Ric Holland's Blog

Ryan Church interview

Ryan Church - Star Trek concept artRyan Church - Star Trek concept

1: Yes a Wacom tablet is essential for my work flow, the Wacom products allow me to create illustrations and designs with a direct connection between myself and the image on the screen. The ability to use an ergonomic and traditional device to harness and control these complex programs is essential to the concept art/film production workflow the whole way through. It really makes the process of creation enjoyable.

2: Wacom tablets are used in all stages of the production of 3D Live Action feature films, from initial concepts to photorealistic illustration and on to creation, painting, texturing and lighting of these assets. I see this trend increasing, there are a lot of existing software packages I could see being improved with tablet interface. I can think of several programs that don’t exist yet but that I’d love to use with a Wacom tablet, programs like more artist-biased hard surface modeling programs or drawing and painting programs with additional tools like virtual french curves or ellipse guides.

3: On Avatar I worked closely with the team members of the VAD (Virtual Art Department). The workflow of the VAD was similar to that of the Concept Art Department in that it required the quick generation of assets for production. The use of Wacom tablets to interface with CG modeling, texturing and coloring programs allowed the production to work at the speed and quality it did.

4: The concept of the Wacom Tablet as a digital pad and pen is pretty fundamental, features can be added and fidelity improved but I hope there’s always a tablet device. I’d welcome any additional device that further removes the barriers between me and the image or program- maybe a device that uses gestures or larger hand, arm or body movements as input would be interesting, I’m also interested in the potential of high resolution goggles or glasses that immerse the user in a virtual widescreen display with overlayed gesteral interaction, something like this could serve as a step beyond the Cintiq concept.

Another direction that I’d be interested in experiencing is a Wacom tablet with sufficient pressure sensitivity resolution that one could use any traditional tool or object to interact- a tablet with sufficient resolution to differentiate a #5 round sable watercolor brush from a 1″ stiff flat oil brush from a piece of chalk and translate my manipulation, through virtual paint, onto an image.

5: I’ve been working in the film illustration and concept design field since 1997 and there hasn’t been a work day that’s gone by that I haven’t used a Wacom tablet. I’ve seen image creation hardware and software grow in complexity and usefulness since that time and haven’t wanted to return to the use of traditional tools since then- for me, the Wacom tablet is just another traditional tool that happens to integrate perfectly with the digital workspace of movie production. At the Skywalker Ranch during
Episode 2 and 3 I had my trusty light gray tablet, on Avatar I switched to fashionable purple, and I switched to slick graphite gray of the Intuos 3 for Star Trek and John Carter of Mars-

One of my favorite memories on Avatar was on an especially busy Friday night at the Art Department, some of us illustrators had stayed late and James Cameron came up to see what we were up to. He was talkative and sounded like he wanted to clear his mind a bit so he started looking over our shoulders. One artist, Dylan Cole was working on a particularly impressive illustration and Cameron was giving him notes. Jim, an amazing artist himself, watched Dylan sweep and scribble with his Wacom tablet and Cameron asked if he could give it a shot. Jim sat down and spent about 10 minutes learning the where the pen tools were and how to pick different layers and then just drew and talked about the illustration, art and movies for about an hour- he loved the Wacom tablet and joked that he was paying us too much for how much fun we got to have! That’s one of many cherished memories from Avatar- the day I saw James Cameron learn to love a Wacom Tablet, good stuff-