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Alwyn Hunt – Texture Artist Research

Alwyn Hunt is an amazing texture artist who works in the film industry, lucky I have found a blog where Alwyn has done a question and answer session explaining about how his job works.

Interview with Alwyn Hunt – Weta Digital Texture Artist

Alwyn Hunt is a highly experienced texture artist that has worked on several major motion picture films such as Harry Potter, Watchmen, Alice in Wonderland, John Carter and Total Recall to name a few. Currently Alwyn is working his magic at the famous Weta Digital studio located in New Zealand where he has been hard at work on the recently released Iron Man 3 and Man Of Steel as well as the soon to be released Hobbit sequel. We were lucky enough to pry him away from his work load for a quick chat.

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How did you get your start in the movie industry?

Well after I finished my studies there was a lot of door knocking and cold calling to studios in Australia where I first started out. Those of you out there who have been in this position know how long the process can take and feel. Luckily though, Animal Fuel in Sydney (used to be Fuel VFX) gave me my first break.

You’re working at Weta Digital now, How has that experience been so far?

Working at Weta is like working for a big family, they really look after the staff. It’s a great environment to work in with incredibly talented people that help guide and inspire. Plus the fact that you get to live in New Zealand at the same time makes the experience that much more richer.

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How does it feel to work on big blockbuster movies like The Hobbit, Superman and Iron Man 3?

One word. Privileged. Weta has an amazing talent pool and it never ceases to amaze me the level of the work that comes out of here!

If you could work on any movie that has come out which would it have been and why?

Jurassic Park or Star Wars, they were the pioneers of visual effects and inspired me greatly to choose this career path. Fingers crossed maybe Weta will one day land some of these while I am here.

What is a typical work pipeline for your projects?

As a texture artist my job is to take completed models and give them the look and feel set by the movies style. At the start of every project we receive a brief which usually consists of concept art and a look at the shots the asset will be in. After that is done we gather reference materials to point us in the right direction visually. From there we take the completed models into Mari to paint. It is an iterative process from there where we work in broad passes to get the end result. Big to small so that every detail is accounted for and the composition and color balance remain intact. Then we publish for the rest of the pipeline to pick up and integrate into the shots.

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Can you speak on the importance of pre­production on projects and planning?

In a nutshell, if pre­production is not organized then it’s a domino’s effect. Generally the show will be a nightmare to work on with rushed deadlines, under staffed and a lot of stressed out people. Planning takes extra time up front but saves so much in the end.

What are the biggest challenges you deal with when creating textures for movies?

Texture size, too big and it can become a nightmare to work with. Software will slow down and they take up huge amounts of disk space. Too small, and you could find yourself re­painting textures. Generally, there are too many big issues the texturing pipeline is pretty straight forward. It’s only when you have to work on massive assets that have up to 300 UV tiles at 4k each that things start to get interesting.

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Do you take your own photos for reference when you are texturing?

I have my own texture library but most of the time we are provided with high resolution reference images from the photography department that go on set.

If you could add any tool to help with texturing to Adobe Photoshop what would it be?

Honestly I rarely use Photoshop any more, most of our texturing is done in Mari.

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Can you speak more on what Mari is?

Ya of course, basically Mari is a creative 3D texture painting tool we use here at Weta. Originally Weta created the program to handle the massively complex, highly detailed look development work demanded by Avatar. Now we use it on just about every project. Mari was designed as a full 3D paint tool with a responsiveness and feature­set that puts even the best dedicated 2D paint systems to shame. Mari is extremely scalable, coping easily with an obsessive level of detail literally tens of thousands of textures quickly and elegantly.

What time of the day do you find you’re the most productive?

I find that I’m more productive either early morning or late at night when I have less distractions. Headphones go on and I get into the zone!

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What are some mistakes new hires can make their first week at the studio?

Taking criticism personally, trying to prove themselves too early. There is a lot to take in when you first start and every company has it’s own systems and procedures. You should never be too scared to ask questions; you’ll learn twice as fast.

If you were not working in movies, what do you think you would like to do?

I’d have to say be a professional surfer traveling the world to the most exotic locations, of course.

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Lastly, in the spirit of your studio, who is your favorite Lord of the Rings character?

That’s an easy one, it would have to be Aragorn. Viggo Mortensen was a great casting for this role!

Link to wesbite http://cgcookie.com/blender/2013/07/03/interview-with-alwyn-hunt-weta-digital-texture-artist/

Reference

Justin Mohlman. (N/A). Interview with Alwyn Hunt – Weta Digital Texture Artist. Available: http://cgcookie.com/blender/2013/07/03/interview-with-alwyn-hunt-weta-digital-texture-artist/. Last accessed 4th February 2015 .

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