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Living In The Future with Jim Geduldick

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What is the future of our industry...and how can you start working there NOW?

How can you future-proof yourself as an artist? You've already learned After Effects and Cinema 4D. You read the industry feeds and follow the right people on social media. You're as "up to speed" as you're ever going to get...but new things keep appearing on the horizon. How can you make sure you don't get left behind?

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Jim Geduldick is the Director, and Senior Vice President at Dimension Studio. While many of the largest entities in our industry focus on perfecting their craft with modern tools and projects in mind, Dimension set its sights on the future of entertainment. From volumetric content, computer vision, XR headsets, volumetric displays, digital humans, and artificial intelligence, Dimension is building content that aims to be lightyears ahead of the competition.

Whenever we want to know where the future is headed, we talk to Jim. He always seems to know where the puck is going. He's made it his goal to become a forward-thinking generalist; a Jack of Future Trades...a Swiss Army Artist (we've come up with a million of these). To his friends and peers he is a skateboarder, a cinematographer, a director, and a technophile. Today, he's here to share his insight on finding the trends for our industry.

If you're looking to build a career in Motion Graphics, you need to hone your third eye toward the future of the medium. Today, we've got a few tips that should provide clear guidelines on planning your next moves. Don't bother kicking the tires—where we're going, we don't need roads. Welcome to the future.

Living In The Future with Jim Geduldick

Show Notes

Artists

Jim Geduldick
Vashi Nedomansky
GMUNK
Jake
Sargeant
Peter Jackson
Jonathan Winbush
Matt Workman
Andrew Kramer
Sean Spitzer
Roger Deakins
Coen brothers
Andy Blondin
Michael Gay

Studios

Dimension Studio
Territory
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)
Lux Machina
Chromosphere
DNEG
The Mill
The Third Floor

Pieces

The Mandalorian
Yuki 7
Fireworks
The Human Race
Coldplay x BTS: ‘My Universe’ Holograms

Tools

SilhouetteFX
Cinema 4D
After Effects
Redshift
Blender
UnityUnreal
Disguise
TouchDesigner
Notch
Nuke
Mari
Fusion 360
GitHub
Rokoko
Bellus3D
FXHome
ZBrush
Perforce Software
Digital Humans | MetaHuman Creator
Houdini

Resources

Motionographer
Stash Magazine
NAB Show
fxphd | fxguide
Unreal Fellowship
Epic MegaGrants

Transcript

If your story sucks, it doesn't matter how good your graphics or your visual effects are. This stuff is there in service of the story.

Ryan Summers:

Motioneers, we've all been asking ourselves the same question for the last six months, maybe a year. We know After effects. We know Cinema 4D. We keep on hearing about all the stuff coming up on the horizon. One of the number one questions I get asked all the time is, "Oh no, do I have to learn Unreal now? Are all my tools going to go away? Where is the industry going?"

Ryan Summers:

To be honest, none of us truly know. I have to look to one of the people that I think about anytime I think about future technology, future tools, he always seems to be where the puck is going. Not where it's at right now. I wanted to introduce my friend, Jim Geduldick. I want to talk to Jim about so many different things, but before we go too much further, let me introduce people how I think of you. Jim is obviously someone who knows about all the tools in the world, but I think of him as a skateboarder, a cinematographer, a director, a technology, Swiss army knife. Jim, what job do you call yourself? What title do you give yourself these days?

Jim Geduldick:

I hate titles. I hate them. A title seems to lock people into one thing or another. I think human beings just have to title things to understand them. I've been described as a bit of an anomaly sometimes because I have worked on such diverse things between film and TV and experiential. Then obviously, my background in skateboarding and snowboarding has led me into work on a lot of interesting projects over the year. My day to day at Dimension Studios is I head up Dimension North America. I'm the Director of Virtual Production, which is kind of a loaded thing because I work across our virtual production and our volumetric and digital human pipeline. There's a nice little bit of a title, but it's like, I'm still at heart a visual effects artist and a cinematographer. That's where my eye and my heart bring me towards those things.

Jim Geduldick:

When I look at technology, I'm always thinking of what is the creative use of this piece of technology, or what is the thing going to save my time on, especially if it's the things like AI and machine vision and machine learning today that it's just like, I don't want to Roto anymore. Who the hell wants to sit there? As great as the tools are, it's like as great as silhouette effects is and all the tools that we get to use, they're still tedious. You're still spending 10 plus hours on the box, still working the way you're doing to tweak out the images and the pixels that we're putting, whether it be on a 2D screen or an LED volume, it's still out of heart the people behind it., not always just about the tech.

Ryan Summers:

Yeah. I always go back to just thinking, you're an image maker, right? The tools change, the screens that we're putting images on change, bu the same core principles, the same ideas of telling stories, the same ideas of making something look beautiful or resonant or scary or fun. Those things don't change. I go to your LinkedIn, because I feel like titles suck and titles change so fluid. Even just hearing you say, "Well I'm in virtual production, but I also do at least" ... The words we use to define the tools are changing so fast that it's almost impossible to even figure out what to call yourself. This is a dirty word to me. I feel like a lot of times I've interacted in the last five years with a lot of people with this title that I feel like it's snake oil, but I think it applies truly to you.

Ryan Summers:

Creative technologist is one of those like woo woo words that people like to use all the time and say that they are. I feel like the title creative technologist is a lot like a nickname. You can't give yourself it, but at some point someone can bestow it upon you and then it's true. Right? I really do feel like with where you've been, the way you think about all this stuff in service of image and story, creative technologist I think is actually like if you had to come up with a catchall, it's a really good one.

Ryan Summers:

I'm looking at your LinkedIn in, and this is amazing. Just listen to all these different things. When you're making a demo reel right now, if you're listening and you make a demo reel, think of all these different types of projects that I'm talking about that Jim tries to define, go to his LinkedIn. Current project focus, virtual production, real time, creative direction, experiential immersive, real time gaming engine pipelines, 3D scanning, photogrammetry, LB, augment reality, virtual reality. That is so many different things. It's hard to believe that one person gets to dabble in all those. Can you just tell me a little bit, you mentioned Dimension Studio as where you work now, but what is like the day to day for someone like you living in all of these? You're on the edge. When you wake up in the morning, do you know what you're going to do every day?

