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Art Directing Power-House: A Chat with Nidia Dias
In today's podcast episode we chat with Designer and Art Director, Nidia Dias.
Bringing a stacked resume full of high-profile clients, Nidia Dias joins us on the podcast and generously tosses golden wisdom at your feet. Today's podcast is amazing, and you're bound to walk away with a snippet that you'll carry with you for a long time.
If those names aren't name dropping enough, Nidia recently art directed a piece for rebranded Microsoft programs, that is absolutely breathtaking.
So sit back, buckle up, and prepare to go ludicrous speed. Nidia Dias is about to speak...
Nidia Dias Show Notes
We take references from our podcast and add links here, helping you stay focused on the podcast experience.
Nidia Dias Interview Transcript
Joey Korenman: Every once in a while, you find an artist that you hadn't heard of before, and their work just blows you away. That's exactly what happened when my buddy Ryan Summers told me about Nidia Dias. Nidia is a designer/art director who has some very formidable 3D skills and who has worked with some of the best studios and artists in the industry; Mainframe, Tendril, FutureDeluxe, and many others. Her resume is just totally stacked.
Joey Korenman: In this interview, Nidia and I dig into her past, going all the way back to her days in school where she discovered her love for design. We talk about her competitive drive and what motivates her to keep pushing and to avoid getting too comfortable. And of course, we get super dorky and talk about Cinema 4D, Redshift, and how she approaches the challenge of juggling the technical and aesthetic requirements of high-end work.
Joey Korenman: You're going to get all kinds of fired up by this conversation, so let's jump right in.
Joey Korenman: Nidia Dias, I'm a huge fan of your work. I'm so excited to have you on the podcast, thank you so much for doing this all the way from Portugal.
Nidia Dias: Yeah, thanks for inviting me. Really appreciate it.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, it's my pleasure. So I thought that it'd be cool to take this conversation in a little bit different direction than we normally do, because I was doing my normal internet stalking that I do for all of our guests. And your resume is absolutely insane. We should actually link in the show notes to Nidia's LinkedIn page, it'll just make you jealous.
Joey Korenman: So you've worked with, just to name a few: Mainframe, FutureDeluxe, Analog, Tendril, just some of the top studios in the world. But I want to start at the beginning, because ... well, I'll let you tell the story. So did you go to school for motion design?
Nidia Dias: Yes and no. Yeah, so when I was studying, actually when I was in high school I had no clue what design was. So my first year of university, I actually went to engineer. So then I realized that was definitely not what I wanted, so I was able to change the year after and I went to graphic design. So I actually did a few years in ... I believe the course, it was here in Portugal, and I think it was something like Graphic Design and Mixed Media. So you had a bit of everything.
Nidia Dias: And in my last year in university here, I realized I found motion graphics, and I was like, "Oh my god, that would be so cool to do animated stuff."
Nidia Dias: So I start researching where could I go and study motion graphics, and I found Hyper Institute in Sweden, because we didn't have it in Portugal here. So then I went and did I think it was a one-year course in Sweden. So my main course is actually graphic design.
Joey Korenman: Cool. So you started thinking you wanted to be an engineer, and then you changed your mind. What was it that changed your mind, why didn't you like engineering?
Nidia Dias: I did like it here, I actually fell in love with coding actually, when I was at university. I think that's the only thing I actually liked when I studied engineering. I didn't like the math part, I had calculus and algebra, which I passed but very on the edge of failing.
Nidia Dias: Yeah, I think I already had the design bug before. But because all my exams and everything was towards to go into something more like engineer, I couldn't just go straight to design school. So I felt that okay, let's go one year to engineer, maybe I'll like it. But then I was there, I was like, nah, not for me. I tried my best to change it and I was able to change after a year.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, that's really interesting, because looking at your work, and we're going to link to it in the show notes, everyone go look at Nidia's work, it's awesome. It is pretty technical, you know, it's in that world ... to me it's like that abstract, 3D, lots of particles and tons of details. You actually have some tutorials on your website too, which is awesome. And you get really geeky with Cinema 4D. So the fact that you started with engineering and were drawn to code, I just think that's interesting, because I find that a lot of 3D artists who are really technical, they have that technical brain.
Joey Korenman: And then on the other hand, you have artists that don't want to touch anything like that, they just want a paintbrush and a canvas, you know? So do you find that you've always been drawn to the technical side of things?
Nidia Dias: Yeah. I don't find myself as a very technical person-
Joey Korenman: That's funny.
Nidia Dias: Yeah. But yeah, I think when I was a kid, I always like to draw, and I liked anything that was future-related, but more software-related. So I think that's why my parents always thought that I was going to be an engineer. And maybe I thought I was going to be an engineer. But then I think the part, at least in partial, I was into things, especially from a small town, so there was no, I didn't know anything about design.
Nidia Dias: So I think that's probably why I always thought of myself going into much like, engineer. Because that's all I saw around me, right? That's what people talked mostly about was engineering, being a doctor or architect, those big things. And I think that's what I thought I was going to do until I actually found Photoshop and all that stuff, and I was like, "Ooh, this is cool."
Joey Korenman: Right, you can actually have a job with that. And then it is way more fun. Okay, so then you end up at Hyper Island, which so many great motion designers have come out of that program. I'm a big fan of what they're doing. And what I loved was, as I was doing my research on you yesterday, I went to your Vimeo channel.
Joey Korenman: I do this with everybody, by the way, so if you're ever on this podcast and you're listening right now, just know that I am going to go all the way back to the beginning of your Vimeo channel. So you have student work on there from your days at Hyper.
Nidia Dias: Probably, yeah.
Joey Korenman: And it's so fascinating to look at. In motion design years, it was a long time ago, but it wasn't really that long ago that you were a student, and now you're working on teams doing really high-end stuff for Microsoft.
Joey Korenman: So if you go back and look at your student work, which was good, it was great for a student for sure, how does it make you feel looking at that now versus what you're capable of?
Nidia Dias: Well, I would say embarrassed, but that is actually not true. I'm not actually embarrassed about it. I think I'm more embarrassed of how I felt at the time, because it's like, ooh, this is very cool stuff. But I actually like going back to old projects or old videos, just to remind myself that you know, you started somewhere. It's just hard sometimes to think that you've evolved, but then just going one year back sometimes, looking at projects I did a year back or two years back, I see a difference. And I think that makes me move forward, realize that I'm evolving, which is sometimes hard to see.
Nidia Dias: But yeah, I love going back to my projects. It's quite fun to see what I did back then.
Joey Korenman: Right. Like the trip down memory lane. So when you look at your old work, because I have my own opinions and I want to see what you think. When you look at your old work, what do you think you've improved the most at?
Nidia Dias: Good question. Well, most of my old work at Hyper was mostly animation. I did everything. I don't do much now. Definitely I evolved, or maybe not in English, but I went to motion to skills. But I don't know, I think it's mainly ... obviously it's like, Redshift is better renders, definitely. Before, it took quite a while to get something looking good.
Nidia Dias: But I think it's mainly the attention to detail, I'd probably say.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. I think that's a good thing to focus in on, because that's one of the things about your work I love, is there's so much detail in it. I think overall, what blew me away looking at your student work and looking at what you're doing now, which I think ... how long ago was that? Was that about eight years?
