What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Alessandro Baldasseroni and I’m currently hired as one of the character modeling lead at Blur Studio.My job consists in creating (modeling and texturing) 3d characters and creatures.When I’m lead on a show , I take care of supervising the character assets , artistically and technically.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I didn’t have many jobs in my life honestly, but I recall helping my parents at their restaurant as a barman and then I had some experiences of web design and i was a cad operator before working full time in cg.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Definitely the halowars cinematics and the work blur did on the pitch for the Goon feature film, also working on the star Wars : the old republic cinematics was pretty challenging . Also doing one of the NFL on fox robots for their pre game tv commercials was very rewarding.
How did you become interested in animation?
Just by chance, back in1996. , I was working in a networking company as cad operator , and by chance I decided to give a try to kinetix 3d studio max 1.0, just because a co worker recommended it to me as since he knew I was interested in 3d graphic. At that time I was very much into video games , so it came natural to me to be interested to this aspect of computer graphic . So I started getting familiar with Max and as long as I was getting more proficient my interest and need for knowledge grew stronger. Then at some point I wondered The possibility of doing 3d for a living.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Milan , born and raised . As I mentioned I was playing with 3d on my own and at some point I decided to build a portfolio of my works and put it online . As my interest for cg animation grew stronger I explored the possibilities to work as a modeler , but I was not so keen at that time to move abroad , so one of the most interesting and close realities was Milestone s.r.l. , a video game developer in Milan . I sent a resume and luckily I got hired few weeks later as a cg generalist , it was my first experience in the animation industry as a professional.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job ?
It really depends weather I’m leading on a show or not. If I’m not it means I’m working full time on my own assigned asset (character) with very limited interactions with other living forms in the studio , except on specific deadlines. It’s a lot of hours in ascetic isolation, me ,my earphones and the character to make on my screen . The lunch break is usually very welcomed. If I’m lead the amount of human interactions is bigger , in the sense that I need to communicate with my team of character artists way more , producers and supervisors, to be sure everybody is on track, the artistic and technical milestones are reached and so on…even in this case the lunch break is much enjoyed and appreciated.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I’d say sculpting followed by texturing and surfacing, it’s the part of the process where the character comes to life somehow, cause we are getting close to the final look.That’s the part of my job where I can put the bigger amount of personal input and creativity , compared to other stages.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Since we deal with a lot of aspects related to characters in Blur , I would say that I really hate doing facial blend shapes and dealing with hair. In my experience so far they’re both extremely technical and tedious .
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
My main tools for my daily job are 3D Studio Max for poly modeling and rendering, which is done in Vray, Zbrush for hires sculpting and Photoshop for texturing. Hardware wise I work with a Wacom intros 3 tablet , on a 24 inches dell monitor and a Supermicro Dual Xeon Hex Core Workstation with Nvidia Quadro Graphic Card.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I Think there’s a part of me still not completely comfortable with the idea of being a production artist , having a limited amount of control on what I do because the revision process is kinda tedious sometime . You get used to it, it’s part of the business ,it’s just that sometime you wish things were more flexible in terms of Artistic control and freedom on what you do .
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Uhm, no, not really.I’m not very social or mundane tho 🙂
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Well ,it had to do with the sickness of my dad while I was here working in the US,was a horrible time in my life, don’t really feel like sharing details.
Any side projects or you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I’m working on a couple of personal illustrations, but I can’t really share much about it cause it’s too early in the development process.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I don’t think I have any special talent other than being able to eat abnormal quantities of pizza when I have the occasion, but as a hobby other than doing personal illustrations I love reading and watching movies 🙂
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I’d say that even if it sounds obvious , a lot of personal practice on your own is still necessary . Schools may be definitely useful if you can afford them , but in order to be noticed in such a specialized field is necessary to reach a certain level or bar of proficiency. This is why often , just studying the theory and doing a few homework project exercises is not enough. Try to find out what you really like to do and develop it as a personal project , take your time but finish it at the best of your possibilities, better to show a few finished polished pieces than hundreds of speed “whatever” attempts.Set your goal in building a personal portfolio with the idea of sharing it online , having as a reference for your quality bar the best artists out there, no matter how good or unreachable they look like. Then ,when you feel ready just stare your work online as much as possible, sooner or later some contact in terms of job offers will arrive . It’s also useful to check out the mailing list of the cgi companies job offers , there are so many nowadays . The whole idea anyway is to build a portfolio that can match the standard of quality of the industry and the only way to realize how far you are from that is to browse 3d forums and look at other people works….study them , ask questions,ask for critiques .This is really the best advice I can give.
A really great interview. Being an instructor myself, I appreciate your advice to up and coming talent. Wise words that I hope young hopefuls will heed. Thanks Alessandro!