Computer Graphics World

May/June 2014

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What is your exact title at Disney? Contract artist for Acme Archives, licensed for fine art from Disney, Fox, DreamWorks, and other studio properties. How did you become a Disney artist? It was approximately a yearlong process, during which I submitted my work and hoped my paintings were deemed worthy of Disney's high standards. I was required to paint a wide variety of different images to show off my style. Has this always been a life dream? Ever since I was 5 years old, absolutely! Tell me about your art career. I started in the game industry in 1993 at age 21, doing artwork on the very first Heroes of Might and Magic. The game still continues on today and has eight spin-offs. Early on, I had a brush with Disney working with Walt Disney Imagineering as a ride track designer and environment artist for the ride 'Virtual Jungle Cruise,' still in operation today, and later was the creative lead for Steven Spielberg's 'Sky Pirates' ride, Gameworks' crown jewel. In 2000, I joined Foundation Imaging, designing 3D sets for Starship Troopers and Max Steel, a number-one rated cartoon on the Warner Bros. network. I've worked on several notable triple-A game titles, including Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance, Mor- tal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, and Silent Hill: Homecoming. In 2009, I returned to my roots in filmmaking by building the first real-time digital re-creation of the Back to the Future courtyard, a true virtual backlot for Universal Studios Hollywood. The project consisted of film-quality and real-time 3D re-creations of the world-famous facades. This historic and groundbreaking project is Universal's first step into the digital backlot realm and is dubbed the 'Smart Stage.' What inspired you to get into art and 3D? I was working on Jurassic Park doing props. I saw the movie... need I say more? Describe your art style, pre-Disney. Well, ever since I could remember picking up a paintbrush in school, there never was a pre-Disney moment. Pinocchio was the first painting I ever did. So you could say Disney created me, and it's been in my blood as far back as I can remember. One of my fans coined the title, 'painter of believable fantasy.' It stuck because it blurs the lines between the two worlds of real and imagined. Tell us about your recent business venture. In 2009, I co-created the project as creative director, for which I produced 100 CG cartoon shorts, voiced many of the main characters, and developed around 75 original CG characters that teach children how to grow vegetable gar- dens. (See "Seed Money" in the February/March 2012 issue of CGW.) I'm not an animator, but I took a stab at it, and midway through the project, I realized I was kind of reliving Walt's early animation life. Walt, as most know, was the voice of Mickey. Later, my characters were turned into full-size walk-around characters that appear at various state fairs and events around the country. It's been surreal seeing something that was in my head, walking around hugging little kids. It's an insight to Walt's life that I've been privileged to have experienced myself. C G W M ay / Ju n e 2 014 ■ 31 LOVE IN PARIS

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