Jim Geduldick:

Somewhat, yes, because if we didn't projects wouldn't get done. Yeah. There's building a team and running a studio, there is the business side of it, which most artists are bad at business. I've been fortunate enough to learn more about the business. I think that's saved me a lot of heartache as an artist because I have been for a good part of my career. I was a freelance artist, whether I was being hired to be a director of photography or a director of VFX soup slash creative technologist. The way that I came up was through editorial motion graphics, animation, visual effects. I got to moonlight as an up and coming director of photography. The day to day that I did as a freelancer to the day to day to being part of a management to team and being a supervisor on set, there's a different types of roles.

Jim Geduldick:

What is still kind of inspiring to me is that where I am currently at Dimension and what we get to work on and the things I get to do that still challenge me both as an artist and in the technology side is we're always pushing what's next. Because all of those things that you mentioned are kind of bleeding edge, and they're very popular today in terms of virtual production and real time and mixed reality, they keep things interesting because it is moving so fast.

Jim Geduldick:

If you split it off and you just took virtual production as a whole, well, virtual production's a loaded word because virtual production can be so many things. You can have VR as an aspect. If you're using an HTC vibe or a Quest, or pick your flavor of a head-mounted display, you could use that for VR scouting whether you're doing a virtual production for MoCap and animation, or you're doing virtual production for in camera visual effects.

Jim Geduldick:

There's all these different subsets. Basically you can take your pick at are you doing feature film, virtual production in real time? Are you doing it for live broadcast, mixed reality? Are you doing it for a full ZG traditional MoCap workflow for a fully animated film? That's all virtual production, and it's an approach of to get up early, have my calls with the team in London and around the globe. Usually it's drop the kids off, grab coffee, jump on product meetings early with the teams in London, and then any production meetings if we're booked out on any features or episodics or just team syncs in general.

Jim Geduldick:

That's usually the business side is going through and managing not only client expectations, but the growth of Dimension since we are a bicoastal or a global company that, there's a little bit of the, hey here's these technology hurdles and creative problems that we have to solve as a company, but as an individual, I still get my hands extremely dirty of getting there on set and running teams. If there's a technology solution of like, hey, we've got a MoCap shoot because we're doing digital avatars for a fashion brand or we're doing for Coldplay or whatever it is.

Jim Geduldick:

There's always something exciting to kind of look forward into like what these enabling tools allow us to do. We're still at the early stages of, I'd say we're still in the toddler phase of a lot of these things maturing. It's funny to say that because we're like, "Oh, well that was visual effects. Then that was stereo back in 2011, 2012." In 2014 it was the promise of the VR boom. Then that took a right turn. Now we're at the whole ecosystem of what is the metaverse? Everybody wants a piece of it and get your virtual real estate and set up shop.

Jim Geduldick:

It moves quick. One thing I think a lot of people are always intimidated by these tools. If you're traditional mograph artist and you're spending all your time in C4D and After Effects and Redshift, and you're tried and true tools, you're like either I don't have time to learn this, or is that really going to be advantageous for me to start spending time in these things? The answer is yes.

Jim Geduldick:

You should be looking at all of these tools, whether it be outside of your wheelhouse. Blender, Unreal, Unity, Disguise, TouchDesigner, Notch. Real time tools as a whole is pick one and go after it. Obviously one of the biggest tempo ones is Unreal. Is it going to replace or circumvent any of your traditional motion graphics, visual effects, 3D character pipeline today? No, but it is becoming more and more a hub of real time capabilities.

Jim Geduldick:

I've kind of been harping on this for years, but it doesn't matter what role you have. If you're a DP, any type of artist as a whole, it would service you best to try out a new paintbrush, and that's all these real time tools are. Yes, they're very complex. Anybody that is using Unreal or Notch or TouchDesigner or any of the other real time tools out there, they are complex tools. They're very deep seated in real time technologies and visual effects. There's a bit of black magic, if you will, of how some of these things work, because it does tie into hardware very well to get a lot of these experiences going. You have to kind of put your finger on the pulse and see that things have been changing for a number of years now. People have seen this wild ride of pandemic driven changes in the way we work and how we use those tools.

Ryan Summers:

It's one of those moments where I feel like there's just a certain amount of technology debt from a lot of people who are pushing through the first wave of people with a career in motion design. There's a lot of people that are in their mid thirties, early forties. They're like, "Look, man, I knew Photoshop and learned After Effects and that was fine." Now I had to learn Cinema 4D and now you're telling me I got to learn three things, four things, five things?" It's daunting, but it doesn't mean you have to learn all of Unreal. I don't even know what that really means. I think that's one thing that's kind of actually exciting about these tools is that you don't have to learn all of it.

Ryan Summers:

Just like you don't probably know all of Cinema 4D, but I even see things like Vashi Nedomansky, he has a short that he did that he's literally calling an Unreal short because he used it to generate visual effects the same way you'd use all the other tools. Knowing these things at this early stage can actually be something that can be a signifier for you, can help your career by being here early on. Even if you don't know everything, it's not something to be feared. It's something to be kind of almost leveraged or taken advantage of.

Jim Geduldick:

Yeah. I mean, all of the tools that we have, there's very specialist things. It's like why someone would use Nuke and Mari versus using Fusion and some other tools? I's like sometimes you just need that one plugin that does one thing and that's all you're going to use it for. You can use Unreal. There are hooks, and there are obviously workflows of using C4D and After Effects and Resolve and all of that with Unreal or Unity or any of these other tools. It's also because these tools don't do everything. There is no one ring to rule them all in kind of real time and visual facts. I think it's daunting to a lot of people because they're like, oh man, they watched the behind the scenes on the Mandalorian and tons of other projects.

Jim Geduldick:

They're just like, "Well, they did this, they did that. They had access to this," and it's like, yeah, okay. Not everybody is going to have access to a Disney budget on a Disney stage that is run by ILM StageCraft teams. You can always pull out the information and you can always pull out those learnings. It's like virtual production in real time. If you're a motion graphics artist and a visual effects artist, or even a storyboard artist, there's subsets of each one of these pieces of technology that can service you. If I look at it and if I was still at an animation house that I was at early in my career, and I looked at just about our storyboarding and our character rigging for that show, like real time at that time would've saved years of heartache and work and render time.

