Cinematics is a company made up of people, as oppose to being made up of androids or robot puppies. To prove it I am pleased to introduce you to man/woman-power behind Cinematics in our new series – Meet Cinematics.
Today we meet our Technical Director of Lighting and Rendering, Shirak Agresta. Let the interrogation begin!
What do you do at Cinematics?
I am what they call a Lighting and Rendering TD (Technical Director). Basically when we have a scene with some characters in it, its my job to light it, like you would a movie set. I also check all the textures to make sure they are working, and in general make the scene look as good as possible. Then I render it out. Later I make some file adjustments before turning it into a movie file. I also fix any technical issues as they come up [before and after rendering].
How did you come to work at Cinematics?
I was working for another studio, an animation studio, with this Producer Mark Axton. Mark moved over to Funnelbox, which Cinematics is a part of. Through him I heard Cinematics needed a TD. The rest as they say, is history, in the making, or something…
What got you into the game industry?
I had studied film my first time through college. I moved to Portland and ended up going back to school, basically to be a camera man. I got interested in doing compositing. I got an internship at Bent Image Lab and after bugging a Director for awhile I got to work on a music video doing 3D. I had to learn Cinema 4D on the fly for that job, but they kept me at it after that (in 3DS Max) for over 4 years.
When you first got into the industry, what was your aspiration/dreams?
Ever since I was a kid, watching Star Wars, I wanted to do special effects. I kinda got interested in other things, but in the end it was my passion…or at least an extreme interest.
Where do you draw inspiration?
I think the thing that influences me a lot, aside from the everyone’s answer of Pixar, are cinematographers. Whenever I have a scene I want it to look as good as it can. I am as big a fan of black and white as I am of color in films. There are also a lot of great painters, like Maxfield Parrish. I also love Van Gogh’s color pallet.
Are there any past projects (with Cinematics or otherwise) that you are particularly proud of?
Well, I haven’t been at Cinematics very long. I did some work for PBS on a show called Time Team America. It was an archeological show. I did some 3D models of the buildings they were excavating to show what they would have looked like when they were new. That was the first time I did a project that big by myself, it was a big step for me at that time. I later worked on 2 TV spots as the TD for a Canadian cellphone company. Both spots had to be done at the same time, and it was my job to make sure that happened. It was a lot of work.
Having not come from a game development background, do you play a lot of games? What is your favorite game?
I’m not a huge game fanatic, but I have played since I was young. I didn’t own a console until last year; I was mostly a PC computer gamer. I will get obsessed with a game, play it 50-75% of the way through, then lose interest and walk away. Sometimes I get into a game and play it all the way through, if I can really get into the story and the world. I really like games that take a new spin on old eras, like Bio-Shock did for the 1920s. I didn’t really dig the whole “I have genetic mutations” thing though, it got old real fast.
I liked the Balders Gate series, Half Life 2, System Shock 2, and the first Thief game. As far as current games, Mirrors Edge and Batman Arkham Asylum were great too. When I was young, I played the shit out of Lode Runner.
What is your super power, and how do you use it to fight crime?
I am… The Overthinker.
I fight crime with amazing plans that cover any and every angle of escape, every possible evil plan, and counter every conceivable counter measure.
It just takes me a while to formulate said plan.