INTERVIEWS

Bobby Beck

What first drew you to computer graphics?

Well, like most I'd say I was dazzled by special effects in big movies like Jurassic Park. However, I always had an innate pull towards movies. My mom was the best. She pulled me out of school to wait in line for "Return of the Jedi" when I was a kid. Stuff like that really sticks and gets into your soul.

So, yeah, I've always loved movies and special effects. I made the decision to go to school and learn how to do spaceships and special effects when all of a sudden this little movie called "Toy Story" came out. When I saw the trailer for that movie I was already enrolled in school and I immediately changed my focus to be on character animation. The light came on.

What forms of artistic expression do you remember most vividly as a child? I can pinpoint exactly the time when I became an artist, it was in second grade. My teacher led all of the students out to the playground and told us to draw what we saw. Later, when she was reviewing my work in front of the class, everyone agreed that it wasn't good at all. I spent the next few months after school drawing that same scene over and over again trying to prove them wrong.
Do you have any favorite computer graphics mentors?

Well, I think CG and 2D go hand in hand in terms of people I think are aboslutely outstanding and inspiring artists. Frank and Ollie, of course, Milt Kahl, Eric Goldberg, Ken Harris, Glen Keane, Doug Sweetland, and Brett Coderre are among some of my all time favorites.

I really think you can learn from anyone. Be it by watching their work or getting to know them. I'm big on what drives the artist. Rather than the technology itself. I think the artist is the one with the vision and that is more inspiring and powerful than any energy on the planet.

What was the first time you contributed to SIGGRAPH? Funny you should ask. I think this year (2004) is the first year where I'm actually contributing to SIGGRAPH with the AnimationMentor.com project. I've been to Siggraph in the past as a representative of different studios, but this is really the first time I feel I have something to contribute.
What year/city was your first SIGGRAPH? Which was most intense? Why?

1996 in New Orleans. It was the first big trip I ever did on my own. Flying from California to New Orleans was an amazing experience. I went with one of my all time best friends Shawn Kelly and we were new "pups" to this big industry but I'll say this, we made the absolute best of the whole experience. It gave us the direction we needed to come home and stay focused on our studies and give us the push we needed.

On the way there our plane was delayed so we were asked if we wanted to fly to Chicago for the night. We were game so we went for it. We wound up meeting with ILM guru Stephan Fangmeir and his wife. They were great and we wound up playing pool together in the hotel. After a game of pool we found out he worked at ILM. We were floored because that was a dream place to work and him and his wife were absolutely awesome people. They were so amazing and supportive. He wound up giving us passes to some ILM screenings and events at Siggraph. It was so special and so inspiring, something that fueled our passion as we came home to continue our studies.

What contributions to SIGGRAPH are you most proud of? I'm actually very proud of event itself. Bringing people together from all over the world and giving them a place to meet and exchange ideas and inspiration is super huge.
What's your favorite thing at this year or last year's SIGGRAPH? I think the balance between work and play is good. Hard work during the day and chillin' out with your professional peers at night is super fun. Putting faces to the names of people you've met through email or via forums. To me that's the absolute best.
What near/intermediate developments in CG do you look forward to? Technology is good. But, I definitey think focusing on good stories will make CG films great. I don't think any amount of technology will ever make a bad story good. So as long as artists keep focusing on the vision and seeing the tools as a means to make their vision come true I think we'll see some amazing new developments.

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Last updated 9/15/04.

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