Tomek Baginski was born in 1976 in Bialystok, Poland. He studied Architecture at the Warsaw Institute of Technology. He joined Platige Image (Polish post-production house) in 1998 and is now an Art Director. Tomek Baginski's current submission, "Fallen Art", to SIGGRAPH 2005's Animation Festival has won the Jury Honors. He was previously honored with Best Animated Short in SIGGRAPH 2002's Animation Festival for "The Cathedral". In 2003, "The Cathedral" was also nominated for the 75th Academy Award's Best Animated Short.
What first drew you to computer graphics?
CG is the cheapest way of making moving pictures. I started to play with CG because at that time it was the only way for me to make films. I had no camera, but I had a home computer - if I wanted to make films, I had to learn how to use CG.
Do you have any favorite CG mentors?
I don't have any CG mentors. Rather, I look to the world of film. The names like Ridley and Tony Scott, Michael Mann, Tim Burton, Coppola, Cameron, Fincher were always very important for me and I learned a lot just by watching their movies.
What was the first time you contributed to SIGGRAPH?
It was in 2002 when I attended SIGGRAPH with my first short The Cathedral. It was a really big thing for me.
What year/city was your first SIGGRAPH? Which was most intense? Why?
It was the San Antonio SIGGRAPH. Many people said to me that it was a very small SIGGRAPH. But for me, I could only compare SIGGRAPH to the European CG conferences - San Antonio SIGGRAPH was huge. I don't regularly attend SIGGRAPH - we have to remember that attending SIGGRAPH for me means a 14 hour flight, jet lag and a lot of additional costs, so San Antonio was the first and only Siggraph. This year marks my second one.
What contributions to SIGGRAPH are you most proud of?
I had only two - The Cathedral and Fallen Art - both make me very proud.
What's your favorite thing at this year or last year's SIGGRAPH?
At the moment I don't know all the highlights of this year program. In the past few months and weeks, I was extremely busy with work , and of course my recent marriage ;-). I think I'll find my favorite when I arrive at Los Angeles.
What near/intermediate developments in CG do you look forward to?
I'm waiting for some kind of revolution in picture based modeling- I think we are close to automating this process. Making photorealistic 3D graphics should be more simple and more automatic - If this picture based modeling revolution happens more creative people will turn to non-photorealistic CG; a much more artistic way of making 3D.
You are the first person to win an award twice at the SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival. How does it feel to have this honor?
As all "first time" honors. It's very good feeling.
The SIGGRAPH conference has been going strong for 32 years. Does it surprise you that others have not won multiple awards at SIGGRAPH? Does this say something about how mature this form of art has become?
When I first read this news I was really surprised. I never felt that I'm so special that I should got so many awards.
Now, I think my second award is a little connected with short films world in general. If you analyze this there are not a lot of artists who are doing more than one short film. Most people, especially in the computer animation industry are making short films to be recognized, to have a chance for better job, to work in bigger studios. There are much fewer people who are doing shorts just for fun, because they want to make films, and who are doing more than one or two shorts.
That means that it is less few times winners, because there is less few times shorts creators.
For the two short films that you won awards for, **Fallen Art and The Cathedral, have very distinct but different visual styles. How was the creative process different for the two films?**
The biggest difference was that The Cathedral was mostly one person work. I did everything from concept art to rendering. In Fallen Art the work was divided between much more people. I had quite big control on the creative process, but it was not so "mine" anymore. There were some other, very talented artists in this project who gave a lot of their creativity into this project.
Both the films have been critically well received. Can we look forward to another animated short at next year's SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival? Are you and Platimage thinking about a feature length computer animated film?
Currently I'm working on the pre-production of the two shorts based on modern polish comic books. I'm also thinking about some long feature ideas, but it is not very advanced yet. Production of the first short should start in September. I hope that I'll finish it for next year's SIGGRAPH, but it is not sure. As it always is with shorts.
Sharing files via the Internet has become common place. I was surprised to find copies of your films available for download via BitTorrent. I you surprised to see this? Does piracy effect the films you create?
Surprised? No. It is not possible to be safe from piracy. Both my films were copied hours after their premiere. I've even seen a screener of Fallen Art. (Both my shorts were shown in regular theatrical distribution in Poland, so it was possible for someone to make a screener).
On the one side, I really hate it when my shorts leak onto the Internet, and I loose money from my DVD's (which are quite cheap already - Fallen Art DVD with an hour of additional materials costs in Poland I think - five euros). On the other side - shorts are not very widely distributed and for some people BitTorrent is the only way of watching it. Some of my popularity comes because my shorts are popular on sharing networks.