Webinar Transcript . . .

Hi everyone. Thank you for joining us today and welcome. We are, as always, going to leave a couple of minutes for the last minute stragglers to join and then we will get started. Let's give it one more minute as we were a bit late starting. at least it means all your passwords are secure if you don't know them off the top of your head you're not using the same one see there you go purity conscious like maybe yeah you know we could do today we could maybe take a poll and see what the temperature is of all the attendees around the world so you can see if it's actually hotter than in  London where the two of you are very true we've hit middle eastern temperatures yeah hotter than the Caribbean I've heard yeah oxford circus was actually on fire earlier today this morning I don't know whether that would have anything to do with the heat but  I'm going to go with it I didn't see that I didn't see that  I'm going to have to check that out actually excuses my teammates coming to work tonight so anyway okay thank you everyone for joining today and it's been a long time I feel like it's been a long time since I've done one of these so it's good to be back  I'm Charlie i'll be leading the session and as you have heard already because I am British and we can't stop talking about the weather I am coming to you from  London on what is the UK's hottest day ever recorded so  I'm very happy to be in an air-conditioned office right now but please do forgive the slightly melted look as always we have an incredibly special session for you and this one in particular promotes self-determination and the word innovation gets used quite a lot but I would say today's session is truly an example of what that word means but before we get to the meat of the webinar today let me introduce you to probably someone you are you know all too well and that is Mark Ross founder and good markets genius who every month brings together the creative community for all of us to enjoy and learn and learn from when then later on we have Nell Lloyd-Malcolm the brain behind xydrobe who will be delving more into more detail later so welcome everyone mark why don't you kick us off and tell us more about group markets thanks for that very flattering and undeserved introduction that's why  I'm here unbelievable wow  I'm feeling like amazing right now all right hi  I'm mark  I'm as  Charlie mentioned one of the founders of grid markets and our job is to accelerate and sorry accelerate your simulations and renderings and i'll tell you briefly a little bit about the service we offer so we support a number of major 3d applications which you see on the screen here as well as renders and we like to think that we empower innovative artists by giving them unlimited rendering potential the process of getting started is super easy it takes two steps you should be up and running in a matter of minutes and then from the 3d software that you're using you can submit to us directly so nothing new to learn and once you are set up you are able to submit to as many machines as you want and you can run as many submissions concurrently as you want as well so there's it's high throughput it's a pay per machine usage we also have a pay by the day so you can render all you want for the day at a fixed price you can do that for one day or multiple days depending on what you like our platform was built by artists and it's supported by artists so we help you get over those challenging deadlines we understand what it means to have that challenging deadline and you know we're here to support you 24x7 the platform is very secure we use a number of major cloud providers one being oracle and so when you submit things to us they're running on very secure machines we have a promo for those of you who have joined today's call 15 discount on our service use this promo code here and you'll get that discount so that's it for me over back to you  Charlie  muted thank you mark and don't worry for those of you who are really keen on using that discount code we will bring it up later but now we get to the main events I want to extend a very warm welcome to Nell Lloyd-Malcolm co-founder and CEO of zydrobe now started her career in the VFX world working for some of the industry's biggest names like frame store and d-negg and a few years ago she set off by herself in a whole other market showing incredible bravery and intelligence probably and just amazing knowledge about what she does but rather than me tell the story let's start talking to  Nell so hi now welcome hi hi it's a pleasure to be here thank you very much for having me that was a very generous intro so thanks well I think it's a very honest intro before we get down into the nitty-gritty can you tell our listeners what who zydrobe are yeah so we in general I think the easiest way of describing what we do is we are a visual effects vertical so we take kind of Hollywood standard practice for visual effects and apply it into the luxury sector we've mostly been working with luxury fashion brands but we do also help brands here in the good space and the beauty space as well and a visual effects vertical for us looks like we can do anything from consulting creatively through to producing the work through to installing the work doing the kind of whole whammy for any of our partners and I think the main germ of it was kind of bringing that Hollywood standard really really high quality visual effects into the luxury good space so I guess that's kind of rewind a little bit as to how you got to this place as I mentioned in your intro you came from more of that Hollywood films tv crazy VFX world so can you take us through a little bit how you got here where you are now yeah where do I begin really I think I didn't start out in visual effects I didn't start out in film I actually started out in fashion funnily enough which was a kind of nice crossover for me to where I am now I left school when I was quite young I did a very brief sense the only bit of higher education I've ever done was a foundation course at Leeds where I did some a fashion course actually and then I ended up deciding that I didn't want to go to university and I wanted to work instead so I did a couple of internships which is funny enough where I met one of my co-founders  Michael he was my boss back in the day and actually I met izzy when I was at Leeds too so we have all known each other since that kind of period in my life and then we ultimately I did that for a few months I think I was a pretty terrible intern if  I'm completely honest Michael's got a very funny story about something that  I'm not going to go into right now but i'll save it for maybe later on in the session but  later and then I got it was kind of a classic situation of a friend of my