xsi base: how did you get started in the cg industry and why?
ben PROCTER: i became interested in 3d right after college when got a job helping to art direct a cd-rom computer game. i was really fascinated watching the 3d artists do their work (especially my old buddy jin song, who was at pdi last time i checked), and i quickly began to learn about cg lighting, texture painting, etc.. at that point pixar was really hitting its stride with movies like “a bug’s life”, and i pictured myself becoming a lighter at a large animation or vfx studio. as it turned out, though, my first proper cg job was for a tiny (now defunct) la-based matte painting company called digital firepower and involved a lot of modeling, which i had to sort of learn on the job.
i’ll always be grateful to my buddy eric hanson, who didn’t know me from adam when i emailed him from nyc, for giving me not only a bunch of job leads but also the confidence to make the west coast leap into an unknown vfx world. my second cg job, which lasted much longer and really got me going in the industry, was with my good friends at plf. it was working there that i really expanded and honed my 3d skills, and cemented my habit of working with xsi. i give a lot of credit to colin green, kent seki and other plf alums for teaching me so much and exposing me to the art department world that i’m now a part of.
xsi base: what do you like to do in your spare time?
bP: i’m afraid to admit that i don’t have any exciting, manly hobbies like hang-gliding or rebuilding old cars. i would say that my free time gets taken up by seeing friends, hanging out with the wife, and spending time with my pets (including two horses, who are lovely but time consuming!). the only books i read regularly are sci-fi novels, but these are a big source of inspiration for my imagination and work. ditto for sitting on the can with a nice stack of art books and japanese hobby mags. i also have some personal side projects, but the sad fact is i probably spend a lot more time thinking about them while i drive to work than i do actually sitting down and writing/drawing/etc.. such is life for a busy commercial artist; i bet a lot of your readers can sympathize with this one.
xsi base: you have done a variety of things in regards to 3d, which one has been the most exciting and is your preferred area?
bP: that’s a tough one. the great thing about 3d is that it’s such a flexible tool and can be integrated into your workflow in so many ways (especially if you can paint as well). i guess i’d say that 3d is most satisfying when there’s time to really finish something out with detailed geometry and textures and render it as nicely as you can with minimal overpaint. that kind of fulfills the craftsman’s instinct best…to really fashion something elaborate and then show it from many angles, as opposed to doing a heavy paintover where you only end up with 1-2 views and much of the detail never makes it back into the little virtual world you’re building in 3d. paint sure is fast, though.