Ian Hubert - Filmmaker, VFX artist, master of Blender3D
Filmmaker and VFX artist Ian Hubert is one of the world’s most skilled and admired Blender users. His popular Lazy Tutorials series collected millions of views and helped and inspired new as well as veteran Blender users. We had the pleasure of talking with him about VFX, his use of Blender, and how Rokoko motion capture has changed his workflow and his ideas on character animation.
It’s no mystery that Ian Hubert’s technical knowledge and remarkable skills, paired with his great sense of humor and eclectic creative vision, made him one of the most appreciated VFX & Blender artists. We recently visited Ian in his beautiful house & studio - an old church compound on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State (US) that was transformed into a home and creative hub - and we had the chance to take a peek at his “Futureproof Workshop” space while talking about creative filmmaking, Blender, and Rokoko.
As he seraphically phrased it in the interview, Ian lives on “filmmaking, visual effects, and kinda weird stuff”. The bloom of Ian’s experimentation with visual effects and short films is tightly coupled with his discovery of the open-source 3D modeling and animation software Blender. Even by just a quick glance at his work, it’s clear that worldbuilding in Blender is one of the areas that he masters - something he says he has perfected all the way back to when he started working with the animation software back in 2004.
From there to obtain the recognition from the Blender community wasn’t too much of a leap: in few years Ian directed a science fiction feature film called Project London, landed the director job on the official Blender open movie of 2012 - Tears of Steel - and put out some episodes of the cyberpunk dystopian sci-fi web series “Dynamo” and its side project “Dynamo Dream”. His Lazy Tutorials, a series of short 1 minute Blender tutorials, launched in 2019 and quickly went viral on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
It was in late 2019 that Ian discovered Rokoko and started integrating the Smartsuit Pro in his pipeline. As he told us during the interview, not only doing motion capture with Rokoko transformed his workflow but also changed the way he looked at animation:
“What I am really excited about is that it is like a new way of filmmaking. I hadn’t really realized how much of my workflow was based around just avoiding having to do legit character animation. When I’m working on a scene now, I can just throw the Smartsuit on and animate all the characters.”
Ian uses the example of his great animation of a pitstop scene. Considering how detailed the scene ended up being with only the use of the mocap suit, it would have taken them hours and hours of keyframe animation in order to obtain the results with the same level of realism.
"I could have animated that shot and spent a week on just trying to do those 2 seconds of animation and it still wouldn’t have looked as good. We recorded all of those movements in only 15 minutes."
"I now started to be able to think in a way that I can just assume I can animate characters now or just animate things with humanness to them. I can finally explore those ideas and achieve realism"
Taking into account that this has just been the beginning of Ian’s exploration of motion capture with Rokoko, the results are simply incredible. The last time Ian used the Smartsuit in a project, we saw him taking part in the ambitious VFX makeover of the "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory” together with the talented creators of Corridor Digital. From the vfx for an R-rated remake of a cult movie to incredible cyberpunk animations for sci-fi settings - Ian’s work always amazes, inspires, and entertains us. We really can’t wait to see what he has in store for us in the future.