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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT • January 22, 2001


Slingshots and Other Toys: Andrew Guevara

Andrew Guevara is cofounder and director of Slingshot Productions, an award-winning animation studio based in San Francisco. Since he founded the studio in 1997, Guevara has managed to develop, refine, and realize his unique creative vision. His studio has produced animation and design spots that air nationally and internationally and are seen and played in games throughout the world. "Hacker Dude," a brand campaign designed, directed and produced for TechTV (formerly ZDTV), garnered a Northern California Emmy 2000 for best graphic design as well as winning a World Silver Medal at the New York Festivals. His collaboration with other media studios in the Bay Area helped provide animations for some of the top-selling games in the industry.

3D: When did you begin your 3D career?

AG: When I was about four years old. I used to spend hours at the kitchen table making things with Playdough. It's how I spent a lot of my free time. That and drawing.

I actually started getting paid for it when I was hired at Mindscape, formerly The Software Toolworks, in 1994. I was hired as an animator to work on SNES products. I was pretty much a computer illiterate at that time. My hopes were to eventually learn 3D when the opportunity arose, and that came about a year and half after I was hired at The Software Toolworks.



Berto 1

Berto 4

Citicrops 1

Seb 2

Hak 6

Sg 1

3D: Why did you dive into the 3D arena?

AG: Mainly because 3D was a new medium. It seemed to have the most potential to allow me to express what I had in my head. There were a culmination of experiences, influences, school, and work that led up to it—films, animation festivals, art school, cartoons, TV shows, music videos, artists of all sorts, painters, illustrators, directors, and my own urge to get out what I needed to get out as an artist. At the time, it just seemed the right thing to do.

3D: Do you still do any traditional art work?

AG: Not as much as I would like to. I used to go through periods where I'd draw in my sketchbook every day. The only time I really do any drawing now is with my daughter or when I board out my ideas for projects or character designs.

3D: What hardware do you primarily use?

AG: I have a dual 450MHz Dell Pentium II workstation, a 333MHz Dell Pentium II workstation, a 200MHz Dell Pentium Pro, a 200MHz Motorola Macintosh clone, and a CD burner that I use for all my backup purposes.

3D: What software do you primarily use?

AG: I use Discreet 3D Studio MAX, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Illustrator, and Fractal Design Painter.

3D: Why do you use 3D Studio Max rather than other 3D packages?

AG: I grew up with 3D Studio 3 since my first days at Mindscape. It has served me well as far as I'm concerned. I think I've gotten a lot of mileage out of it. Unfortunately, 3D software isn't the kind of software that allows a user to migrate between applications easily. So if you're using it as a way to make a living, the learning curve is too steep to understand various packages on an equal level. There's a point when you must decide when you want to commit to 3D software. So here I am.

3D: Which of your projects do you feel stands out and why?

AG: I think the projects on our Web site stand out the most because they measure up to my standards and they have their own distinct look and feel. My own thumbprint. That's important to me.

Slingshot allows me to wear a lot of different hats at once, so in that sense the company reflects what I do best as an animation director, a producer, a designer, an animator, a modeler—the whole gamut. It's liberating in many ways because it inverts the typical studio method of specialization that so many facilities demand from their artists, technicians, etc. That situation can stifle your vision pretty quick.

3D: What will be your next project?

AG: There are a few. The "Hacker Dude" campaign for TechTV is still going strong. I'm finishing the final spot of a series of four on that. The three finished ones are currently airing. I will board out more ideas after I take a small break with my family. I have four other animation projects that I've been pitching to studios here and in Los Angeles with my writing partner Brian Burrell. City is one you can see on our site. I'm also doing animation elements for Renegades of Funk, the latest Rage Against the Machine video. And I'm working on a Internet broadband prototype with Tim Boxell. That will be posted on our Web site when it's done.

3D: Who first inspired you and your 3D work?

