Interview with Zacharias Reinhardt
Published on 04/21/2019
What led you into the CGI/3D? Tell us your story.
In my childhood my brother (Vincent) and I created LEGO stop motion movies with a simple video camera. It was my first contact with the medium and at that time an enthusiasm for filming and animation slowly awakened in me.
2004, I bought my first digital camera. We started to shoot short movies and to integrate visual effects into our films. After a while we came across Blender and studied additional simple VFX tools, which eventually allowed us to implement 3D content into our videos. Of course, we had to get acquainted with the complexity of Blender first and with a slow internet connection this seemingly took forever. Most of the things I learned by trial and error.
After I successfully created simple 3D projects, the “3D fever” grabbed me. I spent a lot of my free time shooting short movies, building 3D worlds and creating short 3D animated movies. After a while, I discovered Cinema 4D and since the interface was much easier to use than Blender’s, I continued using Cinema 4D as my main 3D tool for the years to come (until 2009).
2009, I went back to Blender (2.49). I needed it while working on a 2D / 3D animated movie. My brother, who was more familiar with Blender at that time, helped me to get back into the program.
When Blender 2.5 with a completely revised user interface was released (in 2010), I fully switched to Blender, since it offered all the professional features I needed, and of course, it is free of charge. There was no reason for me to stay with Cinema 4D anymore.
2010, I got employed in an advertising agency as 3d artist (without an apprenticeship or a degree). There I used Blender for customer projects. In the same year I started to publish my first free video tutorials about Blender. After the release of Blender 2.5 there were no German-speaking tutorials for beginners. So I created a series for beginners and published it on YouTube. The feedback was very positive, which kept me motivated to continue. In the following years I published many additional tutorials and my former YouTube channel started to grow.
In 2011 my brother and I founded the company “AgenZasBrothers.” During that time we were shooting advertising videos and 3D projects for customers. We used Blender as our main 3D tool. I also continued to publish my free video tutorials and offered commercial Blender training. In 2013 I received a certificate as a “Blender Foundation Certified Trainer”.
After over four years of AgenZasBrothers, with two employees, many projects and many ups and downs, we decided to shut the doors of this venture in the end of May 2016. Both of us wanted to go our own professional paths with fresh energy. Since June 2016 I have been working as an independent freelance 3d artist and instructor. My brother was making his new experiences in the field of movie production for cinema and TV.
Although it was a tough decision to give up our company, we both realized that it was the best decision to take. In the following years my business thrived a lot, which finally gave me the chance to leave freelance work behind (which was a long-time goal for me) and fully concentrate on helping more CG artists online with online courses and tutorials and bring everything I do under one new brand. As result, I founded CG Boost in 2019, to express my desire to help other aspiring CG artists to improve their skills and eventually make a living with what they are passionate about.
Where do you go to get inspired? What/Who inspires you?
When I need a blast of CGI inspiration, Artstation.com is certainly my first address. But overall I keep my eyes open even when I’m not in front of my computer. Everything I’m looking at when taking a walk, driving the car etc. can spark a new idea for another artwork in my head. I have certain topics which I like most, like rusty cars and robots, nature, weird looking creatures. So if my attention is grabbed by objects I see in real life which somehow relates to these topics, the idea machine in my head starts to run on full speed.
How does a typical working day look like?
I stand up in the morning between 5:30 and 6:00. During the workweek I use the first 30 to 45 min to workout. Then my wife and I take care about my two kids and bring them to Kindergarten. Luckily my apartment, my office and the two Kindergartens of my children are all very close to each other. So it is possible to go by foot and it just takes 5 min (benefits of living in a small town). In my office I use the first 30 min to meditate (to focus) and to read. Then I go over to do bookkeeping, emails and support for roughly one hour. Then I use 15 to 30 min to learn new stuff (currently I’m diving into the human anatomy). After that, if I don’t have a meeting with my coworkers, I dive into content creation for the rest of my day. Either I’m working on new tutorials or online courses. From time to time I make a short break, either going home and eat lunch or taking a nap on my coach in my office (benefits of being self employed). I adjusted my work duration to my wife’s work (she is an employed physiotherapist). Two days a week I’m working rough for 9 hours and my wife takes care about the children and the other three days I roughly work for 7 hours. I take care of the children on the afternoon for two days and on friday afternoon my wife and I have family time with our children. The weekends belong to my family (except there is a super urgend project going on).
What does your workplace look like?
I have rented a small room in an office of a web developing company which is two walk minutes away from my apartment. I’m using a workstation (Windows 10 PC, 32 GB RAM, Intel Core i7-7700K CPU, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card) with two monitors and a Wacom Intuos Pro M graphics tablet (mainly for digital sculpting). For office work like emails and bookkeeping I mainly use my notebook.
How do you stay motivated in this tough industry?
I really have a deep desire in my to bring fantastic CG art to live and teach others how to do that as well. Receiving a the nice feedback from people I already helped in their career keeps me motivated. In the end I turned my passion into my career, so I guess there is no better motivation.
What is your passion beside CGI/3D?
Playing with my two kids (creating LEGO robots and spaceships). I’m also really enjoying cooking and learning more about nutrition (I’m living vegetarian/vegan). Cooking is a way to relax for me, I barely use recipes and just cook by heart. Besides that I get used to working out and running, which I don’t want to miss anymore.
How do you keep your portfolio up to date? Any tips?
Most of my artworks I either create for online challenges (you can join our challenges for 3d artists at cgboost.com/challenge) or I create them as example scenes for tutorials and online courses. Since my time as a bit limited, I don’t have much time to work on personal projects. but since I’m working for my own company, I’m totally free on what artworks I create for my training content. Also, since, my main goal is to inspire people, I don’t create a portfolio to get employed anywhere. So I mainly focus on images you can dive into and imagine your own worlds.
What Software do you use to create your artwork?
Mostly Blender and Photoshop.
What Software do you want to learn in future? And why?
There are some great tools out there nowadays, like the Substance Family, or tools like world machine or marvelous designer. But as self employed artist you have to take care what you use your time for. Nowadays I only learn a new tool if I really need it for a project. And if the other tool is not really necessary, i try to go with the stuff I know to be fast.
Which books would you recommend to the read?
Books which really changed the way I think and act today are “Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod, “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and “The Millionaire Fastlane” by M.J. Demarco. These books are addressed to the topics self development, focus in your life and business.
What music do you listen to while working?
May music taste is very diverse and the music I have in my Spotify playlist are changing every now and then. Currently I listen to music like Bosse, Fever Ray, Sia, M83, Grouplove, Family of the Year, Joris, Dan Deacon, Von Wegen Lisbeth, Giant Rooks, Jai Wolf and many more.
Fore time to time I also really enjoy movie soundtracks like the ones from Interstellar, Avatar and Tron Legacy.
Any advice for new Artists?
Learn the art fundamentals as soon as you can. This are things like storytelling, composition, light and color, proportion, human anatomy etc. These topics are way more important for creative artists than technical skills in my opinion. If you have technical skills and no idea of the art fundamentals, you probably won’t be able to create beautiful artworks. But if you have a good understanding of these topics, then you will be able to create beautiful art much quicker when you learning a new software. Also, you know much better what tools you need to achieve what you’re aiming for.
And never stop learning and practicing. Don’t let the awesome art of other great artists drag you down, accept the fact that becoming a great artists takes a lot of time and hard work. Everyone started at some point with creating crappy looking art. You can’t be a bodybuilder by working out for one week. you have to work on your skills for month and years.