Interview with 3D Artist Ruairidh MacNeill -Framestore London

vfx express -Prabu : Intro about yourself and history ?

Ruairidh MacNeill – Hello, my name is Roo MacNeill im a 3D modeller in the films department at Framestore London. I have been working as a 3d artist for the last 8 years and have had the pleasure of working on interior design, game cinematics and now my favorite VFX for film


vfx express-Prabu : way to Modeling ?

Ruairidh MacNeill – I have no university degrees and have taught myself through online tutorials as well as sheer trial and error. My first taste was being shown how to build a sandcastle in Lightwave 3D when I was around 9, and it blew my mind that I could play on the beach without having to leave the house! From there is just became an obsession that I followed every day until the coffee was no longer strong enough to defeat sleep

vfx express-Prabu : challenges and experiences in the early years ?

Ruairidh MacNeill – The first major issue was leaving hospitality work when I got my first job and putting the last of my savings into a push towards a job at Axis animation. It was only after 3 months i discovered what kind of contracts the modeling world offers. You don’t have a permanent job it’s simply hired on a per-project basis. That took a lot of work to recover from financially and is something I ensure any students or juniors i meet are aware of

vfx express-Prabu : resources they had when they started ?

Ruairidh MacNeill – I had a temporary copy of Lightwave 3D i found stuck to an old magazine, that barely ran on the amazing Pentium 4 , windows 98 pc we had in the cupboard. My eyes do not miss CRT monitors

vfx express-Prabu : Modeling in VFX ?

Ruairidh MacNeill – I would say is the most challenging form of modeling. We don’t just create things to exist in their own world. We are building things the will be stitched into reality. So every scuff, bolt, twig, feather, and brick must be perfect. Its incredibly hard work but the payoff when you see all of your effort immortalized on a Cinema screen for the first time is like something throwing petrol on the fire of your motivation. It’s also fantastic in the larger studios as the constraints of what software do you use to go out of the window. Make it where ever you can the best you can, export as a .fbx , send it to Maya and your done

vfx express-Prabu : explaining modeling in the simple form ?

Ruairidh MacNeill – I have found over the years the simplest way to explain it is with Pinocio. After we receive a drawing of the puppet from a concept artist, we use all the tools at our disposal to create the wooden form to match those drawings and match any requirements that other departments have in order to do their jobs. From there our puppet is sent off to be painted, animated, etc. It’s the same process for props, environments, characters, spaceships and so on.


vfx express-Prabu : what’s are the typical task or job of a modelers ?

Ruairidh MacNeill – it depends at what stage of the film we are at. At the beginning of the film we normally spend our time-ingesting scans from set to recreate them in a way that is usable for artists and the pipeline. From there we will go into more free form creators of all the elements that will pull it into reality and allow us to have interactions and themes. Normally we would then do set extensions once shots have been established and approved. After that, it’s just sculpted and clean up in conjunction with all the departments to get everything to render ready for the deadlines

vfx express-Prabu : how to get started with 3D ?

Ruairidh MacNeill – Don’t waste your time obsessing over software, techniques and watching 1000 hours of tutorials. Don’t expect your work to look amazing like the people you follow. Just get a piece of software and explore it blindly, get used to the navigation, open up menus you don’t understand and then go on google to find out what they are. Pick an object you have to look at every day so you know all the details of it and try to recreate it . Join social pages and make sure you are exposing your work not to friends and family but people who understand the process so you can get honest and useful feedback. the biggest downfall I see is people who have the knowledge required but are completely let down by their lack of practice. This is practical work not theoretical

vfx express-Prabu : growth in 3D ?

Ruairidh MacNeill – The opportunities to grow are endless as you can move departments, step up in your own stature, change houses so it’s entirely based on your own ambitions. The only simple rule i would say is the higher up you move, the less you create and the more you talk and go to meetings so you have to balance your desires accordingly


vfx express-Prabu : scope and opportunities in VFX / 3D ?

Ruairidh MacNeill – Turn on any screen these days and you will find it almost impossible to find any media that doesn’t have VFX in it, the saturation is incredible. The boom in the industry has been huge the only thing that you need to do is make a portfolio and go to where the work is you want to do


vfx express-Prabu : future technology of 3D department will it be AI originated or will it evolve?

Ruairidh MacNeill – Lidar scans are becoming much better so i would get used to working with those. Software like RDS Wrap 3.0 is changing how quickly we can work, moving 3-month tasks into a day’s work. AI currently isn’t so useful for modeling but its already being heavily used in animation and facial workflows. Get an understanding of GPU rendering its going to be massive. Don’t stagnate in your learning the industry moves incredibly quickly, no matter what level you are at, we are always learning more


vfx express-Prabu : advice /tips to Young artists how they can grow fast and be more efficient?

Ruairidh MacNeill –

Don’t worry about software loyalty, you will need a basic understanding of Maya for most places but that doesn’t mean you need to work in it .

Make as many social connections as you can on Linkedin as well as real-life , these will be the keys to unlocking all the doors.

Share your portfolio with a community before using it for job applications to have it critiqued and refined first.

If you are not spending at least 4 hours a day practicing ( a job is no excuse I used to do 12 hour shifts in a restaurant and then practice at night when i got back ) you are not going to build up the skills required.

Develop your own shortcut keys that work for how you work. If you have problems do everything you can to solve them yourself before you post somewhere, it’s how you will work in a studio and it will give you a much more in-depth knowledge of the software you are using.

If after 2 years or hard practice you are not enjoying the work it might be an idea to look in a different direction, the hours we work and the effort we put in requires passion and drive, the industry will destroy your sanity if you don’t have that.

Remember even though we are making things in a PC you are an artist, your making things for everyone to enjoy and they will be online forever so rather than posting it cause you like it , leave it for a day and come back , make sure it’s really the best you are capable of at that moment. If you are only here to make money and fame this isn’t the place for you . Buy the best headphones you can afford your going to be wearing them a lot ! Don’t use hardware as an excuse for output, change the way you work to match what you have.

vfx express-Prabu : Thank you so much for your interview with us

Ruairidh MacNeill – Thank you vfx express

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