3D Artist

Blur Studio’s Simon Blanc talks photography & childhood dreams

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Scene assembler for Blur Studio, Simon Blanc, explains how photography can help you better understand depth of field, and the defects we try to reproduce in CG

Simon Blanc wowed the 3D community with the stunning collaborative short film project, ‘Moutons’, as he emerged from the French film school Supinfocom with a diploma in digital direction.

Now working as a scene assembler at Blur Studio in LA on some of the most prestigious game cinematics, trailers and commercials we’ve yet to see, we find out how photography and a new passion for knife making helps keep him creatively inspired…

Simon Blanc, Burning Man

3D Artist: Can you tell us a little about your dabbles with photography? How does it help inform your 3D work?
Simon Blanc, Burning ManSimon Blanc: Photography has always had a special place in my life, particularly since the day I learned how to develop them myself in a lab, and I got my first Canon SLR – now I shoot with a digital Canon 5D Mark II.

Photography means two things to me: first, it helps me go as far away to 3D as I can to make a picture. Photography means you move, you explore – one click, one picture; the spontaneity and human side of it is a breath of fresh air that’s far away from the screen!

Second, it’s an amazing tool to make your eye learn the very essential notions of framing, lighting and composition of an image. You also get quicker at seeing things that work and don’t work in a frame, as you need to be responsive and focused if you want to get ‘the’ shot.

For my scene assembly job, it’s also greatly useful as it’s taught me a lot about lenses, real depth of field, distortions etc – all these defects we often try to reproduce when doing CG images. You can’t cut it; if you really want to push your virtual art further, nothing beats real world experience – even if you do cartoony things, you will only gain by exploring photography!

3DA: And can you tell us about your latest new hobby, knife making? How does the craft keep you creatively challenged?

Simon Blanc, knife makingSB: When i was kid, I was always attracted to the beauty of well-made knives and swords, like any boy. I used to design hundreds of them when I was in school – I realise now that making real ones is a kid’s dream!

I love the fact that one object can be found in so many shapes, materials, and is so specific to each human civilisation. Knife making is a real art, an ancient art that keeps me connected with a primitive form of creation. I love that, after working hard on it for days, you have a physical result you can touch and use – a gift for a good friend to make their day. There is a huge satisfaction in making something entirely by hand that you’ve designed from scratch!

The artistic challenge in knife making is first of all to make it well, then having a useful design and playing with the ton of different materials you can find today to make them as old looking or as modern as you want! Wood, leather, thermoforming plastic, fiberglass, etc – there’s so much stuff to have fun with!

I think 3D, to me, is all about creativity and technological excitement; the future. Photography is about life – the present, spontaneity – while knife making is focused on design, usefulness, and connects me to the past.

Simon Blanc, knife design

Featured images: ©Simon Blanc

Get a glimpse behind the scenes at the award-winning visual effects, animation and design studio, Blur in the Industry Insider interview with Simon Blanc in issue 40 of 3D Artist magazine, available to buy now from all good newsagents, supermarkets and at the official Imagine Publishing online store.

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