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frameboX : Till Nowak

THE AREA | Posted 5 November 2007 10:14:00 pm

Software

  1. Autodesk 3ds Max

Industry

  1. Film, TV and VFX

Project Links

  1. Autodesk 3ds Max

Homepage

http://framebox.com/
Till Nowak- Photo

Till Nowak

Till Nowak was born 1980 in Bonn, Germany. In 1999 he founded his small studio \"frameboX\" and started working as a graphic and animation freelancer. He studied \"media design\" at the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz between 2000 in 2005. Till Nowak received more than 30 international awards, mainly for his graduation film \"Delivery\". Today he is experimenting with nearly every form of digital media, focusing on cinema and media art.

Filmography:

DIRECTOR:
"Souvenirs" (experimental video), 2007, Director
"Delivery" (animated shortfilm), 2005 Director
"Mr. Cool ICE - Ein Portrait" (Documentary), 2005, Director
"Telesync" (animated shortfilm), 2003, Director

EFFECTS + DESIGN:
"Rommels Schatz" + "Rommels Krieg" (Documentary), 2007, Visual Effects
"Mythos & Wahrheit - Der Kennedy-Mord" (Documentary), 2007, Visual Effects
"Zum dritten Pol" (Documentary), 2007, Visual Effects
"Göring - Eine Karriere" (Documentary), 2006, Design, Title animation
"Hitlers Kinder" (Documentary), 2000, Title animation

Artist Profile


Interview

The area avatarThe Area:

Greetings Till -- a pleasure to talk again, but for those who haven't had the pleasure, could you please give a little intro about yourself.

The area avatarTill Nowak:

I am a media artist and 3D animator and I formed a studio in Germany in 1999. Until 2004, my main job was traditional print and web design for advertising agencies. In 2005, I finished my shortfilm "Delivery" and changed my direction towards independent filmmaking, media art and CGI instead of traditional design.

\"Salad\" - Image by Till Nowak, A tribute to H.R. Giger and Giuseppe Arcimboldo

The area avatarThe Area:

This summer, we had the chance to meet up at Siggraph in San Diego, at the premiere of your piece "Salad" in the Siggraph Art Gallery. Is there a statement or some meaning behind it? What inspired you to create this image?

The area avatarTill Nowak:

I am on a continuous search for ideas which bring existing and known aspects of our world together in a new, twisted and weird combination. The challenge is to find new, but simple ideas. For "Salad", I combined the old technique of Giuseppe Arcimboldo's vegetable portraits from the 16th century with the creations of H.R. Giger, at the same time, combining the style of an oil painting with modern digital art and turning around the relation between vegetation and flesh. So it contains at least three separate levels and if you want to go further, you can also read some social message in it, concerning our society as the wolf in sheep's clothing…but this kind of message is usually not where I start when I develop something.

A lonely life outside the industrial city

The area avatarThe Area:

This was not the first time your work has been publicly celebrated. A few years back, your graduation film "Delivery" won you several international awards. Without giving away the story, what is the film about?

The area avatarTill Nowak:

"Delivery" is something like a science fiction fairy tale, about an old man who lives next to a big, dark factory and cares about a little flower, perhaps the last flower on earth. One day he receives a mysterious package, nobody knows where it came from. This package contains some kind of magic portal which gives him the power to change his environment as if he were God. Now he has to decide how to use this power. My goal was to create a very dense visual and musical composition. It was very successful in more than 150 film festivals and is now for the first time available on DVD in the USA, complete with lots of special features. You can check it out here:

Delivery - NTSC edition DVD

The area avatarThe Area:

What were you studying at the time -- was it CG/3D related?

The area avatarTill Nowak:

While I was already working professionally for many clients and TV stations, I decided to study "media design" in my home town Mainz. It was a really difficult time to keep my business running and be present at the university. I didn't sleep much and I am happy that this double life is over. From the technical side I wouldn't have needed it, but it gave me a completely new horizon about the artistic side of media and cinema -- so it was worth it.

\"Lighter\"

The area avatarThe Area:

How long have you been working with computers?

The area avatarTill Nowak:

I got my first PC when I was 12, started programming with QBASIC soon after and made my first steps with Photoshop when I was 15. I was 19 when I got my first professional TV job and founded my small frameboX studio. But maybe my passion for film and visual effects began long before I got my PC: As a little child, I got the chance to make hours of little stop motion and video experiments with my father’s super 8 and video camera, who is also an artist.

