Interview with Jonatan Catalan
Q. Hello Jonatan, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background in CG and from where you have taken some training?
I was born in Valencia (Spain) in 1983, I grew up seeing the Disney animated films and my camera was always in my hand, after seeing for the first time Pixar film Toy Story, I knew what I wanted to do.
At 18 years old I started to work on info-architecture, where I saw that lighting was my favorite part. In my free time I worked on personal projects, to continue learning and to make me a website to see what lies beyond architecture visualization. Among the first jobs offers, I want to stress the start of a great collaboration with the team of Maxwell Render, 8 years ago they offered me to be a beta tester, which certainly allowed me to gain experience and evolve more with lighting and shading.
After 2 years working in various companies, I decided to start my own studio called Keytoon Animation Studio with 2 friends, Alex and Jaime Maestro Mateo, where my role was to take care of lighting and shading of all projects as well as modeling environments. We were working for clients like Disney, Wildbrain, Mattel and Paramount Pictures and created characters as Dr.Maxwell and his short "The Grandfather of Soul" which was a finalist of Siggraph 2007, after this came the most ambitious project of my career "Alma" by Rodrigo Blaas.
After 3 months of preproduction, the project "Alma" leaves the company and me as well, leaving Keytoon after 3 years and starting a new period as a freelancer, which allowed me to open the Sitges Film Festival and get the Goya nomination with "Alma", as working primarily with the United States and very awesome international studios.
Q. What education and experience required to becoming a Lighting artist?
One of the most important things is to have a good artistic eye, maybe learning an artistic career, practicing by yourself at home, watching movies, comics...
I learned self-taught, so I can't tell you which way is better because I don't know the other way, but I can tell you that by learning yourself, you are forced to try many ways to get to the same place, it gives you more versatility, trying to reproduce anything you see interesting, looking for your own style and refinement technically, you have to be very curious, analyzing the films you see in another way, watching very closely the work of the director of photography, why they put this light here and leave this part in the shadow? Etc.
Photography is so helpful because it is very direct, just push a button and have the result in a frame, allows you to do many tests much faster than in 3D, where you have a very slow process like lighting, rendering and composition... this way you will understand much better how it works physically the light, how it works the surfaces, the colors of daylight hours, the color is very important in nature and we have a lot of perfect examples.
About the experience I recommend starting on a small studio where they do many projects of different styles, working on Keytoon or as a Freelance has allowed me to change the style for each project, and to take what I saw best of each one, to evolve my own style. If you enter in a long project, or in a studio with a specific look, you can be very good at it, but you will not develop other styles, or know really if the style is where you feel more comfortable.
Q. On what types of projects you like to work best – short films, commercials, promo etc.?'
Commercials are very interesting, because normally you always find something that you don't know, let you always learn new things but in a very short time, with timings extremely tight, it gives you the time to discover how it works, to apply it and you will be feeling that you could have done better, but you must learn faster, be more productive and work with new tools quickly.
I think the short films are my favorites, you have more time for R+D, development of the look is my favorite part, think the best way to do the 3d with the 2d concepts, trying to make something new and interesting, is really cool. You have a longer schedule enough to try to do things well and not so long to get tired of the project. Also the short films always allow you a bit of investigation and do the things differently, in commercials you don't have the time needed, and the films can't risk so much.
Q. How much self-promotion for a freelance artist is necessary?
I think it's a necessary part of a freelance artist, if they don't know of you or your works, how they will call you to give you a project or job? Publishing your work in 3D portals, specialized forums, create a blog or website with your portfolio, etc. ... are things you need to get new projects and clients.
You can create online Portolio
here and participate in the forums.