France is renowned around the world as producing some great artists. Mickaël Riciotti is no exception, a true 'Tour de Force' of an artist. This month, 3D Artists at ModDB have the pleasure of interviewing him!
I know of you, but some may not. Please introduce yourself!
My name is Mickael Riciotti, I'm 23 and I'm French. I've been studying computer animation for 4 years now, including 2 years at the SUPINFOCOM School, in France. But I've been practising since I was 13. I'm proficient in modelling, rigging, texturing, shading and lighting. I can animate, but I just don't like it much; my cup of tea being lighting!
My short film "jusqu'ici tout va bien" was shown in various festivals around the world and I also participated in a series of short films called "Le laboratoire d'images" that was screened at the Annecy festival, in June.
How did you arrive at being a 3D artist & animator?
Like I said, when I was 13 I didn't know much about computers, but I knew they made VFX [Visual Effects] with it. I had the chance to get my hands on a copy of 3dsmax from some relative, so I spent a few years learning the software with a friend of mine, giving each other tips we found out on our own. Then, I went to high school and dropped 3D for a while, focusing on my studies. Once I graduated, I had to make a decision: Physics, or Art. I chose Art, then followed an upgrading course, and graduated from the Estienne School in Paris, with a Diploma in Computer Animation. I then could enter the famous Supinfocom School, and hopefully, I will graduate this year.
France has a long history of producing some great artist and a great culture of art to go with it. Living in France, what influence has this had on your work?
Well, in France, we have some great art Schools. May it Be Estienne, Olivier de Serre, Duperré or Boule, for applied Arts, or Les Gobelins and Supinfocom for Animation. I guess, like you said that the great culture of art we have, and especially in Paris, (museums, monuments) helped with making these schools work. Some of them are centuries old, and thousands of students, including some very famous artists graduated from them. Thus, when you really want to do arts, you have the keys to make it possible here.
Your work is very diverse; whose work has inspired you the most?
Apart from that, I pick what I like here and there, and couldn't make a list of every people that inspired my works.
Does your work develop as you create it, or is it all clear in your mind from the start?
I usually draw and paint what I have in mind before I start working. This step is really a matter of throwing brushstrokes and layers of texture before I get to the desired result. I only go to the next step when I think I have a decent composition. But I like experimenting a lot. Especially with shaders. And sometimes, I make mistakes that happen to please me, and the project evolves from that. I like getting surprised by the good things an unexpected result can give.
You have a wide-range of skills from concepting to animation and lighting. What's Next? Where do you want to go from here?
Like I said, thanks to my studies, I've had the chance to work on every aspect of 3D art. I'm now specialising in lighting. I'll be doing mostly that for my graduation short film and I'm hoping to be part of a big Studio (like Pixar or DreamWorks) and use my skills to give mod to scenes. Fingers crossed!
Out of all those skills, what do you enjoy doing the most?
Without a doubt, lightiiiiiing!
How important is drawing and sketching before starting a project? And, in your opinion, do you need these 'traditional' art skills to be a great artist?
Definitely. Whether you animate, or model or even light, I think it cannot work without a previous sketching and testing phase. When I have to light a scene, I make a quick colour key with pastels or Photoshop or Painter, and experiment, mixing colours, trying different lighting situations.For my Theatre scene, I made a photocollage, and painted over it to get an idea of what it would look like, before I even modelled something.As for character modelling... One always should always draw model sheets. Even if you don't use it, drawing it makes you think about volumes.
ModDB is full of aspiring artists. What words of advice could you give them from your experiences?Art is just like anything else. With passion and lot of work, you can always get to what you reach. So if you don't succeed at first - don't give up and try again and again and again.
What have you found to be the most difficult area to grasp?
Ha. Animation is really the thing I never nailed. It takes patience and a lot of involvement, and video referencing, and Retakes, etc.
I animate when I have to, but I wish I didn't have to!
What's your toolkit and what do you hate using?
3DsMax, Photoshop, Zbrush and AfterFx are my best friends. I sometimes use Painter for early sketches.
I tried using Maya, and even though the Hypershade is awesome, its modelling tools are so sh... different from max, I just dropped it.
Thank you for you time, Miki!
Want to be interviewed or wish to nominate one of your favourite artist? Whether they're on ModDB or not, PM myself and we'll see what we can do!