Interview with Dr. Paul van der Vaart
Published on 09/09/2019
What led you into the CGI/3D? Tell us your story
The origin lay in the year 2009! In autumn 2009 a daughter of one of our friends died of leukaemia. She had been almost 10 years old and her last wish was „Please give many children of this world the love/chances I also got…“. A wise wish for this age of almost 10 years! She died a few days later in the arms of her parents at the North Sea, near Amsterdam. About a year later, in 2010, we were sitting at this spot on the beach, but no CG artists among them yet! We chatted, discussed …it had been September 2010 and in the late evening one of our people asked: „How did people actually make money in the 70’s? Without the internet, without websites, without instagrams, without Twitter or Facebook and without online stores and much more…?
A very good question and we discussed this question until late into the night. How did people manage to make a lot of money – WITHOUT COMPUTER, SOCIAL MEDIA etc.? At about 02:30 after midnight we started to formulate a bet out of this question.
The bet was!
„Let’s go back in some areas to the 70’s and apply some methods (parts from the business, marketing strategies for example) and let’s look for methods for the future and connect these two strands. We will do without the internet and websites in many areas and try to make a lot of money until 01.01.2020. BUT we will also use a part of this money to help children and teenagers. If we should not be able to earn a certain high amount of money by 01.01.2020 (we had set ourselves a high sum as a goal), then we will be able to make a profit on 01.01.2020.
January 01, 2020 – Donate $100,000 to children with cancer!“
The bet was also based on the wish of the daughter we had included. Furthermore: the possible renunciation of modern communication like online stores / websites, but also the focus on our goals. ! It should also be a kind of experiment. This was our first goal in September 2010. Our group at that time consisted of lawyers, psychologists and pedagogues and me as an economic expert. Another question: Time – can we do something like that besides our main occupation? Do we have time? Planning? Place? Main topic? and many further questions followed…
A leap into the year 2011. Me and 3 others had a meeting in Mumbai / India in February 2011. The conference center was close to the sea, the wide windows were open and we held our meeting for 9 hours. From time to time 3D graphics were integrated, which were designed for us by an outside artist using a software called Blender. Early in the evening, as we sat on the terrace discussing various topics, a young man (then 11 years old) approached us. He had a little notebook in his hand with lots of notes and graphics and asked us in broken English/Hindi how to create these graphics? He looked over the terrace through the window all the time during the meeting and watched us doing it!
We looked at each other and referred to the artist. He showed us his book and there were many cryptic drawings and constellations in it, which we could not do anything with for the time being. He said he could make these graphics and representations better. We gave him a laptop and he played Blender 3D on it and showed us some of his wonderful works.
He also remarked that he had no parents. When he has time, he goes to work in a kind of technology shop/electronics shop and is then allowed to work for a few hours a week on one of the exhibition PCs and refine his own arts. But he couldn’t afford a PC because he didn’t have any money. The money he had went for the food if he had any and he himself lived on the street, between dirt and garbage and exactly that had been that evening dear Eddy and Tobias where we could write our bet completely. We also asked how he managed to survive, school too? How did he earn money and try to make ends meet? Reading, writing, arithmetic? How did he manage to learn the principle?
We saw a problem, we wanted to help and we now had a starting point. We gave him a laptop that evening and booked him a room and he disappeared immediately. We wanted to see what he wanted to show us and what he had. One day later he showed us his incredible abilities and we told ourselves at this point that we wanted to help this young man further give a future and we did. At this point JLE was founded, we had discussed and worked out our goals and tasks over many hours/days. JLE means: „Jennifer Leonie Experience“, the name of the deceased daughter. In addition, we have added another level by integrating the topic of CG into our many years of work and thus setting another challenge. Because CG played in the 70’s hardly or little/no role, comparable with today’s time. So how to integrate this topic into our work/bet, because it could be „very difficult“ to approach such a topic without websites and without internet!
This young man named Rajiv is today one of our top artists and developers in the field of Blender, C4D and Autodesk. In addition, he leads 2 areas of help at schools for training in CG.
We have refined our bet even further. Can you reach a successful point with very little social media? First of all the answer: YES !
An important principle of many: „Nosce tempus“ – get to know time!
Of course we can’t and won’t be able to do without technology! We are concerned here with areas such as websites and/or online stores, which have not been taken into consideration from the thought. We integrate more the factor time, invest then around this construct time very many new methods with old methods and used then also various communication techniques.
Our team: from that moment on we started to put together a team, which should not only include CG artists, but we also put those members on board, which we already had at that time, because they were all enthusiastic about the idea. Our team consists of CG artists, psychologists, sociologists, lawyers and educators.
Not all of our members are working for JLE Group 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but I would say from current experience, 60% – 70%. From this team different structures were formed. And one of our many slogans is still today:
- don’t go the same way as everyone else, but simply follow in new footsteps in the snow, look for new ways, look for successful new ways, look for new terrain ….
