We continue our series of interviews with various artists from different levels of seniority and backgrounds!
We will be exploring Artist’s parcours, career paths, and artistic choices.
Today we talk to Graeme McDougall, CG Lead/Supervisor, who has worked with us on many projects including the most recent Zemeckis’ The Witches and His Dark Materials.
– Hi Graeme ! Thanks for taking some time to discuss your job today! What would you say a CG Supervisor, or Assistant CFX Art Director entails?
– Hello! Well as a CG Lead in a smaller company, my work still involves quite a lot of hands-on 3D work. It regularly falls to me to come up with technical solutions to challenges in production, or to help evaluate the pros & cons of different approaches to a design challenge. I’ll often look at different pieces of software or plugins & try them out to see which might give the best results for the task at hand. I’d say for a CG Lead, you should have an overview of most areas of 3D work, from modelling, texturing, shaders & lighting, scripting/ TD type work, rigging & animation. You’ll need to know enough about compositing & matte-painting to be able to support those artists & provide them what they need to be able to do their work smoothly. You don’t have to be an expert in all fields of course, we all have our strengths & areas of expertise. You need to trust the other people in the team to do their work when they can get a result faster or better than you can. I think a lot of us start out wanting to make everything from scratch & do every part of the process ourselves but the realities of pre-production & deadlines gradually teach us that we need to make use of all the assets and resources available to us. When you’re working in smaller, more nimble teams in pre-production, it’s very useful to be able to jump in & fill a gap, whether that’s UVing a model, fixing the weighting on a character or putting together a quick slap-comp to demonstrate an idea.
– Sounds..busy! How did you come to be in this position today, was it something that was pre-planned ?
– It can be.. I started out from a character rigging & animation background. Then there was a period where the company wasn’t doing much pre-vis, instead we were doing a lot of concept art for sets & stylised matte-paintings. Most of it was for adverts, so it would be a new job every week. So I thought to myself ‘I really need to learn how to do lighting & rendering if I’m going to be useful here‘, so I set about learning that. At some point I decided to learn some python scripting & over the years I made a few simple scripts to help with our workflows at times. Working with concept artists & matte-painters, then later compositors, taught me more about what they did & what they wanted from 3D to help make their work better & faster. So over the years, I got to the point where I had a pretty good overview of the 3D side of pre-production, of where it was most useful & of how we interface with all the other teams in Art Department, in concept art etc. So overall, I didn’t really plan it, it happened quite organically.
– Cool! Which show/film or general project have you been on makes you the most proud of your work/you like the most?
– Nike’s ‘The Game’ world cup short film was a fun one, we were working on very big, expansive backgrounds of whole cities. Looking back, I shudder a bit at the way we did some things but I thought the end result was really successful. Software & hardware have come on so much in those 6 years. Also, a lot of the concept art we’ve produced for His Dark Materials – it’s just hard because we see it on screen so long after we work on it, you get a little impatient to see it out there. Of course in every job, some of it will never see the light of day, those ideas on the cutting room floor. But that’s the nature of the job.
– Thanks for the insight Graeme, and keep up the excellent work!
This week we talk to the wonderful Gabrielle about her role as Graphic Designer and Researcher, her professional path and some advices for younger graphic designers!
– Hi Gabby (or do you prefer Gabrielle), thanks for taking some time to discuss with us today! What would you say a Graphic Designer role entails for working in Film and TV?
Heya, Gabby is fine thanks!
I’m a bit of a jack of all trades when it comes to design, and have been transitioning from the “real world” of branded graphics into the far more fun world of Film & TV, so my work with PP has been a bit of image research, creating pitches and presentations as well as some graphics to be used in concept art. So far what I’ve learnt is that the most important things are a great working knowledge of your craft, be it hand drawn or digital, fabulous research skills, a positive attitude and the ability to work to a deadline, no matter how tight.
– Yes deadlines… everyone’s favourite thing! How did you come to be in this position today, was it something that was pre-
planned or did you also have to work on different roles to get where you are today?
I spent the first 8 years of my career working as a multi-disciplinary designer, both in house for brands, in design agencies and as a freelancer, and it’s those skills that help me get into working with PP. That and a great contact, Erica, who has been an amazing friend, mentor and resource in helping me get into the industry. Right now I’m still working towards doing graphic design for film & TV; doing research, learning the skills and building my network, but I have been lucky enough to work on some sci-fi shorts which should be coming out later this year, as well as some adverts here and there!
– Which show/film or general project have you been on makes you the most proud of your work/you like the most?
