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March 13, 2013 8:00 AM

by B. N. Reporter

Last Monday, a notable Blender-driven CG short --""SPACE ODDITY II: Fake Trailer " was released and received
wide publicity through the front page of Blender.org via blendernation.com.
A comment, however, made by the uploader of the video
 raised some serious credibility issue:

''Can a 2-or-3-year-long CG newbie create this type of work without an official training, just by hobbying with Blender?'


The situation can be much more serious than most Blender users realize:

If such claim has been really made and is not true, it can rob a lot of art / film schools of precious future students.
 If that is the case, 
who should be responsible for the consequent damages incurred?

But was that what "Tom Walks" --the uploader of the short --really meant?
Please listen to what this humble artist from France has to say.

- Editor in Chief




1. Congratulation, Tom! "Space Oddity 2" is an amazing short! First of all, would you like to introduce yourself? 

Hello, my name is Thomas Piemontese, aka TomWalks, I come from a little city in the east of France. I'm 25, and I'm not a professional CG/VFX artist, neither have any prior experience in this industry (assuming building worker, pizza/pie factory, or even cleaning are not artistic) and currently unemployed. (Some crisis was here.)

 

2. It's almost unbelievable that "Space Oddity 2" is a single guy's effort. Is it correct that no one else was involved in the creation of "Space Oddity 2" other than the sound and music elements?

From day 1 to the end, I'm the only one involved in this project yes, although I've been using helpfull exterior models basis for characters. 

3. Did you create all the assets and characters in "Space Oddity 2" on your own? If not, what and where are they from?

modeled 95 % of what's in the video. But It wouldn't look as it is without CGtextures.com. Furthermore, my true weakness are characters (That's why in the animation, all the character scenes are dark, nearly hiding them from being shown,  or fully lighted). To create them, I used the MakeHuman software. Thanks to this software, a naked human character pops up in the 3D view, and you can start from this helpful basis, like suiting a mannequin, re-work the body. Plus, clothes can be generated as well. So no, the character are not entirely my creations.  I'm very limited when it comes to characters, I don't focus on topology either, getting it right is really difficult to me, and you'll have to wait long before seeing a simple walk and dialog in a daylight environment from me.  I prefer to use the "Not showing the shark" tips  from Jaws (Thanks Steven Spielberg). For the eyes scene, the head used the same process, I didn't modeled it myself, it has been generated, mixed with other skin (material) textures, then received make up. The futuristic "suit", is an old model of mine with a few additions (like lights, oxygen , etc..), you may have already seen him in previous animations. I dream to be able to create anything, anytime. Obviously, i'm far from there yet, and I can't just take what's in my head and transfer it into a screen.


Sreenshots_02.jpg 


4. "Space Oddity 2" has a lot of production-quality concept works applied. Did you create all the concept works? Or where did you get the inspiration from?

If I was working on a studio, I probably wouldn't be a designer. I don't think I  have this kind of "shapes and volume" instinct these artists have.  I've been looking around in many directions for inspiration, I imagined the space station to be like a little sister of the one from 2001 : A Space Odissey, I've been watching Aliens movies to see how things were done,  Prometheus,  Sunshine from Danny Boyle, The few space scenes from Lock out etc..  Games like Dead Space and Deus Ex.


5. What artistic experience or training did you had or received before learning 3D with Blender and how long? How long have you been learning and using After Effects, for instance? Are you sure that you had no knowledge about 3D graphics or CG prior to studying Blender on your own?

My artistic experience is ... life. Ha ha, no I don't know,  really I don't know what to say. Unfortunately, I didn't study, I was interested in psychology studies but it didn't happen (I regret this thought). I guess I have to thank my parents for bringing me to the movie theater, VHS/DVD rental store,  museums, car expo, etc.. Everything that made me an imaginative kid. There are two kind of people after watching a movie, the one thinking "this was awesome, I will tell everybody" and the ones thinking "This was awesome, I want to do this too". I should thank my cousin, we used to create awful videos thanks to the soundless video function of a camera, then we used a video camera to make terrible amateur shorts. That's when I started to think about learning video editing, when I was around 17/18. I've been introduced to After Effects, and discovered a new web, full of people creations, tutorials and discussions. I've trained regularly for about 3 years I think. not really intensive, but enough to learn many many tips and tricks that are useful in any software, and many of the things I knew came from here, it was a great basis to begin with.