Nidia Dias: Yeah. It was, I started my internship in 2009, the beginning.
Joey Korenman: Okay cool, yeah. So about eight years. So in eight years, you would expect anyone to grow. But to me, the quality of your designs, it's light years beyond what you were doing as a student. Which is what you would expect, and then I wanted to call that out because what I found in my career and what I notice with a lot of artists is that once you start working, that's when you really get good.
Joey Korenman: Taking classes, and I say this as someone who teaches, taking classes is supposed to be just getting up on that first step. And then once you get into the industry, you really start to take off. So let's talk about how you got into the industry. How did you get your first real job in the industry?
Nidia Dias: Yeah. So when I was in Portugal, I did graphic design, and I did an internship for graphic design in Portugal. But at the same time I was applying to Hyper, so then I finished my internship and I went straight to Sweden. But as part of the course in Hyper, you need to find a three months' internship. And it can be anywhere you want.
Nidia Dias: So I started applying to a few studios that I liked, or that I had heard about. And I proved myself, and I showed to all the emailed countries that I could speak the language, because being in Sweden, I loved being in Sweden, but it was really hard sometimes to understand the language. So I told myself, okay, it needs to be some English-speaking country. So obviously that narrowed down a lot of the options.
Nidia Dias: But I emailed a few studios, and then one of them was Mainframe in London, and they were actually quite fast to reply. I'm actually surprised, because I didn't have a very [inaudible 00:11:26]. I sent my email to them I think was on a Friday at 7:00 p.m., I was like, no one's going to look at this. It's beer o'clock, they're definitely at the pub.
Nidia Dias: But somehow they still saw it, I mean they saw it the day after I think. And the boss, he sent me an email the day after. And he said he was very interested, he would like my [inaudible 00:11:49] and pretty much said he would like to have me as an intern. So I was super happy.
Nidia Dias: And then I did three months' internship there. And on the last say, two weeks before my internship was supposed to end, I went to a meeting with them and they offered me a job. So then I went straight into full-time.
Joey Korenman: That's amazing. And Mainframe is legendary, so that must have been really cool. So can you talk about what it was like to go from student to now a full-time motion designer at Mainframe? What was that learning curve like for you?
Nidia Dias: Oh yeah, it was great. I think it's like we were saying before, where you're a student, you're learning a lot of stuff, and you think that you know a lot. But mostly when I went to my internship, in three months I learned way more. And you see ... and Mainframe was great because they just didn't thought of me as an intern, oh you're just there to learn. They were actually giving me work to do, they were like, "Okay, we need help doing this and doing that."
Nidia Dias: So as an intern, it was great to be working on big projects or good clients, and doing a lot of it. And I think for me it was great because I learned a lot just in those three months. And at Mainframe I actually did a bit of everything. So I was, in a project I'd be doing animation. On another one, it's probably just comping, or another one's probably still frames, stuff like that.
Nidia Dias: So for me it was really great to actually be able to experiment a bit of everything. So I learned so much in those three months. So for me, having that full-time job was like a validation, that you did well as an intern, because you're always scared that you're doing something wrong. And then yeah, I just tried to get as much knowledge as I could going into that full-time job.
Nidia Dias: I would still go home a lot of times, as I was a junior, and still take work with me, because I would feel like I didn't do as much as I hoped for, or I wanted to research some technique that could help. So I would still go home sometimes and still try different things, because I was really trying to prove myself that I can do things, and then they chose me to be there full-time. So yeah, I think it's like, yeah I evolved quite a lot in the first year, I think, as a full-time.
Joey Korenman: Well you probably felt a lot of pressure too, because you were around I'm imagining just some absolutely brilliant artists, and you wanted to rise to their level. Did you feel like you belonged there, or did you feel a little bit like, "Oh my gosh, these people know so much more than me, and I have to work 10 times as hard just to keep up"?
Nidia Dias: No, I think they made it really like, I would say a family. Everyone was super nice. And I think I was still an intern, and I was already designing stuff for frames and helping with the direction of a fun project. So for me it was really great, they were very, "You can do it, we're here to help you if you need, but do your own thing as well."
Nidia Dias: So for me I think there was ... I felt more like I can absorb their knowledge, rather than feeling scared of them. So I would just see how they work and take that for myself, and even working under pressure is also good, because you learn a lot as well, how you need to streamline some things and what you need to pay attention to, and how to deal with clients, and stuff like that. So I think I learned a lot of that as well in that first year.
Nidia Dias: Because like I said, because I was doing a bit of everything, I think I went through all different kinds of stages in the process of motion piece. So I think that helped me as well, understand the whole process. And I'm super happy for that.
Joey Korenman: It sounds like an amazing place to start your career. And I think the best studios do that. They don't treat interns the way most companies treat interns, they treat them as staff with training wheels, essentially. I think that's a really good way to do it.
Joey Korenman: So your title according to LinkedIn while you were at Mainframe was Junior Motion Designer. And you just mentioned that when you were there, you were doing design and animation. But I know that now you specialize a lot more and you really just do design. So did that process start there, did you start to say, you know what? I really love the design part more than I like the production part?
Nidia Dias: Yeah. I think actually part of it came from Mainframe, because one part was, a few times I would get to pitch and work in, they would ask me, "Hey, let's do some still frames." Another part came from them as well saying, "Hey, you have a good eye for design, can you work on these parts?"
Nidia Dias: And I think until I was at Mainframe I actually never realized that I could work in the motion industry but just doing still frames and design. I didn't know about that, so once I started doing still frames, because when I started, because I did a graphic design course before ... for me, I love Photoshop for example. So being able to blend the tools I like into just a still, and go into the details, I think there was something that really amazed me. I was like, okay, I really enjoy doing this.
Nidia Dias: So I think it was a slow process. I stayed at Mainframe I believe for about three years, so it was a process of discovering what I really enjoyed doing. So I think as I went more towards the last year I was at Mainframe, that's when I realized, this is what I really want to do. But it did start from Mainframe, they were like, "Hey, we have a few pictures-" because Mainframe has, I would call it the VFX side and motion side. Even at the time, they had a V-team with Maya and VFX.
Nidia Dias: So a few projects would go for them if they were eager, but that would still help [inaudible 00:17:35] to still frames. So it was nice having either the seal for the projects, or after FX and working in this, I wouldn't be animating it, but I would still help design it. So I think that's when it sparked an interest and I actually realized I could actually just do stills for the job.
Joey Korenman: That's really great. I know a lot of studios now, that is the environment I came up in, where studios would really let designers focus on design, and let animators focus on animation, and almost split the responsibilities up a little bit. And it seems like now, a lot of studios, especially newer ones that are starting out really small, they're really looking for generalists who can do animation and design, because they don't want to hire two people probably.
Joey Korenman: So when you were at Mainframe, and Mainframe, I know they're a mid-sized studio, they're not humongous like the Mill, is that how they operated? Would they have animators who just animated, designers who just designed? Or did they like generalists?
Nidia Dias: I mean, in my side, some people were a bit more specialized. The motion department, we were a bit more generalist. And sometimes, you start shifting, like as some people were juniors and actually started figuring out what they wanted. But overall, we were generalists. I would still do still frames, but maybe the project after it, I would do animation or after-effects or comping even. So it was a bit of a round-up kind of thing, where you're gonna do what you can to help the project move forward.
