Team Focus – Austin Bolliger Aug 2 - TheFeelTrain
Who are you and what do you do here at Installation 01?
Aus: My name’s Austin Bolliger, I’m an Australian 3D artist on the team, currently still a 3D art/animation student. I’m involved with the modelling and texturing side of things, often using 2D references developed in-house or finding references elsewhere to aid the process.
Have we seen any of your work so far?
Aus: You might’ve seen some of my work in the cinematic trailer we did a little while ago. I created the high-poly models for the Pelican interior, drop pods, the ODST armour set and our first Elite armour set. Yes, I was the one who made those Elites extra t h i c c. I also helped with the high poly sculpts of the rocks in Obelisk (our Relic remake), as well as the unseen re-design of Cavity (The Pit remake). Big shout out and praise to Jebus, another modeller on the team, who has to constantly deal with my high-poly madness and retopo them so they can actually be textured and put in-game!
High-poly madness? What is this artist-speak!?
Aus: So basically our team works within the high-to-low poly workflow, where one of us modellers creates quite a dense ‘high-poly’ model to essentially reflect what we want the final outcome to look like. This includes ALL the details and tiny bits and bobs that we wouldn’t want going straight into the game, as it first needs to be optimised to be put in-game. The model is then essentially used as a base to construct a less detailed, more optimised, easier-to-handle ‘low-poly’ model which can then be UV’d and textured - but we don’t want to lose all that detail! So we ‘bake’ the details of the ‘high-poly’ model into a ‘normal map’ (a kind of texture map that basically ‘fakes’ the detail), then pop that on the low poly model!
Is that the best way to do it?
Aus: While I of course can’t speak for all studios, as I know there’s plenty that do the reverse - low to high - we’ve found it’s the best workflow for the Installation 01 team and the look we’re trying to achieve. A lot of our assets are quite detailed, so this method allows us to go nuts with details and create exactly what we’re going for first, before optimising it and implementing it into the game, keeping the same quality.
You seem to know your stuff. How long have you been doing 3D modelling?
Aus: I mean I first starting 3D modelling about 3 years ago, when I did my first outside-of-school class which taught both the foundations of 3D modelling, as well as animation. I felt heavily inspired by Monty Oum’s amazing Red vs Blue animated fight scenes, so was more focussed on the animation side of things at the time - modelling/texturing was kind of on the backburner for the time being and wasn’t progressing all too fast. I think only recently would I say I’ve really progressed in modelling - maybe from the beginning of this year, as I finished school at the end of last year and pretty much immediately started a proper course in the 3D field. I really got into it and started progressing at a much faster rate, felt myself learning so much in such short bursts of time, was always very excited to come home so I could immediately try out the new things I was taught. For the first time I felt like I really ENJOYED learning, began to almost get addicted to it! So yeah, I basically started my 3D-related courses with only animation in mind really, however over time my skills further developed to the point where I feel I can now call myself a 3D artist.
Do you have any advice for people looking to get into modelling?
Aus: I think the biggest advice I can give is to ask other modellers lots of questions, whether that be a teacher, a fellow student, etc. Overall I can definitely say that I’ve learned the most from just speaking to other modellers, asking about how they’d do a particular thing a certain way, listen to WHY they do things that way. Just always ask questions, really listen to what they have to say and don’t be afraid to try different workflows/software to figure out what you’re comfortable with.
Describe what working on Installation 01 is like using only one sentence.
How did you discover Installation 01? Did you go through the application process?
Aus: I was actually brought onto the team by Church quite a long time ago. I remember watching the first gameplay video, thought it was cool but I was pretty new to modelling/animating at the time. Anyway I’ve known Church for a loooong long time, so just one day I did a fun little animation with a character I grabbed off the internet, uploaded it to Facebook, then Church slid into my DMs and asked if I wanted to join the team as an animator. Funnily enough, I joined as an animator but only did a couple animations until we had some software clashes and animating in my software just wasn’t really working out, so I decided I’d help with modelling instead and here I am!
A big thanks to Aus for taking part in my interview. Hopefully you learned something about the wonderful world of Installation 01 from his ramblings.