|16th November 2009, 09:18 AM||#1|
Featured Member - Alfredo Rocha Ramírez aka doncha_magoso
1. Hi Alfredo, thanks for taking time to do this interview. I’m pretty sure most members will know who you are but for the record and of course, sticking with my format; would you mind introducing yourself and tell us something about you, your hobbies, favorite movie, where you work, that sort of thing.
My name is Alfredo Rocha Ramírez. I’m 26 years old and have two careers (but not two degrees) shame on me :P
I have two dogs, Chato, who is a really nice Beagle that my girlfriend loves, and Babalú, which is a really hyperactive mix of Labrador and street dog and is getting big as a bear and poops 10 kilos of stuff for every 5 kilos of food O_o
I love riding my bicycle, it was my only transportation for many many years. I love playing the guitar; I’ve played since i was 11, so i could manage to play in bars to make money for school; I can also play the accordion, the piano, the drums, the bass and a bit of singing. I studied 9 years of martial arts and almost got my black belt for taekwondo.
I consider myself some kind of a frustrated film maker. I made a small documentary work about blind people 5 years ago, and it really made some noise back home. I also helped doing the camera work for another short film, which ended up being a complete fail, but i learned a lot from that.
I still love movies and my job allows me to increase my DVD collection every week, I’m re discovering films that i had already forgotten, like 12 Monkeys, Shine, Tarantino’s, and other new films that i could never go to see to the cinema.
Right now, I’m working at one of the biggest web agencies in Latin America, for sure the most awarded, which is located at a small city called Saltillo, at the north of Mexico, in the big state of Coahuila. I’m the 3d guy, among other guys who also work in Modo and Maya.
2. When did you decide you wanted to be an artist and what inspired you to that end?
Hmm. *grabs his chin and starts thinking*
Actually it’s kinda hard to tell that, since my parents always were pretty open minded to my hobbies and interests. I used to paint a lot as a child, and mom keeps a ton of drawings i made back in elementary school. One of my teachers has a small notebook that I forgot once where all of my teachers are caricaturized by me.
Anyway, there was music at first, i started earning money from that and it was really cool, after that I started looking around for a job that could be related to graphics of any kind. So I got a job at a vinyl stickers business. I ended up making the graphics for a small set of buses for public transportation, using Corel Draw, a small crappy PC and a cutting plotter. Some months later, a teacher told me that I could make a living by just drawing. And two weeks later I was doing my first exam to get into the graphics design school.
Some months after that, I got a job at a local TV station, and with my first paycheck I finally knew that I could make a living out of it.
3. As I understand you didn't start out in graphic arts but instead engineering?
Yup, I almost completed a Mechanical Engineering degree, but I left after having a lot of troubles with some teachers who I could never understand. I reached the point that I could design the pieces of a transmission and calculate the forces implied, so I could calculate the needed resistance of the used material. Those math classes, where we had formulas to calculate things in more than 3 dimensions, were a real pain in the rear, not that I don’t like math, but I just didn’t find any use to that, not for my own benefit anyway. As far as I know I already forgot everything “engineerish” from that time.
4. At what point did you get involved with the 3D medium and what motivated you?
We had this weird software to design mechanical pieces, but it had a horrible interface and if you failed at a tiny thing, it all ended up being a disaster. At that time one of my partners had access to a computer with 3dsMax installed (he was the son of one of the teachers).
When I saw what he used to do on his free time I was really amazed. He had made this small car with tires that could rotate like the car in Back to the Future, so my first real 3d experience was playing with 3dsMax at the teacher’s computer. It really made me feel like I could start working at the videogame industry in no time.
5. Did you go to school for a 3D/CG degree and whether yes or no, what do you recommend to those entertaining the idea of working in a studio?
Once I was in the graphic design school, I started working at a TV station that used Lightwave 6 and Toaster, so I could learn 3d way before starting my 3d class in the last semester (with Lightwave 8). Those classes helped me to refine some stuff, but I always wanted to animate a real character (a la Pixar style), but since I loved to model inorganic it didn’t end up in frustration.
I really need to go to a 3d school, I’ve been dealing with the things i already know, and learning some new stuff with each new project, but production time doesn’t allow me to concentrate on just learning. If you have the money and the time, go for the 3d/cg school, if not, just try harder and harder to get decent results, and when you’ve got them, just keep trying to make them even better. A good way to learn, is to do, so if you start trying doing something, you’ll get it eventually. One of my 3d co workers studied at Vancouver, he’s one person I really admire (Camilo Guaman), the other guy is just like me, he learned by just reading and trying and pulling out better work every time (Juan Luis Ruiz), both are really good at what they do, and both are really responsive when something needs to be worked, so I guess that whatever feels like the right thing to do when you’re choosing, it might be the right thing, just remember that amazing things come when you risk the most.
6. Can you tell us about your progression into the professional arena, how you got started and where you are currently?
Actually I’ve been working in so many places that it’s hard to remember each one in the exact time line. As a child, my first job was to help grandpa at the fields, he used to milk cows and cultivate corn, pumpkins and beans. After that, as a teenager, I started working as a waiter, pizza delivery boy, as a messenger, and I also worked at the family business: Beekeeping.
When I decided I could be good doing other stuff, I started working as the assistant of a guy who made screen printing for t-shirts and other stuff, but also tried to earn something from the music playing at some bars in the weekends.
Just after I left the vinyl stickers job, I took a small break and signed up for a traditional animation course with Dominic Jonard, who is a French guy who lives in my old city and has done a ton of traditional animation projects, so it was my ticket to get the job at the TV station.
