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Q&A with Sandip Patel of PL Studios

by Matthew Price Published: May 30, 2008

If you’re curious for more information about Thursday’s upcoming event on special effects in games and movies, you’re in luck. Provided exclusively for Nerdage readers is the full Q&A with Sandip Patel, Chief Operating Officer of PL Studios.  The event will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 5 at PL Studios, 501 N Walker, and will showcase programs used in films including “Beowulf” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” as well as games like “Assassin’s Creed.”

Matt Price: What are the backgrounds of the guests at this event?

Sandip Patel: This event happens to be a special one. We’re honored to host
application engineers from Autodesk, the developers behind Maya, 3DS Max,
Toxik, Flame, MotionBuilder, and most notably AutoCAD. Both guest
speakers, Steven Roselle and Ken Larue have both been application
engineers for a number of years and together have worked on a number of
projects that range from film to games and have worked with clients that
include EA, Nintendo, Midway, Microsoft, and LucasArts. Both are widely
considered as experts in their given fields and true veterans.

MP: What are the key programs that they use, and what do those do?

SP: Both will be showcasing some of Autodesk’s top Media and Entertainment
tools.  Steven Roselle will be showcasing MotionBuilder, software
considered the world’s leading real-time 3D character animation suite for
game, film, broadcast, and multimedia production, ultimately making
animation and motion capture integration easier for the animator.  Work
using MotionBuilder can be seen in Sony’s Beowulf, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s
Creed, and EA’s FIFA Soccer 07 and NBA STREET. Ken Larue will be showing
guests Toxik, a digital compositing software developed to create feature
film visual effects that has been used in Pirates of the Caribbean: At
World’s End, Apocalypto, The Fountain and several others. Toxik makes the
marriage of real and fake seamless and photorealistic.

MP: How can those interested in this as a career get started?

SP: Events such as these are a perfect venue to learn more, meet other
artists, and gain a deeper understanding of how everything works.
Unfortunately, there are very limited resources in Oklahoma to actually
learn the software, but we’re hoping to change that. Digital-Tutors
(developed by PL Studios) is a leading developer for interactive training
and we’ll soon be developing educational solutions for both MotionBuilder
and Toxik, making it one step easier for artists to break into film and
games. In our industry, one’s work is truly worth a thousand words, and
while most artists have formal education of sorts, many will attest that
nothing can compare to practical experience and the ability to learn
quickly. Although getting applicable experience or formal education may be
tricky for local artists, many break into this industry with internships
and apprenticeships.

MP: What are some of the trends in video games and film?

SP: There’s a huge convergence in film and games now. The technology and
processing power is making the gap between live action and CG almost
seamless. Game studios are using film-quality assets and techniques at a
record-breaking pace. Games are a multi-billion dollar industry and what
many don’t realize is that this industry, just like oil and gas (a
reference all Oklahomans are familiar with) can influence the economy and
consumer behavior.  As the technology becomes
more transparent, the true art becomes story-telling, performance, and the
experience. Game artists often work in film and vice versa. The same
software can be used for a multitude of mediums (films, games, broadcast,
print, etc) and artists that truly understand their crafts realize that
the software is simply a tool and a means to executing a vision.

MP: What are the opportunities for this sort of thing in Oklahoma?

SP: Our state and region is a perfect demographic for this type of work and
several larger cities in the region that include Dallas, Austin, Kansas
City are realizing that the potential for outsourced work from top studios
is great. As a state, we would attract creative, educated professionals
that would be contributing factors to our state’s economy and it’s future
growth. Shooting footage for a film or television series, while noteworthy
and progress, lacks the on-going success and stimulus a revenue-generating
studio or company would create by bringing out-of-state dollars into
Oklahoma. Key challenges would be keeping talent in Oklahoma and
attracting new talent to come to Oklahoma, both highly doable.

by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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