3DValley Featured 3D Artist of May 2009 – Maurizio Pocci. Maurizio is an artist from Rome, Italy. He works as an 3D Graphic supervisor for an Multimedia Communication company. He belongs to the generation that after having seen Jurassic Park in 1992, decided life would no longer be the same. He is completely self-taught and works with Autodesk 3D Studio Max for modeling, Mental-ray for shading, lighting and the rendering, and Adobe Photoshop for mapping. Maurizio donated many free models to 3Dvalley and has become a dear friend of us. I enjoyed doing this interview very much, please take a moment to read our interview with Maurizio below and get to know him and his art a bit better.
Maurizio: My name is Maurizio Pocci. I am an Italian 3D graphic designer and I come from Rome. I am currently employed as a 3D graphic supervisor in an important Italian company that deals with multimedia communication, the Projitmultimedia. I belong to a generation that, after having seen Jurassic Park in 1992, decided life would no longer be the same. I belong to a school that, in 1995, went crazy at the idea of creating a 3D image within a day, in the hope of living enough for a rendering to end. Luckily, it is totally different nowadays.
Christa: Which software packages and/or traditional materials do you use for your artwork?
Maurizo: I work with Autodesk 3D Studio Max, which I consider the best software on the market, as well as all the first-rate products coming from Autodesk, as Mental-ray for the shading, the lighting and the rendering, and Photoshop for the mapping.
Christa: Where did you go to school and how did they prepare you for your career?
Maurizio: I’m absolutely a self-taught person, as when I started all the informative material available nowadays did not exist. Much information was actually out of reach also because Internet was not very common, at least in Italy. As far as I am concerned, I could not make use of it. The only resources were some paper handbooks that dealt with the 3D Max first version procedures. There the most depressing lack of method could be noticed, which was typical of a young didactics that was coming to life about the 3D. Nevertheless, the present – day paper market offers several publishing, also signed by Italian authors, which deal with the 3D Studio Max rather authoritatively. I am insisting on the paper handbook matter, since I am convinced it holds an inherent value stemming from its gratuitousness. On the contrary, the quality standards of the free tutorials that can be found on the Internet suffer from their own gratuitousness. I think that remunerating the information value is a law of nature. Any professional of worth I know produces value without economic return. At this point I could start a dispute about the 3D open-source programmes and the hypocritical pseudo-democratic philosophy which is hidden behind their development. I prefer to pass over. As I said, this is why most of the operational information available for free on the Internet does not have any value in terms of knowledge, whereas it does in terms of damage. I am talking personally because, at least in my field, I often had to unlearn the lessons of the anonymous bad teachers hidden behind their nicknames. Only then I could reach the technical enlightenment I believe I have. Everything that has no price has no value. It has always been so and always it will be. The circulation of knowledge for free is just an illusion of the Internet, which should abandon its primordial ideological roots in order to become something really modern and fruitful.
Christa: Do you remember the first time you said you wanted to be an artist?
Maurizio: This is an intriguing question. I was probably thirteen when, instead of talking about soccer, women and motorcycles as all the people of my age, I tried in vain to involve them in my poor operations realized in Super8. I was elated by Kubrick’s and Ridley Scott’s masterworks. As a little boy, on Sunday I used to go on my own around all the cinemas of my town to see again and again movies such as R. Basky’s “The Lord of the Rings”, Ridley Scott’s “Alien” or Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lindon”. The stop-motion effects in “The Empire Strikes Back” drove me crazy. I would naively try to shoot in Super8 some horrible rubber puppets sustained by wire. I had a very lonely childhood from this point of view. Today I am happy I have lived my life as I really wanted, and after all, I feel like a child who is continuously amazed in front of all that he considers aesthetically fascinating. My yesterday peers who used to laugh at me because of my tastes, which in relation to my young age were considered odd, are but “shadow and dust”, as it is said in Ridley Scott’s “The Gladiator”. Doing what our hearts whisper is essential, as well as reminding that other people’s advice has nothing to do with what we really long for. What we desire from the bottom of our hearts is never really visible to the ones who do not know what desire means. Who does not know what the artistic ecstasy is cannot show us our way. Especially if we perceive inwards something that makes us feel different from those who apparently know what the best is for us. I am talking about that eagerness which devours us as a perennial fire, as a flower that comes to life from silence. We are the only ones who can give that silence a sound; otherwise we won’t have anything but that. And it will be the same vital emptiness coming from the wise advices of those who ignored the deepest meaning of our true desires. When we still ignored we were really-living people in a world of dead ones.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit of the way you work on your art?