Jim Geduldick:

That's the whole thing of real time. That's what the promise of real time is get out of the way of the artist. That's what I like about tools like Unreal, is to get in there and to iterate quicker what's in your mind and not have to sit there and go, "All right, I'm going to bake this out. This is going to be an eight hour plus render of 14 two hour days," or you're going to send something up to a cloud renderer and still wait. Just wait for those boxes to load.

Jim Geduldick:

I think that's the freeing thing about these real time technologies is that if you want to see a SIM playback in real time, and this is not selling that every piece of this is like renderless. There still is rendering and there still is, things that we know tried and true, but getting in there and auditioning cameras and lenses and trying things out and getting in and going like, "Well, I've built a world. it's fully spacial. It's not flat 2D. I can experiment and look at the world building I just did. I could collaboratively share that in an environment and throw it onto a source control and multi-user environment where people can log in to the same experience, either through a computer and have control or can be driven through this experience."

Jim Geduldick:

It's a really cool set of tools. I keep calling them tools, and why I don't just keep going like, "Oh, it's just Unreal. Or it's just Houdini, or just that," it's just like, you're going to use different things. At Dimension, we use everything. Every DCC that's out there, we may have things that are more pipeline driven to a certain tools of the other. That's project dependent of like, hey, this is a Unity project, or this one's going to be heavy Unreal. Most of the virtual production projects that we do obviously tend to be Unreal driven just because of the ecosystem and the tool set built out for virtual production is very tied around Unreal and some other companion tools.

Jim Geduldick:

It's just a matter of the promise that real time as an artist affords us, if you haven't jumped on it yet, why are you wasting your time not doing it? I mean, there's so much info. When we started in this industry, like early days of motion graphics and we take it back to mograph.net, and I mean, shit, if we take it back to early days with Justin and Tween, for most of the crowd, I'm sure is too young to know that Motionographer was Tween before it was Motionographer and Stash, and like all these other good VFX and CG and mograph resources, before there were even forums, not looking at Discord and Slack and all these great opportunity up and coming artists have today for collaboration. We used to have to read books.

Ryan Summers:

Yeah, I have them on my shelf right next to me still.

Jim Geduldick:

Yeah. It's crazy how fast you can learn this stuff, because it's like, "I need to learn how to do this." Google search, YouTube search, Snapchat, filter.

Ryan Summers:

It's there immediately.

Jim Geduldick:

I say the kids. The kids are a little spoiled today and I'm sure a lot of the listeners today are in that younger crowd. Not that I'm like archaically old, but I've seen technology change really fast at times. Then I've seen it be extremely slow. Hey Foundry, Adobe, Autodesk are trying to choose. Sometimes we're just like, "Oh man, what, what are you guys doing? Come on, let's go. We're over here." I think that's good. Competition's good. I think paying attention to Blender versus your tried and true DCC 3D tools like with auto test tools and other open source things that are out there.

Ryan Summers:

There's so much stuff.

Jim Geduldick:

Yeah. It's definitely daunting, but it's like, don't wait around.

Ryan Summers:

It's daunting, but it's exciting too. I'm glad that you brought up mograph.net, because that that's definitely where I experienced this whole idea of kind of like MacGyver, Swiss army knife, grab anything at your disposal to make a final image. I lament the fact that motion design right now is still kind of just defined as, okay, motion design is Cinema 4D and After Effects, and whatever you can do within those two, that's what's possible. That's what you can build against. That's what you can create a schedule, a calendar you can hire people for. Back then when like GMUNK was just Bradley and Jake Sargeant was on mograph and we were all just kind of like, "Whoa, how did that person do that? I just saw something on Vimeo. I just bought my first Vimeo account."

Ryan Summers:

That world, it felt like you could go and grab a camera. You could motion, track something when motion tracking was new, and then stick some graphics in it. Everybody was trying different things. There was analog, there was digital, there was shooting stuff. It's somehow calcified around there's these two tools. You can only do what's inside of those. That's it. I think that's what's so exciting about all these things you talked about. I'm downloading stuff off of GitHub, compiling it to try to create like a 2D cell animation that was made on twelves. On twos at 12 frames per second to turn into 60 frame per second. It's literally something that is free. I can compile it. Then all of a sudden I have all these in between frames.

Ryan Summers:

There's so much stuff that's not just being fed through your creative cloud app. It's exciting. If you can just change your mindset and they're like, "Oh man, I could discover something." I could like subvert the way the tool is meant to be used in a completely different way. I always go back to, do you remember when Peter Jackson did the first Lord of the Rings and there was that big orc fight? If you watch the behind the scenes there, there was this crazy, super rudimentary, he basically had like VR goggles, but he was in the cave. They built the cave and he was filming it. It literally looked like it was held together by like bubble gum and duct tape.

Ryan Summers:

It took however long it was, it felt like 15 to 20 years for that to be available for you in your home office, at your desk, to be able to do the same thing where you could literally put the goggles on, aim your phone and that records everything you look at. The speed that stuff is going from Mandalorian set to now something that you can literally utilize is so fast that it feels crazy, like you said, to not be paying attention to this stuff and just being like, "How could I do my own bootleg version of that? How could I go get a Rokoko suit and my iPhone and film a short?"

Ryan Summers:

That stuff is totally available. For some reason in motion design where we used to have this just pioneering spirit of just try stuff it almost doesn't even happen anywhere. It's almost like, no, that's not motion design. That's the part that I'm so excited to talk to you more often is just to hear how this stuff is finding its way down to us.

Jim Geduldick:

I mean, we talked about some of the inspiration of what places we're looking at today and who's inspiring. You look at Territory, and they're using real time tools as well. I mean, they're not just baking into traditional C4D to Redshift, Arnold, the traditional things. You have territory and you have GMUNK you have Joshua Davis and all these individual artists and studios who are pushing real time tools into the workflow.

Jim Geduldick:

They're using Notch and TouchDesigner to render graphics that would be deemed ... To look at it you'd be like, "Oh, that's probably After Effects and C4D and some plugins and all that," and then go through the BTS or to their user case studies. You're just like, "Oh yeah, this was Notch and TouchDesigner or this tool and Unity and Unreal." Obviously the tried and trues are still in there and no discounting all the awesome work that the teams at Adobe and Maxon and our day in, day out useful tools do.