Joey Korenman: Right. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, especially for someone who's full-time. So you were at Mainframe for a little while, and then you moved on. So can you talk about that part of your career? So why did you leave Mainframe, and what did you do next?
Nidia Dias: So it was about, I think three years, at Mainframe, and I started feeling that I was too comfortable. And I felt like there was no more challenge for me there, so I was getting [inaudible 00:19:45], I was getting too comfortable doing the same old thing. I just felt like I wanted to get better, and improve, and get challenged.
Nidia Dias: And since at that point I was already starting to think, well, it can be director, or do more stills and still frames, and then I started realizing I had my course in graphic design, but I actually did an internship with it, but I never went for studio. And knowing how much I learned at Mainframe just by being there, I actually felt that I wanted to go to a graphic design studio for a bit and learn a bit more on the graphic design side.
Nidia Dias: So I applied for a few actually graphic design jobs in London, some studios, and then I worked for a studio called Stereo for about nine months. I didn't tell them that I just wanted a short time period, obviously, but in my head I knew it was more like, I just wanted to go back to the roots of what I learned, and I'm just [inaudible 00:20:41] how to work in an actual environment of studio life. So I went to Stereo and did ... I still did a bit of motion because obviously that's the thing about, once you start doing motion and people realize that, it's like, "Hey, you know how to do it, right?"
Nidia Dias: But it was actually quite interesting because I did a lot of more like fills, and I did things for web, brochures and stuff like that. So I knew it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life, but I wanted to see how a project that is based for a magazine and stuff like that would work when it's just stills on a team. So I went there mainly for getting back that graphic design background that I had, and push it a bit forward. Because I always felt that to be able to do better art direction, I needed to understand every part that involves motion, and one of them is the graphic part, the design of it.
Joey Korenman: Right. What did you learn there? Because I'm really curious about that actually. Because my entire career has been spent in the motion design and post-production industry. I've never worked at a place that does print or web design or things like that, and I'm always curious to find the areas of overlap and what they do differently.
Joey Korenman: So what are some things you learned working on stills, things that don't have to move? What sort of design things were different there?
Nidia Dias: Yeah. I think one of the big ones is obviously, because it's print, it's a different type of ... the call list makes very specifics that you have to think about and how things are going to look once you print them.
Nidia Dias: One thing that I never actually had when I was at Mainframe, but a lot of the projects there had, was a copywriter. So having to work with a copywriter to get all the text and everything. And the interesting part was when I was actually working for web, that you had to make sure that the callers, you had [inaudible 00:22:39] callers for an app or something like that, to make sure it was accessible for everyone. So if anyone had eye problems, so if you were working on a bigger website, an image for BBC or whatever you did for their banners and stuff like that, the call list and even the choice of the text and everything, you get to pass them to this website, where you put the call list and it tells you if people can read it or not. So even if you look at it, it's like, oh, I can read it, they have this thing where because it's a bigger company, they want everyone to be able to read it.
Nidia Dias: So it was quite interesting to have to go through this website, and you're like, "I'm sure this is going to go through." And it's like, nope. Still not good. And it's like, what? I can read it. So it was quite interesting to see all the things you don't think about when you do motion graphics. But when we get to the web, you [inaudible 00:23:28] there.
Nidia Dias: So I find it quite interesting to see all of these things and yeah, like typography, all those things and having to work on InDesign. So it was quite interesting to get away a bit from what I was doing, and trying to apply that at least in a graphic design sense.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. And that's the kind of stuff that I would imagine, when you're designing, especially on the web or print. You're almost always designing to a grid, typography becomes, the little nuances of typography become a lot more important because if you don't have perfect kerning on a motion piece, maybe that type's on screen for two seconds and then it's gone. But if it's on a page, it's there forever.
Joey Korenman: So yeah, that's really interesting. So when you came back to motion, then, did those skills end up helping you in ways you wouldn't expect? Because for example, Nidia, your work right now, the stuff you've been doing recently and that's up on your site, there's not a clear line between the abstract, cool 3D organic stuff that you've done, and then this more structured functional print world that you lived in for a little bit. So I'm curious if you feel like you gained some valuable things from that.
Nidia Dias: I think so. I think it's the same as when I was in university learning graphic design. I think it's something that just gets into your brain muscle. It's not that I'm always like, "Oh, let me put a grid," and everything lines up. But I think it made me more aware of font choices and stuff like that. And composition and working on all those things, and obviously putting things in a grade.
Nidia Dias: But I think it's just breaking altogether from what I learned in graphic design about balance, and repetition, all that stuff. Having that again and then trying to merge that once you're doing motion graphics or stills for it.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. I love that. It's almost like you steeped your brain in graphic design, and then you just ... it's really funny, because I don't have really any formal training in design, I've just absorbed it by being around great designers. And it's funny how there are things like you just mentioned, repetition and form and value, that once you grasp it, it affects everything you do, even taking a photo. But it's hard to put it into words sometimes. So that's really cool that you had that experience.
Joey Korenman: So when you came back to motion, then, how did you ... basically what I want to know is, how did you end up working with Tendril, because they're one of my favorite studios, they're incredible, but there wasn't a direct path there, right? You worked for some other studios first?
Nidia Dias: Yeah. So after Stereo I went to FutureDeluxe. So at the time when I was working at Stereo, I think one of my colleagues showed me the website for FutureDeluxe, and like, ooh, they're cool. And they're in London, or Brighton as well. And I sent them an email saying, "Hey, I just stumbled upon your work, and I think it's really amazing, so I just literally wanted to say that. I like the way that you're using abstract," I don't really remember what I said. But I remember sending them an email, and they replied back and said, "Thanks, we saw your work, and we'll offer you an interview."
Nidia Dias: I was like, "Uh yeah, sure, why not." So yeah, then I went to FutureDeluxe for about two years. Had a blast there, and there I was already a senior designer. Still animating a few things, because we were a very small team. And as I was doing two years there, I was trying to understand if I wanted to go freelance or not. It was something that I was debating, but then Analog was looking for an art director and they contacted me.
Nidia Dias: And the thing is, it's kind of the loop. Because one of the partners at Analog used to work at Mainframe back in the days when I was an intern, and then he left. So he still followed my work throughout the years, which I didn't know. So when at Analog they were looking for an art director, he realized, "Hey, I know somebody that could be a good fit." So they contacted me and I was like, I don't know if it's interesting, because they do VFX, and it's not that I haven't dealt much with it. And again this is coming back to me thinking as an art director, I need to understand everything in the production, if it's just 2D to 3D abstract, or if it's just the VFX. So I felt like it was a really good challenge, so I said that.
Nidia Dias: So I went to Analog for about a year, and that's when I went freelance. And as I was freelance, I did two projects with Tendril. I contacted them, we had a friend in common. I said, "Hey, love your work. I'm freelancing now," and at one of those times I think I told them something like, "I think Canada is cool, been there one time, I think it's really nice." And they said, "Hey, if you're still interested in Canada, we're actually looking for people."
Nidia Dias: So then I had a Skype call with them and then it just continued from there into going there last year for a full-time position.
