Commercial work and on set HDR pano shooting for 2013

This year of 2013 has been busy with a variety of new projects for me that included, Generalist TD work on commercials, on set shooting of HDR 360 panoramas, and creating an advanced Mental Ray and Maya course for fxphd.  Early in the year I spent 3 months in LA at Brewster Parsons modeling, look dev, and lighting this massive Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  Soon after this ntopic LA hired me to fly to Sao Paulo and shoot HDR skyline photos for matte painting to create the backgrounds for their Franklin Templeton spot.  At the home studio I stayed very busy creating this 10 week course for fxphd, with the outline here.  Lately I have been working at Fullframe where we just finished a photo real F1 racing Senna in the rain for this Gillette commercial.  The year ended up with a week of hard work on set in the country as 2nd VFX supervisor, shooting 360 HDR’s, prop textures, and recording camera and set info for this 2014 film, Pele, about the childhood of the football legend.

The Hobbit – Weta – Senior Lighting TD

During the last couple months of production on The Hobbit, Weta called in Lighters and Compositors from all over the world to help the huge team of artists already there in New Zealand finishing this monster of an effects film.  Using Maya, Nuke, Renderman, and a collection of proprietary tools created at Weta, I learned the pipeline as much as possible in a short time, and finalled shots with the help of some great supervisors and senior artists who have been working there for years.

Digital Tutors – Creative Development: Subsurface Scattering Shaders in Maya and mental ray with Jon Tojek

This Digital Tutors course was created over two months just before I left to work on The Hobbit.  It is an hour and 50 minutes of video lessons that cover in depth how to use the variety of Subsurface Scatter shaders provided with Mental Ray and Maya.  I always learn a lot when I work on creating these courses, and the lessons I am most proud of here cover how to create some complex shader networks that can do things such as wavelength dependent scatter, to simulate red color bleed, as well as how to render out SSS in passes and combine with the Mental Ray Mia shaders for rendering out 32 bit AOV exr image files.

Hotel Transylvania – Sony – Senior Lighting TD, cloth/hair

Released in September of 2012, this animated feature stars Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi, Selena Gomez and many others.  I worked at Sony for 5 months doing lighting and compositing with Arnold, Katana, and Nuke.  For the last two months they needed help with cloth and hair sims so I switched over to that in order to work in Maya, and learn some new techniques in cloth/hair that I would never discover on my own.  By the end I finalled 12 shots lighting and compositing, along with 10 shots doing hair and cloth sims while gaining some new and deeper experience in dynamic simulations.


Digital Tutors – Jon Tojek’s new Creative Development Course: Using HDR images for 3D lighting in Maya.

New Digital Tutors Course – Jon Tojek

In the latest DTLabs sneak peek, we get a first look at Jon Tojek’s new Creative Development Course: Using HDR images for 3D lighting in Maya. In this tutorial you will get a guide to using HDR panoramic images for lighting with Maya and mental ray.


Transamerica – Hydraulx – CG Supervisor

This set of four majority CG commercials for Transamerica kept myself and a team of 6 to 10 people working for months creating the fantastic fantasy interior of the iconic SF Trans building and all the flying and delivery machines within.  I was responsible to lead the lighting, and look development team as well as approve and verify all models and rigging so we could get these huge files efficiently through the render farm at Hydraulx.  To get our look of big sun streaming through the windows of the building, we went with a physically accurate lighting strategy of building everything to real-world scale, HDR spherical environment, complementary directional light sun, and energy conserving materials that worked with our Linear Color pipeline.

Transamerica – A Dream Realized

Transamerica – Guaranteed Tomorrows

Super 8 – ILM – Lighting TD

On this film I worked in the LA pod of Industrial Light and Magic.  It was a remote office with about 80 of us VFX workers linked up to the San Francisco ILM headquarters, and finishing shots as fast as possible.  We would speak with supervisors two times every day over Skype, and review shots together in real time over the network.  This was a great learning experience for me as Dennis Muren was our direct contact, and every day he gave comments that were very perceptive and helpful which made me understand more about what it means to have a great eye and give effective comments.  Using proprietary Lux software with Renderman, we would light scenes with a physically-based lighting and energy-conserving materials strategy that includes Importance Sampling.  This modern raytracing workflow requires us lighting artists to use accurately scaled scenes, lights, and falloffs, therefore making renders more consistant, and real-world accurate.  One other great technique I learned more about here was “light extraction”, or painting out main lights from the HDR spherical environment, and placing the cut out lights and pyro events onto movable cards for lighting the scene.  Specifically I lit the monster in the cave sequence as well as the end sequence where household appliances and debris were magnetically flying through the air to build a spaceship.