Jim Geduldick:

I think sometimes some of the bigger companies have rested on their laurels in terms of their innovation. They've put things out that missed and some hit. That's one thing you got to give the benefit of the doubt to the companies. It's hard to put products out. From a software and a hardware level, I've done it. I took a break for a couple years working at GoPro. I know what it takes to get an actual piece of software and hardware out. It's not easy. It takes teams and teams to do that. Software development, you're always tracking back from roughly less than an 18 month schedule now. Look at how fast ... We know our tried and true times. It's like, NEB, IBC, SIGGRAPH, we know the drops are coming.

Ryan Summers:

Adobe Max today.

Jim Geduldick:

Yeah, exactly. Adobe Max. You're like, "Okay, well I can bank on SIGGRAPH time, new C4D. I know I can bank Adobe Max new creative cloud updates related to all the video tools and a bunch of new sneaks. NAB would be always like, okay, new cameras, new film stuff, new accessories, all that. It almost ties to Moore's Lore where it's just out the window. Delivery schedules, pandemic has blown the doors off of so many things, both in the production world and even in the like, "Hey, can I go buy a computer?" "No, sorry, component shortage. Good luck trying to rustle a 30, 90 away from a crypto minor."

Ryan Summers:

Even Thunderbolt cards, literally it sounds silly, but like even just individual components, it's crazy.

Jim Geduldick:

Look, as an individual artist and obviously I have the benefit of being at a studio and having lots of toys, but just at the home office, it's like, can I do MoCap from home? Sure. Can I do green screen and prototypes stuff? Do I have virtual production, hardware and software here? Yeah. There's also nothing from the baseline of accessibility that I have that you all can't go and get. You all can go and get an Oculus Quest. You all can go and get an HTC Vive and not even use the HMD. Just use the Lighthouse and grab a tracker 3.0 and pop that on your DSLR. You don't have to. You can use your iPhone and you can do facial MoCap and you can do facial scanning from Bellus and all of these other ... What I'm saying is stop with the bullshit excuses and just get out there and experiment because-

Ryan Summers:

Have fun.

Jim Geduldick:

There's no excuse. Go scan your face in Bellus, get it out and bring it into Blender, bring it in to C4D. Pay attention to the little experiments that Jonathan Winbush is doing and Matt Workman and so many other people that are out there that you're just discovering on like Discord and all this. As I dislike Facebook, but Facebook groups are probably the only thing that keeps me on Facebook. There's tons and tons of inspiration and tons of people just willing to experiment and collaborate because we have internet connections. Why shouldn't I be able to like talk to somebody in Belgium or London and go like, "Hey, let's try to try to figure out how to do this."

Ryan Summers:

That's why I always call it the wild west. It's not just about, oh my God, there's no rules. Everything's lawless. Everything's crazy. The wild west is also where legends were made. All these things you were just talking about, document yourself doing that. Be one of those people. That's one of the things I also lament about motion design is that a lot of these people that you just mentioned, they're coming from outside of motion design and they're sharing their stuff that we could all be using and collaborating together and Frankensteining different techniques and tools.

Ryan Summers:

For some reason, that level of experimentation just doesn't like seem to be ... The fire has not been lit yet. That's another reason why I want to talk to you because the list of just like apps and software, our blog post for this, I'm going to have to come back and get like links to everything because there's so much. I think that's part of it is that there's just so much to learn that people are just kind of in the I need to be safe and secure phase. They're not in the like, oh man, how could I dream? How could I have fun? How could I in two years use all this that I learned in a way that's different?

Jim Geduldick:

I look at some tools that I've been super excited about over the years, and some of those tools are dead now. They're done. The companies are gone. I was like, oh man, this is going to change the industry. Sometimes that happens and they just don't work because maybe Apple or Adobe or whoever winds up incorporating that into it. That one piece of software or plugin that you're using just got either acquired or scooped up, and you're going to go through this where it's just like, somewhere out there is the next Unreal, is the next Epic Games. That probably won't happen for a while, but you know even look at the FXhome guys started from, or Blender. Man, there were so many 3D and motion graphic Mac based tools that are just long gone.

Jim Geduldick:

You look at the people that I've mentioned, too. We take it back to good buddy, Andrew Kramer. It's where I got my start and where Andrew got his start, Andrew started off shooting wedding videos. It's like, you don't have to go like, "Well I just do wedding videos." You could use real time tools for wedding videos and probably kill it as ... You can use virtual production. I mean, people do things at weddings that are like, they'll pay for you to throw up a green screen and do ... I've seen some pretty cool things at weddings.

Ryan Summers:

I can't believe no one's decided to just crush it on a StageCraft virtual wedding. Put people wherever they want to go. If you can't fly for the pandemic, put yourself on the Grand Canyon, put yourself on the moon, have the wedding there.

Jim Geduldick:

I mean, they do with the photo booths, those pop-up photo booths, where they do it. A friend has a mobile photo truck, and he's a DP and he does it as just another thing, because he' a photographer. It's not his day to day. That's what I'm saying is it doesn't matter what your background is. It doesn't matter what you're doing today. You can totally pivot. That's the one thing pandemic has showed everybody is that obviously if you stay still for so long, you're going to gather moss. A rolling stone gathers no moss as they say, so be the rolling stone. Some people say, "Well, you know, I'm not bleeding edge. I'm this, I'm that, I'm working in house."

Jim Geduldick:

People are always like, "Oh, I want to do what GMUNK's doing." "I want to do what Dimension's doing," or whatever it is. It's like, "Well, the only way that all of us got there is by experimenting, by trying." I think we're in a place right now where the pandemic has driven a lot of different changes. This whole thing of like, oh, well, if you're at a boutique or you're at a studio, the whole work from studio, work from home thing, as the doors have been blown off that. If you're a freelancer using these tools, I would say right now for everybody listening, if you're looking for a career change or you're looking to just get a new level set of inspiration and diving into potentially a new path, it's all in real time.

