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Behind the Title: 3D artist Trevor Kerr

NAME: Trevor Kerr (@kerrmotion)

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
I am a freelance 3D Generalist.

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
Most often a generalist like myself will tackle anything from layout to composite and everything in between. Lately, I’ve been focusing on environments and effects to ultimately specialize in one or the other.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I think that it can be surprising how much one person can tackle on their own. I’ve finished some fairly intricate shots for a single artist pipeline.
My latest Star Wars short film was made almost completely by myself in under two months. Of course, working with a team has incredible multidisciplinary benefits as well.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING IN VFX?
I’ve been in 3D since 2012, and started pursuing visual effects in late 2014.

HOW HAS THE VFX/GRAPHICS INDUSTRY CHANGED IN THE TIME YOU’VE BEEN WORKING? 
One difference of note in day-to-day life, in my short experience is the arrival of the IPR for many render solutions. I think learning 3D without an IPR forces you to think about efficiency which is, in many ways, a good thing. Instant feedback and progressive rendering is a massive time-saver, but I’m curious to see what long-term effects it has on the communal rendering psyche.

DID A PARTICULAR FILM INSPIRE YOU ALONG THIS PATH IN ENTERTAINMENT?
As a child I was most certainly inspired and motivated by Star Wars and Jurassic Park. I was very interested in figuring out how to take the audience on a journey in the same way that these films did.

DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL FOR VFX/GRAPHICS?
I went to school for music and art history, but I ended up taking a job for a studio before I finished my bachelors. My drive to work in entertainment and film always motivated my personal learning and continues to do so every day!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
My favorite part of the job is seeing everything come together. I have a massive appreciation for each step of the process — from concepting and layout to assembly and composite. Seeing the final frames in motion is always a thrill.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
I think it’s hard to really nail down a least favorite, per se, because of how double-sided so many aspects of this industry are. A good example of this would be at the start of a job — what looks like an impossible task staring you in the face also doubles as extreme excitement and motivation to get started. To me, the subject is too nuanced to simply say, “This part is no good.”

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
This is a fantastic question, because I really cannot see myself doing anything else. I dabbled in audio engineering for a little while, so maybe something along the way of sound design — but is that so dissimilar from what I do now? It would certainly be something film-related, I’m sure.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Well, I currently have the pleasure of working on a project for League of Legends. I was also recently at Siggraph presenting for both Maxon and Autodesk on my recent Star Wars personal project. Prior to that was a piece for Disney’s Jungle Book and presenting for Maxon at NAB.

possible-mainWHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Well, from an overall execution standpoint, I think I’m most proud of my recent Star Wars personal project. The timeline was a little under two months — so for the timeline I think it is my best work. The layout, shaders and composite could use much more work — but I’m still happy to have learned everything I did along the way.

WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE DAY TO DAY?
I mostly use Cinema 4D and Houdini for 3D work. My preferred render suite is primarily Arnold, but am also versed in Octane. Compositing is typically handled in Nuke or After Effects. Lately, I’ve been learning Clarisse, as well as specializing further in Houdini.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I hate to pull out some super-cliché answers here, but my girlfriend, my three year old, and love for feature films and the technology we’ve created over the past century to make them. I feel very strongly about good production design and story, especially when it comes to environments.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Well, I try to spend all of my time as efficiently as possible — but every now and then you just have to just do nothing and unwind. I find that going back to the source of my inspiration can help remind me why I got into the work I do when things get hard. Sitting down in my living room and taking in a favorite film of mine will often put me at ease.

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