Matt is a self taught 3D Artist and Animator, mainly working with Houdini.
Throughout his career he has worked on high end 3D commercials for video games as Head of Character Pipeline for spots accruing over 380 million views. In London, He’then went on to study experimental animation at the Royal College of Art. His work creates a perfect harmony between technology and art.
Self Portrait (Except I’m Bald). Takes 3, 5 and 8
RF: Hey Matt! Thanks for taking the time to share your work. Firstly, you have been moving around the world and settled in many different places, I’m still convinced you’re American but you claim you’re English (a claim that you probably now regret).. Could you explain a bit about your world.
Matt: Absolute pleasure. Thank you for all the time you put into Rhythm & Frames, it’s something special.
I did move around as a kid, mainly growing up in the Netherlands. I went to university in LA, which is where I started my career in animation. I started by doing corporate videos, then worked at a studio that made video game ads doing motion graphics and 3D characters. It was a dream job initially but soured pretty quickly as I got burnt out and frustrated. I’d actually previously applied for RCA Animation and not gotten accepted, so I decided to quit my job in order to focus full time on my second application, which paid off in the end.
RF: You seem to have a way with technology and can use software primarily only understood by wizards. Could you explain a bit about the technology you have found yourself working with most.
Matt: I mainly work with Houdini as my 3D program. The way you interact with the software differs from the other standard 3D packages (Maya etc) as it’s node based. I was self taught mainly so in order to learn how to use Houdini, I had to go back to and understand a lot of the fundamentals of computer animation that I’d skipped over initially. Once I did, I felt a lot less frustrated when trying to make work as I usually could figure out what was going wrong and correct my approach, rather than being mystified by errors.
I was really proud to share this with a class of RCA students when I hosted my ‘Approach to Simulation’ workshop during my second year at RCA. Seeing everything begin to click with the students, some of whom had never used 3D software before, was absolutely a highlight of the program for me.
RF: I’d hate for our readers to dismiss you as some kind of computer operator, your work is also highly conceptual and you seem to manage to build the software into your concepts for example having simulations breaking as a representation of a character’s internal breakdown.
Matt: To be honest, when I started with animation, I had no purpose or direction and would often only produce little tests with no meaning, just to learn parts of a 3D program. I started to realize, actually by watching grad films from RCA students, that those little tests didn’t have much value for anyone except myself. So attempting to incorporate some of my feelings about the world into my work as the logical next step. The only way I knew how to do this was not through dialogue or narrative but using the medium itself. I’m still at the beginning though, I’ve figured out how to communicate certain feelings but I want to expand my vocabulary and express larger ideas.
RF: It’s no secret to those that know you that you are obsessed with K-Pop. How did this interest come about and is there a K-Pop radio show coming in the near future?
Matt: Well I actually got into it through studying film, and did my undergraduate thesis on the aesthetic tropes of K-Pop music videos. In general I love pop music and was fascinated with how MVs were able to use the strongly defined language of commercial music videos to express the wacky ideas embedded in K-Pop tracks so effectively.
My RCA graduation project ‘the mv’ ended up being inspired by that. Ansso An made a banging electro-pop track for it. Although I don’t feel the project ended up being directly related to K-Pop specifically. I do want to explore this subversion of commercial ideas using commercial imagery further in the future.
I did a little K-Pop radio show about the history of K-Pop during the first lockdown but it didn’t garner much interest ha!
RF: Could you share with us a couple of films that have been stirring your creative juices?
RF: What’s happening now and what’s next for you?
Matt: I just finished an animated music video for the band Enter Shikari. Quite surreal still as they’re my favourite band of all time.
Got a bit burnt out from working in isolation during lockdown, so I’m trying to get back into the swing of work again after a break. Currently taking an animal anatomy course so maybe I’ll incorporate that into my animation in the future.