sisters was working on sets and they said do you want to you know be someone's assistant you want to get people coffee I actually got turned down for my original job and then I reapplied for something else you know turning down for someone to get someone coffee is pretty hardcore but then the next one I did get eventually and it turned out that I was working on set with a really talented guy from matt rank who is now in the upper echelons of  Netflix which is amazing he's an incredible career and I was his assistant on set for star wars episode 7. and that kind of pushed me into the motion capture space which was really really interesting very very niche which is something that I guess i'll touch on again later on in the session but that kind of took me off into a kind of pathway in motion capture which took me to the  Imaginari which was really fascinating such a it was a really interesting company still is and then I got a call one day to say do you want to work on set for ready player one and so that was sort of something for me it was a big kind of pivotal moment in my career because I ended up working the animation team at the  Imaginari which was fascinating and I was loving it but I got the call to do a production job on set and I decided to do that which kind of ended up snowballing into me continuing in production I really really loved it you know I think it was a lot of things that  I'm quite good at so I continued to do that which is ultimately what led me to to go to frame store which was my last job before I left sidrob which was fascinating actually so yeah a brief history I guess a very brief history okay I guess a brief bit full I mean  I'm not  I'm not taking away that you packed a lot in to that good so I mean there's also within that there's a there's a varied amount and lots of touch points on different aspects of the effects from the motion capture to the you know data capture to brainstorm working on those very CG heavy shows what was it then what was the identifying moment when you're like oh I no I don't I think I want to work for myself I've got this idea and  I'm done with this part of my time here so  I'm definitely someone who I think was always destined to set up my own business I think I was one of those annoying kids that was on the playground trying to earn chuck money or whatever with doing anything you know for those who are old enough to remember fimo I was selling fimo things on the playground which was quite funny and I think always wanted to set up my own business and that was ultimately it was always my end goal to do that and I think however consciously I was going through my career with that in mind it was always sort of in the background of whatever I was trying to do I was always trying to round out any particular kind of specialisms that I might have that would aid me in you know needing credibility in a field that would ultimately allow me to set up my own business and convince maybe some people to provide us with some funding I needed to know what I was talking about and so whilst I was going through my career I did I did always bear that in mind but I think a big moment for me it was less about needing to change what I was doing at the time it was much more that I spotted an opportunity that was really exciting I think for like-minded people out there you're always kind of looking and I have this you know list a continuous list on my desktop of ideas business ideas and I did at the time and you know you would you would think about some and I would leave some b for a little period of time and you know there are those ideas that you don't leave and that's always generally what I would do is if I had an idea that I was sort of excited by I'd write it down and maybe if it was still bugging me in a couple of weeks I would then return to it and think about it some more and see if there's any validation there and that was one of the ideas and it was the one that I couldn't really drop and mostly it was also because it was in a field that I was also really excited by you know when I first started I wanted to be in fashion originally and so that germ the opportunity that we'd noticed I'd noticed I'd spoke to my co-founders about it who were just a couple of very good friends at the time who were both incredibly experienced in there in their fields they'd both been working luxury fashion so I actually called them both up for some advice originally which was just about saying look I've noticed there's a bit of a quality discrepancy in what's currently out there in luxury fashion luxury goods which are two very kind of aesthetically driven marketplaces so the level of digital work didn't really make sense for me you know was it a conscious decision that they were making in terms of what they're producing so that was sort of mostly why I made that decision was because not only was it something that was really exciting we then started to prove the market I then had two very brilliant co-founders that also had a huge amount of credibility in the area that we were going to be going into and also I felt like I'd reached a really kind of a sort of perfect moment in my career in my personal life which meant that I was lucky enough privileged enough to be able to decide that I was going to leave my full-time job and go and go and do this which you know it wasn't a short process it took you know from having our kitchen table moment in sort of  January late  January early February last year it wasn't until  September really actually early October that I then quit my full-time job so it was a lot of there was a lot of time that we spent I guess someone call it procrastinating I think a lot of people would just say I think we all felt like we were being quite wise about making sure we were making the right decision so yeah and before we get into kind of the focused on on the company itself I just want to touch on just for maybe which might be quite inspirational for people listening it's like you mentioned you do you don't have any higher education which is something that you've kind of achieved through grit and tenacity which I think is is a huge deal especially in with VFX and those kind of in CG world where there had there's typically been a barrier to entry with higher education or being able to be able to access it due to being able to have access to the computers and what's needed so I mean how did you find yourself impeded by not having that higher education I guess it's a good question I think I did originally I think you know it was never something I was as soon as I'd done that foundation course at Leeds I think I knew instantly that you know education had always been something that I'd had a somewhat less a fair attitude towards let's put it that way and I think that the thing