Then I stopped for a while and didn't do anything creative. later, 2 and a half years ago, or a bit more ("2 years" is an unfortunate short-cut, I have to apologize for this) .  I decided it was time to create a big thing, with my cousin, and started learning Blender intensively, dreaming in front of Elephant's dream, Big Buck Bunny, and Sintel, and what could be achieved with Blender, motivated as never before. I kept learning on a daily basis, not just on weekends or when I felt like it, but almost every days when I had the time. But the project is dead. There are no secrets, I'm spending a lot of time practicing and learning new things, hours every day, weeks.. For example, when I did an animation called Succube, I was on it all the time I had, lunch, evenings, .. I even thought I wasn't fast enough so I started to make full nights sessions of work to get it done, although it's not a crazy animation. I work a lot.


Before Blender, my only knowledge of 3D came from video games basically. You start to hear about bump mapping, textures, polygons, physic engines, particles, tech demos etc.. but it doesn't make you a 3D guy. It's a bit like paintings, hearing about oil paint, paintbrush and canvas,  you know how some things happen, but that doesn't make you a painter. 



Sreenshots_03.jpg


6. What motion capture data did you use for the short or where did your get them?

The motion capture come from  the Carnegie Mellon University Motion Capture Database, a database of 2500 + motion capture files, free for all uses. They can be found at http://mocap.cs.cmu.edu/. I used the motion capture files with constraints, allowing me to adapt them quickly ( holding a weapon, turning the head, in the lasts scenes).


7.  Seeing that you have studied 3D without a help of a Film/Art school, what would you say about them?

Even thought I didn't follow this path, obviously Id'say they are essentials. This is what  I tell to people who ask me:  If you have the opportunity to go there, go. What a better place to go to learn about this subjects than schools themselves ? They are filled with professionals and students, with years and years of practice and knowledge, ready to be transmitted to you or shared with each other. 


Sreenshots_04.jpg


I just wish  that a carrier in this is industry isn't only granted to you by a diploma, or the result of an exam. This is something that is criticized a lot here, that opportunities are given only to the ones with the "multi-pass", the ones  who are supposedly more "reliable" thanks to an art school past. I'm pretty sure we are missing a loooots of talents everywhere, waiting to be given a chance, without the "multi-pass". Because, if you don't, if you didn't, this is not over. If you are enthusiastic and ready to work, it's all up to you and there is enough information out here on how to grow up as an artist. Blender is a perfect example, with this amazing community.


Sreenshots_01.jpg


8. What is your future plan?

My future plan ? I have no idea. I'm moving near Paris in June in a "formation center" (learning jobs).  I may have spent a lot time practicing, learning and doing, I'm not necessarily planning to work in this industry, I don't want to be given a "role" (like modeler, or animator, or texturer, or else). To be honest with you, I just want to keep doing my stuff the way I like it, animations or images, feeling free to do what I want.  I've been doing this for myself and I'm not really into showcasing. I don't even have a Facebook account, nor twitter and you've probably never seen me featuring any work on any forums because I always think my level isn't good enough, i never reach the perfection of movies and such. People did it for me, and I infinitely thank them for thinking it was something to share (I know I should be far more active in the community myself).  I have already  refused many offers of joining teams working on their own projects, and I'm sorry for this. CG is a very personal tool I wish to fully master one day. Like people paint, play the guitar, or .. dance, I just want to create things, I don't see this as a job or a money maker, I earn no money from this. People may find it stupid but money is not the goal I'm heading for.


As a conclusion I just want to thank any people related to Blender, and the community.


Thank you for responding to this interview, Thomas. We'll look forward to your future projects.



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Expiration Date : Apr 12, 2013 00:00
Participants : 80
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Do you trust Tom? (80)
1 Yes.
  bar 76 (95%)
2 No.
  bar 4 (5%)
blank
lb blank rb


Related links:

1. http://tomwalks.deviantart.com/gallery/

2. http://www.blendernation.com/2013/03/10/space-oddity-2-fake-trailer/

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