- use all your abilities and you will see, from these new ideas and new ways will be born. After all, you also use your 10 fingers, so only use 2 if there are so many possibilities!
- important contacts are usually the be-all and end-all when you start!
Over the years we received many, many inquiries, also about our team, why for example psychologists or sociologists? what does this have to do with CG? In the beginning incomprehensible. But if you integrated the people into our concept, suddenly a light came on.
I can give a clear answer to this question.
They aren’t constantly busy around in our studios or with the topic of CG, they play a certain role in the subtleties. We often sat in the cinema at the beginning of our foundation, as well as during our award evaluations in recent years. We had many photos taken by professional photographers from various scenes and rebuilt such scenes on the computer 1:1. Then we watched the photos and the CG artworks not in front of a monitor or a TV, but in the cinema!
The first question: what distinguishes a photo from a photoreal artwork? where are the differences? why does the eye recognize: this is artwork, the other a photo? For the first time, such studies were conducted only with CG artists and not with CG artists, but psychologists see further profound questions and answers in it. The artist will say: lighting, kind of light (HDRI or single segments illuminated), size, details, camera angle, texturing, extension of subtleties, kind of design, coloring and color design, rendering software, details and much more! The psychologist will also have another answer ready. I would like to give you an example!
Here a small view of this topic, which I learned from our psychologists years ago.
Very often, when we meet with award winners or artists in person, we give such examples in a personal and long dialogue. In our heads we have a part for the conscious and for the unconscious. The conscious can only absorb a few pieces of information in a second (sometimes 8-10 pieces of information at the same time). The unconscious part takes up a multiple of it, sometimes several hundred pieces of information. To enumerate these however is partly difficult to impossible. Consciously a person only takes in what he allows, one speaks of certain „filters“ which sit in front of the consciousness (preferences, prejudices, fears, dislikes, knowledge, behaviour… these are some of many filters).
Would you look at a Western if you were more into SciFi?
Depends on whether(if)…. This question also arises from our filters…
What is an artist’s favourite or priority design? Does he sculpt? Does he build interior scenes? Does he have preferences for nature or does the artist live in thoughts in the wide universe and design distant worlds, galaxies, planets?
A vacation in the jungle or in a 4-star hotel?
Would you rather party until night and dance or seek more peace and quiet?
Coffee or tea for work ?.. depends on …!?
Blue or yellow, red or green? or combinations?
Mercedes, Chrysler, Toyota, Porsche or Tesla …? (if you have the money!)
Will an artist create more colorful scenes or more dark scenes, apocalyptic scenes with dark light?
Does an artist build more detailed scenes, or more scenes where fun, fun or animations are anchored, or animated films with a Toon character?
Some things will be decided in advance by your preferences (depending on skill, experience, knowledge and experiences from the past…).
Unconsciously EVERYTHING is recorded, sometimes even stored. How large are such areas in the head? (not dependent on the size of the brain mass!). Scientists went out many years ago to calculate how big is the conscious and unconscious part in the head of a human being. They came to the following result: if one converts the size into a length, then the conscious part is approx. 1.5mm long. Question: how big is the unconscious part? The length adds up to approx. 15km – 18km, not including the basic instincts! Different and figuratively represented: take a pencil and paint a small dot on a DIN A4 sheet (1.5mm diameter), this is the conscious part in the brain, stick 45,000 – 60,000 DIN A4 sheets on this DIN A4 sheet, so long (large) would be the unconscious part in the head.
Now I see an artwork on my monitor. We have two halves of the brain. Let’s assume there is a little man named „Mr. Left“ in the left half of the brain and a „Mr. Right“ in the right half. Mr. Left now „sees“ this artwork on the monitor and gives this information to Mr. Right. Mr. Right now searches his „archive“ within seconds to see if he knows anything similar or not. An opinion is also formed. If, for example, Mr. Right finds many memories or characteristics he knows in his „memory“, this artwork can quickly „look“ like a photo, because Mr. Right looks at parts that lie unconsciously in the brain and you can hardly explain yourself. The artist says, „Yes, the colors fit, the structure, the light…“.
For example, very small particles such as hair on a table, dirt particles, subtleties and precisely such properties are unconsciously captured during our long phase in the cinema. There are many properties that unconsciously also allow a design! From the professional areas of the artists and psychologists, a structure is then developed which comes close to a photoreal result.
Example for our scans: Am I interested in such an artwork? YES / NO ? that depends on our filters before consciousness (among other things preferences for artworks or the artist himself and much more). It becomes interesting, when the conscious part tells you, super textures, super light/illumination, super staged….the unconscious part reacts in the „quiet“, he sees for example finest hairs on a cardboard, which are difficult to recognize and suggests to the brain „Cool, could a photo also be YES / NO ? this is a good artwork or if there should be a too fast reaction the right part could immediately say „FAKE“. We also have long and extensive studies on this subject!
