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Francesco La Trofa

Treddi.com Interviews Lynette Clee

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FOREWORD

Not only artists. Even people who move behind the scenes of a movement in perpetual turmoil and varied as that of CG. Among these is Lynette Clee, content manager 3dTotal, one of the major portals in the world. Among its tasks, the care of the annual review stands Digital Art Masters, now at the dawn of the fifth edition. We have addressed five questions. To know the work that is behind a production of this type, still unique in its kind, which is currently undergoing a review by us.

I wish you a good reading, offer this chat a bit outside the box, but generous of passion and desire to promote the state of the art of our profession.

Francesco La Trofa (franci2k5)

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Edited by franci2k5

"Il vero viaggio di scoperta non consiste nel cercare nuove terre, ma nell'avere nuovi occhi" (Marcel Proust)

"Due sono le cose infinite esistenti: l'universo e la stupidità degli uomini, ma sull'universo ho ancora qualche dubbio" (Albert Einstein)

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When dreams come true. 3DTotal represents how to build a success case in CG industry. What is the key you used to open the door to the success?

I can’t answer this myself really as the key to the “door of success” was discovered by the founder and director of 3DTotal, Tom Greenway, when he started the website as a hobby back in 1999 – the idea then was to make a simple 3D resource site.

I can tell you though that from there it grew: in 2001 Tom released version two of the 3DTotal.com website, and the team expanded to include new members and products – and it’s still growing even today! We currently experience an impressive 50,000 visitors to the 3DTotal website every day, and our products now cover a range of affordable eBook training for artists (3dtotal.com/ebooks), our annual Digital Art Masters and Digital Painting Techniques books (3dtotal.com/books), and of course our ever faithful Total Textures collections (3dtotal.com/textures).

We’re always adding new content to the site daily, too; we’ve added a new gallery image every day for the past 10 years in fact! Those along with free making of articles, tutorials, interviews and free textures and reference images, keep 3DTotal alive and buzzing with activity – not to mention the site news being updated daily, too. Add all this to an active community over on the forums (forums.3dtotal.com), a happy bunch of staff at 3DTotal who have passion and dedication for what they do, and I guess that would be the success that Tom opened the door to back in 1999 and has been building up ever since. In fact, Tom celebrated 3DTotal’s 10th anniversary in October this year, so we’re all now looking forward to what the next 10 will bring!


Edited by franci2k5

"Il vero viaggio di scoperta non consiste nel cercare nuove terre, ma nell'avere nuovi occhi" (Marcel Proust)

"Due sono le cose infinite esistenti: l'universo e la stupidità degli uomini, ma sull'universo ho ancora qualche dubbio" (Albert Einstein)

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How Digital Art Masters was born? Tell us about the original idea.

Well I wasn’t working at 3DTotal when the idea for the series was born – in fact, when I first stumbled into 3DTotal the first volume was in the proofing stage and there were pages after gorgeous pages scattered over the studio floor, all looking fantastic and intriguing! The first volume arrived later on in my first year at 3DTotal, in all its printed glory, and I have to say that the care and attention that the guys here gave to that first volume can really be seen when you hold the book in your hands; they really spent time making sure they had the right paper, the best color proofs – the quality of a coffee table art book but with the added substance of project overviews by each chosen artist to give the reader an insight into their art creation processes

And that was the original idea: 3DTotal realized that there was something missing from the book scene that not only showcased high quality gallery artwork, but also shared the invaluable thought processes behind those stunning images. And that’s where it all started! Sure, there were gallery art books out there at the time, but that’s where DAM aimed to be something different, merging the quality of gallery art book material with a more educational approach.

Focal Press came to find interest in our title and came on board to publish Volume 2 of the series in 2007, which has been a really great experience! I’ve been managing the books since Volume 2; with our talents at 3DTotal of putting together these great collections, and Focal Press’s distribution networks and marketing experience, we have a great collaboration – it works!

I’m already thinking about our judging day for Volume 6 next year – we can’t help but look to the future of these great volumes as it’s such a great experience, right from the word “go” when we announce the call for submissions, through the judging process where we invite professional artists to come and help (we don’t get away from our computers all that much so we always welcome the opportunity to meet artists, and this is the perfect excuse!), through the layout and design work, to finally seeing and holding the final book in our hands (that is, after carrying hundreds of books in boxes up to our studio on the third floor – ouch!).

The DAM books are my favorite project to work on here at 3DTotal, simply because working with 50-60 artists every year – all with the same vision and passion – is undoubtedly the best experience of my year, particularly when we – and I include the artists here – receive the final book in print and see all that hard work paid off. This year a Volume 4 artist, Jelmer Boskma, even wrote us a poem the day his book was delivered to him and he opened it for the first time. It’s always big smiles all around come July when a new volume arrives!


"Il vero viaggio di scoperta non consiste nel cercare nuove terre, ma nell'avere nuovi occhi" (Marcel Proust)

"Due sono le cose infinite esistenti: l'universo e la stupidità degli uomini, ma sull'universo ho ancora qualche dubbio" (Albert Einstein)

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In Volume 4 introduction, you talk about a long and hard judging process. Users from all over the world submit really different works. Different by tecnique, different by subject, different by production. How do you compare so different works? Which selection criterias do you use?