that I always recognized in myself was that  I'm much more motivated and this sounds quite crafts to say but I was really motivated by the idea of being financially independent and so for me I knew that the number one thing that motivated me in the morning was making my way in my own career and getting to financial goals which I wasn't going to achieve if I was going to go to uni for the next three to four years and ultimately put myself in quite a lot of debt I felt as though if I could actually have a lot of opportunity if there was an opportunity available to me and I was able lucky enough you know I had a I had a parent who has a house in  London and I think that's quite an important thing for me to say is that yes you know whilst there was a lot of great international i'll talk about a lot of the things that the way I approached a lot of the opportunities I was given but I was I was really lucky I was able to do an internship that didn't pay me because I had a parent that lived in  London I was able to live there for nothing you know I was able to yes I did work another job I was working seven days a week but that doesn't that doesn't remove from the fact so the way that I sort of approached that decision was much more about okay  I'm really ready I was just so full of this ambition that I was in no way patient enough to wait for the next three to four years to actually start going out there and achieving it in some way and I think that remained throughout my entire career was a lot of you know if there was an opportunity presented to me that allowed me to either further what I was doing at the time you know that I always took it that's the number one thing I always say is that  I'm I was I said yes to basically everything that was presented to me that meant that you know sometimes there were crazy things but ultimately if I'd never said yes to you know getting someone coffee on set which yes  I'm sure a lot of people would think that was amazing because it's star wars but you know that's the sort of thing that continued which I think ultimately led me to to where I ended up at frame store especially was I guess yeah it's an opportunity kind of grabber well to be honest I think I think a lot of us can speak to that we've all had to we all started getting coffee to someone or other so it's a good place to start precisely and I think sorry I suddenly realized didn't actually answer your question about about the kind of side of it from someone who may not also have higher education and I think if you're able to supplement your cv yes you don't have a degree to speak of but if you're able to supplement your cv with a similar level of career history from lots of different places and the number one thing I always did was make sure I got a recommendation from the person that I worked with so it was sort of it became second nature at the end of the day if I was leaving a job I would ask them to write me a recommendation which I would supplement my cv with which was the sort of thing that  I'm not sure whether you know I think a lot has changed actually in recent history about how much weight a degree carries but certainly that was something that I found very useful was making sure that that kind of track record and and the way that we I've been applying myself was something that was I wasn't afraid to tell people about that so you mentioned one of the thank you for your honesty as well but the a big motivation was having that financial security and independence so yeah having a full-time job being employed you have that security taking that absolutely no definitely not definitely not no I think we're we're early days really in the life of zydro and I think I made that decision because I had been like I said lucky enough to save up enough money for me to get me a certain way there but also enable me to to convince some people to provide us some level of funding and it was only when we'd made that decision and we'd said right we have enough runway for x amount of months because we have an idea we've spoken to some people about it they're very into it as well we'd want our first client at that point and so we're able to get at least a small amount of funding at least at the beginning that allowed us all to quit our jobs pay ourselves a very very small amount but still pay ourselves and I think yeah financial security for me was a big motivator at least throughout my career but I think I also noticed that the way that I was going to get there was by taking a bigger risk for me it was yes I could continue working in my career and maybe by the time  I'm 55 I've reached the level that I hope to be or I can take a risk I can bet on myself with some funds that I'd had from working and make sure that that was something that potentially I could achieve slightly quicker and more so so I think it was it was a lot about betting on ourselves and saying right I think we want to take the risk and we're up for a bit of an adventure I mean some of the clients that you've worked with already and you know you've mentioned it's only really been a short amount of time but you've worked with shivanshi and yeah and there's of course obviously the very famous harry styles cardigan which we will go into a bit more detail on that one because that is a really interesting story I mean how as this didn't exist before you you noticed a gap in the market how did you sell this to your clients and be like you need this why are you even using it how did you how did you know you sense I think it was it was less about selling it was more about learning from their side of things what was going on and I think that was the biggest tool that we had was the ability for us to get in the room in the first place that was down to my two co-founders being very credible already in the industry so we we had a sort of language there that already existed by just them being people who were sort of in the ether and from getting in the room we actually didn't start out trying to sell a product we we started out trying to learn about what it is that they're doing at the moment and more approaching it from a fact-finding mission and saying look we we have this particular skill set but we're more interested in learning about what you've been doing so far and what it is that is a struggle for you at the moment and potentially is there something in here that could provide a really brilliant solution and I also think that there was a huge amount of respect that we made sure that we were we were approaching these brands with the same level of respect that they are used to being dealt with because whilst we were providing a new service sort of a new service to them it was a lot more about they already have a very strict I think fashion is one of those industries that