After that, I worked at this little marketing agency but the company just imploded, so I became a freelancer, working at nights to make animations for the local Nissan dealer and some editorial work. Then I graduated and leaved home to work at north of México (Monterrey, one of the biggest cities in my country). I got into a small office with 6 or 7 employees that made models and scenarios for a big videogame company. I really felt like I was making nice progress in my life, despite of having gained almost 10 kilos in 1 year.
No long after that, I returned home to take care of some personal stuff, so I decided to work my ass off and put up a small graphics design agency with one of my dearest friends (Johnny E. Morales), but I was a bit depressed and everything went backwards. After a year of working, I felt that things were starting to be in shape again; that was my signal to start looking for other things.
I took a week of vacations (here they call it “Semana Santa”, Holy Week) and traveled around my country looking for a nice job. The first ones to respond were the guys at GrupoW. I didn’t know what to expect from them, since I wasn’t aware of what they used to do.
It turned out that they made this amazing websites and I had already seen most of them. They used 3d stuff a lot, but also this killers graphics that made me feel good.
So I didn’t just called them, I actually took a 10 hour trip to their headquarters and met them. I discovered a nice working team that felt almost like coming back to school. I felt in the right place. At the end of the day, some minutes before taking the bus again, one of the bosses talked with me. He was really nice, he also stated that once I start working, I could get all the benefits since day one (you know, insurance, vacations, etc.), something that was only a promise in my other 1000 jobs.
I came back home with mom and my bro, they encouraged me to go for that job, so 970km later, here I am, 4 months left to my second year here, and I still can say I’m really happy with my job, with the money I make, with the things I can do with that and also with the opportunity to do something I consider just like hanging around or killing time, coz my real deal is to start a rock and roll band and get famous and use long hair and beard and ride a mustang and... nah. I just want a new Gibson, that’s all.
7. What has been your most enjoyable project?
In a team? So far, by far, DetectiveStripes.com
I had the chance to work with one of the best 3d artists I personally know and consider a dear friend: Eugenio García Villareal.
That project needed a ton of texturing, lighting, and modeling skills, but the hard part was to, first, get a decent idea for the client, hire a nice production house to help us, get a big set so we could use green screens, work with the technicians to build the platform where the guy runs, film the entire thing with a RedCam attached to this enormous traveling crane; we needed a ton of people to help us cut the green off and also two guys working full time on the compositing, two other guys working full time on the virtual scenarios and another 20 guys working on the film editing, designing of the interface, composing the music, correcting the colors and tweaking little tiny things that made a big difference at the end.
Finally, we finished up after the deadline, but the client was delighted with our work, just like the previous other works we made for them. Oh! And we only used Lightwave for the 3d, with a little help from Z brush for some details on the dirty laundry bags.
Personal work? Well... actually I’m pretty pleased with the little stuff I pull out every now and then, since it’s intended just to relax my mind and keep my modeling skills from rust. The only personal work I’m actually really proud of is the one I’m making right now, whatever it is. Sometimes I see an object and think “hum... that part might be a challenge to model”, so I get home and start modeling it, once I model the hard part of it, I just lose interest since I just proved a point: modeling relaxes me
8. Of all your 3D work what is your favorite and why?
There was this time that I missed grandma a lot, she had passed away and I was feeling a bit nostalgic. I went to visit grandpa and took some pics of my grandma’s old fridge. Back home I started modeling in 3dsMax, I made the UV unwrap and almost finished the texturing. I just couldn’t finish it. It really looked like grandma’s fridge! It is my favorite coz it’s attached to a time I was feeling left alone and now when I see it, it feels good to know that things are ok anyway.
There’s also a hippie VW van I modeled a while ago (it was my very first vehicle, back in the Lightwave Group days) and it really made some noise. It had a lot of mojo.
9. We've seen a lot of cars from you but you also mix it up with some very unusual items. What is you favorite subject to model?
Oh I just love modeling cars! I also like to model stuff I see somewhere. I have a ton of modeled objects that have never get to be shared on any forum. I also model what’s the new toy in house. Like when I got my Canon, I tried to model it, when I got my Hilux I tried to model it too; same thing with my Sony MD player, with my iPod nano, with my newest electric guitar. It feels good to model something you touch everyday, since you can feel it’s texture, the shapes and edges. To model something, I really need to touch it, to be there, to own it for a moment. I just model things that represent a challenge in some parts.
10. Any spoilers for us as to future projects?
The thing is that, since I love modeling cars, and here at work they have noticed that, we started a new campaign for a deodorant that involves a lot of cars. Lots and lots of cars and all of them have special details that make them unique. It’s a big project that won’t even air on traditional Internet supports, so I guess it’s some kind of an hybrid that will blow off people heads... or at least their broadband.
I’m also thinking about making a small band to play blues on Saturday nights at a small bar downtown. I’ll let you know whenever we need someone to sing
11. As a longtime member on F3D what advice would you give the serious hobbyist regarding 3D in general?
Oh well... 3d isn’t everything in the world, so try to relax your minds and not get frustrated by something you only want for yourselves. I’ve seen really good work from people that don’t even make any money from 3d, and actually want to keep it as a hobby.
As a hobbyist I was, I never really understood why I could get an occupation such as 3d modeling, since I also practiced some sports and felt real passion for music; but later I discovered that it is something that makes me feel useful, skillful, and sometimes relieves some frustrated hobbies I had as a child: breaking everything and trying to put it back together.
So, keep it chill, have fun, and share what you learn, it’s the best way to keep rust away from our brains. By the way, don't stay too much in front of the computer, instead of that, just try to go on a long walk with a camera so you can get some pictures for texturing, for reference and so on. It's good for your health and for the mind.
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