The area avatarThe Area:

How did you start in 3D? How did you get the app, did something spark your interest?

The area avatarTill Nowak:

Somebody gave me a copy of a small and relatively unknown 3D software package. It felt like magic for me and for the first 2 or 3 years, I was just playing around, without any professional goal. When I look back it's hard to believe, but I created tons of images and little animations only with primitives like spheres, cylinders, cubes, etc. I think this was the time when my passion for post-production and image composition began, because the raw 3D results looked so horrible and I still tried to get the most out of them, so I started to overwork them in Photoshop. After 3 years, I switched to 3ds Max and started to learn real modelling. That was around the age of 19, when I got my first professional job, so I could buy a full license of 3ds Max R3. It felt like buying a house or a luxury car and I was insanely proud of my original 3ds Max box.

\"Morning\"

The area avatarThe Area:

Now, even during the time you were in school, you were running a company producing CG work. Tell us about that, what was the reason for starting up a business, and at such a young age? Did you have difficulty getting contracts?

The area avatarTill Nowak:

I don't know why, but I always have been very ambitious to publish creative output. Before I started frameboX, I already had released some records as a musician and worked a lot to earn some money for expensive technical equipment. One of the musicians I worked with was a renowned TV editor and during a studio session, he saw me playing around with 3D software. He came up with the idea of a 3D sequence for one of his productions. When I look back now, I recognize that I often accepted jobs without really knowing how to meet the challenge. Usually, I learned what I needed when the production was already running. This sounds risky and in a few cases, it ended with a little trouble, but somehow I always managed to finish any job and always came out one step higher than before. I still think it is important to get involved in things that seem a little bigger than your capabilities, because in the end you usually grow with it.

I started frameboX in 1999 with a friend, Tobias Hofer, and during the first years we got our clients because we worked a lot for little money and used the jobs to learn the basic skills. But we put so much effort in it and offered such a wide range of solutions that we got more and more clients. We no longer had to search for jobs any more and could start making a living from them. Now, eight years later, I receive 10 times more job requests than I can accept and for years, people asked me why I don't employ people and expand my business. But I love my independence. I think, if I expanded my business , being responsible for more people and making a profit, I would end up as a manager instead of an artist, so I try to stay small and pick the best out of the projects that come my way.


The area avatarThe Area:

Tell us about the details of the JFK assassination reconstruction. Did you work from blueprints, and other archival documents? Was this part of a bigger project (like documentary)?

The area avatarTill Nowak:

The JFK documentary was one of several exciting documentary productions I was involved in by the German production company, History Media. I usually produce a few minutes of 3D visualizations for their one hour documentaries that are broadcast at prime time on "ZDF", one of Europe's biggest TV stations. In this project, we had to present new investigation results in a new way, since almost everything around this murder case has already been seen. So I came up with the idea to shoot the background for my 3D animations in Dallas at the original crime scene, because the Dealey Plaza in Dallas had not changed for 40 years. So I could use this real footage, track the 3D camera and combine the matchmoved CGI with real footage to visualize the assassins' positions. The most interesting part became the integration of original eye witness films into the 3D model (at the end of the video). The editors came up with the research and provided me with maps, archive footage, satellite images, etc.

Himalaya - Mount Everest

The area avatarThe Area:

The image of Mount Everest is breathtaking. Please tell us about the project and what was the process in creating the Himalayas? Did you have to travel there for an offsite meeting ;-)

The area avatarTill Nowak:

I produced around 5 minutes of 3D animation in full HD resolution showing the different routes and exhibitions to the highest summits. This was for the documentary "To the Third Pole" from another client, Explorer Media Productions, directed by Jürgen Czwienk. Unfortunately, I didn't travel to this fantastic place, we simply purchased high resolution satellite imagery for the texture and a 16-bit highres greyscale map to be used as displacement map for the geometry of Mount Everest. It needed an enormous amount of editing until it looked like the final result. Most of the work was spent on doing the clouds and optimizing of the geometry without loosing the details. It may sound strange for other CG artists, but even in such a job, I found the simple standard scanline renderer of 3ds Max to be more efficient than popular renderers like V-Ray or mental ray, but that must be some personal spleen... ;-)


The area avatarThe Area:

In addition to commercial productions, you also have a taste for unconventional experimental work. Tell us about the Tofu Animation.