has such a phenomenally kind of rigid timeline in their year you know they have shows that dictate pretty much everything and so slotting into those time periods making sure that we were coming to them at the right moment talking to them about something in particular and it was it was quite a kind of softly softly game that we played of just making sure that we were firstly creating a really strong trusted relationship with each of the brands that we started talking to but then also not trying to push a product that we didn't even know was going to solve a problem that they had or didn't have and so the solutions that we were trying to provide them was more because VFX in general is such a kind of generic and multifaceted term it can apply to so many different things that we knew that a solution would exist out there and we knew that a quality level that wasn't being hit currently was was possible and so it was about then going right so what do we want to what do we want to apply that to and it was then listening to them and saying right okay well actually we have this which could mean you could story tell like this and it was actually a really creative process rather than a very kind of technical solution just kind of going it will get you x amount more returns on this product for example it was much more kind of we can expand your creative vision in a way that you didn't realize was actually possible which then put us into a slightly different realm with them because we had the opportunity to then start talking to their digital teams and even their creative directors at points especially with the likes of shivanshi we're very very lucky to have that opportunity and so yeah that's where we that's where we ultimately landed in terms of a sales point of view but again even now I wouldn't say that we we particularly do a sales pitch we we always approach it from the standpoint of learning and listening to our clients first well and that's the interesting thing I think it's and similarities with the Hollywood tv film side is that the importance of storytelling not just creating something for a specific purpose it is telling a story it's immersing either the viewer or the potential buyer or whatever it is into that world and I was going to ask that you work with creative directors on this because it is still even though it may be for a certain purpose it is still massively you know everything's very visual fashion of course it is but so okay  the creative director was and is they are the director if we're going to apply a direct kind of correlation between that and film they are the director they are the ultimate kind of final signing off point but they're also very involved in the process and because we were producing creative work ultimately we were having to go through our creative directors from the brands that we're working with and that was a fascinating process actually because this is generally brand new for them in the same way that it is for a lot of people who haven't been working in the industry in visual effects the kind of intricacies of what happens behind the scenes is something that is very obvious to the thousands of people that do it but then outside of the industry it's this kind of mystery cloaked kind of wizardry that seems to happen that it's been something that we've prided ourselves on I guess was the ability of sort of bringing some of that information to this industry and the creative directors that we're working with so they so they had a level of understanding about what it is we're doing rather than just kind of saying here it is this final final product done so how in the hands of how zydro's company works and so you you get given a brief or your talk or you're talking with with your client and then you have to create this product or this virtualization how are you growing up yourselves are you working who are you collaborating with how does that yeah so we work site yeah we've got a kind of amazing roster of artists firstly so we have some brilliant people that some people I've worked with previously in my previous life and then others I would be put in contact with because you know the likes of Ireland have very disparate offices all around the world and one of the artists in particular that actually did the work for Givenchy and JW Anderson it's a large majority of it is a guy called Jesus who I know his post for JW Anderson was why we got talking in the first place which is great and we have this amazing roster and then we ultimately have some third-party vendors which are fantastic as well who help us with things like AR and things that we might not be able to do in-house so it's more about the way we generally like to work is we take the brief in we deal with the creative brief from a consultation point of view very much within the core team so I will generally be there as well as our chief branding officer izzy and then our producer and then we'll start filtering out what the creative work is going to be thinking about which article it is that's going to be right for the for the project and it just so happened that the Givenchy job that we did straight after JW Anderson was also admitted peace so it did make sense for Jesus who is an absolutely phenomenal  Houdini artist to help us out on that too and so that's generally how we work I think in the future we're going to be building out our kind of permanent workforce to be one that we can house a lot of people because I think one of the beauties of lockdown obviously it made remote working really really easy for a lot of us and I think well that's one of the really fantastic things about grid markets and so I think we'll continue that and we'll continue to have a remote workforce but I think we're really interested in building out especially with it with the product that annoyingly I can't talk about today but we are building our really fantastic kind of permanent in-house team that we want to hold kind of the zydro values and all of that good stuff within within it too no that's great I mean that that's all part of the business as well isn't it the team and that work ethic absolutely all the all the values but from one project you can't talk about let's talk about a project you can talk about which is the harry styles sweater cardigan yeah and so that hits the papers all over the place it's a good amazing press for you guys can you tell us a little bit about that in the background behind yeah yeah so it was a really amazing project actually because JW Anderson for those who know of the brand it's held up by someone called  Jonathan Anderson who is also the creative director of really fantastic brand called lueve he is probably one of the most kind of creatively admired creative directors in the industry at the moment he has