Well yes, I mentioned before that the DAM book experience is the best one of my year; however, what I failed to mention is that the judging experience is also the hardest – by far! Last year, for Volume 4, we had over 1,100 submissions – that by far out-numbered the submissions for the previous volume, and the quality of so many of those submissions was really inspiring! And that’s what makes it so hard: choosing just 50 images from all those to make the final cut? Big headaches for everyone involved, I can tell you!

We categorize all submissions – whether 2D or 3D – into the genres of cartoon, character, fantasy, scenes and sci-fi. Our first round of judging is done on the computer – with 1,100 images we couldn’t possibly print all those out to judge (our studio just isn’t big enough for one!) so we do our first “cut” on-screen as the 3DTotal team. I work on two screens so this gives us the ability to view images on one screen and submission information on the other.

We usually get images down to around 300 or so that are quite simply all high enough quality to be printed – and this is not a lie, we could very easily print this many every year! And this is where our guest judges step in: after we’ve printed out our 300 (approx.) top images, tweaking them wherever possible to get the best print quality for judging, our guest judges visit us for a day and we spend time battling it out over our favorites.

We choose artists from different disciplines as our judges to get the best line up; this year we have Till Nowak, Tim Warnock and John Kearney – a really great judging panel! We lay all the printed images in a big room, in their respective categories, and from there we discuss the images and work out (and sometimes argue!) between us which would make the best set for the book. Sometimes we all agree; sometimes we disagree completely; sometimes we’re very close to artists who have submitted, which makes it even harder when we need to look at the work from a detached frame of mind. It’s tough, but we’re always very happy with our final selections, and standing back and looking at the final collection gives us a really great feeling! I can’t possibly sum up in words how difficult it is though; it’s a really emotional day, especially now that I know and talk to so many of the artists submitting.

With regards to the images all being different, well again, that’s what makes it so difficult. I log all submissions when they are received, and their submission information is considered throughout the entire judging process; however we judge on the merit of the final artwork at the end of the day – we don’t judge by name, or by the country it was created in, we base our decisions purely on the quality of the work, which is what gives the final selection its great variety! The techniques we tend to discover more and more about as we work with the artists on their articles for the book to accompany their images. We don’t discriminate by age of work, software used, or techniques used – again, this is what keeps Digital Art Masters so well-rounded.


"Il vero viaggio di scoperta non consiste nel cercare nuove terre, ma nell'avere nuovi occhi" (Marcel Proust)

"Due sono le cose infinite esistenti: l'universo e la stupidità degli uomini, ma sull'universo ho ancora qualche dubbio" (Albert Einstein)

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What is your "favourite" work? What is the selected work that impressed you more in these volumes?

I’m not sure I can answer that really, because in a way they are all favorites, just for very different reasons. Because I work so closely with all the artists on these volumes it’s difficult to pick a favorite out of the air, especially when after spending so much time with the artworks we’ve published I can’t really see them from that “fresh-eyed” perspective anymore – they all mean so much more to me now and each one has its own little story to me. I see more than just a work now; I see the artist and their personality and the work that went into creating both the image and the article for the book. I love my job!

An artist that sticks in my mind though is Marek Denko: despite his extremely busy schedule and wanting to spend what little free time he has with his family, he still submits to DAM year after year – this is really encouraging in fact, and lets us know we must be doing something right at least! Marek works with such precision and pays attention to all those little details; the realism that he summons in his work is just mind-blowing, and he never fails to disappoint us with his 3D illustrations. He always creates work that looks stunning in print, and when rendering he keeps in mind the sizes needed for printing high resolution artwork. He’s such a great artist to work with, and I know he’s a real inspiration to many as well. We’re certainly very lucky to have the opportunity to work with artists like Marek.

There are so many that deserve mentions though once I start, the problem is just that I want to mention all of them, as every artist published so far has played an important role in making these books a success. We give thanks to each and every one of them, and hope that in turn these books not only become close to their hearts but also lead to great new things for them, too.

During the submission process, there are certain images that, when they come in, make me do a little dance in my chair, because I can already imagine them on the pages of the final book! But then, not all of these are chosen – remember that we have different guest judges every year, so the results are always difficult to predict! What may be my personal favorite, isn’t always the majority favorite, so I literally never know what will be in the next volume until the judging day’s hard work is done.


"Il vero viaggio di scoperta non consiste nel cercare nuove terre, ma nell'avere nuovi occhi" (Marcel Proust)

"Due sono le cose infinite esistenti: l'universo e la stupidità degli uomini, ma sull'universo ho ancora qualche dubbio" (Albert Einstein)

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What new contents do we will find in volume 5?

New content! Well, we have some new ideas for Volume 5 which we hope everyone will like – I won’t say too much, but from listening to artists from previous volumes (and customers, of course) we’re going to be making improvements and tweaking the design and layout, with some additions that will hopefully please both our audience and featured artists alike. It’s a little tricky talking about this now as I’d really love the improvements to be a surprise, I hope that’s ok!

We are actually currently looking for artists to submit their work for consideration of inclusion in Digital Art Masters: Volume 5, due to be released in 2010 – the Call for Submissions page can be found here, if anyone is interested: http://www.3dtotal.com/damv5_callforsubmissions/. The deadline is 30th November, so please spread the word! We welcome submissions from 2D and 3D digital artists worldwide!


"Il vero viaggio di scoperta non consiste nel cercare nuove terre, ma nell'avere nuovi occhi" (Marcel Proust)

"Due sono le cose infinite esistenti: l'universo e la stupidità degli uomini, ma sull'universo ho ancora qualche dubbio" (Albert Einstein)

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