It is only a very small explanation attempt at this point, but in some areas also very important.
Also here – they are not always on site. Sociology, according to Wiki, deals with the coexistence of people, behaviour, communication…etc. From this area we have also started, for example, how we can form optimal team structures in order to get the highest possible potential for the employees, but then also be able to pass this on. In this 10-year attempt we combine parts from the past with enormously important parts from or for the future. This starts with the workplace, with team structures, teamwork, because everyone should and must have their freedom to act, work…act and decide. There must be a clear concept, but we also say, let the artist „run alone, act, decide…“. We don’t have a pyramid hierarchy, we look ourselves directly into the eyes, everyone is on the same level, everyone is everyone, we are like a family so to speak. Every artist starts somewhere and sometime at NULL and every artwork no matter if it’s just a textured cube or a complex structure, it’s unique. We look at ourselves in this area like a clockwork, which only runs when even the smallest and weakest gear !! runs harmoniously with the other gear edges. If the smallest gear wheel stops, the pointer will also stop.
We also impart such knowledge, because very often students sit with us, who look at such a teamwork and for themselves from different countries. areas would like to take something with them.
In addition what is very important for us:
There are two sentences, which had been worked out especially by some artists in cooperation with psychologists and sociologists over the many years:
Saving time can be important in many areas, especially when a job is in a time management environment that requires an optimal result in a short time. But there are always two sides to a medal! If we want to teach and learn something, then we have to take all the time in the world, because not everyone is the same in terms of comprehension and learning structure. One person learns quickly, the other needs much more time. Where we apply such „sayings“ is, for example, in the creation of textures, which process now runs 96% fully automatically according to the current status (project OCTAIR). Another example would be the current laser scan projects „Fruits & Vegetables“.
A technique developed by Madeleine in 2017-2018 is used here. It is for the most part a fully automatic laser scan which is captured and processed by 2-3 lasers. Madeleine won our Innovation Award 2018 in 2018 (more about the awards later). Here we say to ourselves, we can actually save a lot of time, can’t we? We have technology, we have the AI (artificial intelligence in software form) and thus we combine everything to an almost fully automated process. The time we then save we then invest in other, new innovations, in the help of third parties and new suggestions.
A final short word here in this section about our bet. We already won it in 2015 and still had handed over more than $100,000 to various institutions in the same year, or gave help directly.
Where do you go to get inspired? What/Who inspires you?
My family, my wife, our three daughters as well as very importantly, our team/crew. We are all inspired above all by our goal! Our inspiration also lies in helping children / teenagers, but also adults who would never have a chance to learn this interesting and very broad subject area. Success can motivate to experience it live, for example how young people can learn what they would otherwise never be able to do alone, that motivates immensely. Very often, and here I speak personally from many years of experience, many people cannot afford this topic. Of course we have a lot of free software, but you still need a PC. So we ask for example also times with our Award delivery the winners! We give them 1500 Rupee in the hand (that is approx. 20 dollars) and a USB stick with free software. Task: You don’t have a PC and this 1500 Rupee per month at your disposal. Show us a way how you want to present your arts? For us a question which we MUST ask ourselves at the beginning ! Very often there are also very ingenious and fantastic new answers, often also a frown. Important for us to understand where our thoughts lay many years ago and what we (have to) deal with, partly even today!
CG is an expensive area on many levels. Begun with a computer. Where do you start? which price range? $ 500? $ 1.000 ? $ 2.000 ? or more ? Monitor(s) ? Equipment ? Software licenses? a room to work in, electricity and much more. For many certainly hardly or less a topic to think about. From our and my experience, especially in those countries where we give help, a very big problem. The incentive is very often present, the interest above all also, it hapses nevertheless always at the money!
Here we are primarily very grateful that for example Blender 3D exists, also Ton Roosendaal, which he realizes with his vision, his excellent team, a software product which is available free of charge. For the CG area, however, we have to consider the complete construct. The computer is mostly the be-all and end-all, hardware, fast, good hardware and performance, monitors, etc. This is where we start our help for those who are interested and where we are a kind of bridge. We give a knowledge, we provide the hardware and then we do not only impart a knowledge in CG, but also give help and teach languages, mathematics and much more. I will and would like to say thank you very often.
We don’t want to put a golden crown on ourselves, nor do we want to stand somewhere on the top step. We could offer a course, say for $ 100 a week. Now there are about 100 teenagers in front of the school. Question: How many will or can participate? I didn’t choose these numbers purely by chance and here I can name a number from the area of India (averaged from 8 years of work): it would be exactly 3 people. 97 persons would not be able to raise this $100 although there is a high interest. And also here was our basic idea at the beginning: we wanted to try to make it possible MUCH to be a part of such an artistic level, which also showed an interest. Such projects cause costs of course! That’s why from the beginning we focused on a perfect team, where everyone can and will take over an important and professional part in this structure JLE. In some parts the team is heterogeneous and in others homogeneous.
