Expert's words: Adam Crowley

Wellcom - Director of Motion

20 Aug. 2020
Christophe Bicchierai Consultant - Rendering expert
Christophe Bicchierai

Adam comes from a creative background, having studied illustration and (traditional) animation at university. He started his digital career in web design and has since got heavily into digital animation and CGI. He has worked for advertising and digital agencies, going freelance in 2016. He now works for Wellcom as the Director of Motion, a content production agency with expertise in solving creative, production and marketing challenges.

Wellcom offers a very wide range of expertise to its clients, CGI being one of them. Why was it important to have this knowledge « in house » and to what extent is it complementary to the other services you provide?

 CGI is becoming more and more prominent in all forms of media, especially in the field of advertising. It can be way more effective than photography or film, as it's generally cheaper and has major advantages in being able to adapt the work without an expensive re-shoot. However, just as some clients will want to avoid CGI, some will automatically assume a CGI route will be the best one, and that's not necessarily so. A good example: time-lapse video of a plant growing. To find the best solutions to creative problems we have to understand the potential, and limitations of the tools, be that CGI, photography, film or illustration.

We often run campaigns across different media, and it's important for Wellcom to streamline it's approach to creating artwork. 
For example, if a campaign calls for video of a 3D camera pan around a product, that needs to be considered before a 2D artist works on the print artwork. It's usually much easier (and coherent) to render off a still from the animated work.

You mostly use Cinema 4D on CPU. Will you keep on working with that technology or do you think you will try the GPU rendering, and if so why?

 Personally, I have dabbled with a few different render engines - with Cinema 4D Standard, Physical and Arnold and with Blender Cycles and LuxCoreRender. I have so far stuck to CPU rendering because I use a Mac and currently that makes using Redshift and Octane a challenge.

However, I am at this minute setting up a PC at home, as I need to work on a project that was done in Redshift. So this might be the start of more GPU rendering!

I'm also looking forward to the imminent release of Octane X which will allow Mac users to use Octane natively, using AMD graphics cards.

  As a producer, what do you think will be the biggest challenges you will face in the coming years?

 As a Motion Director, I think the biggest challenge will be to keep on top of all the different technologies that will come out. There is so much out there, and so much I'd like to learn, and every year brings new tools and ways of working to the table.

Cinema 4D updates usually bring with them new ways of working - recently it was fields and volume modelling, which has turned out to be incredibly useful for a lot of the stuff we do.

Houdini is high on my list of things to learn, but know that I won't learn it overnight!

We have recently seen big advances in realtime rendering, and would like to utilise that for some of the work we do.

Another challenge lies in the balance between technicality and artistry of CG designers that we work with. We have found a few younger guys who have loads of technical knowledge, and extremely keen to learn new things, but getting a render to where it needs to be artistically doesn't come as naturally as it would to some of the more experienced artists. Yet some of those have the opposite problem with technicality and learning new things!

You really need to have both, and I think the key is nurturing the artistic side of the technically proficient youngsters, and encouraging the more experienced to embrace new technical skills.