We recently spoke with Adam Katz to get the scoop on all things Houdini. Adam is the Lead Character FX artist at Animal Logic in Sydney. Where he worked on Captain Marvel and Peter Rabbit 1 & 2. Adam’s current work is based around FX in Houdini as well as pipeline coding. Additionally, he also has created interactive installations in VR and projection mapping. Adam’s work has also been included in Adelaide Fringe Festival, Sydney’s Vivid light festival, as well as documentaries for the Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel.
Q: Hi Adam, You have some really fun and pretty cool work on your demo reel! I love the Character FX you did for both Captain Marvel and Peter Rabbit but I was also really impressed with your creative coding demo reel as well. You’ve done some really amazing stuff in a lot of different areas from Character FX to coding and more! Would you mind telling us a little bit how you got started in VFX and what path you took to get where you are today?
ADAM: Sure, no problem! I’ve moved around within a few different fields over the years. I started as a character animator and motion graphics artist working on documentary television. That coincided with the beginnings of programming to help improve the efficiency of output needed for TV.
From there, I eventually transitioned over to character effects as well as projection mapping and interactive installations for festivals like Sydney’s Vivid. All in all, I like the combination of visual output, programming, and interactivity. It makes for a great collection of projects to work on, and it means I never get bored.
Q. Can you give us some background on your creative coding projects? That video is pretty awesome with the interactive aspect it becomes so enriching and beautiful to watch. How did you come up with your creative coding ideas? Have you always been involved in festivals or was this something new and will you continue to do creative coding? Did you enjoy the experience, what was that like?
ADAM: Well, the whole creative coding thing really just started with me and a friend thinking it would be cool to see some animated projections during concerts. So I started learning how projection mapping and game engines worked. Eventually, I was teaching 3D at a private college, and myself along with a team of teachers, all decided to pool our knowledge and try to make something bigger than we could have done by ourselves. That led to reaching out to Vivid and becoming involved with the festival. Working on large scale interactive projects is a blast! It’s a great time creating something that other people will play and have fun with, and it’s an excellent opportunity to collaborate with my friends!
Q: What was it like working on Captain Marvel? What was a typical day like for a Lead Character FX artist while working on that movie? Also, I have to ask, did you happen to meet Stan Lee?
ADAM: Captain Marvel was a lot of fun. I was within the FX department at Animal Logic, and it was a relatively small team on that project. Everyone involved was super talented, and it was a great opportunity to learn and experiment with new effects for Captain Marvel’s hair. Unfortunately, no, I never had the opportunity to meet Stan Lee.
Q. Having created a tutorial for CGCircuit in the past on Cloth in production, do you see yourself creating more tutorials possibly some VR or Houdini in USD? Do you see yourself as a mentor or teacher, do you enjoy working on teams? What is it like working on a team for a festival project as opposed to working on a team in production?
ADAM: Some more tutorials are definitely a possibility. A virtual reality one might be interesting, something with some interactivity involved. I don’t necessarily see myself as a teacher or mentor, since I feel like I’m always learning anyway. But I try to pass on what knowledge I have whenever I can. Working in a small team for a festival project has a very different feel than a large production team. For one, there’s less pressure from outside, but you need to keep motivated to finish everything. You also tend to wear more hats since there’s only a few people involved.
Q. Any future plans you can discuss for tutorials or creative coding projects or just general plans to give our readers a sense of who you are on a more personal level or if not, any cool hobbies, events coming up you plan to speak at or attend?
ADAM: Well, there’s nothing specific for future plans that I can really talk about at the moment. I did just have the wonderful opportunity to speak at the Houdini Hive in Siggraph Asia. I gave a presentation about how Character FX are automated at Animal Logic, and that was a lot of fun. As for hobbies, I tend to try a bit of everything. I’ve played guitar, rock climbed a bit, done some fencing.
Q: Last but certainly not least, is there any advice you can give to students and those just starting out in the VFX industry. Any resources that you find helpful, which software should they be learning, which forums should they be on, workshops they should be attending, networking events?
ADAM: Well, I guess the first bit of advice is try to finding something you’re personally interested in doing. It really helps to have that as motivation since you will need to always be learning and exploring. Networking events are pretty valuable, since meeting people in the industry is an excellent way to start finding work. As for specific tutorials, the excellent cgwiki is always high on my list for finding helpful bits of info.
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We hope you enjoyed our interview with Adam Katz as much as we did, to learn more about Adam please check out his tutorial Houdini Cloth in Production on CGCircuit as well as check out his links above.
If you have any questions or feedback on this blog, we’d love to hear it in the comment section below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author:
Lori Hammond, CG Circuit
Author & Content Producer
Experienced multi-talented Artist/Designer/Blogger with an extensive background in the Arts & Entertainment Industry(Animation, VFX, Game & Product Design)