Maurizio: As a rule I work differently depending on what kind of deadline is given to me. Facing job realities where timing counts more than quality is a current practice. CAD projects fit to reckon exactly proportions or volumetry, for instance, are not always available in case of objects belonging to the 3D design field being reproduced. Often I receive sketches, not very well outlined, which are drawn by clients who are the only ones to see what everybody should see. This is why a good inclination to the sculptural inquiry is needed. Even though this inquiry is transferred to the 3D, it is not basically strayed from the necessity to comprehend the real nature of an object. There is the need to reach the inner essence of the archetype the object encloses, as if bringing forward something that apparently does not exist, either in the mind of who conceived the simple sketch. In the end, professionalism is just this. Living usually in the front line and being always the winner.
Christa: How much time do you spent on modeling on how much on touch-ups in Photoshop?
Maurizio: Basically I use Photoshop for the 3D painting. In this regard I cannot avoid mentioning my wife Rita di Felice and her precious contribution. She is one of the few 3D wrapping texture experts in Italy. If I had to do all by my own, I should devote myself exclusively to this, since my models in subdivision surfaces are extremely technically complicated from the polygonal organization viewpoint. Let alone the huge amount of work I have to do. I think the art of 3D wrapping is undervalued. At high level it becomes a specialization with its own characteristics, whose refinement leaves no doubt about its absolute importance. At present all the automated systems for wrapping faster proved to be nearly always deceptive. Such a discipline calls for an operativeness still framed in an artisan-like manual skill.
Christa: Do you have a favorite piece of your own artwork and if so why?
Maurizio: My favorite model is the one I created some time ago for an English furniture company that wanted to realize what the actual concreteness of a Victorian cradle would be like. At the time the job was commissioned to me, it existed only on Vectowork project. I want to say first that I am an enthusiast of the subdivision surface polygonal technique, and I did not want to realize anything polygonal in the strict sense of the word. I am explaining myself further. To the rendering purpose, what is worked polygonally at high density always comes out with something more if compared with a relatively simple mesh exposed to a brute force during the texturing. I adore the junction of strictly geometric shapes with authentically organic ones. And I want it to be a single body. Something to wrap wonderfully in order to penetrate into the reorganization universe the wrapping technique calls for. I hate those trivial shortcuts by which attempts are awkwardly made to create, through groups, single corpus between distinct and apparently non-melt-able shapes. I realize I am a maniac in this connection, but at the same time I cannot help considering the digital sector as “art pour l’art”. My Victorian cradle is in fact a whole mesh, as nearly all my models, though they are apparently structured in a forking sense. What turned out as really difficult to realize was the inlay development from the base of the object as if some grass came out from a squared granite block. A different strategy may have been adopted, but I am sure the shadow fall-off would not have been so excellent. If I am not wrong, the model has been rendered with mental-ray, in the 3D Max 6 version.
Christa: Who or what would you describe as having the most influences on your work/ style?
Maurizio: I think my idea of the digital art is mostly influenced by the endless admiration I feel for everything the Industrial Light & Magic produced in the last 15 years. I cannot possibly give a different answer, aware of what gave and still gives me pleasure. This led me indirectly to the idea of reaching the unattainable, if we are talking about the composition of forms in a figurative sense. Although I may seem an aesthete who is an end in himself, I developed this attitude right in the job field. As I meant before, clients often want creations in 3D describing them in words more than with planning Cad forms.
Christa: Which area of creating art do you enjoy the most?
Maurizio: My main interest is the 3D modeling in its primordial stage. Although I do not think I am quite an amateur in the rendering field, nothing makes me happy as being as I am when I start up Max to begin modeling an object from scratch. The more complicated is the form I have to reproduce, (especially when I think “how the hell can I do?!”), the more challenging appears to me the sudden vacuum I face. I am forced to see the form’s primordial meaning, its true and inner nature hidden in its manifestation.
Christa: You work at a creative multimedia company (Projit multimedia) Can you tell us what a day at the office looks like for you?
