Featured Artist, Musician, Technologist: Jeff Ranasinghe - Vancouver
“The Transform Node of Houdini”
Jeff Ranasinghe 2020
The transcript of our virtual coffee with Jeff Ranasinghe follows . . .
Jeff Ranasinghe is a world-class artist. His work has appeared in big budget feature films and CG animated features for Disney & DreamWorks. In the music world, his collaboration with electronic music’s megastar Joel Zimmerman a.k.a. Deadmau5 led to the creation of the highest budget electronic dance music video ever made: Professional Griefers.
His creations live at the intersection of Visual Arts, Music and Technology. Jeff’s work often goes beyond what current technology is capable of supporting. And when technology can’t deliver his art, he does not wait for it to get there. He develops the technology himself. Jeff doesn't just create art, he invents it!
“Very early on as a child really my interests were in arts and music and movement and animation. I saw the movie Tron as a child and that left a big impression on me. Star Wars was another huge influence and when you're a child, you know, that suspension of disbelief has a powerful impact on you. Right?
So for me visual, visual arts and animation as well as music and the technology that makes the other two possible were all interwoven. So a lot of my journey has been trying to reconcile a lot of disparate camps and try and bring them together and somehow not go broke in the process.
I misdiagnosed who I was for a long time. I thought I was an artist. I thought I was a musician, but I'm not really those things. I'm… I'm a Problem Solver. My addiction is… ‘What's going on here?’. How does this work? How can I make this do something?
I think what holds a lot of us back is the fear of failure, but it's like - failure is the best friend you can have! It's the best educator. If it's something you love, try stopping yourself! That's the thing. right? When you're really into it, it's not about motivation. It's about trying to dial back.
Within the visual effects and movie industry, something that I consistently found that I really dislike is seeing smart talented people do dumb things. If somebody's like: ‘I'm going to just keep pressing this button.’, it's like why if automation can make that easier so that you can focus on the thing that you really do. You don’t interview to do that. You don’t aspire to push that button. You aspire to bring creativity. You aspire to bring a piece of yourself that would be appreciated in the workplace that you’re in. I think this applies to everyone. These workflow issues prevent us from reaching our creative potential - and that really bothers me.
And so, that's actually how I got into the tools development thing - and is why I got involved in GridMarkets. I saw this as an avenue for improving workflows that were being done not that well.
Right now I'm in the midst of learning.. hehe, really pushing my neural plasticity to the limits. I decided over the last year and a half to get more into real programming - not just scripting with python, which is an admirable pursuit, but actually making applications - which I thoroughly enjoy. It's very humbling because it's a world that I was a little bit scared to move into before.
In the future, I would like to actually contribute to the workflows of how I used to do things and make them easier.
I think I'm going to be happier.”