Skyline – Hydraulx – Lighting and Effects TD

Look Development, Lighting, and Dynamic Animation.

For this science fiction film directed by the Strauss Brothers, I worked directly with them and about 70 other artists in a final 2 month production frenzy to finish hundreds of shots for the film.  I personally did dynamic simulations of the mothership crashing into the deforming ground throwing houses, cars, trees, dirt and debris through the air.  After using Rigid Body Dynamics to animate street lights, power poles, lines, and buildings to fall I then lit and rendered many scenes for final.

NFL Network Gameday – Hydraulx – CG Supervisor

For this series of four distinct commercials I was hired to manage a team of new lighters learning the Hydraulx pipeline.  These spots directed by GoodFear followed 5 filmed football stars as they drive past all the different famous NFL stadiums and cities that we built in 3D.  Our team of 8 CG artists modeled, made shaders, animated, and lit the large scenes with Mental Ray and Maya.

NFL Gameday Highlights

Knight and Day – Hydraulx – Lighting and Dynamic Animation

This Tom Cruise with Cameron Diaz comedy action film turned out to be a very fun big Hollywood movie with great Visual Effects and some humor as it makes fun of Action genre.  I worked on the plane crash sequence in the beginning of the film with lighting and Look Development for the airplane as it was flying as well as crashing into the corn field.  Dynamic Animation here means modeling and sculpting an animated growing ground trench for the plane to crash into.  Once I have the ground animated with blend shapes I constrain 1000’s or corn stalks to pivot and fly up in the air as the ground mounds up, as well as dirt and earth chunks that fly up from this same trench motion.

Jonah Hex – Hydraulx – Lighting and Look Development

For this film we had a great collection of on set Spheron HDR images that capture all the color and light details of the ship interior.  They handed me the full inside gunship fighting sequence with John Malkovich and Josh Brolin and asked me to make all the shaders, do the simple animations, supervise the camera tracks, light, and final the 20 plus shots.  Using the best HDR image out of the collection I created linear color workflow shaders and matched the lighting on set with roughly 30 scaled and placed area lights, which allows Mental Ray with Maya rendering to do the magic.

Lexus – Brewster Parsons – Animation/Lighting

For this job I worked with the esteemed Mathew Lamb to animate, look develop, and light 7 shots of photorealistic 3D Lexus automobiles driving over a large CG concrete area in precise, iconic, synchronized motions.  We used IBL lighting from HDR images taken on set and rendered out with Mental Ray, Maya, and slap comps in Toxic.

Nike – Hydraulx – 3D Supervisor

This Nike commercial starring Adrian Peterson, and directed by David Fincher, was a big budget, artfully done, VFX sports commercial done for the NFL opening season game, and shot by the Strauss Brothers.  For this project I worked as 3D lead working with a team of VFX workers to build and camera project the full football stadium, populate it with cheering fans, and apply the reptile sport skin texture to the footage of Peterson by frame accurate rotomation of this cyberscanned body.

Avatar – Hydraulx – Fluid Dynamics/Lighting

I have to admit this is a little embarrassing to post my small contribution to the film Avatar, but here it is and in the movie theater this shot was the first with strong obvious stereoscopic effect.  My task was to create and animate drops of water floating and combining  in zero-gravity with RealFlow, then light and render out through Maya and Mental Ray.

2012 – Hydraulx – LookDev Lighting and Effects TD

For the destruction of Hawaii sequence (5 shots) I used Maya for Look-dev, lighting, and matte-painting camera projections of the Waikiki skyline, then fluids and dynamics for adding smoke, lava, and water splashes to destroy the city.

Bedtime Stories – Hydraulx – Lighting TD/Water Dynamics

For this Adam Sandler film I worked on water simulations using Maya Fluids.  Once the water dynamic motion was approved I continued to work on the shots doing water Look Development and Lighting.  In addition to this I completed an environment shot as a generalist where I created Paint Effects plants and trees for the land, put in crocodiles swimming through the water, and final the lighting.

BMW – Yet – Psyop – 3D Supervisor

On this job I supervised a team of 3D artists including trackers, roto, animators, and lighters to complete a high end finely directed BMW commercial. The car was filmed in a photobubble to give perfect ambient lighting with very clean reflections. Then in 3D we built a vibrating glass road for the car to drive on, camera projected the filmed car, and comped on new reflections to make a clean graceful car driving through the sky. All work was done with Maya, Mental Ray, Boujou, Shake, and Flame.