Joey Korenman: So you used this word a few times, challenge, and it's interesting, because normally when someone talks about why they wanted a job, it's because they want stability or they want to go somewhere so they can do neat work, or things like that. I don't know how many people I've talked to that say "I wanted to go there because it would be a challenge."
Joey Korenman: That's really interesting so I want to dig into that a little bit. Are you just that kind of person, do you not like being comfortable and feeling like you know what you're doing, you always want to feel a little off-balance?
Nidia Dias: I think the correct way to put it is I get bored very easily. It sounds a bit weird but it is true, I do get a bit bored if I start doing well, or it's the same thing, I start doing the same routine. I get very annoyed, I did that after a while, like, "Ah, I've been doing the same thing."
Nidia Dias: For me, if there's something new, I feel very curious. So if it's something that tickles me, like I want to know more about this or I want to try this out, then I will definitely probably go, okay, well, I'll try this. It was the same when I went to Hyper in Sweden. My parents always felt that I would never move away from home, from Portugal.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Nidia Dias: And then all of a sudden I'm like, "I'm applying for this class in Sweden," like what? So I think it's just, I don't make decisions, I never decide very long in the future, because I prefer that things just move along as they should, and if something comes up that I find is interesting, then I'll probably try claiming that path, but I don't try to visualize where I'm going to be in five years. And I actually never feel right every time someone asks, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" It's like, no clue.
Joey Korenman: That's interesting. I've been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately, written with this mindset of a good way to improve and get ahead in your life or career or whatever, is to put yourself in very challenging situations and to almost bring hardship into your life on purpose, so that you can callous your mind, or something like that.
Joey Korenman: And it's funny because I remember when I went freelance, and this is many years ago, but when I went freelance and I started working for a real studio for the first time, I was terrified because they were giving me things to animate that I didn't actually know how to animate and I had to figure it out. And eventually I learned that I enjoyed that, I loved that feeling of being right on the edge of my ability, and maybe a little bit past it.
Joey Korenman: So by the time you got to Tendril, did you feel that way? Were they pushing you to do things that you were like, "Sure, I can do that," and then you immediately go and Google how to do that?
Nidia Dias: I think I always Google stuff. I remember at Mainframe, being an intern, and I'm like, I need to show them that I know stuff. So I can't go and Google. So I was very specific about that, but I remember someone in the studio was like, if they have to do something, it's just like, "Oh, I'll just go on Google." I was like, you can?
Nidia Dias: So I remember, "I can go to Google certain things, it's all right?" Yeah, I had that very [inaudible 00:31:47] in the beginning, I'll show them what I really know. But then I realized that no one knows everything. So I'm a little more relaxed in that sense, so I don't mind if I have to search once in a while, because again, I don't know everything and I think it would take forever to know everything. So I think it's quite challenging.
Nidia Dias: I find lots of people saying they accept work even if they know they can't do it, because it mixes research and better things. So I think in a way, I think that's how things evolved in my things. You just get a project, and something required that you never tried, it's like, oh, time to learn. And just something about it, so yeah, that's how I see things.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. That's a great excuse to learn things. And you're right, you don't have to know everything. And sometimes it's good to just hear that. Now, it's funny because I always felt that way, like I would have no problem Googling something or going on Greyscalegorilla, or something like that.
Joey Korenman: But then when I went freelance, I felt a little more pressure to have a different persona, like I'm the hired gun coming in, I should know everything. And that's not realistic either. So I want to talk about when you went freelance, what it was like for you. So maybe you could just talk about why you decided to go freelance, and what that transition was like.
Nidia Dias: The first time I went freelance was when I was at Analog, and I really enjoyed my time there, and I think Analog, they're just super talented, it's insane, the talent that was there. And it was that kind of studio that most everyone specialized, so seeing someone [inaudible 00:33:24] something so fast. I was like, dude, don't show me those things. Dude, too much.
Nidia Dias: So yeah, Analog brought me on to be an art director, but the biggest issue was that Analog was very known as a production company. So a lot of projects had already come with a direction in mind, so they would just code dialogue for the more technical parts. So at some points, there was times that I didn't have much to do. Which is good, because I was still learning things on my own and doing projects. But it wasn't as much work as I was hoping for.
Nidia Dias: And I guess it's what you're saying, about some people wanted to be safe. For me, it was getting boring. I was like, well yes, I'm getting money and I do this job and I don't have to work late, because it's not super busy on my side of the design part, but this is not what I want to be doing. I want to be pushing myself.
Nidia Dias: So I was talking with a partner at Analog, and they were saying, "Dude, we fully understand if you want to go freelance, and you have all of our support." So by the time I was already giving [inaudible 00:34:29] some people mailed me some studios, thinking that I was freelance, or "Hey, are you going for freelance?"
Nidia Dias: So it felt like it was a good time to give it a shot, because I was already getting studios saying, "Hey, we saw your work. Are you available," and I'd be like, "I'm full time." So it felt like it was a good time to take that leap, so that's what I did. I was like, okay, I'm fully committed to it, and I'm going freelance.
Nidia Dias: And the reason is, a lot of people go freelance quite early in their career, and mine took quite a while. And I think it was because to be honest, I was always scared. I always felt that I would go freelance and I wouldn't get any projects, I would suck, and like you said, people will hire me and they'll think that I'm a fraud. All those kind of thoughts come to mind, and I think that's what took me so long. And that's why people joked that I was already freelance, because I moved between different studios a lot as a full timer. So that's probably my kind of way of being a freelancer without actually being a freelancer, just moving into different full-time positions.
Nidia Dias: So yeah, for me, full-time freelance was quite hard for me, because I'm actually, I wouldn't say full-on shy, but I'm not super talking to everyone on my first day. So I knew that if I would be alone then I would be contacted to be a freelancer for some studio, I would be quite shy at the beginning. And you always, as a freelancer you want to give a good impression, right? You want people to like you so you come back. So that was I think not the technical issue, but it was more yes, my personality. I always thought that would somehow not help me follow through with being a freelance.
Nidia Dias: But then once I start emailing people, before I finished at Analog, saying "Hey, I'm going freelance." And then putting on Twitter and retweeting, I started already getting a few projects in. So I was like, oh okay, that's all right. And the first year was very learning how projects go, because I would have friends that would be motion designers, freelancers, and they would be booked for a month, two months, and sometimes in advance knowing, "Oh, next month I'm booked." But as a designer and a [inaudible 00:36:27] artist, I work a lot in Pitchwork. So it was hard for me to be an intern and [inaudible 00:36:35]. Studios would email me and say, "Hey, are you available tomorrow." So I couldn't climb much ahead. I was trying to figure out, the first year was just realizing how freelance works and how to promote myself, all of that stuff.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. You just brought up a very, very good point. This is something that I used to, I have friends back in Boston who just do design, they don't animate. And they would run into the exact same problem you just mentioned, which is, when I was freelance I could, I'm putting air quotes up, "design." What I do and what Nidia does, not the same thing.
Joey Korenman: But I can design, I can edit, I can animate, I can do 2D and 3D. I would get booked four months at a time, and it was almost effortless, because I was such a generalist, that I was like a Swiss army knife, they could just plug me in and use me as they needed. If you're just a designer, my friends who are just designers, they can charge a higher day rate because they're specialists, but it's a lot harder to get consistent work.