Jim Geduldick:

Real time is another blanket term. Yes, it can be related to CG. It could be related to virtual production. It could be maybe you work in broadcast, or maybe it's just, you are doing character and want to point towards creating avatars. That's the way it's all going. The tools are readily available. Do you need an accent suit at 20+ K or Rokoko? No, you could do marker ... There's stuff out there that's AI driven that you could do markerless MoCap from your iPhone or from an Azure connect camera.

Ryan Summers:

I mean, those, those Rokoko suits are stunning for what you can get for the price.

Jim Geduldick:

Yeah. Are they perfect? No, there's no perfect tool. Yeah. Do you have to do cleanup work on a Rokoko suit? Yes. Do you have to do it on accent suit? Yeah.

Ryan Summers:

Yeah, exactly.

Jim Geduldick:

Maybe a little bit less, but look at those crazy package deals that Rokoko puts out there and you're just like, "Holy shit. Do you know what that cost five years ago to get something like that?" It was basically inaccessible. That's what I'm saying is I think what we're talking about it's used a lot and accessibility and democratization, it's totally true. These tools are becoming more and more available. You look at what Casey is doing with Blue. That's one dude in Texas, couple weeks of work, and he's putting out amazing, funny stuff. If you look at his tie-in of putting Mike Seymour's head in a jar and that's like a whole fxphd FX guy tie back, which I thought was too damn funny that he put Mike's head in the jar, but it just shows you the power of what one person can do.

Jim Geduldick:

All of us know at least five people. You get one artist who's really good at one thing, you get somebody who's like a DP, you get somebody that's more, maybe a producer hat. Then you just round it out. Somebody's really good at Z brush. You would do a 24 hour film festival. Well, you could do that with real time tools. Epic runs at Unity. There's tons of challenges out there and you just go, "Well, here's your perfect example." I mean, Epic is paying people to learn their software.

Ryan Summers:

Dude, I wanted to ask you about that. I really wanted to ask you about that because you got in.

Jim Geduldick:

Yeah. Fellowship.

Ryan Summers:

Yeah, oh my God. I was like as friendly jealous as you could possibly get when you got into that. Can you people just a little bit about like what that was and like what your experience was? I think it's astounding to hear that, okay, so you don't know. Great. You know what? Epic is just going to like basically make sure that you learn how to if you can get into the application process. Tell us a little bit about that.

Jim Geduldick:

Yeah. Epic launched a really cool initiative call the Fellowship for Virtual Production. It was a signup. They had like an open enrollment for people from all over different industries. Since the time I was in the beta version, version two last summer of the Virtual Production Fellowship. Basically they pay you to concentrate on learning the engine, between four and six weeks.

Jim Geduldick:

It depends on which version of the fellowship you were in They give you a stipend to cover your time that you would on this, because you're putting in a lot of hours. A lot of us were putting in 40 plus hours because you're put in these groups. You join in. You've got tons of people from Epic directly, the whole training team, Brian Pool, Sean Spitzer, Ed [Forno 00:33:15], was like, "You get access to Epic," which is crazy.

Jim Geduldick:

You get access to the training team, you get access to ... You have people from all walks of life, ILM, Lux Machina, you name it. They're kind of like your special guests who do these little talks for you. They do recruitment, which is even awesome, too. It's just like, if you're looking for it, they're is an avenue of recruitment when you finish the fellowship. A lot of people were at studios. I think the first rounds were geared directly at working professionals.

Jim Geduldick:

Since then they've opened it up broader. I've seen people, because we have a fellowship alumni Slack. Epic makes sure we are still staying in touch. We're connected globally to like all these different artists. It's a nice little private click in that way, but it takes you through learning the basics of the engine, and because the engine is so diverse, it is a Swiss army knife. It does have its focuses, like does it take Nuke or Blender? No, it's a different animal.

Jim Geduldick:

Obviously for those who don't know what Unreal is or haven't used Unreal, at it's tried and true, it is a 3D game engine that was made to create games. It still has a heavy mentality and workflow in games. It has been adding more tools for people that come from traditional media in terms of editorial and animation. It's always evolving. Within the fellowship you get a good broad overview of what the capabilities are in the engine. Cameras, lighting, animation, character rigging, structure of creating a project. Are you going to learn it all in four to six weeks and come out and do the Mandalorian? No, but you'll get a very good understanding of the base layer of that.

Jim Geduldick:

There are different levels of the fellowship that haven't happened yet, mainly because of the pandemic. Getting people to go on stage to any of the Epic labs in LA and London and some of the other ones that have been opening up has been slowed down mainly because of the pandemic. You get access to all the resources. You have a whole learning center, it ties into the Epic learning LMS system. It's a really cool thing. I definitely applaud Epic for doing that because it has since opened up. Any of those listening when there's another open enrollment for the website, and I'm sure we can link link in the show notes, I've seen people that have come that know nothing about ... They're not a compositor. They really are a novice to 3D.

Jim Geduldick:

Maybe they're a director photography or a producer or they're a mixed mediaologist. Maybe they're a painter. I've seen all walks of life come into the fellowship. I think Epic is making it really open to go, "Hey, here's this tool. We're going to show you the basics of how to use it. Then hopefully that's inspired you to go and pursue using it in whichever way you want to." I wish more companies would do it. This is no knock at Adobe or Unity or any of these others. Epic has just been going hard with the education.

Ryan Summers:

The range of stuff they've been doing is amazing. For one, listeners, I will be applying as well alongside you the next time it's open, because it's something that I think if we can get an enough people who are trained motion designers who are used to using the tools you're all using, playing with it and showing what you can do with it. I just saw recently there's an amazing studio called Chromosphere, and they have a little short called Yuki 7 that's all traditionally animated the way you'd expect it, but one of their episodes was animated in Unreal. It was almost virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the series. Epic is pushing that like crazy to show like, look, you can do cartoon production, you make your own games. You can do experiential, you can do immersive. There's so many different applications for it.

Jim Geduldick:

Not only that, but there's the mega grant fund, which is a whole nother thing. You're like, "Oh thanks Epic. Here's all this money."

Ryan Summers:

Go make stuff.

