Building award-winning shorts with self-taught 3D Generalist Rodrigo Castro Castillo

March 25, 2024
10 min read

Today we have the pleasure of shining the spotlight on Rodrigo Castro Castillo, a self-taught 3D artist (and long-time Rokoko mocap tools user) that recently won our hearts with his "Trenches" short made in Unreal Engine 5.

Hello Rodrigo! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a 3D artist with a background in Architecture. Although most of my work has lately been focused on Environments, I consider myself a Generalist in a way.I'm currently focusing on real time cinematics, learning new techniques along the way and improving in subjects like Mocap, Cameras and VFX. I am always trying to tell a story through the camera and light.

How did you get started in 3D and how did you first start animating?

I started with Archviz projects, doing 3D models, shaders and lighting. Eventually, for animation, I started doing some basic camera movements and animating doors, curtains, vegetation, etc. Later I realised that I could move and model anything I wanted, so I started modelling robots, cars or mechanical objects like spaceships.
Prior to that, I was doing animations in Sketch Up, Vray and Lumion, then I transitioned my job to 3DsMax and I started doing little shorts but the rendering time was horrible. With the real time solutions my life as a Storyteller changed and I could produce way more quality animations in less time.

If you had to choose, what is the single most defining characteristic that makes your content unique and entirely yours? In other words, what would you say is your artist trademark?

I love telling stories, and because this is a big industry it's hard for one guy to do a big project, so that's why I try to do everything myself. I learned every step of the process so that I could do everything from writing a story to modeling, texturing, animating and doing the final edit. It's a slow process, but I like knowing that I'm in control of everything from start to finish.

Do you have a favourite artwork or project you're especially proud of?

Yes, even though I love every new project that comes along I have two that are very precious to me:

“JINGU” - This was the one that has taken me the most time, but also the one that has won the most mentions, promotions and awards. I loved this project because it took me a year and a half in my free time, and I took care of every little aspect of it. I also learned a lot doing JINGU, and even though it is only a small trailer, for me it counts for much more than that.

“Kill them all” - This was for an Unreal challenge (which never became a winner), but I liked it a lot because it was the first time I formally used the Rokoko motion capture suit, Smartsuit Pro, and I could generate animations for many characters that are part of the scene and make a whole mini dramatic intro in 30 days. This was something that, today, makes me think I have improved a lot in several areas. I can generate both more content in less time and better content in a short amount of time.

What has been the most significant change to your life, since you started creating 3D content?

When I was little I did a lot of 2D animation in drawings, I explored software like Paint and did some shorts there, and I also played with a camera and my Legos to do little stop motion films. Growing up I studied Architecture and never imagined that animation was a real job, but time passed and here I am. I never expected to be doing 3D at this level and working on such big projects.

Name three pieces of equipment (software or hardware) that you can’t live without.

Unreal Engine, Blender, my computer and my Rokoko Suit Pro II.

Talking about gear, what do you love about Rokoko mocap tools / why should anyone buy them?

In my experience, Rokoko motion capture tools are super easy to use, especially for someone that is not a professional animator but wants to tell stories in 3D using animated characters. If I could, I would have two or more Smartsuit Pro’s so that I can set up scenes with two actors, mainly for fighting and action scenes.


Do you currently have any artists that inspire you in your work?

The main person that comes to mind is Sava Zivkovic. I love his work, especially his short films, but what I also like about him is that he has a similar path to me, because he also came from another industry and now he directs shorts films with big studios. I really want to get there too.  

What advice do you have for aspiring 3D creators? What would you say are the key ingredients when learning 3D you wish you had known from the start?

Well... maybe it's not specific to learning 3D, but I can say that putting a little extra effort into personal projects worked really well for me, it's how you can grow more as an artist, because you are doing what you really like. I also recommend starting small and setting goals that you can actually accomplish, because if you are too ambitious and you don't know how to complete many of the technical steps you are thinking of doing, your project will likely never come to light.

Can you reveal some of your next projects that we can look forward to?

I'm working on a very exciting new short film. For the first time, I'm working with a team because, as I said before, working alone and knowing all the processes for animation is great but I think I'm at a point where I want to achieve something more ambitious and at a high quality of execution, for which involving other people is required. One of the things I want to do more of in the future is directing, so directing my own short film is perfect for me!
If everything works out as planned, this project is going to see the light of day at the end of 2024.


Thank you for sharing your story Rodrigo, we very much look forward to seeing the short you are directing later in the year!

You can follow Roberto's work on his channels:

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