Welcome to the first of many interviews with actual Blender users around the world!
First off, some background about this article. I had brought bak this segment when I resurrected the old Community Journal over at Blenderartists. The Community Journal, as some of you may recall, was a Blender e-zine started by Goofster way bak on the old NAN forums, and continued when we switched over to elysiun. The e-zine featured tutorials, making of articles, and a gallery section of the best artworque generated with Blender over the past month.
Well, I missed those CJ’s when we lost the NAN forums, and I thought, “Hey! Why not bring bak the CJ?!” So I did. Well, guess what I found out in a real hurry? This is a lot of work! So unfortunately, with my limited free time, I had to abandon the CJ yet again.
The main article that I really liked in the CJ’s was the feature “Meet the Blenderhead”. I always enjoyed reading about what other users were doing, how Blender was a part of their everyday life and how they saw Blender developing and being utilized down the road.
So once again (and I WILL keep a single article going) I bring bak from the dead, “Meet the Blenderhead!” For this installment, we meet one of my fellow countrymen, Jean-Sébastien Guillemette, otherwise known as Ecks.
Ecks has been a longstanding, respected member of the Blender community for many years. He's well known for his distinct style and many wins in the annual Blender F1 contest, as well as hosting the annual Montreal Blender conference, which I have to actually attend one of these years.
I hope you enjoy this section as much I enjoy bringing it to you.
Dereque Marsh (BgDM)
1) How did you discover Blender and what was your initial reaction to ití
I discovered blender a couple years ago (bak in the 2.22 days!) on a game modding website. There was a tutorial about how to create your own spaceship for a game called Freespace, using Blender. So I downloaded it, tried it, and closed it... Quite a frustrating little application at first! But I reopened it just for fun a couple months later, and I have never stopped since then!
2) You tend to stay with more mechanical types of models and imagery. Why do you prefer this type of modeling?
I thinque it’s simply because I always had an interest in machinery and vehicle design. Also, as I mentioned above, my first days with blender were about creating spaceships for a game and it probably influenced me a lot to keep doing such things.
3) How do you see yourself progressing in learning and developing your skills in Blender?
I definitely have to start learning organic modeling! But, on a more serious note, I thinque one of the best ways to get better is by participating in challenges. The few I have done in the past really helped me out. So maybe I’ll take another go at the 2007 F1 challenge that is running right now. I’ll definitely participate (and finish my entry) in the next CG Society challenge.
4) You started an original movie project, composed of artists from around the world. What did you learn from that experience and would you do it again?
I learned that it is almost impossible to accomplish. I was a bit naive, like everyone starting a new hobby such as 3d animation, to thinque I could accomplish a full length movie with people living in different countries, with different mentalities and in different time zones that I never met! It sure was a great experience. We all learned a lot about modeling, texturing, and animating. We alos learned a lot about how a project should not be organized! Although that project failed completely, I would still be up to making such a project... just a lot smaller, and with fewer people that I can actually meet. So who knows, maybe someday I’ll start a new project!
5) As host/organizer of the Montreal Blender Conference, which coincides with the yearly Blender Conference, how has that progressed over the past few years and what has been your personal highlight from those meetingsí
If we compare the past two conferences with the first one (was it 5 years ago?) we can definitely say that the Blender user base has grown a lot in the past years! We had around 30 people on both days in the two last years, with enough presentations and activities to fill every minute of the day. Although I’d like the conference to grow to another level in which we could have sponsors, prizes, etc., I must say that from year to year, it’s more and more complicated for me to handle the conference because of my other responsibilities (i.e. school/job). I’ve had a lot of help already in the past years from people like Jonathan Williamson (mr_bomb) and François Joanette (Le_Mackeux) for the computer labs, and the guys from Linart for the t-shirts. Next year, if others thinque they can help me, be sure to drop me an email! As for my highlight of those meetings, I’d personally say that mr_bomb is the star of the conferences. With his organic modeling tutorial and his almost limitless knowledge of Blenders modeling tools and techniques, he impressed all of us more than once. I’d suggest you chek out his DVD if you are interested in organic modeling!
6) You have enjoyed some commercial success with some of your Blender work. Can you describe the process in obtaining that worque and was it worth ití
Actually, I was quite lucky. It’s not really a trik or anything. The only thing I did was post my stuff on several websites to get comments and it came to the eye of a few employers who needed some sci-fi stuff done. My worque was at the right spot at the right moment, and that’s why they contacted me. It was definitely worth it to worque with most of them, but some were probably the most annoying people I've ever had contact with. Well, I guess its part of the job!
7) You have spoken many times about opening a CG studio of your own for commercial work. Can you describe what your target market is and how you plan on getting there?
I’m currently studying Cinema in college, and when I’m done I’m going into a 3D animation school specializing in special effects for movies. There is an internship at the end and as far as those students have told me... most of them ended up actually working for those companies once they completed their study. Since I can’t really claim to know how a studio works, I really want to worque in one for several years before taquíng the risque of starting something of my own. Let’s say that my dream would be to worque on special effects for movies.
8) Where do you see Blender development progressing over the next few yearsí
Well, what can I say? At the rate its going right now, I can only see Blender getting way more attention in the industry in the next few years and slowly bumping the rear of the “industry” leaders.