Welcome to the “Lost Temple” themed issue of your free Digital Art Live magazine!
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Welcome to the ’Lost Temple’ issue. This month we explore the classic theme of ruined and long-abandoned temples. Such temples and ancient libraries have been a theme of science-fiction since the beginning, paralleling a century of real-world discovery from the 1840s to the 1940s. Who has not thrilled to the sort of spidery and bat-haunted temples that so often entice an intrepid adventurer or nefarious wizard, offering them tantalising dreams of fabulous treasure or forbidden knowledge?
In this issue we’re pleased to have an interview with Danny Gordon of NWDA, home to a group of amazing landscape and vegetation artists who work at a high level. We revisit the world of Alois Reiss, who takes a more ’deserts’ approach to the theme. Our third interview is with movie genius George Pal, who filmed such settings to great effect, offering us killer jungle ants in The Naked Jungle, the lush far-future forests of The Time Machine, and the Mayan settings of his 1975 Doc Savage movie.
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Danny is a veteran landscape artist, and he now heads up the NWDA group of freelance 3D landscape artists.
TERRAGEN | VUE
“Right now I am concentrating on mastering Vue & Plant Factory [via] ‘learning projects’ that are still sitting on my desktop … I have been watching tons of tutorials that are available for Vue … many are extremely in-depth and helpful.”
We visit Bavaria to catch up with Alois Reiss, who has been making Skyrim game mods featuring ancient Dwemer ruins.
TERRAGEN | VUE
“I came up with the idea of a Dwemer antenna system. This was followed by some test builds [of the mod, and] I got a feeling for working with the settings of the grid in order to build everything exactly together. As the construction progressed, a story slowly developed.”
We’re pleased to have a long interview with the late George Pal, maker of movie classics such as The Time Machine (1960).
FX | MOVIE MAKING
“I had my training in Puppetoons, which is basically special effects, so I decided to go in my favourite field, into science fiction. When I came over just with a bag of puppets from Europe [in 1939] I got acquainted with Walt Disney, and he helped me all the time.”
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Excerpt from our interview with Danny Gordon
See the full interview in issue 48
DAL: Danny, welcome to the Digital Art Live magazine interview. It’s been a while. How have you been?
DG: I have been doing well. Since the last time we spoke I made a change in my professional life, moving from my design engineer work over to an IT-based position. Definitely enjoying the change from an office environment, to work from home with only a few days in the office. This frees up a lot more time for bidding on freelance work as well as tackling some of my personal projects as well.
DAL: Great. Ok, let’s begin back at the start of your career. How did you first become interested in digital art? In 2010 you were known as a MojoWorld and Terragen artist. Was that where you started, or was there an earlier software package that you began with? Perhaps Mandelbulb or Bryce?
DG: I don’t think Mandelbulb3d was around back then, I could be mistaken about that, I just don’t remember it back in the early 2000. I do remember Apophysis & Indendia were the big fractal programs during that time. That said I have used Mandelbulb3d fairly recently. A very cool program. I am sure it’s come along way since I first tinkered with it.
As far as environmental software, yes, Bryce was the first for me. Then right into Terragen Classic, where I stayed for quite some time. It had a massive following back, then lots of talented artists were using Terragen.
DAL: Yes, greatly aided by its giving away earlier full versions free on magazine cover CDs, I think. Did you find useful mentors in the early days, and how did they help you?
DG: I got bit by this CG bug from work by Moodflow, Armands, Christian Fly, Horselips, Hillrunner… I could go on. As far as mentors? I started getting involved in Terragen Yahoo chatrooms in about 2004-ish. That was my first time interacting with other users, sharing files and ideas. That was great at the time, but that platform as very limited. Then everyone kind of bailed out, and moved to other forums that were around at the time. 3dcommune, Renderosity Terranuts. Christian Fly’s site a few others. I immediately jumped in and started posting images and asking questions over at Renderosity. I had some good input from users, and was getting my butt kicked in their Terrain Challenges. Pushinfaders was moderator, if I remember correctly. He was always helping everyone out. There were a lot of users posting Terragen images and interacting in the forums daily. It was an amazing community back then. I was also involved with another forum Terranuts. This forum was more of an ‘open topic’ CG forum… any medium. That’s where I think the term mentor would be more applicable to users like Rids, Horselips, Curious3d who helped me tremulously. Honest critiques no one-word oohhs and ahhs like you see today. That was really where I started to learn. They were very memorable years for me.
DAL: A good grounding. And there was often a strong “fun” aspect to using the early software. I’m thinking of everything from Bryce’s interface to MojoWorld flythroughs, to Kai’s Power Goo. Is that something you miss, or have you been able to find it elsewhere in more modern software?
DG: Absolutely, for example you mentioned Mojoworld that’s a program that you can open for the first time and start creating with its Planet Wizard. Mixing its vast library of presets on a full-scale fractal planet meant countless views to render. Once you get past that stage, Mojoworld was one of the first graph or node based programs that allowed you complete control. A steep learning curve, but worth it. One of the cool things I remember was the MojoVox chats. Mojo had a built-in user chat room called MojoVox. It allowed you to chat — within the interface — with other users.