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  • Rod Stafford

Welcome

Thanks for visting! After 30 years of creating animation and graphics for a wide range of industries and applications, I've decided it's time to recall the events of the last three decades - for my own nostalgic reasons, and for anyone who might stop by.


In 1990, I went to my very first Siggraph show in Los Angeles - and saw the "Psudeopod" effects shot from James Cameron's underwater epic, "The Abyss." I was hypnotized by the realism of that fantastic scene. Something new had happened in the world, and I wanted to be part of it.


Beginnings


As a career graphic artist in more traditional, non-digital media, I had been visualizing my subjects and compositions in since the late 1970's... struggling with now-exotic tools and methods (think Airbrush, Pen and Ink on Acetate) to achieve the depth, shading, and realism I saw in my mind's eye.


Airbrush is an unforgiving art form - cutting a frisket mask for each Layer (a term which would become ubiquitous in the Digital art world); mixing a different pigment for each subtle change of color or opacity - the endless cleaning of the airbrush itself with toxic chemicals, at least one cleaning in between each color (unless you could afford to have many stylus' in play at the same time)... and the ever-present threat of accidentally spilling pigment or water on the art board - sometimes with disastrous consequences. No "redo" button, no "save" - the entire artwork could be lost. And often was.


My hero in those days was the undisputed Master of technical airbrush technique, David Kimble - who had dominated the airbrush world for years. His innovative techniques, his ability to "see in 3D" was/is legendary, and we who followed his lead could only hope to come close.


This example of a Ferrari GTO, showing a cutaway of the front end into the engine compartment, tells the story; no 3D modeling, no Photoshop - every line, color, and shaded surface was pre-visualized, carefully laid out from a single view, and executed with absolute precision... without the benefit of digital Mattes, Cut and Paste, Clone Stamp, Gradient, or any of the other wonderful tools we now take for granted:




Back to Future: as I stood on the floor of the Siggraph convention hall in 1990, gawking at "The Abyss" 3D effects shot, and realized that it had all been done with a then-new technology called Solid Modeling and 3D Animation, I knew there was no turning back.

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