Joey Korenman: So how do you manage that? Is that just a constant challenge, or have you figured out how to get enough work where you can be consistently busy?
Nidia Dias: I think everything changed when I was starting, I would get, "Oh, we need your help." Some places in London would actually be like, "Hey, we hired for the whole month because we have a lot of projects coming in."
Joey Korenman: Oh cool.
Nidia Dias: Some projects would be like, "Hey, are you available for tomorrow?" And it's like, three days, we have a budget for three days and we need an artist. So the first year was really trying to figure it out, and really the first months, because I was like, oh, I'm not booked. But then the projects just started coming in and I realized, oh it's fine.
Nidia Dias: But it was now, after leaving Tendril, to go freelance again, the last two years are so, I went more from just a designer to an art director. So now I'm getting longer projects. Now I'm getting people to ask me to art direct the whole project. So then now I'm getting back to those long, month projects, or two months, which is actually quite interesting. So I've tried mixing it between designing just still frames and art directing. So I'll go from choosing one that is a smaller project, where I'm just in still frames for a week, and then moving on to maybe art directing the whole thing. So now, from the beginning of this year til now, all the projects I had were long ones. So that was quite interesting, to come back to freelance and actually having these longer projects, which I wasn't used with.
Joey Korenman: So what does it look like actually, when you're a freelance art director? Are you also designing initially, are you working with designers that are full-time, are you looking at animations and art directing? What are you actually doing as the freelance art director?
Nidia Dias: Yeah, I think it's the thing that I think I didn't realize right at the beginning, but the more you go higher up into these positions, the less you design. Which means that it's sad, and that's why I still accept, I try to mix between just art directing and designing, because I really love designing, so it's hard for me to just step back and let other people design.
Nidia Dias: But mainly, I do still frames still, but a lot of times it's just an initial first week or so, just get them to style. And then it will be a team that actually works on it. Last year when I was at Tendril and we were doing the Microsoft project, I did some designs on the initial phase, but then once we started to production, I was just more overseeing and making sure that things were as issued and as well, sometimes in terms of animation, I would try to be like, okay, let's maybe try this kind of thing, to make sure everything worked out.
Nidia Dias: For me, it was an experience to be art director/director person, trying to make the whole story be together and everything. But I remember coming at the end of that project and being like, "I barely touched Cinema 4D." I touched it at the beginning, and as the project continued I was just overseeing and making sure. I still touch Cinema 4D, but now I'm more at the end, where it's the lighting and shading where I help out as well.
Nidia Dias: But yeah, I don't do as much design as I used to.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, I want to circle back to that at the end, because that's a pretty typical career arc for a designer, is to then become an art director, and actually be designing less, and then maybe eventually to be a creative director, and not even be art directing all that much.
Joey Korenman: But I want to talk about 3D. So your recent work anyway, is super 3D heavy. And it is not simple 3D either, there's a lot of cool technical things that are present in your work. So when did you really get into 3D?
Nidia Dias: I think I got in 3D when I was actually applying for Hyper. I started learning after FX with Video Copilot, and then once I was knowing my ways around 2D, then I discovered Greyscalegorilla, and was like, "Ooh, this is even cooler." So I think the bug hit me then. And it was just a matter at the time of, I wanted to do everything.
Nidia Dias: So I was super interested in 2D and 3D, so my project at Hyper was still a mix between them, and at Mainframe as well. We still get some 2D stuff to do, some 3D. But I think I always favored more the 3D for some reason, I think it was the projects got me more excited about it. So I think as I grew, and as well, it became a part of what people know me for. And then it just [inaudible 00:42:17] bright, once I did stuff like sterile particles, then I became the particle person.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Nidia Dias: And it just goes in that, like I said, if you do something realistic and then people start seeing it, then you become it. And I think that's what it became, me just doing tests in 3D, just to get to know more about it, and then it just became, "Oh, you do 3D."
Nidia Dias: So a lot of times when I get people, it's like, I also like 2D and typography. If you have stuff like that, you can send it my way. But I still do some of that, actually. The first year of freelance, I did some more graphical stuff, 2D and typography. But I don't search them as much, because what I have more pleasure or what I still get known for is the 3D, so I still have that as my main thing. But on some projects I still do 2D.
Joey Korenman: And what is it about 3D that drew you to it, is it the ... because I think for some people they're drawn to it because it's a super technical playground that you can literally make anything you want as long as you know how, and can figure it out. So that's the fun part. And for some people, maybe it's the aesthetic that you get with 3D, and these new, Redshift and Octane and Renderers, like that, where you can get photorealism pretty easily.
Joey Korenman: So which of those drew you?
Nidia Dias: I think it's the depth, the idea of getting these things in depth, and the idea of the light. I always enjoyed a lot of light and shadows, how they react and how things look. So I think that was definitely, having that study, you can play with it and the materials like glass, all this stuff. I think I always had this idea, I always felt like I wanted to bring these ideas that I have in my head into the computer. And I always like to think of light so it felt like 3D was the better tool for me to accomplish those things.
Joey Korenman: Right, yeah. It's more photographic way of working. So let's talk about your process a little bit, because I watched a couple of your tutorials, and I've listened to you talk a little bit about the work you did on the semi-permanent titles, which are amazing, we're going to link to those in the show notes. And you worked as part of a great team on that one.
Joey Korenman: But it seems like, I'm assuming here, but it seems like your process as a 3D artist is, you go in and play around, and I think on that project in particular you even said that you wanted to just figure out what was going to be animateable and then make it look cool. As opposed to a more traditional 3D pipeline, where you'd have concept, look development, modeling ... you go linearly in order.
Joey Korenman: So I'm curious, when you open Cinema 4D to design something, do you have a clear vision in your head and then you just execute it, or do you play around and find something, and then work with that?
Nidia Dias: I'll say both. Sometimes in some projects, for example the Microsoft project, I had an idea in my head of how things should look or how minimalistic they should go, but then I do some experimentation. I had an idea like okay, I want these panels to have different colors, and I want the cross-sticks and the shadows to have color.
Nidia Dias: So then it was a process of trying to figure that out. So I have sometimes, I see something in my head, it's like, good, that's what I'm going to do. But with things like semi-permanent, sometimes on personal projects, I just really like to just explore, just experiment, and just play, try finding new techniques or visual things to do.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Nidia Dias: With the semi-permanent, it was more, obviously there was more, Joyce had already an animatic and a [inaudible 00:46:14] part of what she was looking for. But in that sense, because again I rarely animate anymore, I knew that my challenge was actually going to be the animation, because I don't do it as often. So it would take me time. And I didn't want to sculpt something in 3D, and then be like, okay, now I have to make this, how am I going to do it?
Nidia Dias: And at the time, when I was working on the semi-permanent project, I was full-time at Tendril, so I was doing it after work, and on weekends. So I didn't have the whole time in the world to do it, so I was trying to make it easy for myself. And that's why I was like, okay, I need to use the tools that I know, but make it look a bit more complex. So pretty much, it's like, fake it until you make it. It's just an illusion. It feels complicated, what I did for semi-permanent, but it's actually quite simple. It's just that there's a lot of elements there and the environment and everything that makes it seem that it is more complex than it actually is.
