The Industry Interviews
Chris Webb, a visualiser, animator, VR creator and photographer runs itschriswebb.com, his one-man, newly formed architectural visualisation studio based in Sweden. He’s had amazing experiences across 10+ years with studios such as Hayes Davidson, Wagstaffs Design, Tengbom and Sweco Architects. Read on to see what he has to say about working within the industry.
Hi Chris we are going to start off by asking you to tell us about a visual shot that sticks with you?
I think this animation film from Squint/Opera has had the most impact on me. It’s an Arch-Viz film selling the concept of a giant leisure park in Paris by the Danish architect BIG. I think it’s got it all. Great visuals and effects, the music works, sound-effects spot on and the motion graphics are great. I really think they do amazing animations. I look to them first for reference when I put an animation together.
Could you describe a typical day for you?
Ha! I wish this wasn’t my typical day right now… I have just started a visualisation company over here in Sweden so my days right now are a little different to how they were when I was working as an in-house visualiser. A day involves going through all my social media feeds for visualisation news and contacts, chasing up prospective clients, organising meetings, chasing up people about these meetings, and maybe going for lunch with old colleagues. It’s a bit like applying for jobs. But for all the knock-backs, it makes you stronger. When you do get the project/job, that’s the where the fun starts!
What has been the most challenging project you've worked on?
All projects are different and have their unique challenges. Probably my toughest project was a multi-product delivery; images, an info animation and a 360 virtual reality tour. It was in-house for an architect company but what we would call an external project (so no-one directly involved at my company). I had help from a colleague with the modelling, materials and some of the props on the interiors. I set high standards and have big ambitions when I do these sorts of projects – remember I look to Squint/Opera for reference! I had to have good scene management to avoid double working on the model, I developed a story board, timings and camera speeds, we did green screening, I learnt to use a new animated 3d people plugin, had to communicate with the speaker, musician and had to be flexible throughout. The VR tour was also new to me and involved more detailing outside of the cameras’ fields of view. And of course lots of clients with differing inputs. I’m reasonably satisfied with the film, some noise on the renders aside!
What are the current standout trends within your area?
Current trends… there are a few. Realtime is having a disruptive effect on the industry. So being able to render an animation in minutes instead of days/hours means you can be much more flexible and re-render when you need. The work required to get there first needs tidying up though, especially on the architecture side. Light baking is a nightmare. AI is something worth keep an eye on too. It will start to learn how we do things and save us doing the mundane tasks. Virtual Reality has been around for a bit now. I would like to see this mature into a sellable product instead of a “buzz-word”. I’ve heard too many times a client ask for VR but not know what they will do with it! And it doesn’t replace the more traditional medias such as still imagery. More a compliment.
What would be your number one tip for those starting out in industry?
It’s tough when you're at the start. It’s tough when you’ve been around a bit and are starting up like me! Apart from the obvious things; build a relevant portfolio, a clean website, well orientated CV. Nothing beats meeting up with people in real life! I got into my most high profile studio just by attending the 3ds London meetups, learning, having a beer and getting to know the people and these companies. Just get out there! I also get a lot from this guy’s YouTube channel, Fabio Palvelli. He talks a lot about the business of viz, not just the creation of viz.