Jim Geduldick:

On the off side of the fellowship, which is the learning side, there's the mega grants, which is ... I forget, but it was quite a substantial amount of millions of dollars that Epic was putting towards funding technology and storytelling. If you have a film idea, you have a game, you have something that's related to using Unreal engine, you can go and submit an application. Yes, is it hard to get a mega grant? Yeah, I guess you would say so because they have so many people applying and there has to be something that stands out about your particular plugin.

Jim Geduldick:

Here's a thing too. It's not just for that. People have pitched education training around that, like a new way of teaching people how to use Unreal engine. I've seen people get mega grants for that. They scale. I don't know what every project gets, but you have a project that we did, which was mega grant. There's more news coming out from Dimension about our project with, with our buddies at DNEG called Fireworks. That was a mega grant project that we brought to Epic. It's just sliding scale. We'll link it. People can go look at it. Don't be afraid to do it. If you don't get into the fellowship, there is nothing stopping you with the sheer amount of education, there is so much education on the Epic learning site. If you want to focus just on virtual production, you can just go to the film, and I think it's film and broadcast section.

Ryan Summers:

There's a ton of character animations focused stuff there. Yeah.

Jim Geduldick:

There's just no excuse not to just jump on this stuff. You could spend weeks and weeks and weeks on YouTube videos alone, because there's a ton of really good people that understand the engine that are putting out awesome training. A lot of it's free. Some of them obviously have a Patreon or might be tied to a platform. There's no lack of education of learning something. If there's one tool that you want to do, just do a Google search, because I'm sure there's a video or a Patreon link to how to use that one tool.

Ryan Summers:

Yeah, you almost need someone to curate the playlist list for you based on what part of Unreal you even want to focus on. Jonathan Winbush, you brought him up earlier. He has a great training on ... If you're a motion designer and you just want to kind of see what's out there, what's available, how could I use this? Could I use it for broadcast graphics? Could I use it for character animation? Could I use it for an explainer video? He has great training.

Ryan Summers:

Even going by to what you were saying earlier. I know this exists and it's just taking the time to find it. You can imagine the pipeline and the pathway in your head taking a Rokoko motion capture suit with the smart hands and just using like from your shoulder to your elbow, to your arm, to your fingers, imagine that that's like a sock puppet.

Ryan Summers:

You could literally build a rig that uses Rokoko into C4D, to drive a 2D After Effects rig. That's entirely possible. Think how fast you could create tons of animation using something that right now no one's telling you to do. There's nothing off the shelf that says, "Okay cool. You can connect this thing to your arm, to After Effects," but you don't have to make too many mental leaps to just start seeing like, oh man, there's all these ways to connect all these different parts together. That the world we literally live in that you can start playing with now for almost nothing. It's amazing how far you could go if you just start learning, not even how to use the tools, but what the capabilities are of all the tools.

Jim Geduldick:

The tools and the capabilities are really kind of endless. That's why I would say just experiment, because it's the only way you're going to know. Look, I mean the first time I touched Unreal a couple years ago, because my real breadcrumb was probably when I got a deep dive into Unreal back in 2015 working on a project with Epic and The Mill called the human race. It was involving the Blackbird project.

Ryan Summers:

Nice.

Jim Geduldick:

That was virtual. We were basically doing real time AR and virtual production years before the kind of Mandalorian bloom. Virtual production, for those, it's nothing know. It might just be hyped in marketing and hyped recently because of the pandemic because of what the technology affords us to do in these trying times. Front projection, rear projection, motion capture, motion capture suits, these have all been around for a long time.

Jim Geduldick:

I think some people just being like, "Oh virtual production's the new hot thing." It's like, "Yeah, maybe some of the maturity of the tools are kind of new and hot and they're very prevalent in the media, but there's different aspects of it." You don't have to work in virtual production in real time to just after and say, "Oh well, I'm not doing things that are Mandalorian level or broadcast graphics." It's like, well there's still other avenues into real time and mixed reality in volumetric capture and VR and AR, and I hate to break people's bubbles, but VR is not dead. It's not going anywhere. Neither is AR. They're just evolutionary things.

Ryan Summers:

Exactly.

Jim Geduldick:

VR, did it hit as a consumer like an NES or Xbox or PlayStation? No, but I think that had to do with some of the barriers to entry in terms of price, to accessibility, shitty experiences that were built haphazardly that just were not engaging and made people sick because the understanding of technology and human locomotion being inside of a near focused HMD did not maybe get as much experiment time as it needed to be in the early days.

Jim Geduldick:

We see this. Look, we see all these. They're trends. Trends come and go. The whole thing of virtual production, real time VR, AR, XR pick your flavor of-

Ryan Summers:

Of R.

Jim Geduldick:

Of R in nomenclature. It's like all the vises. Tech vis, post vis, pre vis, they all have a bit of the essence of each other, and that's why virtual production is a blanket term. Mixed reality is, because you can have VR and AR in virtual production. It's just this whole ecosystem, and you look at it, it's very Bob Ross. You got the palette and you get a little Oak and a little yellow and you just mix them all together. Sometimes you get a new color. That's where technology hopefully leads us.

Jim Geduldick:

Virtual production's not killing green screen or blue screen for as many as the advertisements of the LED manufacturers say. Seen so many titles, "The death of the green screen." It's not going anywhere. There's things that I can do, or we all can do much faster throwing up a green or blue screen than we can throwing up a very large LED wall or an LED volume.

Jim Geduldick:

It's just going to be, is it the right tool? Is it the right thing for your story or for your job? Take all this technology away. If your story sucks, it doesn't matter how good your graphics are, your visual effects are or your actor is. This stuff is there in service of the story. If you have a really good storyteller and you have somebody with a really creative eye, like a Roger Deakins, maybe the $300 million heavy visual effects Marvel film won't do as well as the tried and true 2D shot on 35 millimeter, really good Coen brother story shot by Roger Deakins.

Jim Geduldick:

It's just like people get so caught up in the tech and the shiny objects and, "Hey, I got to use Unreal." Sometimes I tell producers or directors just like, "Hey, maybe virtual production's not right for this job." I don't want to steer another creative down this rat hole just for us to land a job or just for us to do it. I'll be honest. This looks like if you go this route, it could be a shit show. Maybe you just want to shoot and do a traditional comp workflow.

Ryan Summers:

I was wondering how much of your time at Dimension, especially since Mandalorian came out, is just spent educating?