Joey Korenman: Right, right. Yeah, so you just brought up another point that I want to call out, which is, when you're designing and animating something and you're doing both of those tasks, I always found that as an animator, I start by thinking, what am I able to animate and then designing around that limitation a little bit.
Joey Korenman: But now, you don't do a lot of animation and you're more of a designer, art director. So I'm just curious, when you're designing stuff, how much do you worry about the poor animator down the road that's going to have to figure out how to animate your crazy awesome designs?
Nidia Dias: I do care. But the thing is, I always felt like, like I said, if I'm designing for myself, if I know I have to [inaudible 00:48:06] myself. So if I know that the people on the team are amazing at what they do, I try to not restrict myself, because then you can come up with even cooler stuff. So obviously I have an idea, this is the budget, this is all we have, so don't go crazy.
Nidia Dias: But I also sometimes make designs of things that I'm not sure how to animate it, but I have the confidence that whoever's going to get it will know how to animate it. And so far, I've never gotten disappointed in that. But yeah, I think it's like, I still restrict a bit myself, but not as much as if I was the one animating.
Joey Korenman: It probably helps that you're working at such great studios, because you're surrounded by top talent and you probably can have a little bit more leeway with trying something and knowing that that Cinema 4D artist at the other end of the room is going to figure it out one way or another.
Joey Korenman: So I want to talk about your 3D chops. Because looking at just the quality of your boards and the 3D renders, and all that kind of stuff, and looking at some of your tutorials specifically, it seems like you're a Cinema 4D wizard, and you're great at lighting, and texturing, and modeling, and all that kind of stuff.
Joey Korenman: But one thing I found with Cinema 4D artists in particular, is sometimes you can get away with not actually knowing very ... you know enough, but you don't have deep knowledge of those things. Because it's such an easy tool to get started with, there's amazing texture packs and lighting setups you can use, to just get your idea out.
Joey Korenman: So do you use a lot of third-party stuff, or do you build everything from scratch and make your own shaders and do all of that stuff?
Nidia Dias: The shaders, it's rarely from scratch. But it's mainly because what I use for my stuff is either glass look or more simple. If I would have to do stuff like that, it would have to look like concrete. I would definitely get that, because I don't have for example, [inaudible 00:50:05] from designer to go into that, so I would probably buy the textures for that. But most of the stuff I do is so abstract that I can be abstract as well in the shaders that I used. So a lot of them I just do myself.
Nidia Dias: But if I will be working on things that need to be ... we had a project under the Microsoft project, [inaudible 00:50:24] notating like a desk. So then when I did the [inaudible 00:50:35], I just got that one. I did a photograph for the lighting, I did it myself, but then I used a lot of [inaudible 00:50:36].
Joey Korenman: Ah okay, cool. So it's a mix. That's really interesting to me, because I've spoken with Mike Wickleman, and he likes to use a lot of pre-built stuff, and stock models, and textures and things like that. So it's more about the composition and the idea. And some people would never do that, they want to roll their own everything, so I'm always curious to see, it sounds like you're in the middle. Are there any tools that you love to use that you use on a lot of your projects?
Nidia Dias: Yeah. I would say [inaudible 00:51:10] tool Redshift, and I also like [inaudible 00:51:14]. And then I think in terms of plug-ins, I think the one that I used more would be X-Particles, and some partial plug-ins. Because most of my stuff when I work abstract, I made it myself. But whenever I have to do something that is more realistic, I make [inaudible 00:51:30] models as well, because it would just take me more time to do it, because again I'm not a specialist. And especially if I'm just in style frames.
Nidia Dias: It's the same with X-Particles. I don't create a full-on, 100 percent setup on X-Particles when I'm doing style frames because I just don't have the time, so a lot of times I may do freeform systems that have different things that I'm thinking of, and then I just put them all together in [inaudible 00:51:57] FX or Photoshop, because I'm just experimenting, so I don't have time to okay, how can I do this? I just have to batch a lot of stuff in a day, to just show the client. So for me, that's why I like X-Particles, it's great, and then Redshift, especially GP rendering, to get a lot of variation and a lot of tests. I don't think I use much more plugins actually.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. I wanted to ask you about Redshift, because obviously that's become a hugely popular renderer. And now they've been acquired by Maxon. So when did you make the switch over to GP Renders, and why are you using Redshift now?
Nidia Dias: I made the switch actually when I went to Tendril. So when I was at Analog, I learned Arnold, because they were using Arnold, and it was more [inaudible 00:52:48]. Once I went freelance, I think it was where GP was getting more like a big thing. But I still liked Arnold, and Arnold was in GPU, but then once I get to Tendril, they had I think just probably a month, two months before I arrived, they had swapped into Redshift. So I started learning there.
Nidia Dias: But Redshift and Arnold are similar in the sense of how, the notes system, all that stuff. So it didn't took me that much to get into Redshift. And I have a machine as well, so I'm like, GPU is awesome. It was the easiest part.
Joey Korenman: That's awesome. So we've spent some time talking about technical stuff, but really in the end in my opinion, technical chops don't really do much for you in this industry. You need design. And that's what your work has that's so great. Your use of color and value and lighting, and all of those things. And I find, a lot of 3D artists, when they get started especially, they get so caught up in the wizardry of setting up this crazy Expresso setup, or using X-Particles just because they saw something Ash Thorp did, something like that.
Joey Korenman: And they forget that in the end, what you're creating is just a 2D image, and you still need to balance it, and you need to have contrast in certain areas to draw your eye. Because looking at your work, it seems like you have this ability to do both. You can create beautiful compositions while being very technical. And I'm curious if that's a struggle for you, or it's something that is just a natural ability.
Nidia Dias: Like I said before, I don't see myself as technical, I think there's so much I still need to learn. But I do enjoy learning. Like I said, because I get bored very easily, it's more like I'm very curious, so I keep on bouncing around to different softwares. So for example, I think it was last year ... no, two years ago, I started learning Sketch, the one to do web design. Even if I don't work in it anymore, I just found it interesting. So I took a month to learn a project on Sketch.
Nidia Dias: So I think for me, I always curious about what's new in the market, so I'm always trying to learn it. But for me, it's really important, and I agree with you, where it's important to have a story behind an idea, and have a design and the composition being great. And I get that a lot of times, like, "What software should I learn?"
Nidia Dias: And I tell them, it doesn't really matter. Because when I learned Cinema 4D, I had no clue what studios were learning Cinema 4D, I just learned Cinema 4D because it felt like the easiest one for me to learn, not being in a school, learning by myself.
Nidia Dias: And when I went to Mainframe, most of the people there actually used Maya, the biggest part of the team was actually Maya. So I think we're going to a point now like I said, where people are just so curious about the software, but they forget the actual idea, what are they trying to make, and all of that stuff. And I think that for me that's what was important, making sure whatever I'm doing comes either from a desire to learn a technique or a desire to get something there that I had in my head. So I don't go like ... if I'm learning software for myself, I actually don't post it. I just keep it for myself, I'm just learning and understanding a technique.
Nidia Dias: But once I actually want to publish something, I make it more of a project. I come up with a theme for it, I come up for a story, what I want to represent with it, or what I want people to think about it. Rather than just, here's some random stuff I did in 3D, take a look at it.