I am loving working on His Dark Materials, even though none of my contributions are in the show yet. It’s amazing to see how the team all works together to build such a massive world that is so detailed and immersive.
– Do you have any advice for people wanting to follow in your steps?
It’s never too late to change careers! Just because you didn’t start working in film & TV when you left art school (or never went to art school) doesn’t mean it’s not for you. But also that it’s all a process, you can’t expect to arrive in your dream job without a bit of hustle, a lot of hard work and some patience.
– Thank you so much Gabby, I know you’re quite busy and we appreciate you taking the time!
Here we start our series of interviews with various artists from different levels of seniority and backgrounds!
We will be exploring Artist’s parcours, career paths, and artistic choices.
Today we talk to Franklin Chan, Concept Artist and Matte Painter, who has worked with us on many projects including the most recent His Dark Materials.
– Hi Franklin! To start, how long have you been a concept artist for, and has it always been something you wanted to do?
– Hi! I have been a concept artist for almost 5 years. I started out as a matte painter and 3D artist, and gradually transitioned into this role. I guess I always had an interest in drawing and design as a kid, but never knew this job existed until I got my foot into the industry. When I witnessed how ideas were put together and the process of turning these ideas into the final product, I realised this is something I want to be a part of.
– Exciting! So which would you say was your favourite piece you created, and why?
– Growing up in the city, I am always fascinated by the sense of massive scale, futuristic architecture and the beautiful neon lights in the dark, so I really enjoy painting cyberpunk scenes whenever I can.
It’s pretty difficult for me to just pick one favourite piece, but here are a few I’ve done recently that I really enjoy working on (in attachement to the article)
– I’m so in love with this style too, being myself a big geek and into futuristic sci-fi! So, to conclude, do you have any advice for people looking to get into the profession?
– Keep working on your portfolio and keep learning new things. This industry changes fast and the top guys are always coming up with new ways to generate ideas, so keep an eye out for what’s out there.
I always get asked how to get into the industry if you lack experience and it always seems like a catch 22 thing, but you can actually do your own project and learn a lot from it. Being a concept artist is about
iterating your ideas and pushing them forward, so don’t get too hung up on just one piece of concept art, instead try to demonstrate your thought process with a series of concepts in your portfolio. Lastly, don’t forget to keep honing your fundamentals, perspective, anatomy, lighting, etc, because there is no point having good ideas if you don’t know how to illustrate them 🙂
We’re delighted to show the world the extended trailer for His Dark Materials.
The trailer was released to coincide with the San Diego Comic Con panel this week (full panel HERE).
Many of our team worked on His Dark Materials Series 1 (and continue to do so for Series 2 – currently filming), including Joel Collins as Production Designer and Dan May as VFX Art Director and Previs Supervisor.
His Dark Materials will premiere on BBC One and HBO in Autumn 2019.
For more information on His Dark Materials, you can find the press release HERE.
Painting Practice are currently looking for a Matte Painter / CompositorÂ to join our team in Cardiff, Wales. The project is a high-end TV adaptation of a best-selling book series, with innovative and complex design & VFX components.Â
– Skilled in Photoshop image manipulation
– Competency in 3D modelling software applications. Cinema 4D is our preferred software.
– ComfortableÂ finalising and integrating final elements
– Live action and cg visual effects compositing experience.
– WorkingÂ knowledge of nuke compositing workflow.
-Â KnowledgeÂ of cameras, lenses, issues of perspective and parallax is necessary as well as a demonstrable ability to create photorealistic imagery with digital tools.
We are so excited to finally share the first trailer for “Mowgli”. It was an amazing project to work on, with our very own Dan May as VFX Art Director and the Painting Practice team doing some Concept Art.
Painting Practice are currently looking forÂ Junior Pre-vis AnimatorsÂ to join our team in Cardiff, Wales. The project is a high-end TV adaptation of a best-selling book series, with innovative and complex design & VFX components.Â
3D Character Animators required. Preferable additional experience includes: video editing (Premiere Pro), storyboarding and 2D animation.
An interest in cinematography, directing for film, modelling and rigging are all desirable attributes.
2D Animators with storyboarding experience and an interest in 3D are also encouraged to apply.
At PP Wales we work in Cinema 4D, so it would be useful if you are well versed in this software.
We won a @dandad pencil with @friends_elec on the Five Go On A Great Western Adventure project! We are thrilled to have been a part of the team on this. It is still some of our most favourite artwork that we have produced yet.