The area avatarTill Nowak:

In the future, I hope to find more time for abstract, non-objective 3D graphics, because I believe there are more unexplored ways to go than in the field of narrative 3D stories with cute characters. "Tofu" was one such experiment. I wanted to create a moving image using the simulation of physical forces as an artistic tool -- like a brush. I rendered the 80-second long animation at 4000 pixels wide resolution to use on a large scale video installation. Andreas and Matthias Hornschuh, who already worked with me for "Delivery", wrote the music for "Tofu".

TOFU -- download the full resolution image and movie at the bottom of the page.

The area avatarThe Area:

Last month, you submitted an image titled "Dishes". It shows an apartment building almost infested with satellite dishes...is that a statement about today's influence of broadcast media?

The area avatarTill Nowak:

Yes, on the one hand I love TV and I can spend hours just zapping through the channels, but at the same time I am shocked by the stupidity, especially when I look at the call-in-puzzle-shows we have on German TV. (I don't know if you have these shows in your country, but it's about teasing people with stupid riddles to call an expensive number, just as an example). But more important for this image is a personal background: As a child, I loved everything about spaceships and when the first satellite dishes came up in the 80's, I thought you could receive extraterrestrial signals with it, which is kind of true in a way, and so I've always wanted to have one at home. So it's the fulfilment of a child's dream too ;-)

\"DISHES\"

The area avatarThe Area:

Okay -- on the truly experimental side, you've created a light installation with the help of 3D. This really brings a whole different experience of 3-dimensionality!! Talk about being made aware of living in a 3D space. Where in the world did you come up with this concept?

The area avatarTill Nowak:

I just used real geometry the same way I use virtual 3D geometry. Working in 3ds Max, one of my favourite techniques is "camera mapping". It's a workflow for mapping a texture onto the surface of an object by using a camera like a slide projector. So I began to think like a slide projector and transferred this workflow into the real world with my light installation "Edges". I don't want to reveal exactly how I am doing it, but those familiar with "camera mapping" might find out. My dream is to scale it up and do the same kind of installation on the outside of buildings at night, I hope to find a sponsor for this some day… The last "Edges" installation took place in Frankfurt with the support of Wemoto Clothing, you can check it out here:

Wemoto Clothing



By the way, I mentioned that I use "camera mapping" very often, which basically means that I cheat as much as I can by letting the textures and opacity maps do all the work instead of modelling myself. This way of thinking finally brought me to the kind of speed modelling workflow which I describe in a video. Some people like 7 minute eggs for breakfast, here you have a 7 minute building (from scratch to final model). Below is the link to the video tutorial:

The 7 Minute Building

The area avatarThe Area:

Reflecting on your library of work, are you shifting towards only making visual statements? What will be the future of frameboX?

The area avatarTill Nowak:

I am trying to stay an independent artist and not become only a technical supplier. It's always a tightrope walk to find the balance between earning money and doing the things you really want to do. I don't know where exactly my way will bring me, but my plan is to make more shortfilms and one day, go on to produce long films. I don't think that frameboX will be a big studio one day, I use it more as a pseudonym as an artist and as a container for all my different activities, but who knows…

\"Water\"

The area avatarThe Area:

What is the latest project you are working on now? Anything we can look out for?

The area avatarTill Nowak:

Right now, I am doing two commissioned jobs for two remarkable creative agencies 3deluxe and lekkerwerken and I am also working on an artpiece about shaved bumblebees, soon to be released as part of the "Strange Behaviour" contest on cgtalk.com. Check out the links below. And I will probably do some visual effects for a German feature film production and another TV documentary over the next few months.

3deluxe

lekkerwerken

My contest page for the “Strange Behaviour” contest here...

The area avatarThe Area:

Well Till, thanks VERY much for taking the time out of your busy travel schedule to talk with us again. And for these amazing original ideas :) Take care and until next time.. Cheers!

The area avatarTill Nowak:

Thank you for your interest! :-)

frameboX_himalaya_1080p.zip
framebox_tofu.zip
tofu_hires.zip

2 Comments

kutudaun

Posted on: 14 March 2008 8:02 pm

great.. I like the "tofu" and the "morning".. great composition.. love it !!


gusttavopv

Posted on: 1 February 2009 1:31 pm

Very amazing works....very inspirational to others.
I'm a intermediate 3D modeler and very passionate for it.

Thanks for the interview with the "Area".


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