3D CHARACTER MODELING IN ANIMATION WITH OSITA ANISIOBI

by CGAfrica in Articles,

on December 21st, 2017

CGA:  Please briefly introduce yourself, your background and how you got into the Character Modeling/Animation/VFX industry

My name is Osita Anisiobi. Nigerian, living in Houston, Texas. Studying Computer Information Systems at the University of Houston. ‘Had an extensive run making Motion Comics, character design look-dev for an animated TV show and Illustrating for Fashion Magazines back in Nigeria.

When I moved to Houston, I got involved in Building PCs and took interest in GPU rendering. I realized growth in GPU technology had finally made high fidelity renders and quicker iteration times a possibility. I got 2 Gtx-1080 graphics cards, slapped them on my 16 core Ryzen pc and called it a day. Then I finally started to use Octane Render (a biased GPU renderer).

So now I keep learning and refining my 3d techniques.

CGA:  What was the first job you worked on professionally, and how did you land it? 

I was employed to make storyboards for the pilot of an animated series. I sent my resume to Sporedust Media, I interviewed, and they Hired me as contract staff.

EDUCATION AND WORKFLOW

CGA: What are a few ways that your workflow and techniques have changed between then and now?

I've been drawing for longer than I’ve been sculpting. In Figure drawing, I sketch the base shapes and build up from there. In 3D I always start sculpting in Zbrush from a dynamesh shape. Retopologize base geometry in Maya and project high fidelity details in Zbrush while increasing subdivisions. I generate UVs and move to Mari to paint the model. Finally, I move back to Maya, setup a material system, lights, optimize my scene and then render with Arnold or Redshift.

 

 

CGA: How important would you say formal education is in getting to where you are now in contrast to the self-teaching approach you took? (I am assuming you were self-thought)

 Due to the complicated nature of 3d graphics, the importance of formal 3d education cannot be overlooked. Starting out, I purchased a couple of tutorials on the basics of 3d. I usually watched them while working. But never replicated what they instructed. I started to bend the rules quite early. And ended up breaking a lot of my software. Breaking stuff is okay. There's amazing stuff on YouTube, but very few come close to paid tutorials in my opinion. I also implore new users to try and feel at home in the software UI and navigation before starting any serious work. 

CGA: So Maya is your preferred software. What got you started using Maya and how does it help day to day work?

Maya is incredibly versatile. From Bifrost to Xgen, and support for major plugins its truly worth the price. It can seem intimidating at first, but I just focus on the parts that are core to making my job as a lookdev artist better. I use the Redshift GPU renderer plugin in Maya.  It uses CUDA cores in Nvidia Graphics Cards to improve render times when compared to CPU only renderers like Vray. I can push out final iterations 5 times as fast. 

CGA: As a character modeler why is it important, if at all, to have a solid foundation in 2D, whether it be in anatomy, costume design, etc?

That’s a great question. Most people in 3d that don’t have a strong foundation in 2d drawing usually have a harder time. It’s not impossible, only an uphill task. I’m a harsh critic of my own work. I spent a long time polishing my anatomy skills. Years before I even started doing anything digitally. I was humbled once I made the transition. All I learnt turned out to be only 30% of the pipeline. Editing materials in Maya Hypershade, node graphs, optimizing geometry to name a few, are skill areas people would usually overcompensate on. As a sculptor or character artist put the computer down and sketch everyday. It gets easier. But doing it everyday is the hard part.

 

CGA: What do you feel are 3 skills a character modeler must master in order to be a viable candidate for work in this competitive industry?

Anatomy, Swift skill adoption rate, a good balance of Speed and accuracy.

 

 

HINDERANCES TO VISUALISATION IN NIGERIA & AFRICA

CGA: In Africa, Animation is lagging behind, in your opinion and taking Nigeria as an example what would you say are the three leading factors hindering the development of CG in Africa?

Poverty rate: The people are greatly educated and there is poor compensation. Money is greatly misappropriated by the government so people trying to keep their heads above water won't be keen on buying a beefed up PC.

My PC back in Nigeria was a VAIO with 1gb ram and a Core 2 Duo CPU. Maya won't even launch. The spirit was willing but the pocket was weak.

Luckily, Now here in the US, I’m a Specialist with Apple. So it helps keep the computers lights on. 

 

Lack of schools: The art schools are great but very few focus on actual digital media. And the ones that do aren't very good. Its honestly a “okay” industry guys who want to make a quick buck. And the really talented guys overcharge. I don’t believe in imparting knowledge in anyone till I attain mastery. Mediocrity cannot breed greatness. I hope our CGI buffs in diaspora eventually come back home to help the thirsty creative minds.

Low demand: Nollywood churns out a tonne of movies annually. Creating a movie with advanced CGI and a big budget that would end up being pirated on the streets isn't a smart business plan. There will be no ROI. Investors just haven't been convinced enough to make such a brave dive

 

 

CGA: What project are you working on currently and what should we expect from this?

I'm under NDA (non disclosure agreement) on one of the projects right now with a Game development studio in California. I'm also putting my downtime into making game assets for an indie game studio here In Houston. I'm expecting to walk away with a wealth of knowledge.

CGA: What are some resources you can suggest for our audience who might one day want to work in Animation, VFX or games, but are still in the process of learning and honing their skills?

CGAfrica, 3dWorld magazine and The CreativeBloq websites are great resources. Gumroad has some good tutorials to look out for as well. Single out artists work you love, search them up on Gumroad.com, & artstation.com. Look at the credits on movies with great CGI and follow the lead VFX artists on social media. Respectfully ask questions and wait for a reply. They would get to it.

CGA: Any Advice for anyone who wants to go into the Animation/VFX field in Nigeria and Africa

There’s no excuse. There’s no time. While you're asleep at 1am after doing your homework, there’s someone somewhere who fired up Zbrush and is sculpting his eyes away. Hes gonna get that job at Dreamworks before you do. There’s people here in Image engine and WETA digital who came straight from Nigeria and the rest of Africa that are dominating. And please watch your saturation levels on your textures. New CGI texture artists form home tend to over-blow saturation levels.

 

 

Ali’s Shirt shouldn't always be Royal Blue and Sunflower yellow.

 

 

 

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