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Sunday Flashback #32 | Clustr

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Sunday Flashback #32

Published:  March 30, 2014    Published by:  GriT  
Here is undoubtedly one of the most loved shirts in all of A|W tshirt history... the Anatomy of a Pod Racer! This one features scribbles and notes from Habib Zargarpour, who was Computer Graphics Supervisor on Star Wars: Episode I "The Phantom Menace" in 1999. And yes, those pod racers were the bomb back in the day. The whole pod racing sequence in fact!!

(Back of shirt -- yes ok, this shirt has seen better days...)

(Front of shirt)


(Sleeves)

Anyway - Habib is not so much in the spotlight these days, as he was as one of the big names out there for dynamics and particles effects work. Nowadays he's a Creative Director of Microsoft Game Studios, but I found this copied & pasted interview with him, as he was the recipient of the first Maya Masters award (along with a few other guys). It was on the Maya Masters site on aliaswavefront.com but that's long gone now... anyway, nice little read below! Thanks aziz for saving this piece of history :)

Maya Master Habib Zargarpour: BIO & INTERVIEW
Habib Zargarpour stumbled into 3D graphics in 1990 while designing for a film and considers computer graphics to be "the perfect mix" of the technical and artistic worlds.

He received his B.A.S.C. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and went on to graduate with distinction in Industrial Design from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 1992. After working as a graphic artist and fine arts illustrator, Habib joined Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) as a technical director on The Mask. He went on to earn many credits as an Associate Visual Effects Supervisor while at ILM, most recently for The Perfect Storm.

Habib still likes to paint with real brushes once in a while to maintain his sanity.

ILM CREDITS:

2002: MelBotWars, virtual fighting robots uses dynamic rigid body simulation in Maya. It was designed and developed by Habib Zargarpour for Industrial Light & Magic.

2000: The Perfect Storm - Associate Visual Effects Supervisor

Recipient of the British Academy Award - Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Nominee for Academy Award - Best Achievement in Visual Effects

1999: Star Wars: Episode I "The Phantom Menace" - Computer Graphics Supervisor

1997: Spawn - Associate Visual Effects Supervisor

1996: Star Trek -First Contact - Computer Graphics Supervisor

1996: Twister - Digital Tornado Designer/Computer Graphics Supervisor

Recipient of the British Academy Award - Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Nominee for Academy Award - Best Achievement in Visual Effects

1995: Jumanji - Computer Graphics Sequence Supervisor

1994: Star Trek: Generations - Senior Technical Director

1993: The Mask - Technical Director

Why Habib is a Maya Master

We chose Habib as a Maya Master because of his contributions in the areas of particles and dynamics. He can recite algorithms like prose and the way he knows his way around complex mathematical formulas rivals Leonardo da Vinci. His work in these areas has broken new ground technically, which translates into the way we experience a film. More than a few moviegoers were a little seasick after watching The Perfect Storm!

Q. How did you get involved in the 3D computer graphics industry?

A. I was first introduced to 3D computer graphics in 1985 by my brother Soheil Zargarpour who worked at Vertigo, one of the first computer graphics houses based in Vancouver. I designed a red sports car that he modeled and displayed at Siggraph '87. Based on this experience I was quite fascinated with the potential of computer graphics.

In 1988 I attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California to study industrial design. Based on my earlier experience with computer graphics, I jumped at the opportunity to learn Alias which allowed me to model and animate my designs. In the summer of 1990, I was asked by my friend Donna Trujillo to join her in an interview for a one night design job. We worked on this job all night long. In the morning, after plastering the walls full of designs, we were hired for the entire production of Adventures in Dinosaur City, to design trains and buildings out of sticks and prehistoric bones.

We ultimately generated 58 CG effects shots in five months with a crew of three! It was a total of 3.5 minutes of CGI, which for its time was a record. We created shots with a CG pterodactyl, kids getting sucked into a TV, a tree-house lit up by fireflies, and one of the first cases of inserting live-action into a matte painting using digital compositing and cloning techniques.

After graduating from Art Center, I joined the team at Mr. Film creating digital effects for IMAX films including Haunts of the Olde Country, a stereo-3D 70mm project for Busche Gardens in Virginia, and The Journey Inside, a sci-fi/educational film about aliens coming to destroy the Pentium chip. In 1993 I came to ILM and began work on The Mask.

Q. How do you use Maya software?

A. I use Maya extensively on research and development projects that require particles, Rigid-Body simulations, procedural animation and/or advanced modeling techniques. The flexibility of MEL expressions, scripts, C++ plug-ins, and their ability to affect anything in a scene makes it a great tool for this kind of development.

Prior to Maya's creation, I was a heavy user of Dynamation, especially for the movie Twister where we used the particle generator to create the tornadoes. I was consistently amazed by how the program allowed us to use the simple scripting language of expressions with particles. So when I heard that Maya would allow artists to go beyond this, it opened up a whole new dimension to my work.

Q. What projects have you worked on?

A. There have been many at ILM, beginning with The Mask in 1993, Twister in 1996, and most recently, The Perfect Storm with several other major projects in between. Broadly speaking, they all deal with stretching the imagination, whether the events are real or unreal and whether the context is this world or other worlds including those that exist in the mind.

Q. What makes this industry so exciting to you?

A. I enjoy the creative and technical challenges of bringing new imagery to audiences. Be it replicating nature and adding a twist or generating something that has never been seen before, the technical and creative challenges make this industry exciting.

Q. Where do you see the industry going in the next five years?

A. There are a few areas in the effects industry that will see a lot of movement in the next five years. The most popular and publicized is the integration of a digital human into a live-action film provided someone has a good excuse and enough money to do so. From this we will be free to expand and build on this accomplishment to make better creative uses of the technology, breathing more soul into these digital characters.

With the tremendous surge in the gaming market we have seen amazing strides in hardware and processing speed. We are now at the point where real-time photo-realistic rendering on affordable PC platforms is within reach, as demonstrated at several booths at Siggraph 2001. In the next five years we are really going to see this take shape.

Simulations will also become an increasingly large aspect of our work. We will continually build upon existing libraries of algorithms for dynamic and physical simulations eventually allowing for interactivity in the realm of simulations much like what we are seeing in real-time renderers. I just hope that this does not take as long as real-time rendering has.

Q. What words of wisdom do you have for anyone interested in entering the world of 3D computer graphics?

A. Don't get caught up in all the technical details. It is a necessary evil, but it should not distract you from the ultimate creative goal.

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