Usher Moving Mountains – Hydraulx – 3D Lead

As 3D lead on this music video for Usher, I led a team of 3 artists making environments, lightning, rain, snow, and dynamic rocks in Maya.  After animating and lighting these elements, all was rendered in Mental Ray and comped by the Flame department.

Meet Dave – Hydraulx – Dynamic Animation/Lighting TD

I did work on the film Meet Dave doing dynamic animation, look development, lighting and Flame compositing for a sequence where CG humans fly through the air with simulated plastic bags.

Ford Mercury – Tree – Hydraulx – 3D Supervisor

Lead 3D Generalist and Compositor
Hydraulx, Los Angeles CA, Jan 2007 to present
For this job I led a team of five VFX artists working on a series of four high-end Ford Mercury television commercials. These were live action spots with a variety of effects that build a car. I personally did particle effects, xfrog modeling, animation, and all types of Mental Ray lighting, texture painting, shader network building, rendering, and Shake compositing.

Happy Feet – Animal Logic – Lighting TD/Compositor

Lighting Technical Director and Compositor
Animal Logic, Sydney Australia, July 2006 to Oct.
Academy award nominated Happy Feet was in production for Warner Brothers here for years and near the end of production I was hired as a lighter to push shots through the already built pipeline using Maya, Mayaman, Renderman, and Fusion to composite. Here I finalled many shots for the film, approved daily by director George Miller in a high intensity environment of productivity and successfully achieved deadlines.

Beowulf – Sony Imageworks – Look Development

For this film I worked only during the beginning stages of the project as Character Look Development focused on creating shaders for the Beowulf characters clothing, armor, and weapons.

Monster House – SPI – LookDev/Senior Lighting TD

Senior Lighting Technical Director, 2D compositing, Shader Look Development
Sony Imageworks, Los Angeles CA, March 2003 to June 2006
Polar Express, Monster House, and Beowulf are the movies I worked on here as a Lighter and Look Development artist. At the beginning of these productions I work with a team creating standards for the style, look and feel of all 3D objects by creating and tuning materials and shaders. After this initial design phase the work changes to lighting and compositing shots that get approved by the director and appear in the finished film. On the Steven Spielberg produced Monster House I was a Sequence Lighting Lead who decides the initial light setup and look for other artists to take and final light shots.

Below the Belt – Duart NYC – LookDev, Lighting, Compositing

General Maya job making backgrounds, environmental, underwater, atmospheric effects and compositing filmed human actors on top for a feature length film called Below the Belt opening at Sundance 2004.

Generalist Maya TD  job making backgrounds, environmental, underwater, atmospheric effects and compositing filmed human actors on top for a feature length film called Below the Belt opening at Sundance 2004.

Sudeki Animatic – Traenor Bros. Studio – Maya Generalist TD

Animation, texturing, lighting, and effects in a cinematic movie for a Microsoft fighting game titled Sudeki.

Commercials – Estudios Mega Rio – 3D Supervisor

Working and training people at a large post house doing 2d/3d commercials, films, and music videos. Here I was managing a team of 6 graphics artists using both SGI and PC platforms in the full range of post house work from meeting with clients, bidding for jobs, supervising FX film shoots, creating all manner of graphics, and delivering product on time. We used Maya, Composer, Flame, and general Adobe software.

Willie Wonka Commercial – Wildbrain – PowerAnimator Generalist TD

Working with SGI Octane workstations at home I built, animated, and toon rendered environments, characters, and foreground machines to be combined with cell animated Willie Wonka in this national candy commercial from San Francisco based Wildbrain Productions.  All work was done with PowerAnimator and Wavefront Composer.

Let’s Get Medical – JTanimation – Director, all CG

Let’s Get Medical is a short film I created  in 1999 while working at SGI.  We rented a Panavision pin registered 35mm camera and light kit for a weekend and shot at two locations including a hospital and apartment scene.  With a small cast, and wordless plot, we filmed the tragic story of Dr. Scott a failing surgeon who is slowly going insane.  After shooting we scanned the film onto computer at Tippet Studios, then added 2D/3D VFX for the next 6 months before sending it out to the short film festival circuit where it played over 100 places, and won awards at Vancouver and Atlanta festivals.

Bingo the Clown – Alias|Wavefront Corp. – Maya TD Bug Tester

Worked under Chris Landreth doing dynamic simulations and background animations.  At this time I was working as an Application Engineer for Alias|Wavefront in Toronto Canada for the West coast Film and Video market.  Maya was still in development, and the AW artists and developers worked on the beta software to make this Academy Award nominated short film.