Meet Jay, our new 3D Lead and learn about his seriously interesting background in 3D production, and the various different industries he has content for including some that will surprise you...!
Tell us a little bit about your background and why you got into 3D
I was mesmerised by the Pixar movies Toy Story and Monsters Inc and wanted to understand how they were produced. Back in 2001, during university, I set out on a personal mission to learn 3D… though I was currently studying Computer Science which was theory and code! I wasn’t happy and my Dad advised me to “do what I love”, so I changed course to an Arts & Interactive Media course at the University of Hertfordshire, though they didn't teach 3D in depth. However, I was lucky enough to sign up to a 4-week evening course where I learnt 3D modelling, and it was taught by the one and only Sol Rogers! This set me off on my path in 3D and I even submitted an 8-minute 3D film for my coursework which got an A! It was the first time I realised how long rendering 3D animations took.
After a few years designing play equipment and visualising playgrounds for tenders, in 2007 I moved to a surveying company, pioneering in the use of 3D laser scanners and later Photogrammetry systems. 3D point clouds were really only processed by the companies capturing the data at the time, turning it into usable 3D data. Software would struggle to even import the huge data sets. I became part of a team responsible for finding opportunities for its use in different industries. Today, the knowledge of both these technologies, scanning and photogrammetry are all the norm and it can be done on your phones!
We built a forensic scan team that could digitise the live crime scenes, and used other data sets like CCTV footage and witness statements to visualise in 3D a sequence of events and show what witnesses could have seen. I never imagined I’d be creating 3D animation to help solve investigations.
During these 11 years I developed visualisation solutions for many markets, police crime scene investigations were definitely one of the most interesting. Predominantly working on murder and terrorist cases where there was no clear understanding of what had taken place. We built a forensic scan team that could digitise the live crime scenes, and used other data sets like CCTV footage and witness statements to visualise in 3D a sequence of events and show what witnesses could have seen. I never imagined I’d be creating 3D animation to help solve investigations.
When not working with Police, we used the same tech on film sets, producing 3D assets for the likes of Harry Potter and the Marvel films. Scanning actors and film sets and remodelling and retexturing the 3D scan data to a cleaner mesh topology. I was very lucky to to meet and 3D scan the entire cast of Prometheus, though my favourite bit was probably watching Ridley Scott whilst he critiqued the costume for the Engineer character one day on set.
In the last few years I headed up the visualisation team at Hobs 3D where we created animations, CGIs and interactive for the property and construction industry. It was there I tried heata’s service for the first time and this was only because our internal render farm wasn’t available. It was then I learnt about what heata were doing…
Why did you join heata?
After using the service I spoke to the founders – Chris and Mike – and they showed me how they were making a difference. I learnt what they were doing for the environment (reduction in carbon) and socially (providing free hot water to family homes from rendering), and I was compelled to help get this message to other studios, showing them there was finally a sustainable option out there.
I joined the team as heata’s 3D Lead – quite a big leap from heading up a 3D visualisation team to focus solely on a render farm business.
I honestly felt there was nothing studios could do to be more sustainable in 3D rendering or processing data and this always played on my mind – especially now having a child and thinking about her future. When this opportunity came about I jumped at the chance to change things and give something back.
Tell us something about heata's 2024 plans
My dream is to grow our render farm (having more nodes in homes), which could have a direct impact to tackle real world challenges like fuel poverty, while having a much more positive impact compared to a data centre on the environment. In order to do that we need to build more industry awareness and get even more studios actively using heata!
We’re also looking forward to rolling more units in 2024, and expanding across the rest of the country. We are now working on ‘phase 2’ of our heata unit roll out. There’s so much potential and possibilities we’re exploring behind the scenes that could benefit more people.
A lot of render farms have been designed without customer input, it's really exciting to be able work with customers to build features that they want, and part of my role is to help deliver the platform based on the feedback.
What’s your biggest interest outside work?
While not having fun with my little one, I’m a big fan of gaming and I’ve become obsessed with VR Sim Racing and Gran Turismo 7. I even finished in the top 25% in EMEA! The heata team has been watching me in my live races… but they're not too sure I’m good enough (yet!) to add the heata logo to my car! I’m going to get even more serious with it next year… I'm always looking for a few followers, if anyone is into racing!
Anything else that people might find interesting?
If you have a spare 8 mins, and want to transport back to 2002, you can watch my first-ever animated 3D film which was part of my University coursework! Youngsters today won't realise, but we used to spend time in chat rooms back in the 2000’s talking to random people from around the world. Here's the animation:
If you're interested in finding out more about how heata can help you become more sustainable and have a direct social impact - I'd love to talk things through and find out more about your studio.