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Behind the Title: Magnetic Dreams director/compositor Joël Gibbs

NAME: Joël Gibbs

COMPANY: Magnetic Dreams (@MagneticDreams)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Magnetic Dreams is an animation studio located in Nashville. We handle a variety of projects ranging from VFX, motion graphics to full CG spots.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Well, it’s sort of a two-headed beast title: Director and Lead Compositor.

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
Being a smaller studio, you tend to wear several hats. For me, I’ve somehow worked my way
into being at both ends of the production spectrum. It works out pretty well, since I can make sure the end spot conforms to the/my initial vision.

Most times, I’m brought in early into discussions with the clients to define what the needs are. Different projects have different requirements, but sometimes I’ll storyboard out the ideas, or sometimes I figure it out jumping directly into 3D layout, working with proxy assets.

At that point, I’m already talking with other artists in the different departments as to the assets the project needs and how they will be used. I usually take care of getting a first animatic out and then follow the project as it makes it throughout the various stages of production. Once we get to rendering, since I’m already talking to lighting artists, we just coordinate what types of passes need to be rendered out for compositing.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I love working with the talented artists at Magnetic Dreams. I’m very much a team player, and I love to see how different artists excel in their departments. So, I’d say that my favorite part is after you’ve given out some initial direction on something and then you come back a day or two later and see how the artist totally rocked it. Not only did they see your vision, they took it to a place better than what you imagined. That’s just awesome!

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Ha ha…no one ever wants to make that logo bigger. But more seriously, I think my least favorite side is working on projects with ambitious concepts, but insufficient budgets. It’s really tough when you can see the end product and know how to get there, but won’t be able to because you need just a little more time. You fall short of something really cool, and that can be frustrating from an artistic perspective.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Well, it’s more of a fleeting moment, but there’s just something special about coming home, opening the door and having your kids scream “papa” as they run up and hug you (well, hug my legs).

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I always joke around about this, but my best friend for over 25 years runs a metal working shop. I always say that if things go bad for me, I’ll give up the computer work and have him train me in welding. So, if I didn’t have this job, I’d probably be welding in France (where I grew up).

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I drew a lot when I was a kid, and as a teenager seriously considered getting into illustration. But I happened to stumble across the Macromedia 3D application on the Mac. Whooooo…I fell in love. I continued on into university getting a Masters in Fine Art and Multimedia. But at that point I knew I wanted to be in an animation studio. I thought I wanted to be an art director, but it turns out I like directing more than art directing.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I was lead compositor on an independent movie called Yellow Day. Magnetic Dreams created roughly 25 minutes of full CG for the movie.

Other than that, over the past year, I’ve worked on a handful of internal Dell computer projects, one of which got rebranded and made it out to the public recently regarding their new FX Architecture.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
A few years back, we were working with Marvel Entertainment, and I was the director on Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers miniseries. It was a fun and innovative project working in an uncharted territory called motion comics!

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I can survive with only water, the Internet and an iPad…the rest is overrated.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
None actually. I don’t even have a Facebook account!

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
I do when I can. Sometimes it’s hard because you’re working to music and beats. When I do get to listen to music, it’s little all over the map. These days, I’ve been listening to the latest Jars of Clay album. I’ve listened to them off and on over the years, and this is a rerecording of their best songs over the past 20 years.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Netflix+iPad+headphones when everyone is sleeping. Even if I get home really late, I’ll throw something on to get my head out of the work… otherwise I’m piping nodes and hitting ctrl+z all night long.


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