Interview with Tobias Galle

Tobias Galle is a 3D Motion Designer from Mannheim, Germany with 14 years of industry experience. He likes to work with Cinema 4D and Octane.

What led you into the CGI/3D? Tell us your story.

I started studying communication design. In 2004. At that time I thought I would mostly want to do illustrations and drawings. But then came the first contact with 3D, at this point in time in the form of Maya, and even when I was pretty frustrated at the beginning, I kept on getting back to it. Not because I enjoyed the process so much, but because I really liked what could be done with it and the great making-ofs and videos I’ve seen online. Then, while I was doing my practical semester, I got into contact with Cinema 4D in 2007 and from there on it has never let me go. After I graduated with a BA in Communication Design I wasn’t so sure on which route to go and pretty much did a little bit of everything, some film, some graphic design and also some 3D. Then in 2008 I started my second studies at Filmakademie BW in the department of Motion Design and from there on I pretty much focused on 3D. In 2010 I founded the design studio Pikdrei with two friends of mine and since then I do CGI for a living.

Where do you go to get inspired? What/Who inspires you?

This is pretty hard to answer, it feels more to me, how to not get inspired and motivated. Because every time I work on a project or an artwork for a while, I find something else, that I like better or would rather start, than finishing the one I’m working on.
The internet is definitely a huge source of input and inspiration in the form of so many great artists that do mindblowing stuff – every day. There are just so many out there that I can’t even start to name them all. Pretty often inspiration also comes through watching movies and series or by reading books. Even if I’m not going often enough, theater and ballet also gets me motivated everytime.

How does a typical working day look like?

Usually I start my day between 9:00 and 9:30 in the office, which I share with my companion from my agency Pikdrei and five other freelancing creatives. Depending on the workload there is already a written todo-list on my desktop from the previous day on which I marked the most important and urgent points for the day. After I have gotten my first coffee, checked all the mails as well as some time with the internet I start with working on the projects on my list in order of priority. The goal for every working day is to have a ‚regular‘ 8-hours-day, so to have some free time in the evening. But that always depends on the amount of work and projects and doesn’t always work out.
If I don’t have any client-projects I usually take that time to work on my own artworks.

What does your workplace look like?

I guess, pretty unspectacular, a large cup of coffee with a lot of milk, two screens and an old Wacom Intuos 3. And somehow there is always a staple of paper and sketches on the side, no matter how often I clean up my workplace. And it is never getting smaller too!

How do you stay motivated in this tough industry?

In commercial projects the ideal case is, that the contact with interesting clients or tasks brings the motivation. And it is almost always the case, that I have to do something I have partly never done before or have to figure out a technique or a style. So this aspect of my professional career keeps the adrenaline high.
Apart from that I try to use the downtime in between jobs to create personal and free artwork, in which I alone define the outcome. This is also very important for me, as client-work always has a sort of purpose and is always designed for the taste of a specific target group. Doing self-initiated work helps me to try new techniques and develope my own visual style and keeps me motivated. And also seeing other artist’s portfolios and the exchange with friends from the creative community helps to stay inspired. And if all of that fails, sometimes a class of good red wine also does the trick 🙂

What is your passion beside CGI/3D?

Film and going to the movies is definitely another passion. If projects permit it, I would say I’m nearly once a week in the movie theater.
Besides my commercial work with Pikdrei I also teach a Film-course and a 3D-Motion-Graphics-course at the University of Applied Sciences in Mannheim, which also definitely counts as passion-projects.

How do you keep your portfolio up to date? Any tips?

I don’t try so much to keep my portfolio up to date but rather to focus the content on a certain area. That means, preferably less projects or even older ones instead of too many new projects, that aim in the wrong direction.

What Software do you use to create your artwork?

Almost always Cinema 4D with different plugins is at the core of every artwork. And then the usuals for postproduction, Photoshop and After Effects. From time to time some Illustrator and whatever else might be needed to get an idea done.
Welche Software wĂĽrdest du gerne in Zukunft lernen?
What Software do you want to learn in future? And why?
I have seen really great work done with Houdini, so this is somehow on my list. And unity 3d is also on my list as I think that it is a really powerful engine and quite trendsetting for the future.

Which books would you recommend to the read?

For work and design-stuff:
The freelance manifesto by Joey Korenman
Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler
Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy
For pleasure:
The Hyperion novels by Dan Simmons

What music do you listen to while working?

I’m a huge fan of electronic sets from artists like Apparat, Beardyman, Digitalism, Erobique, Vacationland and many many more. Follow me on soundcloud, if you are interested 🙂

Any advice for new Artists?

There is a great quote by Ira Glass called „Nobody tells this to people who are beginners“ of which Saar Oz made a short animation of, that I show all of my students at the first lesson:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” Ira Glass