Phil: Hey Tom. Nice to catch up with you this week. I always look forward to seeing what you’ve been up. This image is joyous – like a shoal of outlandish helium balloons. It looks to me like you enjoyed translating your Miro-verse ‘anchovies’ into 3D existence…
Tom: Yes, the Miro cinematic universe, otherwise known as the Miroverse, is starting to come together but there is still a long way to go. I don’t consider the creatures and critters I’ve made so far to be finished, but now I have a pipeline of sorts established, it’s certainly quite enjoyable to be able to pop them into an empty scene and play around and pose them, or see how they interact with light and shadow. This has always been my favourite part of the 3D process. Also, all of this is a bit of testing and planning for when the time comes that I have to make these things come alive. It’s good to get a feel for what the possibilities and limitations might be.
Phil: I have many questions when I look at your characters, and they create an impatience in me to see them come alive and exhibit their signature behaviours. Any thoughts on how these critters might express their physicality? They look as cheeky and social as house sparrows…
Tom: Each of the creatures have their own bespoke control system that allows them be animated and manipulated in various ways, so this will certainly give a lot of opportunity for them to be able move and behave uniquely. That being said, there is likely going to be a lot of these things inhabiting a scene at any one time, and I’m a one-man studio making this in my free time. I’m going to have establish a kind of formula for animating them and giving them personality.
Phil: Another of my ‘many questions’ regards vocalisation – what these creatures might sound like? What are your current ideas in terms of potential sound design strategies?
Tom: I’m not a musician and I’ve never created sounds or soundscapes from scratch myself so it’s definitely going to pose a big challenge. I’m thinking about how I can use existing sound libraries to my advantage by manipulating, layering and distorting them until something interesting emerges. When I look at these creatures there are so many real-life sounds that immediately spring to mind, and since Miro’s paintings are an expression of the real world, it would make some thematic sense to use the real word in humorous and interesting ways.
Phil: A bit of an aside here, but producing work like this on the computer is a long-haul; what do you listen to while you work to keep mind and body together?
Tom: I like to stick to my comfort listening when I’m building stuff and doing somewhat repetitive tasks in computer software. I’m not sure it’s the right time to branching off and dabbling in some 1980s experimental Japanese noise rock or something like that. Here’s a little selection of the movie soundtracks that are often circulating around on my YouTube playlists while I’m moving the vertices and orienting the joints. Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Jerry Goldsmith, Walkabout by John Barry, The Empire Strikes Back by John Williams, Aguirre: The Wrath of God by Popol Vuh, Cannibal Holocaust by Riz Ortolani, and Transformers: The Movie (if solely for Death of Optimus Prime.)
Phil: And finally, who is up next and what do you predict the creative and technical challenges to be?
Tom: It’s these floating balloon whales with giant “cone things with tentacles” attached. I think with that description I’ve roughly summed up the creative and technical challenges I might face…
‘some floating balloon whales with giant “cone things with tentacles” attached‘