Men’s Day Special Interview – Asad Manzoor, 3D Generalist & Unreal Developer, Pixomondo Toronto
November 15, 2019 – International Men’s Day on the 19 November was founded in 1999 by Dr Jerome Teelucksingh a history lecturer at University of the West Indies in Trinidad Tabago. Interestingly calls for an International Men’s Day (IMD) have been going on since at least the 1960’s when it was reported in the New York Times, Feb 24 1969 that “Many men have been agitating privately to make February 23 International Men’s Day, the equivalent of March 8, which is International Women’s day“ This Day for women was first inaugurated in 1909.
International Men’s Day encourages men to teach the boys in their lives the values, character and responsibilities of being a man. Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must become the change we seek.” It is only when we all, both men and women, lead by example that we will create a fair and safe society which allows everyone the opportunity to flourish in their families and communities.
November is an important month for the masculine soul because it celebrates several events that are important to men. So, we encourage you to wish everyone a happy International Men’s Day on 19 November.” For more info, visit at www.internationalmensday.com
Asad Manzoor is a 3D Generalist and Unreal Developer at Pixomondo Toronto where he is currently helping develop a realtime pipeline for production. He most recently worked on the streaming series The Mandalorian and Star Trek: Discovery. Asad is often implementing lighting, modeling, lookdev, comp, design, and painting skills into the day-to-day workflow.
Today, Asad Manzoor talks to VFX Online about his experience about VFX and Animation Industry.
// From Asad Manzoor, 3D Generalist & Unreal Developer, Pixomondo Toronto
How do you describe yourself professionally?
I’m a bit of a generalist! Day-to-day, I have found myself digging into modeling, lighting, painting, grooming, programming, and compositing. I tend to be quite structured and methodical in how I approach shots, but I’m a pretty big fan of work that demands some improvisation. Over the past year, I have been working extensively with Unreal Engine in an effort to create production-ready work in a realtime engine.
What sparked your interest in visual effects?
I watched a ton of sci-fi and horror movies growing up, all the way from Alien to Event Horizon to Nightmare on Elm Street. I wanted to learn how the folks behind those films created such vivid worlds, seemingly from thin air. This got me started watching Andrew Kramer’s Video Copilot tutorials, diving into VFX breakdowns on YouTube, and solving some problems of my own.
In high school, I took as many tech and art classes as possible. I was going to study to become an engineer, up until my senior year when I decided VFX was where my passion was. The rest snowballed from there.
How did you enter in this industry? What was the key to getting inside?
While I was in school, I would spend every minute outside of class creating my own shots in Blender 3D at home. I would set a deadline for completing a full CG shot from concept, to lighting, to comp, every week. If I liked how a particular shot turned out, I would post it online to every forum I could think of.
Initially, the shots were quite hit-or-miss, but after going through the motions enough times, I became better at translating my ideas to my monitor. Eventually, some of my Reddit posts were caught by Yury Sakovich at Blur Studio, who put me into contact with Pixomondo’s (CG Supervisor) Fausto Tejeda in Toronto and he, along with (Head of Studio and VFX Supervisor) Mahmoud Rahmana,brought me on board. I have been having a blast ever since.
The key was to set regular deadlines, not be too much of a perfectionist when calling a shot ‘done’, and overcoming the anxiety that came with putting my work out there.
What’s your favorite shot or sequence of VFX or Animated Films?
I’m sure this has been said before, but the bullet-dodge scene in The Matrix did it for me. Considering how CGI was kind of in its infancy in the late 90s, this scene blew my mind. In fact, it only recently registered for me that everything besides Keanu was created digitally in that shot. I remember trying to recreate that effect as a kid using my camcorder and my parents’ computer — suffice it to say, it worked much better in the film.
Any special achievements in VFX or Animation?
In 2018, I won the international Rookies competition for the best student work in the VFX category. For that competition, I compiled and submitted my favourite ‘every-week’ renders from the year. Keeping it short and sweet had been my motto when it came to personal work. Now, I’m beginning to dive into more long-form projects in my free time — fingers crossed!
Any particular artists/professionals that inspire you?
I grew up watching Andrew Kramer’s work since around 2005/2006 when he began recording After Effects tutorials, so it’s been amazing seeing his work grow, and surreal seeing him now work alongside JJ Abrams. I have also been amazed by Kyle Cooper’s work at Prologue Films. His title sequence designs have stuck with me like glue ever since I watched the intro to ‘Se7en’.
How has your experience been working at Pixomondo?
Pixomondo has been an amazing experience so far. Everyone I have met at this studio has been so incredibly supportive of one-another’s work — and not to mention, amazing at what they do! I’m always flabbergasted by the work I see while walking by people’s desks. It’s an absolute treat walking into work every day surrounded by this much talent, and I could not be more grateful.
What do you think about future of VFX and Animation Industry?
I think AI will play a huge part in terms of where VFX/Animation is headed in the next 10 years (i.e. deep-learning-based facial animation). The tools for VFX are becoming incredibly accessible (and intuitive) to the point that I think it’s safe to say it’ll soon be possible for individual people to create full CG feature films from their dorms.
With game engines like Unreal implementing realtime raytracing, it’ll be incredibly quick to render quality shots without a farm — not to mention how that’ll tie in with the VR and virtual production boom. Personally, I can’t wait to see what kind of realtime experiments people come up with down the road — I’m sure there are many more surprises in store.
What will be your ‘dream project’ to work on Animation or VFX?
I have never seen anything catch lightning in a bottle the way Lord of the Rings did in 2001. Being a part of something as special as that trilogy would mean everything to me.
On a more recent note, Love, Death & Robots has been some of the most inspirational work I have seen in the past couple of years. It would be amazing working on a new property with that caliber of work involved.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to get in to this industry?
Consistency is everything! In my experience, it’s been best to work on something every day, even if it’s just 5 minutes of gesture drawing — as long as it’s consistent.
Keep putting your work out there — ask for feedback — communicate! It’s incredible how many like-minded people you can find online that’ll join you on your journey.
What’s your thoughts about International Men’s Day?
I think it’s very important. I love that there’s a day set aside to talk deeply about what goes into being a ‘man’, with all the nuance that entails. It’s important to talk about what a positive male role model actually is, and then recognize the people that embody that.
We would like to thank Asad Manzoor for the great interview, and if you would like to know more about him, Feel free to check him out on Facebook.