Maurizio: My typical day in office is always very intense and calls for high concentration. My company deals with multimedia graphics targeted at video courses on safety at work for companies. This is why all that is graphic representation has to be correct in order to respect the regulations and how they have to be represented. I direct and supervise a team of young colleagues. They are 3D graphic designers who prepare for me the props mesh accompanying the virtual sets concerning the ongoing projects’ main themes. I work at a Dell workstation equipped with two CPU Intel Xeon quadcore e5450 3,0 GHz and Nvidia Quadro FX 5600 1,5 GB. In the office there is also a render farm provided with fifty CPU in parallel.
Christa: How do you keep ‘fresh’ within your industry?
Maurizio: I keep up to date doing personal researches on heat ad light that range from the design to the art field. As needed I write some scripts ad hoc to go beyond the software’s unavoidable limits.
Christa: What do you wish you had known when you first started out in 3D?
Maurizio: Maybe creating the macrocosm in an authentically microcosmic system. The 3D graphics gives me satisfaction for nothing but this. Maybe I unconsciously wished to compensate the kid I was for his missed ambitions. In the 80s there was no technological satisfaction that could make possible the abrupt digressions given by today’s technology. Maybe I wanted to bring him that sense of wonder and those precious dreams for which he used to go all alone by bus to the cinemas on the outskirts to see “The Empire Strikes Back”. Yes, it is so. The 3D graphics is what most gives me inner peace and happiness. Considering my life experience, it is something that makes me feel I am really safe, as the lonely kid finally is.
Christa: Do you have any tips for beginning artists?
Maurizio: To those who want to undertake this job I consider Art, I can only give some humble suggestions. Choose a 3D software the most possible congenial to you. Study it thoroughly, trying to avoid that sort of awkward temptation which leads to switch 3D application as soon as the first difficulties turn up. Step closer to this subject humbly and anxiousless, because only this path will compensate you for your efforts. Rely only on schools and teachers that are licensed to teach the software you choose to study. Absolutely avoid tutorials whose origin is uncertain. A bad starting approach means striving in order to get rid of the acquired teaching methodology flaws. The conceited superficiality and irresponsibility with which some people offer their fake knowledge for free can kill at birth a brisktalent, that entering this wonderful world cannot always discern good from bad.
Christa: What’s your favorite CG character from the movies?
Maurizio: Undoubtedly the Yoda character digital version in the last two “Star Wars”, probably because of the wide use of mental-ray shaders developed ad hoc for this wonderful rendering motor. Obviously I admire also Gollum from “The Lord of the Ring”. Maybe for the first time, here the digital sector speaks sheer poetry, passing over the very amazing surprise towards an absolutely consummate technique.
Christa: Besides 3Dvalley.com, on which other graphic sites can we find your work?
Maurizio: Well, the websites I visit more often are TurboSquid.com, where many of my objects are for sale. Basically I check websites where interesting textures can be downloaded, such as CGtextures.com and Imageafter.com.
Christa: Is their something you can’t work without?
Maurizio: I adore only the background hum of my pc. When I work alone in my study, it gives the loneliness a touch of absolute devotion. In my job environment music bothers me, even though I graduated in double bass at the Santa Cecilia Conservatoire in Rome. I am used to give music a spiritual value. I do not think it right to relegate it to a mere background. On the contrary, almost all the music “amateur” heap this art with a cloak of importance, hoping to reach a straightforward, naturalistic and logical elevation in their sensitivity. At any rate, when I happened to work with background music, I always listened to Anton Weber’s or Khačaturjan’s compositions. I have to say I only listen to music of European tradition up until the 50s. Modern music has no historical contextualization for me. It is as if it were a sad drift of something that stopped countless years ago, at people’s own disposal. As for the rest, I am vegetarian, I do not drink coffee nor do I smoke.
Christa: What do you do when you are not working or creating something?
Maurizio: Usually, when I am not at work I stay with my family, and I never talk about my job. I cleanly divide it from my private life, which is made of those daily habits that are part of all the normal families. I consider myself lucky, since my job is also a play after all. Often, when I compare myself with the people who gave up their desires in order to do a routine job, I think that choosing the path I chose was worthwhile. The path of love for my own aesthetic ideal has clearly rewarded me, all the more so since my age is neither tender nor indulgent on regrets. Yes, it is so. Life is not all that long. And ours must be a work of genius. People who judge us may not agree, but it does not matter. Maybe we could have been something more. And maybe it is so. Having been what we wanted to be is essential for us. In the end we must be aware we have satisfied our primordial impulses, as they urged to be.