Joey Korenman: Right, just 3D porn, just go on Instagram and there's an infinity of that. So what I used to find, especially if I'm working in 3D, where sometimes you have to spend a fair amount of time just figuring out how you're going to get something to work. And then you get it to work, and you're so excited that you actually figured out how to stick this cloner inside of this cloner, and use this deformer and it works, that then you forget that your composition sucks, or you can't read the type because the value structure doesn't work.
Joey Korenman: So do you find that you have to go back and forth between different modes, or are you always in designer mode while you're working?
Nidia Dias: That's a good question. I know last year I did a personal project called Slow, but it actually started more as a technical thing. I had a bit of a week off between projects at Tendril, and I had this idea that I wanted to find out a way of creating these, they're not fluid, but more like painter-looking style frames. So I went into two or three after FX and I actually have a tutorial on Quick Tips on that.
Nidia Dias: And once I found the technique I was happy with, then I transferred that into a project. And then it became more, what colors I'm going to use, am I doing poster art of this? So I think it started as a technique, but once I found something I was happy with, then I transformed that technique into more a design stream.
Joey Korenman: I think that's a good way to approach it, actually. Because I think a lot of people starting out forget ... the flow thing's a great example, and I actually watched that Quick Tip, because I was curious how you did it, and it was pretty ingenious the way you got that look.
Joey Korenman: We'll link to that in the show notes so everyone can watch, it's a short little video. Some pretty ingenious after-FX layering, almost Andrew Kramer-esque in the way you pull it off, very cool. But then in the end, you made these posters that look like they're straight out of a graphic design magazine or something. So you then applied the graphic design eye to it. So I want to ask you about that too. This is something that ... I always wonder about this, and sometimes I ask people, and they're like, afraid to talk about it because it's a little bit of a taboo thing.
Joey Korenman: But I'm curious if you're comfortable talking about this, I'm curious what your thought is. Personally I have met people, and I'm sure you have too, that just right out of the gate, whatever they touch looks good. They just have this innate design eye. And then there's people, I feel like I'm further towards this end of the spectrum, where design is very hard for me, and I've met people that just, no matter how hard they work, they never quite seem to get it.
Joey Korenman: And I'm curious if you think that some people just have that eye, and some don't. And I want to stress, I'm not making a judgment about one way or the other. I'm just stating what I have seen anecdotally. Some people have it, some people don't. I'm not sure why, but I'm curious what you think.
Nidia Dias: Tough question. I think it's more, I don't think I have it, in the sense I don't think I was born with it. I just think that as I went through my years, I realized, especially remembering coming out of graphic design school, and I remember thinking a lot of times, "I don't know why I learned this kind of stuff."
Nidia Dias: And now years later I'm like, "Oh, I'm so happy I learned them." And yes, I have some friends from my graphic design course, that they were just amazing. They would just do something and it's like, oh my god, it looks so great. Everything is so balanced and everything. But I think it's something that you just practice, it's like drawing, right? I suck at drawing because I don't practice much. But it's more like, I think it's something you can acquire, but I think it becomes more a point if it's what you want to focus on. I know people that they prefer to be more technical, and I think that's why I'm more of the design person, because even if I do love the technical part, I just don't invest as much time on it, as I do with the design side.
Nidia Dias: And I think this is the same thing. It doesn't matter how long you spent on it, because if you're spending more time on something else, that's what you're going to be better at.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Nidia Dias: And I think I've seen that in more people that actually enjoy technical, where they still want to learn the design parts, but what they'll always move towards is oh, new technique, or I'm doing this crazy cool thing. So I think it's just how long you spend on it. And I think you need a lot of time.
Nidia Dias: For me, I still think, I still have to improve, so it's just the experience, right? The more I do things, the better I know it and the more hardwired it is into my brain, how to do it.
Joey Korenman: It's an interesting philosophical question, and I go back and forth sometimes. Because I totally agree with you, and I really agree that if somebody wants to be really good at something, they can be. It may just take them 10,000 hours, right?
Joey Korenman: But if they're not really, really driven and into that thing, they're not going to put the time in, so they won't be good at it. So for me, it's the chicken and the egg question, like are people good at design because they love design so they practiced? Or are they good at design because they have this innate ability, so they got some success, so they kept doing it, so they got better? I'm always curious about what drives what. And frankly, some of that is just jealousy, because I wish I was a better designer.
Nidia Dias: I think jealousy is good. Not in a bad sense, but for me I always find myself looking at people's work and thinking, "I wish I could do stuff like that," but then I used it towards again, my challenge. I tried to get into that level. And then once I get into that level, now I find someone else that has crazy good work, and go, oh man. So you just keep on finding someone else that is doing better than you, and you use that as your motivation to get better.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. I'm competitive too, and I love that sentiment, because I think that is really ... for some people, that is a great driver of always pushing yourself.
Joey Korenman: So I want to circle back to something that we were talking about earlier, which is that you've moved into more of an art director role. And I know that from ... if you're looking at the pyramid of a motion design career, art director is higher up on that mountain than designer. And you get booked for longer, you have more responsibility, all of those things.
Joey Korenman: So based on what you want out of your career and the direction it's going, do you see a day where you're not really designing anymore and you're just art directing, and would you like to move into creative directing?
Nidia Dias: I still don't know. I've done projects where I'm directing or I have a team, and it's really rewarding to see everyone come together to do something you can't, almost like managing, right? To make sure that everything goes the way that it should. And it's quite scary sometimes, because all eyes rely on you. When someone has a doubt, they just look at you and you're like, "Uh, let me think about that."
Nidia Dias: But I still do love design. I see myself as yes, I do want to direct more, but I think I would always try finding a balance between directing and not directing, because I don't think I would be satisfied by just only directing.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. That's the question that a lot of people have to grapple with. And who knows, maybe things change as you grow older, life situations change, I know that's how it went for me. But that's cool that you recognize that in yourself, that you're always drawn to the making. And that is a tricky balance.
Joey Korenman: And just overall, your career trajectory has been pretty incredible, just how quickly you've gone from student to working at all of these great studios, to now freelancing and art directing for these studios and working on huge projects, like the Microsoft Office brand film, all that kind of stuff.
Joey Korenman: And I think the most impressive thing for me about you, Nidia, is just how clearly your skills have progressed over the last eight years. So do you have an overall strategy for that? You talked about it, but I want to leave everyone listening with some tactical, motivating stuff. How do you approach making yourself a better designer?
Nidia Dias: I think it's curiosity. I realize that for me to learn something, I need to create a project. So if I want to learn, let's see, Houdini, I'll start with the basic stuff. But once I get a grasp of Houdini, I'll probably make myself create a project, like an actual deadline and stuff like that. Because otherwise, I'm not touching things.
Nidia Dias: Especially nowadays. In the past, every day I would go home and I would be like, okay, I need to do stuff. And that was my life for two years, I would just go home and do stuff. And after that, now I realized that you should take breaks, and be more careful with your health and other stuff. I would try to do my best in that sense, so I'm trying to rest when I can, but at the same time, I still last night go into my computer and go okay, I want to do some stuff.