a phenomenal kind of sense of communication with any of the work that he does so firstly yes JW Anderson and working with them was fantastic and then the immediate idea for us to work and help them was the fact that they wanted to do basically a swan song for the harry styles cardigan and that harry styles cardigan was this very interesting piece because basically it's so bizarre that it went so mad but it did and harry styles wore this cardigan whilst he was rehearsing for good morning America this was a few years ago in the pandemic it's a fantastic cardigan tick-tock caught wind of it and it became a bit of a trend to try and recreate this cardigan because JW Anderson's cardigan was actually sold out by the time that this had gone viral and so what JW Anderson did was actually release the network pattern for free and so it ended up just blowing up and you know I think it was shared over two million times or something on Tiktok and it became something that exists even to this day and so they really really wanted to do this really special swan song to the cardigan which ultimately meant that we wanted to recreate it virtually completely perfectly as a 3d representation of itself that we would sell as an NFT that would one day be virtually wearable so the whole kind of idea of it was that we would create this 3d rendering of it this was pre-rendered again using grid markets and then ultimately in the future as we continue on this kind of evolution of virtual context that I think however long it's going to take for a luxury consumer to start entering into that kind of web 3 era potentially with their own avatar then the owner of that NFT would be able to come back to us and say right I want it as an unreal file or I want it as a unity file and we would be able to update it for them and provide it to them it was a really fascinating project from the get-go firstly we had I think under we had six weeks to create the cardigan and we had 13 days to market it which if any if you know anything about NFTs it's not long enough you need generally like sometimes years but it was we were really really again this kind of speaks to the whole opportunity side of things we were just like we've got to do this this is this is so fun and so exciting such an adventure that we work directly with JW Anderson and they provided us with the knitwear pattern itself as well as they sent us the sample that they the one sample that they had because the harry styles cardigan was actually put into the vna which is phenomenal that happened basically right around the time we were doing it and so we got the card again we had two artists working on it full time as well as we had brilliant early stage modeler who built out the base mesh and then that got passed over to Jesus and then also a brilliant lighting and CG suit called Sebastian who took it and turned it into this absolutely phenomenal piece of work actually and that took about six weeks and it was so perfect that when we actually released images to the press nobody realized it was a CG piece which was Michael's hardest task actually was convincing everyone that this was digital it wasn't real and then it was sort of seeing the cogs click about what this actually means it's then possible for for fashion because even in film it's quite rare to recreate something like this as perfectly as we did because generally you know whether that's through IP laws or infringement or anything like that and being that close up to an asset is quite rare especially a piece of clothing so it was really really a phenom a phenomenal thing to work on and  I'm just yeah  I'm still very very proud of the work that we did and I think yeah  Jonathan Anderson himself was obviously brilliant and the knitwear designer who created it with him they both came to see it we held this kind of amazing private viewing day for the JW Anderson team which was fantastic and yeah it was fantastic actually because we ended up selling that NFT and all of the proceeds went to an amazing charity called akt and it ended up selling for four times its irl value which is amazing and we're very very proud I mean again  I'm going to use the word innovative that it can be overused but the so you've got the initial thing seeing the gap in the market with fashion houses being able to visually tell and sell their products better and in a more I guess with the qual and a higher quality way but then you bring in the NFTs which I mean I to be honest I still haven't really got my head around it as  I'm sure quite a few people oh I mean that's is that something you see as the future now for fashion in particular is that's your area do I do see it as something that's going to provide a really valuable tool I think the easiest way I always describe and have described NFTs where I think it's going to have the most brilliant crossover with fashion is when you're able to actually then authenticate real world items on the blockchain and providing some kind of virtual twinning digital twinning of a physical tangible piece I think that's when we're gonna start to see something really interesting but I do think we're gonna need to get to a point where virtual context is gained because you know the large majority and I mean  I'm talking you know 98 of luxury consumers are not NFT native they're not VR native yet so getting them into that category of people that either a have an avatar that they're interested in dressing or be even understand virtual ownership or see even own cryptocurrency in the first place which I know there are some solutions out there at the moment that are brilliant for people who only own fiat I think that NFTs are going to play a really important role in authenticating items that you want to put on your avatar as well as real world vintage items as well that's already being tackled by a really brilliant company and I think that there was so much kind of preconception about NFTs when we started doing it and started talking to brands about it because yes we've provided visual effects we're also really interested in the web 3 kind of space and what visual effects meant for a lot of those brands was entering into web 3 in some shape or form and the NFT question was very very I guess stigmatized because there was so much press around it at that time and there was a very distinct style in the NFTs that we were sort of equating with what NFT is when really it's just a brilliant piece of technology to authenticate something digital it doesn't need to mean that you have to sell a cartoon but that was a lot a lot of that kind of disconnect for them was was figuring out how they were going to do this and it presented a really interesting opportunity to provide fantastic visual effects really brilliant CG work supplemented with the ability