We have artists who do a wonderful job. We have lawyers who negotiate contracts internationally in their field, sponsors who land, teachers/psychologists who develop the teaching style. Whether an artist or an app/addon developer can sit down with sponsors is another question. Maybe so ? But if we take this path, then we had said to ourselves from the beginning, if it was professional and not semi-professional.
Together with our sponsors, for example, we make it possible for those who never had a chance to learn such an interesting topic to put it into action and give a lot of people a new way. Among them many young people who would otherwise have lived on the street, on the garbage dump. People where there was a lack of medicine, a few dollars or cents. Through the many long years we have given more than 1090 children, young people a new way, a perspective, a smile, new dreams and visions, new prospects and also in many cases wheelchairs or prostheses. There was also a heart operation and the 13 year old girl now has the chance to live on. Of these 1090 people, more than 820 finally got a job, some of them very well paid. CG can do all this!
If we see, for example, as last year, a young woman (16) made the way herself, learned a lot, then earned money for herself from what she learned and was able to buy medication for her sister, even support her family, then such a true smile and joy is affordable with nothing in the world! Also here we gain a lot of strength, it motivates us and we pass it on.
Approx. 5-7% then also create a level higher into a league, where we then also pave a way and try to give such young people a signpost. Whether it was the entry to Bollywood in the CG/VFX area or an architecture studio in Dubai was there. They are great and above all very important successes for such people.
Also the very many, hundreds supporters also here times a completely large thanks at this place. No matter whether it comes from the area CG or the sponsors. We don’t award gold, silver or bronze medals here because one donated a cent and the other a video tutorial, which we can show and teach, also we don’t attach platinum medals to the lapel with the title, you gave us especially much. It doesn’t matter if it’s one cent or whole IT equipment, everyone is on the same level! – the thought counts! And one question, which I asked myself again and again over the years: What is it for a feeling, if one knows that one is important part of a smile, a completely important part in the fact that humans or general young people can study, may further educate themselves further, do not have to live any longer in the dirt, can show themselves their works of art and suddenly also a part of such a society to be allowed!
Very often questions like these came and come:
Hey, you do great artwork, where is your website?
(Answer can be found here in the interview)
Where can I buy your assets?
(Answer can be found here in the interview)
How many people are you?
(Answer: 32, in the time of the award draw: 46-63, this year: 79)
What else do you guys do?
We thought you wouldn’t exist?
We give a very long answer from time to time. This makes then either Fiona, Ava or Lucas, they are our lawyers. Dee, he is Vice President and Founder and is in charge of a lot of issues in this area. When we then reveal our story, the feedback is huge. Statements like „Wow what? that’s great, I never thought“ or „how can we help you?
Every help, no matter if it was or is a paid tutorial that we are allowed to use or show for our lessons, assets, textures, software and much more, the helpfulness among the artists and companies was enormously high, also their readiness and time ! and we are very grateful for such a big wave of help and only then suddenly there were quiet voices like „we never thought so far……“.
CG can produce outstanding works of art, outstanding films, innovations, bring joy, give a smile, stimulate reflection, create jobs, open new terrains, give new impulses. But CG can also save lives in many cases if used correctly. Our team, for example, regularly donates 25% – 30% of the total income to such projects in order to further expand this work „JLE“.
Another point which inspires us are our awards. They are a special award to artists for their professional work, but also a prize for thinking ahead and imparting knowledge and new directions.
Every year we award 4 main awards in the categories:
„Artist of the Year Award“
„Heart of the Soul Award“ (mostly to CEO’s or company owners)
„Special Award“ for very special, outstanding achievements
These awards are bound to very high hurdles and I would like to describe one award in more detail: the „Artist of the Year“ Award. As I said before, we are not only CG artists, our crew consists of many application areas. For example, if we had an artist, let’s call him Mr/Ms X for fantasy and this person does excellent artwork in many areas, has enormous reach on the net and otherwise has a lot of feedback. This is not enough for us yet.
An artist communicates: first question: what does he communicate? (pictures, tutorials…etc.), how he communicates and especially in which way. As this year, the artworks will be reviewed by 16-22 professional CG artists. Back in my mind for a moment, a few lines where I talked about the conscious in a person – filters / preferences, prejudices! Every artist often has his own special favorite software / favorite scenes or topics. He will consciously say that I use Blender because Blender is excellent. The other says, Blender? is OK, but I prefer to work with Cinema 4D – why? Experience, learning and above all our filters. For us it’s important that many artists look at art from different angles and with different expertise, so we get the first feedback.
