The Old Diocesan Issue5 Mar2020 - Page 26

She said, “Okay, give it a few weeks,
and figure out what you want to
do. And then you’ll do that.” It was
the biggest gift she could give me.
Digital visual effects requires
quite an intense skills set though
– how did you learn your craft?
I had the computer skills, so after
taking some time off to travel and
work out what I really wanted,
I started ordering books from
Amazon on 3D and 3D Studio
Max. Back then it would take
three months for those books to
arrive, if they made it through at
all. And I remember sitting in my
flat, teaching myself how to do it.
Somewhere along the line I ended
up at a small animation school –
which also didn’t last long because
I was further along than the guy
who was teaching! But one day,
Sharlto Copley came in with
his partner talking about a TV
company they wanted to start…
Right: On set with Vin Diesel.
Below: The blue screen was part of
a massive elevator set in a warehouse
near Stellenbosch. Having taken up all
the stages at Cape Town Film Studios,
the production crew needed more
space to build this and a huge tunnel.
Sharlto, as in the star of District 9?
Correct. Sharlto was good friends
with Neill Blomkamp [the South
African-born director of District 9];
I think they were in high school
together. They had all these short
films that Neill had made. Not like
District 9 or Alive In Joburg; these
were animated shorts that no-one
knows about. They were pretty
amazing for the time. I don’t think
Toy Story had even come out, and
Neill was making these fantastic
films about robot rebellions and
stuff. I thought, “These guys are
awesome!” I went to work with
Sharl, we became friends – and,
many roads later, here I am now.
Did you know much about Blur
when Tim Miller asked you to
move to the US and join him?
Sure. Back then the CG and
visual effects community was
not anywhere near as prolific
as it is today, so most of us knew
each other online, and we shared
work across forums and websites.
Animation and VFX back then
was my life; I loved it, so I made
it my business to know everything
about everyone, and I had reached
out to some of the Blur artists
who had put their work online.
There are two main divisions:
the title sequence division has
done everything from The Girl
With The Dragon Tattoo to Marvel
and DC movies. I never really
worked much on that. Our
biggest business was game
cinematics. Basically, we were
paid a lot of money to make
three- to five-minute commercials,
if you will, for the biggest video
games in the world – Halo, Star
Wars, Mass Effect. It’s a massive,
massive industry, and when they’re
launching a $150-million video
game, they want an awesome
commercial for it. That was our
bread and butter for 20 years.

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