this podcast, Chris talks about striking a balance between working hard and raising a family. He shares the lessons he learned from working at the ahead-of-its-time Oats Studios, covers how easy it is to tighten pipelines and make filmmaking more efficient—and reveals why Neill Blomkamp’s new production house is called Stability. You’ll also find out about Chris’ upcoming sci-fi film projects, including Neill Blomkamp’s Demonic, and 65, from the team behind A Quiet Place.