Furthermore: the artist communicates…. What do tutorials look like? And here not only professional artists go to an assessment, but we also specifically involve pedagogues, psychologists and in some cases marketing experts. Here, among other things, a spectrum is now laid out which contains the following criteria:
How the knowledge is conveyed
Do new paths and new ideas for one’s own work emerge from what one learns?
Not only how quickly you learn, but how well you learn is very important!
There are several repetition rules, also for tutorials
How is the learned divided?
How are facts presented?
Structures of the tutorial?
And many more points
Another mandatory point is a kind of social evidence for social activities. It is often enough for an artist to offer various products or for a circle that could never afford such a package (we say: think further than one’s own image). But it doesn’t matter how big this social project is, the approach has to be there! Does the artist offer seminars, how does he design them, what does he communicate and how? This is not a compulsory part.
From the many years with a lot of awards we also get into personal conversation with many artists and such an award delivery usually takes more than 2-3 hours, because we then explicitly go into the depth of the evaluations and they then also recognize that we not only look at a work of art or works of art and assess, but we also attach a lot of importance to the artist himself and his entire work – including how for example the website is designed. In addition, such an assessment of various artists usually takes between 5-6 months, if we thoroughly examine all fields. Over the years we received a lot of feedback and again and again we say: THANK YOU for such a great engagement, power, ideas, creativity to all of you! Not only the award winners, but also those who start new and those who are right in the middle of CG. Thanks to all of you!
How does a typical working day look like? and What does your workplace look like?
At first the very important point „health“ came into my mind. A very important topic for us. We have a conference four times a year. This topic also plays a very important role in such meetings.
Screen work – good for the eyes ? Our specialists, psychologists and our team agreed on very important points right from the start. If the eyes have to concentrate for hours on a very bright area on the monitor, if they have to fix areas for a long time, then digital diseases can „develop“ over time. We are talking not only about Generation Y, but also Generation Z! We always keep an eye on this very important topic – literally. Anyone who looks at or has to look at many hours a day on a screen week after week, month after month, year after year should be aware that this will not remain without consequences in the long run!
The symptoms can therefore occur after two or more hours of screen activity. The lens of the eye loses its elasticity and has to work harder to focus on things nearby. Symptoms range from eye redness and irritation, dry eyes, blurred vision, double vision, eye fatigue to back, neck and headaches.
This is also an important topic when we teach CG, for example! We teach not only the subject content, but also how to deal with it.
The first rule, which we gave to our employees, is the complete inventory. This starts with the right chairs, the right sitting posture and above all the breaks. After 90 minutes each artist receives the first hint on his monitor that the next break is about to start, after another 30 minutes a hint that a break should take place. This break should also not be spent in the office chair or in front of the coffee machine, but simply move. One says proverbially, if the body does not move, the spirit will not move – whether there is something to it can say our specialists rather, from the experience however we saw over the years also here a clear signal – it is true! For years we have been conducting various studies on this subject with doctors who are based in our clinic.
Everybody can do what he wants during this break, no matter if he walks around the block, jumps into the lake in summer, swims, jogges, important only, out of the sitting position and let his eyes wander into the distance again. This concept wasn’t easy to implement in the beginning, some even smiled and wondered why? Nowadays nobody wants to miss these guidelines, which are basically per artist. We have an eye test and a health test twice a year. Here, too, it is quite normal and important for us that the artists can fully exploit their health into old age.
We very often do competitions (sports), swimming, jogging, cycling, skiing in winter, also hiking or competitions in the nature or even different. Nature conservation projects and we have two wheelchair users in the team, which are then also completely integrated. They have racing wheelchairs when you go jogging, in basketball they are fully integrated. A strong team not only has power in its head, according to one of our doctors. This break after 2 hours of work is not a rigid limit! But it should be kept as much as possible, if possible. (depends of course also on the workplace and the upcoming task)
Anyone can work as and where they like. When an appointment is fixed, groups are usually formed and one person helps the other. If you don’t have to work at the workstations at the moment, many people often sit outside in nature, working in the workshop area. We have a barbecue twice a month, discuss, laugh, have fun and then switch off completely from the topic CG, which is often very difficult in such an area. Because often you see something in the nature or environment and ask yourself „Ingenious new texture“ or „Something new to scan…! Important are also such times out in the head. There are many small and very important details, in the overall picture they result in a picture of the working method.
The workstation itself is aligned precisely to each individual artist (monitor, chair, desk height-adjustable, direct and indirect lighting, etc.). Privately everyone can construct his environment according to his wishes, there are no limits. One person places half a forest around his working environment, the other loves Marvel and collects hundreds of figures. Elsewhere the Christmas light burns 365 days a year. Everyone should be as happy as he would like his environment for himself, but we attach great importance to health and above all to team spirit.