Nidia Dias: But a lot of times I just procrastinate, it's true. I just sometimes look at the clock like oh, it's one in the morning and I haven't done anything at all. So I realized with time that for me what works, is that I have to think of a project. So in the case of flow, it was, I had a specific goal, and I have to get me to that goal. I do that with any personal project. So either it's a more technical side or more development side, I have to think of an idea and then once I'm happy with that idea, I start working on it.
Nidia Dias: And a lot of times, I use that to learn new tools. So if I'm doing something that requires, I don't know for example, Redshift, I will think of a project I can do that makes sense of lighting and texturing, stuff like that, so I learn about it. But it's nothing I [inaudible 01:07:31] in, there's a project that I've done and there's a thinking behind it.
Joey Korenman: I think that's really smart though, because I guess in contrast to what we think of as the normal everyday, which is just, I need to put pixels on the screen, it doesn't matter if they mean anything, I just need to do it. What you're talking about to me actually makes a lot more sense, which is, you're simulating the way these things go in the industry, which is, there's always a point to it. Even if it's just subjective and abstract. I think that is a more focused way to go after it.
Joey Korenman: And I actually wanted to bring something up. We haven't talked about this yet, but your husband is also a 3D artist.
Nidia Dias: Yes.
Joey Korenman: So you're talking about, there was a time, and I don't know if you were with him at the time, but you would go home after work and just geek out all night on 3D stuff, and now you're married to someone who I'm assuming is probably a lot that way too. So how has having a partner that is also a 3D artist, and I didn't do as much research on him, but I did find some of his work too, I see he's a 3D technical rigor. So he's probably on a different planet as far as 3D ability.
Joey Korenman: How has that helped you develop your skills and have that resource too?
Nidia Dias: I would say you're a very good detective, if you ever change careers, you know where to go.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. I do background searches.
Nidia Dias: Yes, it's very interesting. Like I said, he's much more technical than me, which is fun. He's a reader and a [inaudible 01:09:16] but he also loves coding, and does games for Maya. He uses Maya and I use Cinema 4D. So I think it's always interesting, because we both have our different way of thinking. I think more in a design sense and he thinks more on the technical side.
Nidia Dias: So a lot of times, nowadays for example, he's coding a lot, he's doing a lot of his own tools, so a lot of times he talks to me about coding. And it's quite funny because a lot of times he just talks to me and I have no clue what he's talking about. And I just nod and smile, and then he's trying to figure out some problem he has in coding, and then he's like, as he talks to himself, he figures it out. And he looks at me like, "Thank you," and like, "You're welcome." I don't say anything, I just stand there and nod.
Nidia Dias: No, but I think it's very interesting because like I said, I was wanting to go into engineering and I did learn coding, but unfortunately I didn't continue doing that, so I'm not very good at coding anymore. But I find it very fascinating for example, coding. So seeing my husband coding in Python, a lot of times I'm genuinely interested in seeing what he's doing and how he's approaching different things.
Nidia Dias: So for us, it's fun because I'll show him my stuff and the great thing is, it's a different opinion. He has a different way of thinking. So whatever I show him, he probably has a different thought than I had. And the same for me, when he's coding or doing something, I'll probably say something that I think is stupid, and for him it's like, "No actually, I didn't thought about that."
Nidia Dias: So I think because we have these different approaches, or we work on different sections of a project, it's great because first we never have that competitive thing, because we don't work against each other on the same thing. I think that's very important.
Nidia Dias: And then second, yeah, whenever I have something that is technical, I just look at him like, "Do you want to help me?" And then he most of the time says yes, I'm like, cool. Here's a project.
Nidia Dias: So I just put it into him like, hey, I'm trying to do a bouncy castle, do you want to do it? Cool, let's do it.
Joey Korenman: Well, hopefully he gives you a discount, like the friends and family discount. That's funny. And I think it's interesting too, that you're a Cinema 4D artist, he's a Maya artist. You almost think of that like cats and dogs sometimes, they don't really mix. So I think you two are a good example, that Maya artists and Cinema 4D can get along.
Nidia Dias: I will not touch Maya either way. But I did have, when I was at Mainframe, they had a project that came back two months later, and they said, "Hey, we want to change the color," and I was free, I was an intern. And the [inaudible 01:12:01] was like, "Hey Nidia," I think it was the [inaudible 01:12:03], I'm not sure, but it was just a quick change of color, stuff like this, "Can you help us?"
Nidia Dias: I was like, yeah, yeah. Sure. It's probably not that hard. And then it was Maya. It was like, it's just changing colors, you can do this.
Nidia Dias: I opened Maya, and there was no interface. It took me half an hour to figure out how to put the interface back. And then only years later, my husband told me that computer was his before, and he had this new [inaudible 01:12:25] stuff, because he was just doing something else. And I told him, it took me half an hour just to figure out half to put that back. And he's like, "Yeah, you just press space."
Nidia Dias: And I was like, I did not know that. So I had my first, my first intake in Maya wasn't great. It was how hard to figure out how to put things back.
Joey Korenman: Right. Well it's a different beast, that's for sure. I played around with it many years ago and just decided it wasn't for me. First of all, I want to say thank you for everything you've talked about here, this has been an awesome conversation for me. Because actually, I didn't realize this in my research, you're competitive, and you really like personal challenges, and that for me explains how you've come so far, so fast. It's funny, my wife and I, we talk about, there's doers, and then there's everybody else.
Joey Korenman: And you seem like a doer. Your work and your career shows the fruits of that. So my last question is, there's going to be a lot of motion designers listening to this that are blown away by your work and the studios that you've worked with. And maybe they're at the beginning of their career, and they're looking to you as a model, someone they can follow. So what advice would you give someone that's starting their motion design career right now, if they want to see even a fraction of the success that you've had?
Nidia Dias: I would say to do their own thing. I get where I am now because I did projects that I've enjoyed, or I did personal projects that were me. And I think nowadays there's a lot of trends, like someone's something, and like I said, Ash Thorp wanted to recreate it. And I found that very early when I was even learning Photoshop, the first time I opened Photoshop I did one tutorial, from beginning to end with all their images that they gave.
Nidia Dias: And at the end, I realized I don't want to do this anymore. I just want to learn the technique, I don't want to copy someone else's work. And I think that's the important thing. If you're looking into a technique, find it but then make your own spin on it. Don't just do something just because someone else did. And I think that's for me what I hope to feel more when I look at Instagram or social media, or someone's website.
Nidia Dias: I love looking at personal projects, because that tells me a lot about each person, so I always encourage to do personal projects. And once you do that, do something that is you. Because if I look at my portfolio, I want to see what people enjoy doing and what they're really passionate about. So don't follow trends, do your own stuff.
Joey Korenman: Check out Nidia's work at NidiaDias.com. That's NidiaDias.com.
Joey Korenman: And of course, everything we talked about today will be in the show notes at SchoolofMotion.com.
Joey Korenman: I had a blast chatting with Nidia, and I hope you got a lot out of hearing her story and her philosophy. I feel kind of jacked up right now, maybe, maybe I'm just too comfortable. Maybe you're too comfortable.
Joey Korenman: All right, anyway, before this gets too awkward, I'm just going to say, thank you for listening. Thank you Nidia for coming on, and for being so friggin' good, and I'll catch you on the next one.