An interview with VFX genius Clinton Jones aka pwnisher
Ex-Corridor Digital employee and super talented VFX artists - probably one of the most well known 3D creators out there - known for his community and massive 3D challenges on his YouTube channel, sat down with Rokoko to look back at his achievements and his journey as a digital creator. In the world of 3D art, Clinton Jones, better known by his online pseudonym, "The Pwnisher", is a name that has been making waves in recent years. With his exceptional talent for bringing his imagination to life through stunning 3D renderings, Clinton has established himself as one of the most sought-after artists in the industry. In this blog article, we will be exploring the journey of Clinton Jones and how he became known as "The Pwnisher", as well as delving into his unique style and creative process. Whether you're an aspiring artist or simply a lover of 3D art, you won't want to miss this in-depth look into the life and work of one of the most exciting artists of our time.
If you had to choose, what is the single most defining characteristic that makes you, you?
Oh boy, that’s a tough one. Shoot. Probably my ADHD scatter-brain, OCD, and growing up doing martial arts. I think those three things combine into some questionably healthy attribute that pushes me to challenge myself constantly, continually look for new things to learn, and strive to be the best in all that I do.
What would you say are the three key ingredients when learning 3D?
I’d say “love for the process” is number one. In order to learn, you have to get at least some enjoyment from what you’re learning.
Two would be “curiosity”: It pushes me to ask questions, and dive deeper into the unknown until it’s a part of my workflow or body of work. This one is especially important because technology changes rapidly, so you need to be ready to learn, troubleshoot, and adapt to new tools, techniques, or creative mediums.
And number three is “an idea”, or direction to point your creative energy in, usually in the form of small passion projects or challenges. For me, watching movies, traveling (or even going on walks), listening to music, and following your favorite artists are great places to start generating ideas.
How have your goals with VFX/CGI changed through the years?
Well it all started with the dream of making a movie. I started out shooting silly little short films with my brother and neighborhood friends. Eventually I discovered videocopilot.net and visual effects became just as much a part of my workflow as the short films themselves. This was around the time when Cardboard Warfare came out (my first real vfx-heavy short action film). Naturally I wanted to do bigger things, so I strove to integrate 3D objects into my short films. It took years of messing around in 3D programs to finally get the results I was going for, and my three years at both RocketJump and Corridor Digital helped hone my 3D/VFX skills.
But over the last few years since I rebooted my YouTube channel, I've been focusing on full 3D scenes, as opposed to adding 3D objects to live action plates. I definitely go through phases, where for a couple years I'm obsessed with texturing/rendering, and another I’m all about 3D environments (which is what I’m currently loving).
But I'd say the biggest change would be the love for teaching. I never thought that’s what life would have in store for me, but so far I’ve certainly enjoyed the process.
What does an average day look like for you?
I’m not gonna lie, I used to do the whole, “wake up at 5am and workout” kinda deal, but you know what’s awesome? Sleep! So I dropped that pretty quick. My morning routines vary from season to season. Right now I get up at 7am, put on some tea while I clean, and maybe do a 12-15 minute workout if I’m feeling it that morning. From there, I try to tackle the biggest responsibilities first. You know, the stuff we don’t get out of bed for. I’d love to just endlessly create and have fun, but that’s just not possible. If the emails and responsibilities pile up, it stresses me out and I can’t create with a focused mind. So after a few hours of work, I’ll take time to get out of the house for lunch, then go back at it ‘till 6.
While working at CorridorDigital, they had a strict “Go home at 6:30pm” rule. It’s healthy and stops people from burning out, so I try to keep that same habit. After 6pm, I like to go on a walk to reset, and wind down. I’ll cook, watch shows and hang out with my wife at the end of the day, or chill with friends. It’s the only way for me to stay balanced.
When finishing a project, how do you decide when to stop tweaking elements for the final render?
Honestly, if it weren’t for self-imposed deadlines (in the form of YouTube videos having to go live), I’d be tweaking forever. The saying, “Your art is never finished, it’s just abandoned” is too true. I always begin my projects by gathering reference, which offers a touch of artistic foresight (just as you’d want to storyboard your film), and gives me a sort of end-point to keep in mind.
But at the same time, if I stick to the reference too hard, there’s no room for exploration and in-the-moment creativity. So I try to balance the two, and afterwards remind myself I have about half the days I think I have to finish the art. That way I’ll hopefully land on my last step, post processing (the final touches) by the ¾ mark. If things go smooth, I’ll cross the finish line a day or so before the deadline.
What has been the most significant change to your life, since leaving Corridor Digital?
Besides having to do everything myself, and “run a business?” Shoot, I’d say the continual spotlight on the need to manage my time wisely, because it’s very difficult to step away from work when you’re literally the only one responsible for making sure you can pay the bills. There’s always a million things I can do to grow my YouTube channel, to grow my business, or to manage and organize things for max efficiency. It’s very hard for me to stop, and it’s not the healthiest way to live, that’s for sure. So I need to continually remind myself to take breaks, go on walks, and let it be okay that I'm not working at this very moment in time. It’s tough, but I’m working on it.
What is the single most inspiring thing you’ve ever experienced?
Besides my friend Bobby showing me how to use a video camera back in 2006, I’de say traveling. Not only does it offer me a break I so desperately need, but fulfills me like nothing else. Meeting strangers from other countries and discovering your similarities and differences together is such a breath of fresh air for me. The rich environments, food and culture is a constant source of inspiration, so it’s my goal to travel as much as possible and experience as much as I can.
Name three pieces of equipment you can’t live without.
First I’de say my computer. I need the fastest system I can afford in order to create quickly. It’s certainly tough when technology develops at a rapid rate, but we do the best we can. And I’d have to say a great desk and chair. My standing desk is a MUST have, ‘cause we all know that sitting all day is bad for you. And I think it was my buddy Freddie Wong who said, “you sleep everyday, so invest in a good bed.” I took the same advice and bought a second-hand Herman Miller Chair. Definitely one of the best pieces of equipment I’ve bought to date.
Thanks so much for having me! I love you guys' motion capture tools, and am always down to stop by and hang!