My workplace, since I live in Canada with my wife, is mostly in the winter garden. I need the nature around me and a clear view, the peace when working and organizing, as well as the view of the nature around my head to have clear. Since I travel a lot around the world, this is my retreat. In our studio in New Zealand my desk is between the artists, I don’t want to have a separate unit, because I always want to have contact to the crew. Our administration is located on the upper floor and our lawyers, when they are on site, have their extra offices. In the Netherlands itself we currently only have a small office, which makes more organizational planning, or like now in the beginning European summer season 3 people scan the fruits there as laser point cloud and then store them on our cloud where they can be retrieved from the studio.
How do you stay motivated in this industry?
A simple answer: Motivation through joy, fun, discovering new things, laughing, and above all giving many people something they would otherwise never achieve or experience. Communication (directly) with other successful companies and their business channels as well as meetings, exchange of experiences – also very important. We could also do masses of YT tutorials, expand websites, design online stores, which of course involves a lot of work. Our priority is first and foremost the word „help“ and „innovation“. Due to the bet it would not be possible to develop websites or stores now, but is this disadvantageous? We now have almost 9 years of experience in this field. We are very often, when we are travelling in Europe, also in meetings/conferences with those employees or we also meet with some artists from Europe, just for a small talk. Every now and then we hear: WOW you really exist – yes we are no ghosts, no phantoms, but the more and deeper we go into our matter, the greater the astonishment. Also a kind of motivation, which we then pass on to others.
Even if you try something new, make mistakes and then get to know a new way, a better one. I don’t want to say a faster one. I often compare it to a fast drive on the highway – 160, 200 km/h on the speedometer and the surroundings blur. The decisive factor for time is still me. If I slow down a little, it doesn’t mean I’m weaker, it means I’m more diverse. I recognize things that I would otherwise only perceive schematically through the fast speed, because I also have to act quickly when I’m fast. If I have to act fast, I have to start to limit, shorten or consume various points. If I act slowly, I can question, I can also produce such things myself and then expand them in a great variety. A fundamental question has to be asked at one’s leisure: Who demands a higher speed and also why? Are they costs? the pressure? Is it the globally networked world? How long does information last if it can be replaced by new information within minutes?
This includes ideas, new ways, new facets. Very often in the last weeks it has been asked how for God’s sake such a complex fruit scan can be created within seconds or minutes? I myself am highly motivated because I take the time to look for new ways or people who have a feeling for the topic of time + new innovation. When such a construct as an automatic scan comes out, then I save a lot of time myself and this time is invested in new, expandable creativity, if I may quote Madeleine’s words here.
Robin, that’s our head of development in the area of scanning (laser + photogrammetry) once summed it up 2 years ago. He said during a conference:
„We have coffee to go, so we have to go and drink, don’t waste time sitting down, time has become precious. We have pizza to go, so go and eat, ah yes and of course sex to go (prostitution) has always been there, right? …“ and then when he pulled a condom out of his trouser pocket, held it in the air and laughing loudly shouted the words in the hall „Hey cool, do you know this brand? We’re both absolutely thrilled, since we’ve been using this brand we’ve finished in bed over 10 minutes faster…….what a time saver“ – and the hall laughed loudly…humor – criticism ? If you invest time, it also brings a lot of new potential for yourself. That’s also why our team is always motivated.
Our specialists define the words „save time“ according to their rules, when you have to save a human life, heart attack, stroke, accident…then every second counts, saving time saves lives. The artists take this factor, for example, even if there is an easier way to fix a goal, simple or sometimes better as a solution.
There are also some exceptions, like for example now from France where high-quality bags are to be scanned. But we work in a team with a working understanding of time. I also get time when I start to plan correctly, set goals and sort important goals. Not too many goals, but primary goals!
A short comment to this topic here still from the experience out, since this question was also often asked. „How does one manage to remain competitive without websites or online stores, that is impossible in today’s world? Again a thought back. I drive with 200 things on the highway, or 250 things !, then of course I have no time to think about other, new ways but must then often inevitably consume from third party suppliers without asking myself the question, can you not also produce this yourself in a way fast with little expenditure of time ?! You have to take more time and the customer contact is a bit different than directly via the online way. In the beginning it had not only been very hard work with a partly 18-20 hour day. It depends here also on the point of view. We use e-mail and IT for our products, we are concerned with the core area of websites + online marketing, which is not (yet) part of our repertoire. We are more on the way and have a direct customer contact.
What is your passion besides CGI/3D?