AG: That would have to be Pixar's Luxo Jr. I remember the first time I saw the short. It was years before I even knew how to use a computer. That's what made me want to do what I do. At the time, I thought, "There's no way I could ever learn how to do that."

Gumby was an inspiration, no doubt! All the Rankin/Bass puppet animated shows that aired on holiday seasons when I was a kid all had major effects on me. Mad Monster Party—that had to be one of my faves. Couldn't wait for that to come on around Halloween. I know this isn't 3D, but War of the Gargantuas is one my all-time favorite movie.

Then when I actually started doing CG 3D, I was blown away by Cyan Myst. The whole concept and design was just a wonderful piece of work. Same with Inscape Bad Day at the Midway, and Tribeca Interactive, Inc. 9. The games had an awesome blend of art and imagination.

3D: Who are your favorite artists (3D or otherwise)?

AG: In no particular order: Char Davies, Mark Ryden, Andrei Tarkovsky, Lari Pittman, BUF Compagnie, David Lynch, Gil Bruvel, Ann Hamilton, Stanley Kubrick, Beck, Martin Scorsese, Jim Ludtke, Robin Miller, Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry, Mathew Barney, James McMullen, Art Clokey, John K., Chuck Jones, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Peter Greenaway, Lucian Frued, Tim Hawkinson, Me Company, Mumbleboy, Brian Cronin, Lane Smith, Tim Burton, Pee Wee Herman, Pierre and Gille, Mike Kelly, Joe Sorren, David Kirk, Gerhard Richter, Jenet and Caro, Gibby Haynes, Matt Groening, Mike Judge. There's more, but I'll stop there.

3D: What are your long-term goals as a 3D artist?

AG: My goal is to expand on what I've started with Slingshot Productions.

I want to direct my own movies and TV shows, and continue to produce work for media that will blend these formats with games, the Internet, and anything else that comes down the pike. I think 3D has proven itself to be a wonderful tool for all sorts of purposes.

3D: What role do you think 3D will play on the Internet?

AG: Well, anything that is used now in the real world will have its place online at some point. It's only a matter of time before the Internet becomes capable of delivering media and services with out the technological constraints that exist today. So once all these issues get worked out and trickle down to the masses—meaning it's affordable and available to most people—then I think it will play a major role.

VRML seemed to be the online answer to virtual reality. It was simple and slow, but the idea is right. I don't think its outlandish to think that we could have virtual reality on the scale and resolution of a Hollywood effects movie someday. So that could have an immense impact on how we experience games, movies, educational forums, medicine, communication devices, the arts, electronic commerce, and things we can't even imagine at this time. It will also have a major role in how these things are interfaced, delivered, and produced. The MIT Media Lab is probably a good place to keep an eye on for things like this.

I'll tell you the best 3D thing on the Web I've seen to date is Soda Constructor. Sheer, simple fun. It can actually get pretty complicated if you try and build your own

3D: What features would you like to see added to 3D software in the future?

AG: Decent documentation! I get so inundated with new features already that it gets a bit frustrating to try and keep up. Of course, it's fun to try and figure things out on your own, but that can get old when you have deadlines looming over your head.

3D: In which particular 3D effects fields would you like to become more commercially viable?

AG: My work isn't guided by effects. It's guided by my ideas—by the characters and worlds that I have floating in my head or the images I've made in my sketchbooks, illustrations, and paintings. I think effects are a small fraction of the potential 3D has to offer an artist. I intend on using 3D to fulfill my particular vision. If it stops serving that purpose then I move onto something else, although I don't see that happening any time soon. This is still very satisfying to me.

3D: Why did you choose these images?

Because it shows what I like to do. These are various examples of my sketches, commercial projects, and original works-in-progress.

Check out Slingshot Productions for streaming video of some of his creations in motion.

If you know of an artist who should be profiled at 3Dgate, please contact Abby Albrecht at [email protected]. Include the artist's name, email address, URLs containing the artist's work, and any interesting information.