Interview with Ed Harriss
Why should people who currently use other software packages think about making the switch to SOFTIMAGE|XSI?
XSI has many great features and workflows that make it an obvious choice for many of the current animation productions out there. But something that most people don’t think about when choosing a 3d package is its future. This is one of the things that XSI has going for it’s self that many other programs do not. Since it’s newer than most other programs, its internal construction is much more advanced. This makes it easier to add new features and enhance existing ones. One thing that I’ve noticed in other 3d packages is that major additions seem “bolted on” rather than integrated into the software. This is fine, until you want the new “bolted on” features to work with older parts of the program. If they can’t interact with each other your ability to perform complex tasks in that area becomes very limited.
Which area of 3d do your really enjoy doing?
I really enjoy rendering, lighting and texturing.
What’s the most useful thing you have learned in 3d?
It is difficult to put that into words. It’s not a single feature or an application. It’s the ability to work more efficiently. When I first started doing 3d the journey from starting a project to finishing it was filled with “brute force” techniques rather than adaptable ones. Projects I work on now are always constructed in a way so that I can easily go back and make changes. This makes me (and the clients) very happy. There is nothing worse than spending hours changing something that should have only taken minutes, simply because you built a sloppy scene.
What are your plans for future?
As for day to day operations, I would like to continue with my current schedule. I work a full time job most of the year while taking off a few days/weeks here and there to do freelance work.
From a personal standpoint, I would like to continue working on training material both for XSI and for people who are hunting for a computer animation job. I also speak at conventions, users groups and schools on the topics of both XSI and computer animation jobs and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
What are your hobbies and daily routine?
I spend a lot of time on the computer. However outside the office I like to spend time with my wife and son. I also try to go to the gym at least 5 or 6 times a week. However, during crunch time or heavy freelance work I usually have to skip it. I really like watching movies and TV when I get the time.
Are you working on any projects currently? If so, what are they?
The most recent work I’ve been doing is on site XSI training for a North Carolina Hockey team called the Carolina Hurricanes. (www.carolinahurricanes.com)They use XSI to create all of their in house 3D animations that play both in-game and on television. One of my first computer animation jobs was for a baseball team called the Durham Bulls. It’s been years since I’ve worked in sports media, but after being at the Hurricanes for a couple of days, it felt like I never left. I really enjoyed it a lot.
XSI training is not my full time job though. I spend most of my time working for SAS Studio productions where I tackle a very wide range of 3D animation jobs. In the past few months I’ve worked on 3D graphics for dozens of live broadcast events, a few large conventions, magazine ads, television commercials, some videos, dvds, cd-roms and even a flight safety video for one of the company jets.
In addition to my job at SAS, I also do freelance work for various companies around the globe. Most recently I worked with a company called Spontaneous in New York. We collaborated on two television commercials and a music video.
Thanks a lot Ed for taking out sometime for us from your busy schedule.
This interview was first published in CGArena Magazine September06 Issue
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