My name is Miloš Belanec and I’ve been very interested in 3D since I was in high school. I was mostly focused on product design, since I was studying industrial design but after a while I felt it wasn’t what I truly wanted to do. I started to feel pulled towards creating environments and cinematic scenes, which were, at that time, quite unachievable for me. I was fascinated by big dieselpunk machines, and I always liked to study how individual materials look as they lose their purity and perfection over time due to corrosion and various environmental influences.
These things are not things you can find in product design, in fact, it’s the exact opposite, but since I didn’t have much of a right technique back in the day, I couldn’t afford to do complex objects and scenes just yet. After finishing school I moved away from my family and that’s when I decided to change things. I worked constantly for a year while studying as much as I could, to gain more information and experience. At the end of that year I bought a more powerful PC and finally used everything I had learned and published Old Hangar.
I assumed that it wouldn’t stir much attention in the community, but I was hoping that someone would notice me. I certainly didn’t expect that it would open a whole new set of opportunities for me, and yet it did. In the first few hours after publishing Old Hangar, I received a lot of positive feedback, which made me very happy, and it went on like this for a couple of months. After that, I got an opportunity to do my very first interview for 3D World Magazine, where I got to write a few words about myself.
It was at that moment that I realized working as an environment artist is the right thing for me. I started to take more photos for references, make textures and models, and I worked more and harder than ever before. The only problem that I had was that I’m a self-taught person, which means I developed my own shortcuts and procedures, which didn’t necessarily look bad on the renders, but it also meant my models were sort of stitched together and basically useless for anything bigger.
While I was finishing my second project The Last Train Ride (which was chosen for a 3ds Max campaign) I received a message from EA DICE and Blur studio (at the same time) which almost made me faint :) My conversation with EA was short, since my English was virtually nonexistent back then. We didn’t agree on a collaboration, but I’m still in contact with them to this day.
Blur Studio however was a different cup of tea. I was afraid that I would be turned down after I explained my language limitations, but they were extremely understanding and fortunately accepted to have my girlfriend help me as a translator.
It was the first time that I collaborated on a big project, and I enjoyed that a lot despite the need to work in Zbrush, which I was only learning to work with at that time. With this project I finally got the opportunity to take a sneak peek into a professional production, for which I’m very thankful. After my work on Tomb Raider was finished, I had a relatively slow period. I thought that maybe it would stay like that forever, but one day I got an e-mail that asked if I wanted to work on another project, and that if I did, than we could meet in a week's time at the Blur studio in Los Angeles.
It was crazy for me to receive an e-mail like that and obviously I accepted the offer! I arrived at the studio in Culver City and they showed me how everything works. I have never felt more honored and humbled at the same time. I realized then that I only have a small overview into the industry. It was a perfect experience for me though, because it showed me that I still have a lot to learn. The project which we worked on together was more complex than the one before, but it motivated me to do my best.
I didn’t work as much after I came back from my visit, instead I was trying to put my energy into learning all the things the people at the studio taught me, as well as some things from my notes. I knew what I should be focusing on and what I needed to get better at so that’s what I ended up improving the following year.
I finished that year by publishing my latest work, which earned me this interview. This has been my path within the VFX world so far. It may not seem like it, but the beginning of any journey isn’t without necessary complications. They are very much needed for artists to grow and to truly give it their best. I really hope I’ll be able to work in this industry in the next few years to the fullest.
I’m mostly interested in old abandoned areas and sci-fi concepts, which reflects a lot in what I currently produce. People who have inspired me and whose work I was fascinated by are Marek Denko and Marcel Haladej, who are also both coincidentally from Slovakia. I should also mention the work of Andrew Averkin. All the work by these artists embody attention to detail and realism. One of the things that makes me happy is that I have since gotten the opportunity to work with both Marcel and Andrew on projects for Blur and Bipolar Studios.
For the future I would be glad to work with high-end studios in the cinematic area, I think it would be cool if I ended up doing something like that. Ideally, I could work in-house with one of the few studios that I’m already in contact with.
Last year, I was approached by Lightmass Dynamics and they asked me for a few models from my portfolio, which then turned into a long running collaboration with the result eventually ending up at GDC. I really enjoyed watching the development of a software. We were mostly working on consultations and tests of my models in various scenes. I found myself very interested in this, so I took a similar contract this year with a Slovak company named Vectary, that also focuses on development of a 3D software but for web browsers. I’m currently working as a consultant in the render engine development. It’s all very different from what I’m used to do, but I like that I have a chance to gain new information and skills from a great team of people. So long story short, I guess I’m alright with most jobs if I have an opportunity to try something new that allows me to learn and grow professionally.
I have worked with various programs since high school, but 3ds Max really caught my attention. What do I like about it? I’m not sure I can explain it, but I guess I feel at home with this program. My reaction after opening the program for the very first time was probably something along the lines of ‘what the hell?’ this is too complicated :D but since then I learned my way in it, mostly through trial and error, and I was able to create a lot of my own shortcuts and tricks that make my work easier and let me solve any problems that I may encounter.
If you get used to the program, you realize it can be very intuitive and predictable, making it very effective. I’m still learning it though, so I want to get to know it more and get better and better over time.
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