for a brand like JW Anderson which is fascinating as well and I know this is this is super boring and  I'm not going to get into it but there was so much interesting stuff around legal r d as well as kyc and aml so learning how we were going to take a decentralized asset and apply into a very centralized accounting system for example that was something that had never been done before and we had to do it in the space of six weeks and testament to the JW Anderson team I think we went through about 50 iterations of our contract I think we worked out you know into 80 iterations of how we were ultimately going to going to approach how they were going to ingest funds how we're going to ingest the funds into the charity from this decentralized asset which at the very base of it it's pinned up by the fact that it's all anonymous so centralized finance is not set up to accept any of those kinds of currency exchanges so there was a lot of that stuff but like I said  I'm not going to go into it's pretty boring but it was a fascinating process from the start and I think NFTs I think we're gonna get there is what  I'm trying to say I think we're gonna get we're gonna go through a bit of an evolution with virtual VR based commerce VR based experience within luxury goods we're going to see you know I know you know the likes of meta and whatever apple are going to be doing but you know they're selling their oculus at a heavy loss at the moment just with the idea that we want to saturate the market as much as possible to get as many people owning a VR headset and I think once we get to the point where we are able to reframe VR and and get to the point where luxury consumers are actually engaging with it in a compelling and enthusiastic way about you know it's actually adding value to their lives outside of gaming then I think we're gonna see a really interesting influx of NFT based products that are going to make a huge amount of sense and I mean  I'm just  I'm kind of sliding us into question time because I do have a question that is relevant to this and I think you've probably actually answered but the question is what's next for xi job are you still producing NFTs is that yes in theory we are but we are focused on something really really exciting that speaks to I can't speak I can't talk about it specifically really frustratingly I won't go to you I won't try and trick you no no but we it it speaks to that virtual side of commerce I guess I think I can say that it's much more about trying to engage a luxury consumer in something that is actively going towards the point where we could potentially call it a web 3 type era I think it's I think it's something that if we can develop a virtual space a virtual world that brands can actively engage in in a way that makes sense for them that isn't a gamified environment it's not a heavily stylized environment that already exists and you know yes there are really fantastic spaces that have huge amounts of consumers millions hundreds of millions sometimes of consumers then I think we're going to be into a really interesting space where we would love to then integrate an NFT product that is you know obviously purchasable with fiat it includes virtual twinning so we you buy in tandem with a virtua a tangible item even so yes in short yes we would definitely like to continue working on NFTs I think there's a huge amount of I think there's a huge amount of really compelling reasoning behind visual effects artists getting into something like NFTs especially for luxury fashion because there's so much use case for it we've just got to get to that point where where we can where we can make a really scalable and and brilliant business behind it yeah and I suppose it's as your roster of clients grows and you go on it's learning what's best for those clients and how they can most tell tell the most compelling story visually through their products and whether that's right or whether it's something else absolutely so we've got another question it says so it sounds like you've worked inside from the film industry's biggest movie franchises as we've named some star wars not very well known and ready player one really niche cult film yeah yeah yeah yeah but you decided to impress into finding the effects within fashion have you seen the fashion industry start to produce more Hollywood standard VFX in recent times yes I have actually I think there's a really interesting uptake of some visual effects vendors and I mean it's not uncommon for brands to use visual effects vendors like you know frames will have an entire advertising department hell yeah yeah the mill for example exactly and a really fantastic company I also worked for called untold which are directly working within advertising agencies creative agencies and so I have I have and whilst I say you know this is what seven eight months in to our life span yes I've seen an interesting shift in digital work being used more often especially within brands like siobhan chi is a really exciting and interesting example because they were as a brand very kind of interested in pushing the boundaries of what was used to being seen and how they were going to product story tell whatever they were pushing out there and I think that digital work was something that they were very quick to understand was something that was going to make it a lot easier to do that than than doing real captured footage so yes yes and no yes and no I mean like I said this is very early days and it's already been a slight shift in the not very long so yeah and so the final question that I've got from the audience is and they kind of touched something you're talking about with you wanting to grow I guess that network or community of artists as well as building your own yeah your own team that come into the office but do you are you looking specifically at artists that have worked in fashion that have that understanding of nuances or from as you said you know you worked with was it Jesus you've worked with him prior at the VFX company so are you open to the whole women of the effects artist definitely definitely I think I've tended to always look to people who've worked in the visual effects industry because for the last 30 years it's been where most of the know-how has lived in fact all of the know-how has lived pretty much and so I am really looking to people who have an understanding of pieces of software that we use generally inside the film industry because they lend themselves to producing really brilliant photorealistic work I mean that's what the entire visual effects industry in film and tv has been underpinned by is is meshing a CG item into a real world plate so taking that kind of experience and knowledge base has been something that I have been prioritizing and that