What are the passions besides CG? From our team I can say, the passions extend very far into the fields of nature, innovation, modern technology, artificial intelligence. Also hiking, a lot of sports, concerts worldwide are often on the program. The family, the husband, the wife but also the children. Learning new things, taking a lot of time to learn new things, making mistakes and learning from them or finding a better solution: exploring and researching. From the whole team I can say, as I have already said before, that I can provide help and support. We have team members who enjoy sailing, skydiving, making music, making movies. I myself see my passion in playing golf and promoting aid projects. I think if we asked everyone on the team what passion he/she has besides work, a lot of statements would come out and so I would limit this answer more to what I know, especially if we do something together to what I also experience. We also have some nature conservation projects going on. One of them is on the South Island of New Zealand, which we support, on the other hand we also pay attention to the oceans and their littering, where we try to reduce this terrible topic with donations, also for the preservation of the flora and fauna there.
How do you keep your portfolio up to date? Any tips?
The portfolio. Here, too, I could do a lot to help. But since we are working in one area (see our bet and the resulting work), I would have to rewrite this area specifically according to our rules. If we present something on the internet, for example Artstation, Twitter or Instagram, sometimes also Facebook, then this is a maximum of 0.04 – 0.15% of the total work that the team does and creates, no more ! At the beginning we had asked ourselves, how much will and how much may we present at all, in order not to deviate from our goal (bet)? Are portals like Artstation allowed at all in our current concept? We then agreed on such a value. This value is only a minimal fraction of what is produced here. For example, we have four artists who „maintain“ the portal on Artstation, or introduce something new. Very often, works of art are presented that were designed directly by the young people we have as pupils. 8 artists have access to our Insta and Twitter accounts. If you have questions about such networks, we always try to give you a long answer. From the 8-9 years of experience we have gathered so far, 98-99% of the feedback has been extremely positive.
The range 1-2%, which there are also, which have then also statements in itself like „this is nonsense“ or „one can divide oneself the time also better“ or sentences like „LOL, everyone can afford computers if he wants“ – such statements exist also.
But we focus on those masses where you can also have a conversation, a teamwork or a cooperation. But what is much more important is the direct customer contact and above all a very important factor: TIME! To take up customer wishes explicitly and to take the time to work out a constructive finish for both sides. Such a portfolio with us consists first and foremost of direct customer contact, conveying visions, new visions, market demands and also the part to penetrate into new areas where there is also demand. Of course it is difficult to build something up in such a time of concentrated IT communication without a direct web presence in such a sector. However, we decided to go down this road in 2010 and I mentioned the reasons a moment ago. Who does it ultimately serve, who profits from it? You have to look for new ways, that’s understandable, but it’s also an attraction to implement it and to see the success. Very often we get the feedback: „you have a lot of time? wow! In today’s sometimes very fast society, where thousands of pieces of information rush in on one, day after day, via smartphone, tablet, TV and PC, where we have to make decisions within seconds, not one, very many. Where time is only a fine line between OK and NO! I like or I don’t like… exactly between such narrow borders we are looking for the big „playing field“ for our work.
What Software do you use to create your artwork?
In this area there are a few clear favourites among our artists. Blender 3D is used for 3D, design and construction of various objects and scenes. Also in the area of rendering, no matter if Cycles or Eevee. New methods are currently being tested in the Eevee area, new automatic texture methods are being played through. For the creation of various textures we exclusively use software from Allegorithmic. Here especially B2M and the new Alchemist are to be mentioned, which brings especially for our 3D Scans outstanding qualities with itself. ZBrush is very often used in the area of sculpting. Otherwise, we will also specialize in software products, which are available for example in connection with our 3D lasers and here to create a bridge between 3D scan and for example blender. For example, to transform a laser point cloud into a 3D object together with photogrammetry, or to convert synchronized scans into 3D objects, our studio mainly uses reality capture. In this area we also use other software products such as Pix4D, VisualFSM or Agisoft. Reality Capture has proven to be very fast and reliable based on practical experience. In addition, it also plays a very important role here that various scans + test scans have an enormous amount of memory (LPC + images), which are very often in the two-digit, high GB range.
For presentations and editing we use ADOBE Photoshop CC and InDesign, for our video and presentation content we use Premiere Pro.
What Software do you want to learn in the future? And why?
At the moment our artists work a lot with Alchemist to get an optimal finish for the scans. Of course we also work with other CG software products like C4D or Autodesk. But from the feedback of all, the area Eevee (Blender) is currently the first priority in order to learn the new features and the current status. We see Eevee as a very important, big and correct step in and for the future.
Which books would you recommend to the read?
A very wide field. I myself have a large library in our house with almost 3400 books, some from the business world in the areas of finance and personnel management. In addition, I like to learn many languages, as I currently speak and write almost 11 languages fluently. Books like „The digitalization, a new chance or a threat is currently on my reader. Currently also the book „Measure What Matters“-(John Doerr) and „Homo Deus“-(Yuvual Noah Harari). But since I am also closely linked to our team, we also exchange many books or e-books, for example, because I am also very interested in the field of communication psychology or non-verbal language (expressions + micro expressions). Reading is one thing that also fascinates me are dialogues with professionals. For example, when I am travelling with two of our psychologists, I travel to the HMS in Boston with them (Harvard Medical School/HMX), as I do now in January, in order to integrate myself in a dialogue here and also here in such an area, where I am not an expert, but where I can constantly learn something for myself.