Jim Geduldick:

A lot.

Ryan Summers:

Do customers coming in and say, "Oh, I got to have this. I want to do this." It's trying to like calm them down. How much of it is like going out into the world and being like, "Hey, did you know that these things exist? This is why." I feel like there's just, like you said, there's buzz out there. People want the toys, they want the shiny new thing. They want the social proof of being the people who did it first. How much of your like day to day is just being like, "Cool. This is what we can do. This is why you want to do it."

Jim Geduldick:

It's getting to be a little bit more evened out, but it's still definitely heavy educating. I have worked with visual effects supervisors that have never stepped foot on an LED volume. There are other talented people that work in visual effects that haven't touched some of the real time tools. You have lots and lots of people that be like, "Oh man, you don't know Unreal?" It's like, "Nope, never touched it." It's a whole education. You look at it from a studio perspective versus individual freelancer. Why I say it's always good to do some time in the trenches at a studio, because you get a different view and a different peripheral of working as an individual in a team that would work on a studio film versus actually being in house at a studio. Totally different workflows.

Jim Geduldick:

If you get the opportunity to do it, you should, just to get the experience, especially if you're younger in your career. The education, because this stuff is still at its points, very technical. It's engineering mixed with game engines mixed with broadcast tech, camera tracking. It's called production for a reason, because it's still production. You still have your grip and your gaffer and your set deck and your traditional production rules, whether it be union or non-union. A lot of these people do need to be educated. When I go on set as a virtual production supervisor, that's kind of my thing, like a visual effects supervisor would do, is you're kind of the glue between the different departments on if it's an in camera visual effects shoot. It's a dance.

Jim Geduldick:

You have to A, be good with people. First is you have to know that there's a dynamic on any set, big or small, that you have different departments. You have camera team, you have set deck. You've got art team, you've got producers, you've got client. There's a dynamic of egos. There's a dynamic of just job to get the shoot done. You have to kind of be able to be a people person in knowing when to give and take. Visual effects, too, is still sometimes seen as a second class citizen, and virtual production falls under visual effects. I've got to do the dance with the camera team and go to the DP and be like, "Hey, I get your world. I come from your world. I'm a DP, too. Just know that this big Sputnik that I'm asking your first AC to put on your camera is going to make all of our lives a bit better. I'll promise that I won't make your camera too heavy that shit is just falling off the camera."

Jim Geduldick:

You should develop your people skills in this industry as a whole, but in terms of the educating, and I will be the first to say I don't know everything about everything. Nobody does. If anybody tells you they do, they're selling you something or trying to. I learn every day in this. I learn every day from the teams we work with that are external to dimension. We've worked with a lot of studios and a lot of other great vendors at Paylon and Third Floor and Lux Machina, you name it. DNEG. I guess that one big advice in the education of this and getting in the system is there are times where it's good to have your eyes open and your mouth shut and your ears open and know when to be that sponge and then know where you can help in terms of solving some of these problems.

Jim Geduldick:

Within the day to day of educating people, I think some people are getting a little bit more familiar. People have been getting back on set and this year in terms of virtual production and spending more time learning about this stuff, but there's still the very deep technical things of like, how do these all connect? It's just like, hey, if you've got five different vendors all trying to jump on Perforce Depot together some people have no idea what the hell you're talking about when you say source control. They've never worked with Perforce or another source control or versioning software for large teams. If you don't have tools like that, your shows aren't getting done. You're not sneaker netting drives around these days. You have an AWS bucket and you are using cloud-based solutions to be connecting to different studios and sharing assets.

Jim Geduldick:

Yeah. I think it's a constant evolution of educating people. I think I'm fine with that. I have taught before. I've taught visual facts and editorial and cinematography, just because I feel like it's good to give back. I don't mind the educating. If you can educate and you can connect the dots for people, even though they may not ever touch Unreal. If I can educate a producer of this is why I need this team in place, this is why need this time. This is why I need this budget. Then, you're gaining more champions to not only the use of these tools, but then also the understanding, because that's always a big thing with all of us in motion graphics and visual effects and CG as a whole or any artist is we're always trying convey the tools we use, why we charge what we charge, and why we're fighting for the things we fight for.

Jim Geduldick:

If you can gain more people on your side that these tools are useful, because I've heard people look at it and kind of balk and go, "Oh, virtual production and volumetric, it's too expensive." It's it's not cheap. It's still not cheap, but there are avenues to get things done at totally different scales and totally different budgets. Us going back to the exploration, if you don't explore these tools and their opportunities, you're not going to know if one tool can fit or one workflow can fit the low budget project, and then the mid tier commercial, and then the $300 million feature film. That's the big thing. It's just like the only way you're going to grow as an artist or as a person is to go do that thing. Go experiment.

Jim Geduldick:

We all get caught up in data. It's like, hey, I don't have time. I've got three kids. It's like the whole thing about work life balance. How do you stay on the bleeding edge and all this stuff? It's really hard to learn how to balance, even for me. If you're a single parent who has kids or you're in school and working a job and maybe you're taking care of a sick relative or parent or whatever it is, totally get how finding the time to experiment when your day to day is like, okay, I got to stay in After Effects and on Cinema 4D, because I got to do this. If you don't carve out the time, it's just not going to happen.

Ryan Summers:

That's a perfect time to ask that because you've given us so many things to think about and even name drops, so many apps and so many new tools, but you know our audience in terms of a motion designer. Like you said, a C4D After Effects, Photoshop, one of those kind of like meat potatoes artists, who's just getting stuff done, but there's a curiosity.

Ryan Summers:

What do you think would be, just to finish this off, just a really good entry point into just this world of all of these new toys, these new things that you can play with that A, it's not too deep to just feel like you have to get totally lost in it, but also could show up in your day to day? It could be something that you could take to your art director or your supervisor and be like, "Oh man, guess what I know? Did you know we could do this?" Is there a tool out there that you think for anyone listening, as soon as you're done with this, go to the internet, look this up? What tool do you think could add to those people who are curious?

