MEET THE ARTIST: ANIMATION DIRECTOR NICK LOSQ

Sketch_FrontSide-580x470▲ Little Kaiju is adorable and instantly connects with the emotions of the viewer

Back in November we ran a piece on four-minute movie Little Kaiju from Australian studio TwiN and animation director Nick Losq. Here we interview Nick about his influences and background.

Watch Little Kaiju now!

3D World: What’s your job and where do you work?

Nick Losq: I am a director at Rabbit and also act as the ECD of the Rabbit Design and Animation department.

3D World: When did you first discover your talent and decide to become a 3D artist?

NL: Ever since I can remember I have been keen on drawing, and after seeing Star Wars as a kid I decided that I wanted to be a practical movie make-up guy; creating characters that I saw and loved in these movies.

In case my dreams in the movie business didn’t come to fruition my fall-back was to draw comic books. I spent much of my youth practising my traditional art skills focusing heavily on sculpture and illustration.

I actually spent zero time working with computers and I wanted nothing to do with them growing up – until one fateful day. Jurassic Park. I saw it when I was in high school and my mind was completely blown. I walked out in a complete daze, realising that this movie was a look into the future of how character and creature effects would be created using 3D animation.

My first thought was “Well $hit… I better learn how to use a computer then”. From that point on I had one goal: to take everything I knew in the world of traditional art and apply it to 3D animation.

Jurassic-Park-3D

▲ Jurassic Park was and still is Nick’s favourite movie. There is a new one due out in 2014

3D World: Do you remember what your first piece of CG was?

NL: The first piece of CG that I actually did came a couple years after I started working in the biz. I got my foot in the door as a storyboard and character concept artist with the goal of getting my hands on one of the studio’s coveted SGI machines. It took about a year of hard work and proving my worth but eventually I got my hands on Maya and absolutely fell in love.

The first piece I did was a spec animation for the studio based around a property they were developing. It was a spoof on croc hunter, where you had an overly enthusiastic adventurer who was on a distant planet exploring local wildlife. I spent three months learning Maya, building this massive centaur-type creature with the torso of an ogre and the body of an elephant. Super fun project and in retrospect pretty damn cool that I got to claim this as my first project in 3D.

3D World: Where do you find inspiration?

NL: Monster movies, video games, animé, European graphic novels, the teams I have the pleasure of working with in the past and the ones I am lucky enough to work with today.

3D World: Who or what has influenced your work?

NL: Stan Winston, Star Wars, Moebius, Blur, Joe Madureira, Studio IG, and Capcom. There are many many more and some come and go, but this is my shortlist.

3D World: Do you think you have developed a certain style of work?

NL: To be completely honest, I don’t think I have yet found MY style of work but am having a great time looking for it. Right now the work that I find the most satisfying are character-driven stories that use both live-action and 3D animation, blending them together in a style that isn’t photo-real but also not cartoony. I love inventing characters, and having the opportunity to create a persona that audiences can relate to or even care about is always the most exciting thing for me. On the Little Kaiju project, the guys from TWiN and I had the most fun developing the character’s personality, and deciding what he would and wouldn’t do.

3D World: What is your favorite 3D software and why?

NL: Maya is by far my favourite software but in all fairness it’s probably because I have been using it exclusively since v1.5. There are many other CG packages out there that have brilliant tools but based on my passion with character animation I have never found that I was lacking a function in Maya. Mudbox and ZBrush are also tools that I find I am using more and more.

3D World: What’s your favourite film and why?

NL: District 9 without any doubt. This film is perfection as far as I am concerned. It has a captivating story and compelling characters and takes these hideous-looking aliens that are completely CG and makes you care about them. It’s truly brilliant work and an amazing mix of storytelling, in-camera effects and photo-real CG. Any movie that has me forgetting that I am watching an effect is a good movie in my book. I love and hate movies that raise the bar, as the immediate effect is a feeling of ‘dammit, I am not yet good enough’. That results, however, in a re-invigoration and an intense motivation to get better at my craft.

3D World: What’s your favourite animation and why?

NL: It’s a two-way tie between Dead Leaves and FLCL. Studio IG has created some of the animation that I am the most inspired by. They do everything right, leading with a creative story, unique visuals and some of the best stylised animation I have ever seen. I actually watch way more 2D animation than 3D animation as I think there is much that it can teach us about raising the 3D bar, and is greatly overlooked as a source of guidance in furthering our craft.

I still find new little details and cues in these two movies even though I have seen them both about 100 times each. The great thing about Studio IG is their sense of timing and the use of their key frames which always demonstrates a thing or two about how I can continue to level up my work.

3D World: Do you have a favourite video game?

NL: Capcom’s Monster Hunter series is my favourite game by a long way, but coming in at a close second these days would be Borderlands 2. I tend to gravitate to games with unique character design and team tactics. These two are the ones that I think push the envelope in terms of character design and keep the games focused on co-operative play.

Video games are a huge inspiration in my work as I am a pretty huge fantasy and sci-fi junkie, and the medium is ripe with these genres. The added bonus of video games is that it also teaches you to act as a functioning team member in it for a common goal, which everyone knows is an important skillset to have in this industry.

3D World: What’s the best critique you have received?

NL: It’s not really a critique as much as a quote that has stayed with me since my early days as a 3D artist and filmmaker: ”Just because you don’t see the detail, doesn’t mean that you won’t feel it” Stan Winston.

This quote has really become my mantra. It helps remind me to keep pushing the level of quality regardless of if you will ‘see’ it, and that as artists our true responsibility is not just to make pretty pictures but to elicit an emotional response from our audiences.

3D World: Any words of advice for aspiring artists?

NL: Here’s a list:

  • Research, observation, and practice
  • Make your craft your life, be patient, and always question why you are doing what you are doing
  • It’s really easy to find yourself wearing blinders in this business. Taking them off every now and then to re-evaluate where you are and where your ultimate goals are is a great way to stay on track
  • Always strive for those goals but know that your journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time, learn your craft and listen to the guidance and criticism of the people around you
  • Being a designer/animator is not a profession, it is definitely a lifestyle. If your life can embody your passion and not be distracted by your ego, success will come without any doubt

Fonte: Revista 3D World

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