being said I know there is this huge influx of interest around digital creation within you know younger generations and that's not going to look exactly like we've always seen it in the visual effects industry so I am always always open and interested talking to people who have potentially never worked in the visual effects industry but they have learned that they've you know they're actually really brilliant in Maya or they're actually really brilliant as an editor and they've been working within blender and you know there's always going to be some kind of interesting piece to the puzzle that we're trying to create but yes having really brilliant senior artists like Jesus around who are fantastic at pieces of quite I guess  I'm not sure whether I can call it nietzsche anymore but  Houdini in particular to guide potentially some of those younger artists into learning these really brilliant tools is is going to be also really important yeah well the intricacy and we know VFX artists and and working on the cloth yes yeah you know that that's a very I'd say that's a very whether it's niche or it's just it's a very highly skilled work and finding good VFX artists it's hard so once you've got them before we before we wrap up I guess the last question is in three succinct words if you could offer any advice two or three points three words okay yeah you can do three words yeah give me three words that or qualities that you need to just go after and achieve your ambitions I suppose okay three points I can do  I'm not sure I can do it in three words point number one would be don't feel emotionally burdened to the company that you might be working for it's something I always say to people who might be asking me advice about their career is ultimately a job as a job you're there to do it and if you feel you've outgrown your abilities to do that job and you want to go elsewhere and that company that you're currently working for isn't able to provide you that opportunity and there is another company that is do it that's always the way that I've approached my career is was approached a lot throughout my career and I always said yes and it meant that I was able to level up my skill set in a way that was probably quicker and I think there's always benefits to staying in a company but I would say that from my own personal experience it was something that meant that I was able to have a really really varied skill set very quickly the next thing is trust yourself I think that there's a lot of fear mongering especially within women about setting up your own company you're often kind of I guess questioned a lot more than your male counterparts about whether you you know maybe you're not skilled enough are you sure you know there's a lot of this stuff that I think there's a there's a very big rhetoric around women setting up their own company and I think the biggest thing I can say to a woman is is trust yourself and also take the risk because you can do it the next thing if I have a third point would probably be  make sure you're talking to your peers I think that's a really big one as well within wherever you are talk to your peers openly about the place that they're in themselves if they are of a similar point as you as a colleague then I think one of the biggest kind of misgivings about working for a really large corporate company is is there's this big culture around not openly discussing things like salary or promotions and it only goes to serve a larger company it doesn't serve an employee and I do think that that's it's really important to do that because then you'll have a really you'll start learning much more about your own financial goals and how you're going to get there and potentially the company you're currently working for isn't actually going to get you to that point so you can save a lot of time and potentially find somewhere else that that could do so that's it three points there are three very very good points thanks so much now mark do you have anything to add to this great session well it was a great session now and thank you for making time your career is you know quite amazing and we'd love to to stay abreast of it so when some of those things that you talked about that were difficult to talk about you can talk about them let's let's get back together again I did have one question for you you talked about you know embracing the artist community and looking for talent and recruiting talent if talent is out there and is interested in learning more about you know what you're doing and perhaps even joining joining up with you how how would they reach out to you but how do they connect with you yes I think the easiest thing to do is to email hello zydro.com just send us an email send us a note we are based in  London in east  London and we're always around and up for coffee  I'm a big caffeine addict so I will always be up for having a chat over a coffee whether or not that's with the intention to potentially get a job whether or not it's just for some advice I am very very much open to it so yeah please do email hello it's I drove I am  I'm always on the lookout for really brilliant artists and talent so yeah please do great thank you well that's really good to hear as we know relationships are the most important thing in this industry great okay I think we are ready to wrap this thing up oh look and there is the much spoken about cardigan pretty popular look at that yes I have no idea yeah you should be it's incredible really does gonna go buy it myself if I can with this I promised and the promo code for good markets 2022  July 19 webinar it's on your screen right now so please do take a note of it or go back to gridmarkets.com forward slash webinars where you can re-watch this or share it with your friends and scroll through and get this webinar code yet again our next webinar is 27th of  September and we are talking to Matt  Puchala matt is technical director at naughty dog he is both  Houdini artist and a technologist and in this webinar we will be covering his career and his technical work in developing the  Houdini solver axiom used to make the simulation and which good market supports at seaadwordmarkets.com page for more information on when and where that's well where it's going to be online but what time it's going to be if you want to check in live and also look back at all our other great webinars that have taken place throughout the last few months so thank you very much now it's been great chatting to you and I can't wait to meet up in  London when it's not so hot absolutely absolutely thank you so much no worries and thank you mark for yet again bringing this all together it's been great thank you both it was great all right thanks have a good evening everyone all morning bye-bye see you later

