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Interview with Peter Sanitra

Currently I have 10 years of experience in cg working on large variety of project in games, architecture and film.

Tell us about yourself and your career in CG, please. Have you got a traditional education? How long have you been working in CG industry?

My name is Peter Sanitra. I was born in Slovakia 1980 (Czechoslovakia that time). I started CG at age 16 under DOS with 3D Studio R4. I started to learn from help files and books that were available. Currently I have 10 years of experience in cg working on large variety of project in games, architecture and film. I`ve studied Computer Science but after 3 years i`ve decided to stop and work in CG industry. I`ve never attended any cg school.

What do like most in CG: modelling, texturing, rendering, animation or compositing? How much time do you spend on each stage of a process?

I`ve enjoy everything in CG. I was always trying to learn as much as possible from all parts equally. This approach can really help cg artist to deal with all kind of scenes, and he can integrate better into production, because he know the needs of other departments very well. Lately i`ve done lot of environments, lighting and rendering, i think this is the part i love the most. Usualy I do modeling quickly, if you know where you are going, there is nothing to slow you down. For modeling I use Polyboost a lot, it have some great selection and modeling tools, that can save a lot of time. In rendering I usually go for realistic look so it take much more time to setup all the shaders and lighting. To speed up, post production can be great help. While working on rendering and shaders, i already start to create the composite in Digital Fusion to see if the render is good enough to be used as final.

Click here to view big image You’ve made your demo reel recently. It looks very impressive! What was your inspiration while making it? Can you tell us about creating each scene in details? What tools have you used for modelling and creating textures in your scene? How have you achieved such amazing color scheme and harmony between soundtrack and animation?

There was not much of inspiration for the shots. I didn`t wanted to copy other artist or movies. Main motivation was my need to do something dynamic and visually stunning, not only still pictures.I have small making of reel on my web page, but i will do more complex one in the future. For modeling 95% was polygonal modeling.I like to have control over every vertex, and usually i do the cage smart way so i can use subdivision and still keep the good shape of the model, this way you can easy use same model for closups and also for farther shots. Trough all the years i`ve assembled nice database of textures, but great source for me was environment-textures.com. It`s really cheap and they have all kind of hires textures you need for environments. For bigger scenes like the theatre and bathtub i`ve prepared a set of tileble textures based on real photos and added dirt and stains to them. I`ve also created displacement maps, usually for walls and ground. I`m using procedural as much as i can, it can save a lot of memory and time. For me,50 % of good looking image can be achieved in right composing and post production. For this job, my choice is Digital Fusion. As reference for coloring, i`ve used real pictures. With Fusion you can match histogram of your footage to the reel image, which can help you achieve the look you want. If you want your music to fit the animation you have to be really good in sound editing or use unusual approach, as i did. The key is to do previzualization(or animatic) of your animation with sound. I did the soundtrack first and then i was animating cameras with music already loaded in 3D max, so i was changing the camera position and movement according to sound. If it works for preview, it will work for rendered animation too.

Click here to view big image Which render do you prefer? And Why?

Right now, V-ray is my render of choice. It have very fast glossy reflections, proxy geometry and fantastic displacement. I also use dirt shader a lot. But for extra passes like zbuffer,normal map, volumetric light etc. I still use default scanline render.

What is your point of view on traditional art?

Of course knowledge of traditional art help you a lot when you work in CG. Mostly knowledge of 3 point perspective,color perspective,teory of colors etc. In cg, many time we use techniques that were know to traditional artist hundredths of years ago.

What can you advice for those who would like to work on the bigprojects in film making and commerce?

There is only one way to the top, and that is training and practice. If you want to be better then the rest, you have to practice more then the rest. Simple as that. Go deeper into technical knowledge, specially if you want to to rendering/lighting etc. It is crutial to know how render engines works, what is BSP tree, and how you can optimize you scenes.

Click here to view big imageWhat can you advice for those who would like to make their own demo reel? What "rules" and principles should they follow?

Do previzualisation fist. You can have nice renders, models etc, but if they don`t work together with camera, cut and music, it will be just another average presentation. You need two know where are you going in every stage, and what you want to achieve. There is nothing more flustrating then if you`ve lost days of work on something that will not be used. Establish your own small pipeline, the way you work on each scene from modeling to composing.

What do you do in your free time? Have you got a hobby? What kind of music do you prefer?

Free time? what`s that?:-) I do cg every free minute. If not full time, I do some freelance jobs or practice. Music can be very inspiring when working on animations. Mostly I listen to Rock or Metal, i like guitars and dynamic music.

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