An interview with Bruce Bigelow, Creative Director and HDR Light Studio user
First of all what do Electric Art do, and what’s your job there?
Electric Art are a high end creative image house working out of Sydney, Australia. We create mostly still images for advertising using retouching and 3D, but we’re doing an increasing amount of animation work ranging from online to TV. My main job is that of Creative Director so I basically oversee all works going out of Electric Art. I also head up the 3D department. I tend to get fairly involved in the pre-production process, estimating jobs etc.
What skill sets do you have under your roof, do you find having this all in house helps the quality of work?
We have several different skill sets within Electric Art. I guess we have three distinct departments – 3D, retouching and photography, with various people within the company having varied skills. Often we send parts of the job to the most appropriate person to do and eventually combine all parts into one image. It sort of ends up being an image created by a committee, albeit a very talented committee.
What was is your background before working in CGI, do you think these skills give you the edge over CG artists who have always been working in CGI?
I am so old I know how to kern type. I am from a design background and was trained traditionally in industrial design and graphic design. I was also trained in photography, typography and various other traditional skills. A broad training means more tools in the kit to solve creative image challenges. It’s hard to make a 3D submarine out of type if you don’t know type!
What is piece of work are you proud of and why? Maybe share with us the image for this.
This is a really cool piece of work for a really great client, that involved all the artillery available at EA. The basis of the job was a really solid creative that was not too tied down, which gave us lots of creative freedom to go ahead and create the spectacular moods within the job. It was a technically challenging job having to create a very realistic interpretation of the submarines as pieces of typography yet being real submarines within specific real environments. Everything had to be created from scratch in these images. The subs were created in 3D and put into environments that were semi-3D and photographic blends.
Apart from HDR Light Studio, what are the main tools in your workflow, what led you to arrive at using those tools?
Photoshop, 3ds Max, Maya, Mudbox, Z Brush, Real Flow, Silo, V-ray. A polhemus 3d scanner.
Since adopting HDR Light Studio into your studio, how has it changed the way you work, how does it fit in?
HDR Light Studio makes the job of enhancing the base lighting condition much easier and fits in between rendering and lighting stages in workflow .
Could you maybe explain one job where you used HDR Light Studio and how specifically it helped you?
All our recent Toyota work!
Did you ever think you would be using image based lighting in the way you do now, before HDR Light Studio came along?
No, I didn’t think we would be using software like this. It’s a real paradigm shift concerning lighting in a 3D environment. By making the interface simple and fast it makes it spontaneous, which is all important to us as artists
Some people may find it hard to believe that something that is easy to use and fast can also be very powerful and really improve the quality of your work. So is this true, are you making better images faster using HDRLS?
As I mentioned before, because it’s fast it’s spontaneous.
It changes the way we work in that it makes us focus on lighting more, and create subtle refined lighting effects that would be painstaking to create otherwise.
You have done so many great images at Electric Art, you have a great folio – is there a type of project you haven’t done yet that you would really love to work on – just from a personal ‘getting a kick out of it’ point of view?
Well, with ‘Prometheus’ coming out soon, I’m now waiting for Ridley Scott to call us to do the poster for the next Alien’s prequel sequel!