Jim Geduldick:

It's got to be Unreal. Just hands down, it's a really good hub. I would say the first thing, anybody that's just the core C4D artist, render some stuff out of C4D and bring it into Unreal. Learn how to do that. Just like easiest thing, download Unreal, open it up. Grab one of the test projects, render something out of C4D and just know how to bring in a file or just even take in an illustrator file into C4D, because there are people doing motion graphics. There's tons of examples out there. Obviously we brought up Jonathan Winbush has a ton of C4D to UE stuff that he's done. All right, watch one video, test it out, take a look at it. Then, if you're Blender or maybe you're just straight up After Effects, there's ways that you can get your passes or your video. Learn how to bring in a rendered MP4 into Unreal.

Jim Geduldick:

There's tons of test projects out there that Epic even puts up in the learning center that you're just a like, "Oh, well they give me some assets." I do know that they're paying more and more attention to motion graphics because there's tons of broadcast, graphic learning tracks on the Unreal side. Andy Blondin at Epic Michael Gay, they both come from ESPN. You don't get more broadcast and motion graphics driven than ESPN and NFL. I would say that one tool to kind of go to is, right now, it's Unreal.

Ryan Summers:

That's a great suggestion because it applies to so many different After Effects artists. I know when I used to do in the broadcast booth generating lower thirds and generating stuff 10 minutes before we went live, having something like Unreal, even to just do things like that, you would think it's super counterintuitive, but the speed that you could get that stuff out and make quick changes. During a commercial break, drop in a new one and hand it over to the guy running in the Chiron, I can imagine how much faster and how much more I could offer that team just with something like that. It sounds crazy that that would supplant something like After Effects.

Jim Geduldick:

Yeah. Build that asset in After Effects or C4D, but then you can render it real time for broadcast play out through Unreal or through Disguise or through Notch or through TouchDesigner. The reason why I lean more towards Unreal or suggesting Unreal is there's so many resources in terms of education. I mean, there's so many on YouTube and Epic does a really good job of spending a lot of those Fortnite V bucks on hiring people to do education and hiring really good ... You look at the internal teams at Epic and you're like, Kim Libreri and Marc Petit and Matt [Madson 00:57:52] and Miles Perkins. Sallyann who runs the London Lab. You've got all these professionals from our worlds, both in visual effects and CG and traditional production and the like, and they're going like, "Oh, well, these people are asking for these tools." Is Unreal going to replace C4D or anything like that? Not today. You're still going to use your tools, but I just think that's a good focus for those wanting to get in.

Jim Geduldick:

That is what people are asking for. I could tell you from Dimension side, we can't hire Unreal artists fast enough. That's the thing is there is a gap in knowledge right now for virtual production and for real time artists, not only for virtual production, even for digital humans using MetaHuman Creator. That's why I say get out there and learn it, because you can get hired. If you are seasoned in motion graphics, visual effects, and you've now got this new tool in your toolbox, which is learning Unreal or other real time tools, you're A, going to be sought after, and B, you're going to have a whole new vision into like what the possibilities are.

Ryan Summers:

Yeah. I think it's almost even hard to imagine where your career goes if you redefine yourself as a real time artist and just get into a production pipeline somewhere. Where you can go right now, saying sky's the limit's almost even stupid because we don't even know where it's going to go.

Jim Geduldick:

There's no ceiling. There's no ceiling right now. If you're a freelancer and you want to stay a freelancer, you could charge a nice premium as a day trader, if you've got the chops in a real time engine, especially in Unreal. It's complex. If you're really good, and I don't like the whole thing of specialists versus Jack of all trades. It's like, you kind of have to be a Jack of all trades these days and you got to know a little bit of ZBrush and a little bit of C4D or Maya or Max, and it's in your best interest to dabble a little bit. I would say the two things. I'm going to take back just the Unreal thing and I don't spend enough time in as much as I need to, but Houdini for sure.

Jim Geduldick:

I'm surprised I haven't said Houdini even more so, but holy shit, Houdini is crazy. We've seen some of these like top tier level Houdini artists and just the back end of Houdini. Subset, for those who don't know, Houdini came about because Houdini and the backstory is the founders of Side Effects split at one part. That's where we get TouchDesigner from as well, because there was a little bit of division of people early on. Pay attention to Unreal and Houdini. They're both daunting when you first open them up, but it's like, okay, do that one little Sprite. Import that one little graphic. Just do the building blocks. It's all it takes.

Ryan Summers:

You build them together and you go and find the people that you need to ask the questions, and you find the resources. It's all out there. Jim, we could talk for another hour because we didn't even get into much about Dimension Studio and this amazing Coldplay video that you guys did. We're going to have to have you back.

Jim Geduldick:

You can watch the video. I mean it's rad. The video is really cool. Obviously there Territory was involved and you can go to Dimension's web site and we've got a little piece on it. Then, the official Coldplay BTS behind the scenes video too, has got some stuff about our volumetric capture process in there. It was a nice music video to work on. It was definitely a very cool one.

Ryan Summers:

Not many music videos this day and age that have that kind of scale or budget or I'm sure just production pipeline applied to it. Next big project Dimension does, we're going to have you come back on and we'll talk about what all the new tools are all, kind of float around the world. I think you did answer the question for us we said at the top of all this, should we be all learning Unreal? The answer probably is, yeah.

Jim Geduldick:

Yes, for sure. I mean Unreal and Houdini. Those are the kind of two that I can say. That's not only because I'm trying to hire those type of artists and TD's right now. I think everybody that's listening and that is looking for where do I go next? What's that next tool? It's like, maybe don't learn another plugin. Maybe just dive in full to this new system.

Ryan Summers:

Awesome. Jim, as always, thanks. You'll be back again soon.

Jim Geduldick:

Definitely, Got lots of cool projects coming up.

Ryan Summers:

Man, talking to Jim definitely feels like we're living in the future. I want to bring him on a lot more often because I really feel like while you're in the day to day grind of trying to get your work done, you know, there's a whole world just around the horizon, waiting for you. Tools, techniques, new ideas on working, new expressions of your creativity. Jim, he really does live in that pocket day to day. What do you say, should we bring Jim back? Let us know, and also let us know what kind of projects you want to hear about. What kind of tools you want us to be and learning and helping you gain access to you. Until then, here at the School of Motion Podcast, we're all about inspiring you, introducing to new people like Jim, and just helping your day to day just be a little bit better. Until our next one, peace.