This blog will eventually be filled with articles and links that I have gathered and have found interesting.
I studied at Otago University in New Zealand where I earned a Bachelor in Computer Science. Uni life was fun and I didn't work all that hard on my courses. I was way to busy working on my animation demo reel in 3dsmax to care about my grades in engineering.
I worked for a small local production company called Ra Productions where I was lead animator. We worked on a bunch of smaller TV shows for Animal Planet, National Geographic, BBC, and smaller local productions also. One show called 'The Most Extreme' heavily featured animation and went on to be nominated for an Emmy for its 2nd show, The Most Extreme : Jumpers. Here is a sample of the show from a later season when I no longer worked on it. It still features all of my earlier work including the introduction sequence and countdowns.
I started up CAT with my boss at the time, Scott Pearson to commercialize some ideas I had been developing for a while. The ideas were mostly about procedural motion. I worked for roughly a year on CAT before we considered turning it into a product. The background we came from was not big productions and we used ourselves as a customer template for development. CAT 1.0 was released in November 2003 after quite a short beta period. This turned out to be a little short sighted and so for CAT 2.0 the whole system was overhauled with bigger ideas in mind. www.catoolkit.com 2005
CAT was a very tough learning experience for me. I started out in a tiny little studio with a few ideas and soon I was in charge of a development team supporting a product used by a collection of high profile game studios. From a standing start I had to learn about pipelines, motion capture, batch process, etc... and present a solution to the world without any experience in it, or the resources to do any real research.
That said, I think I can safely say that CAT is a strong product that presents many many novel and inovative approaches to solving loads of tough problems in 3d animation. The many long nights at the office banging my head against problems were eventually fruitful.
Being lead developer, and demo guy is an interesting challenge. I was in front of customers as the demo either went well and everybody was impressed, or it crashed and burned in a humiliating reality check that sent me rushing back to the hotel to email 'the guys', or try and fix it myself before going to bed.
We went on for another year and started the CAT 3 beta cycle when we were eventually acquired by Softimage (Avid) in July 2006.
At Softimage, I found my biggest impact was taking a leading role in developing the workflow for ICE in XSI 7.0. Although in production I had used particles quite a lot(more than characters actually). this was back in 3dsmax 2.0 or 3.0 and so that experience wasn't much to lean on when it came to defining the workflow for one of the most impressive pieces of engineering to be developed in recent years.
One reason for posting this blog is to write some articles explaining some techniques when using ICE, and help people get to grips with this system faster. Autodesk
This part of the story is still being written, but what I can say is that I have learned a lot more about the world of animation. Now I am head of animation at Softimage, and we have just been acquired by Autodesk.
The future looks bright for me, and especially good for the CAT product and therefore its loyal fans