What music do you listen to while working?
When I work I rarely listen to music, with our artists it’s something different, they listen to what’s fun or inspiring. If I am confronted with a problem myself or if I look for a solution out of complicated ways, then I often hear Ruelle, Calum Scott or Sam Smith. Inspiring voices and lyrics. But life is colourful, you are as young and old as you feel. With my 58 years I try to see every day as a kind of gift, where you can and may always experience something new for yourself or with your family, because it is not self-evident that you can go healthy and lively through life. I can speak volumes from my many years in India.
We often move from one festival to another as a complete team. Or like last year in an opera. You don’t go to the appropriate places every month or year, life is or can be varied. Like last year in autumn. There we had 11 teenagers who were sick packed into a plane and their heart’s desire fulfilled to a concert in the USA to see their idols live. There is even a music of the heart, you can’t hear it, but you can see it, on a smile. These 11 teenagers (8 girls and 3 boys) cried with joy. In my opinion the most beautiful music ! You can’t demand this kind of music, but it comes mostly when you give love, affection and a lot of time.
Any advice for new Artists?
Personally I have a lot of experience from the last many years! Be it through my own, because I also had to immerse myself in many areas and should acquire many areas myself, because you have to be able to have a say or also from our crew. Please take your time! Never put yourselves under time pressure. Primarily set yourself a few goals and go 100% to these, not set many goals. Start slowly as you explore a new topic! Often there are many points which you want to do at the same time, take these goals which you personally also like or where you feel yourself, this is my area where you can put a lot of creativity into or could realize your ideas better. Don’t let yourself drift, even if you need a little longer, no master from heaven has fallen yet.
No matter what your first or second work of art looks like, consider it unique, your masterpiece. Everyone starts small once and takes small steps, not big ones. Accept criticism and you can learn a lot from it. Mistakes are there to learn from them and then to take a new direction for yourself. Don’t put yourself under pressure, have fun at work and take a break from time to time. Go out into nature, connect with friends and sometimes do an unplug from the topic CG, only then often new ingenious ideas come into your head. Talk, communicate, exchange experiences. Projects you don’t feel like doing, but they’re half-finished on your PC, leave them there. If you approach projects with must or overcoming, then they will seldom be as successful as if you go to work with 100% and fun. At some point the power and commitment for such a project will come back. Difficult projects: get help from the community. There are a lot of fantastic artists who are willing to help here or there, be it through a live chat or an intensive mail contact.
Ask yourself, if this or that project doesn’t please many of you, do you like it for all of them? or do you dig a passage, which doesn’t end in nowhere and you should show your abilities yourself, where you haven’t discovered them yet? We also have a lot of artists, one can draw perfectly, another can sculpt, and yet another can build gigantic scenes. Then there are artists who sculpt people and others who prefer to build their fruit and vegetables or specialize in interior or exterior design. Try out a lot and specialize in points where you can have a lot of fun at work and where you can show yourself and your art and put a lot of creativity into it.
To our links. As already mentioned in the interview, we set and set our main focus on the primary goals, therefore there are currently no available websites or online stores. To what extent we will design an info website from the year 2020, this will only be discussed from the month of July. Because from July 2019 until December 2019 we will work out the structure 2020 – 2030. What will come in any case is a Patreon page, because we would like to give the money for further projects and help to those who do not have the possibility to learn such a field. Be it through new inventory, payment of teachers, school materials and much more.
To the Onlinestore. What was hardly/not available before because these products were also not yet available, is piracy. We have fantastic artists all over the world with fantastic products. They work hard for it but you can often find it on the Darknet/Deep Web or on the net. In 2014/2015 we also shot down a kind of rehearsal balloon and within a short time the products were on the net, partly for sale, partly for free download. But as a businessman I have to try to make a profit myself, because I can’t pay our crew with any assets, video tutorials or textures. Our aid projects also require the highest possible management of strength, competence and foresight. So we very often ask ourselves the question, if we want to keep the current way of direct marketing or if we want to go the other way. As things stand at present, it looks as if we will continue along the current path. If someone is interested in the assets, he can and is welcome to contact us, as other companies and users do.
Finally, I would like to thank Eddy and Tobias for this interview. Also to all of you who supported us in our many years of work and who will continue to support us, you are world class! also on behalf of our entire crew. In addition, we wish all artists continued success and those who are about to start never give up, we keep our fingers crossed for you all. Believe in yourself and your abilities.
Dr. Paul van der Vaart
President JLE Group, Vice President i-U Studios