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First studio adventure

February 22, 2013

I’ve been fantasizing about a serious debut in the 3D animation industry for around six years now.

A friend of mine who took an extensive Maya course provided the introduction, and I was immediately hooked. Since then I’ve absorbed all the information I could about 3D animation, and started digging deep into the visual arts in general (after learning that education in arts is crucial for good results even in the digital world of 3D).

I discovered and gave up on Blender (2.49), then rediscovered it (2.5-2.6x) and never looked back, then slowly worked hard to compile a list of images and a few animations for my portfolio, in the hope that it will enable me to do some payed work in the 3D industry. Magazines such as 3D world and ImagineFX were a great source of information and inspiration.

For all that time, I didn’t really dedicate myself fully to the field, since I couldn’t risk not having any income for a prolonged period of time, and didn’t know what’s the likelihood of finding a decent job in 3D in a reasonable amount of time, with as little experience as I had.

So I worked in software development, system administration and as a teacher of software and computer graphics, while learning as much as I could and doing some freelance work.

Then I heard that a local animation studio, and one which moved entirely to Blender, no less, is looking for python scripters.

As a former Perl developer, I knew it won’t be hard to convert to the cult of the Python, so to get me started, I chose a project that would challenge and interest me, and that I knew would provide both a good showcase of scripting skills and experience in Blender python scripting. This is how the Ivy Growth Animator add-on was born, and as a by-product, the Random Mesh Face material Assigner too.

With those two done, I was confident enough to apply for the scripter job at PitchiPoy.
And it seems that I couldn’t choose a better timing. The studio is working on a feature animation film (“Baldy Heights”), requires a robust asset heavy pipeline, and is in much need of scripting and automation. They even hosted Blender hero Nathan Vegdahl (expert rigger and scripter, who worked in both Big Buck Bunny and Sintel) for over a week to help with the rigging automation pipeline. I had the pleasure of meeting him (great guy!), learning a huge deal from him, delving into the code of his masterpiece, Rigify (more on that note soon) and even sharing some great vegan food  and having some fascinating conversations about blender, programming, games and cognitive science.

So, to sum it up, I finally made my first studio job, and it’s wonderfully satisfying. The location is great, the staff is awesome, the projects are exciting, and I get to work with Blender!

This might be a bit of the cliche, but credit must be given where it’s due. I wouldn’t have a chance at this job if it wasn’t for the amazing Blender community, with tutorials in websites such as Blender Cookie, Blender Guru, Blender Nerd, Blender Diplom and help on the Blender Artists forums. And of course the fantastic work that the Blender Foundation is doing in development and support. So thanks!

As a technical artist involved in an intense production, I’ll probably work on quite a few new scripts and add-ons (some are already in progress), which will hopefully be helpful for the community and other professional blender users.

I’ll be using this blog to report some of the new stuff I’ve gleaned and announce new scripts and tools, so stay tuned!

baldy-heights-wall

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3 Comments
  1. Yannick permalink

    I’ve had the same dream since I started working with Cad3D and Cyber Studio back in the old Atari ST days…. Unlike you, I didn’t have the guts to follow through and achieve what you did.

    Kudos my friend! You’ve got my admiration…

    Yannick

  2. Thanks for the kind words Yannick!

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