Interview with Szabolcs Matefy

What software program(s) do you use for your CG and why? Will you like to see any change in any current program you are using?

Currently I’m an XSI user. Before that I spent four years with Lightwave and Maya and before that also four years with Max. XSI offers me the most flexible way of working. It has a nondestructive workflow, on modeling level as well as on animation level. It has the fastest subdivision modeling system I have seen. It has the best history system with the possibility to reorganize the history without crashing. It’s easy to adjust parameters of any operator. The shape system is also the best. Your base shaped can be adjusted, remodeled, the topology can be changed at will, and the morph targets will follow flawlessly that change. It’s also possible to morph between two different topology targets. And there is GATOR what come handy all the times, and makes me praise coders at Softimage. With GATOR you can project your UV, Material, Envelope (Skin), and Shape (Morph) data to another object. For example a complex object can be mapped with a simpler one wrapped around it, or character skinning can be easily transferred to another. The latest thing I had made with GATOR was a chainmail. The chainmail geometry was too heavy to animate, so I’ve use cloth simulation on a lightweight mesh of the chainmail’s shirt and used to proper frame as morph target, and with GATOR I transferred that stage onto the chainmail. For stills that’s the best. For animation I would drive the chainmail object with the simulated mesh. It is very funny that most users of other software used to ask me first, that how many plugins XSI has? I used to answer: very few, there are no needs of plugins. XSI has also flaws, but all in all I think XSI doesn’t limit me. It’s always like XSI’s asking: “What are your orders, my dear master?” I don’ think that I’ll quit using it.

My second love is Zbrush. With the 3rd release Pixologic has created very great software. I’m tempted to do most of my modeling in Zbrush, but I like old school modeling as well.

About the changes, of course I would like to see lot of improvements. In XSI I would welcome Vista support (they told me in version 7 there will be), lot of improvements on Hair. In Zbrush I like to see polypaint tool using the layers, and transpose improvements.

Of all of your artwork, which piece is your personal favorite and why?

Naturally Fauna, but my close second is Hejab. Fauna has a long story, and I almost abandoned it, when on Mudbox forum a guy had an intense rant on me. He was a very talented guy, but he tried to convince me about his justice as an overall justice. He told me that Fauna will never get any attention. That time I almost abandoned Fauna, and for two month I hadn’t touch it, but I was eating my heart out because of it. Later my wife told me that forget that buddy, I have to measure up to my taste, and the rest is up to the public. So I took her advice and finished Fauna. I think that’s why it’s my number one.

What other interests do you have that help influence your work and keep you motivated?

Of course the primary interest is art related. Mostly old school masters, I’m not a fan of modern art. Movies, especially those playing a lot with visuals, lighting also inspire me a lot, like 300, Sin City. And none the less the creative games. I spend a lot of time with art books, and do paintings also. For example, lately I have painted an Isis onto the wall of our living room, with hieroglyphs and using the rules of human drawing in the era of the 21th Dynasty. It was a creative fun. I’ve just found a very talented French guy, Jean Baptiste Monge, and his artworks of the fairy world are really inspiring.

How would you like to see your career evolve in the next few years?

I don’t think that my career should evolve to anywhere, but my skills should be developed further, especially in digital sculpting. I was working for a while as lead (moreover I was IT Manager for years at a sales company), so I don’t want to sacrifice the creative work for a leading role. If my opinion matters in the company I’m working for, then I am a satisfied artist. All I want to do is more and more, and better and better character art.

If you could invent your dream job, where would you work & what would be your job title?

Believe or not, my dream job is to illustrate a fairy tale book with 3d…One of my greatest influences was an old book about the Little Muck, illustrated with photos of puppets posed in appropriate sets, and environment…That was really lovely. So I hope that somehow I will have the opportunity to work on a similar book. For example, the Tales of the 1001 Nights?

Are you working on any projects currently and what projects can we expect from you in the future?

Besides my job? Actually I have an idea in my mind, but I plan to create it less technical way than the previous projects. I will make the character in Zbrush, retopologize it, and then comes the XSI part…I don’t want to make monsters, too many artists make them. I think my next project will be also related to mythology or fairy tales.

Anything you like to add? It is your chance now to state your opinion about anything.

I’d like to share my opinion about CG, in general. I think, today CG is rated by the amount of detail rather than the message of a particular work. I hope that one day CG imagery will be rated as real art, and not just technical achievement. After all CG is just a modern medium of representation.

Thanks a lot Szabolcs for taking out sometime for us from your busy schedule.

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This interview was first published in CGArena Magazine Dec-Jan2008 Issue

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