LAVA SIMULATION

by Alexander Weide 2016 April 07

A few days ago I was looking for lava footage and reflecting on how far I could take a lava simulation. Lava is not the easiest material to work with and my aim was to produce a realistic effect. My research eventually led me to a Vimeo post by Graham Collier, in which he shared his lava asset. Thank you for that, Graham!

I looked at Graham’s test shot, started to play with the asset, learned a lot in the process and eventually decided to build upon it. I experimented with temperatures and heat dispersion between the air and the cold and warm particles. And I decided to set an aggressive schedule for this project, even though this was new territory for me. I therefore needed a way to simulate quickly so that I would have sufficient learning and experimenting time.

GridMarkets supports Houdini simulations and I have used them before.  Even though the service is in beta, my GridMarkets experience was excellent - and importantly the service is very fast. During the time of my research for this project, I learned that GridMarkets had released a new iteration to their HDA. As the previous GridMarkets HDA was well done, I was anxious to give the new release a try.

But during the beta period, GridMarkets has restricted the sizes of user data sets. (I’ve been told that once out of beta, this restriction will be lifted.)  So, I needed to figure out how to deal with this constraint and still get my sim done. This was a challenge as my sim needed over 300 gb of disk space.

So I started the simulation at my workstation. Later I found the new Houdini feature called simulation checkpoints - which gives you the possibility of creating initial starting points on the fly every 5 frames or as specified. That could be a nice way of reducing the disc amount required on the GridMarkets cloud, because it would be possible to simulate the entire flow, but have only every third frame saved, thereby reducing the data amount. (For my next attempt at this project if the GridMarkets beta restriction is still in effect, I plan to calculate the frames in between locally.)

My workstation is very fast and Linux based. Linux Mint 17.3 is the best OS that I have ever had - fast and very user friendly. It was easy to start the simulation process on the console and I saved a lot of time and computer resources. I recommend to use Linux for every Houdini user. In Linux I am able to connect the CPU, the opencl gpu from my nvidia card and the gpu from inside my i5 together.

After 6.5 hours, the simulation was complete and my working hard drive had a lot of data.

I made a playblast from it and uploaded it to Vimeo.

A day later, I realized that there were a lot of people out there who were very interested in that simulation. So I decided to build a nice looking VFX shot with smoke, heat flickering and background. This was also a good opportunity to build a steam system emitter based on heat! I could use the heat pass in compositing to blur and transform the image to get a nice heat flicker effect.

When the the heat and smoke simulation was complete, I decided to take out my photogrammetry 3d scans from my floral foam experiments a couple of months ago.

Floral foam is very nice for sculpting rocks in 5 minutes, because you can carve into the rocks with a knife and break out some parts. The resulting texture is similar to real rocks.

Then I made a lowres version of the simulation sequence to get it worked as a geometry light source and build the layer setup. I uploaded the entire geolight bgeo sequence to GridMarkets via FTP and started the process. The data amount was quite low: 1.4 Gb of data.  A mere seven (USD) dollars and 1.5 hours later all 400 frames of the backround pass were ready for download. It was faster than I expected and GridMarkets’ new closed-beta HDA is far more advanced than the current public one. It will be a magic moment when it comes out for all the users and especially the Houdini Indie users.

At the same time I started the rendering progress on my workstation and yes, it took quite a while, but I rendered only the lava fluid mesh. One frame took between 1.5 minutes to 4 minutes in FullHD. It was long compared to the 50 seconds per frame on GridMarkets, but okay... The upload of 326 GBs of fluid data was not an option. It would have taken more than 2 weeks, so I think it was a good decision. On Thursday I started the compositing progress, and combined every element: the background, the lava layer and all the compositional elements. Some of the elements were photos taken from asphalt streets around my house or from the Dresden flood in 2002, which destroyed entire streets of our city. It’s incredible what water can do to asphalt streets - it bends and deforms the asphalt so that it takes the appearance of cold lavastone.

The stones in the background are projection painted stone textures. I used the projection paintings to give a better depth to the stones.

I did not render deep data on the shot. Every element was composed in a traditional way as a combination of Nuke and Blender and a bit of relighting with Houdini’s compositing tools. The relighting was only one extra pass to make it much more believable.

The cut of the Vimeo short was done mostly in Blender and later the export in Handbrake.

The entire shot (including the master video file, which is upsized to 4K) and all sub steps of cache files took around 396 GB´s of disc space.

I worked an average of 12 hours a day, because I wanted to be ready by Friday, my deadline. I got the job done on Friday at 11.43 pm Berlin time. It was very, very hard because I had to manage all the simulation tests and deal with everyday life in between, but I know now how far and fast I can go. And I believe Houdini and GridMarkets made me faster than all my local competitors. Maybe in the future I can go even further since I significantly updated my system: SSDs from OCZ ( I think they are the best on the market) and SSHDs from Samsung - and let’s not forget my operating system, Linux Mint 17.3 Rosa. I am already thinking about my next project, an emotionally charged music video with stunning visual effects, so stay tuned...