This podcast is part of the Chaos Group Labs. In this podcast, we talk to our friends, find out what they are doing, talk about what we are doing, and generally look at all things that interest us including CGI, VFX, Design, Rendering, Raytracing, an d any other CG Nerdy stuff.
Joe Letteri - Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, Wētā FX
Meet the legend behind some of the movie industry’s most iconic creatures: Joe Letteri. From Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs to Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, Avatar’s Na’vi, and the Planet of the Apes’ simian stars, Joe has constantly pushed VFX boundaries and technology to deliver utterly believable CG characters.
In this info-packed Q&A, Joe talks about everything from how he created his very first VFX shot for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country to the cutting-edge technology that helped him bag an Oscar for Avatar: The Way of Water, and the new AI, rendering, and depth-compositing tools that could get him another statuette. Joe also discusses where he finds inspiration and reveals his passion for fractal computer graphics and astrophotography.
Peter Sohn - Director, “Elemental”
The universal language of cinema has proved a constant in Pixar director Peter Sohn’s life, and with Elemental, he used it to tell a story close to his heart. Born in New York City to Korean parents, Peter’s mother fell in love with the visual storytelling of Disney movies. He then carved out a career in animation, starting with The Iron Giant and moving to Pixar for moves including Finding Nemo and Up, and making his directorial debut with The Good Dinosaur.
In this podcast, recorded at the View Conference, Peter discusses how his life experiences contributed to Elemental and helped inform creative decisions. He delves into the technical aspects of the movie, revealing how machine learning helped solve some of the surprising complexities of fire and water characters. It’s a moving episode, and one that affirms cinema as a powerful tool to express and share human emotions.
Joaquim Dos Santos - Director, “Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse”
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse left some big spider-boots to fill — but director Joaquim Dos Santos was clearly the man to fill them. With Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the director expanded the Spider-Verse in new and unexpected directions while, crucially, staying true to the first film’s tender and nuanced approach to character and story.
Joaquim reveals how his early obsessions with VHS and comic books led to his first break in storyboarding with Starship Troopers: Roughnecks, through to helming a golden era of US animation, including Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, and Voltron: Legendary Defender. He discusses where he finds inspiration as a filmmaker, talks about the differences between working in TV and film animation, and gives his thoughts on entertaining a new generation.
Benjamin Renner - Director, “Migration”
As Illumination Studios' duck tale Migration prepares to take flight on the big screen, Chris had a conversation with its director, Benjamin Renner, at the VIEW Conference in Italy. Benjamin turned his passion for drawing into a career in animation via Macromedia Director and rose to prominence as co-director of the Academy Award-nominated animated movie Ernest & Celestine.
In this podcast, Benjamin offers a candid and insightful look into the process of crafting a 3D animated film in Hollywood, contrasting it with his experiences in 2D animation in France. He opens up about times when he’s felt nervous, and he reveals some surprising misconceptions about Hollywood movies. Benjamin is warm and honest, and his experiences will ring true with any creative spirit.
Michał Misiński - Film Director, Juice
Michał Misiński’s name may be familiar to regular listeners — this CG artist turned director helped previous podcast guest Ash Thorp create his Ghost in the Shell homage “Project 2501.” Michał is also a partner at Polish visual effects VFX studio Juice, directing videos for Porsche, Honda, Skoda, Dolby, and more.
Recently, Michał brought his talent and passion together for a music video that ties in with sci-fi RPG Cyberpunk 2077’s Phantom Liberty expansion. Michał tells Chris about the process of shooting the music video, revealing how the team seamlessly blended CG and live-action, and made a physical actress look just like an in-game character. Michał also discusses the effects of big changes in the VFX and gaming industries.
Kyle Balda - Co-Director, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” & “Despicable Me 3”
Over the past 30 years, Kyle Balda has risen from humble animator to co-director of beloved kids’ movies Minions: The Rise of Gru and Despicable Me 3. Beginning in animation for films including Mars Attacks, The Mask, and Toy Story 2, Kyle met director Pierre Coffin in Europe and helped create the animated series Pat & Stan, which would build the foundations for the Minions’ lovable antics.
In this illuminating podcast, Kyle shares the essential lessons he learned as an animator and his path to the director’s chair. He reveals the organic process of creating a Minions movie, from the initial concept with the writer to the collaborative addition of ideas as more people get involved. Kyle also gives a positive perspective on AI and its role in CG movies, and he shares his thoughts on how animation has evolved from a genre to a medium.
One of the best
Wonderful! Really appreciate this podcast. Thank you for bringing it! And a great honor to prof. Krivanek. What a loss for the rendering world.
I really enjoyed the episode with Miachael Golden!
Great episode with Andre matos, big fan!