Interview with Artist/Teacher Mark Bremmer
Staff Writer By: Ricky Grove (gToon)
Mark Bremmer is a professional 3D artist and teacher. He's owned his own business (Mark Bremmer Creative) for over 20 years now. As a member of Renderosity since 2000, he has helped run forums and provided a series of tutorials, primarily on Poser, for several years. His teaching skills, in particular, are highly regarded and he features tutorials on Carrara, Poser, Vue, Anime Studio Pro and Cinema 4D at his main website.
We were so impressed with his recent Poser Pro 11 series of tutorials at Renderosity.com that we decided to talk to Mark about how he created the tutorial series and his ideas about learning 3D.
Renderosity: We were wondering how the Poser Pro 11 tutorial series originated; was it your idea or an assignment? And how did you prepare?
Mark Bremmer: Renderosity reached out to me. I'd done a number of tutorials over the years, including Poser and Poser Game Dev. After I said yes, the syllabus was left up to me. So, I've created the series based upon questions I see popping up all the time, or, abilities of the program folks simply don't know are there.
This most recent series is aimed at the enthusiast that has already been using the program and knows their way around; so, it's looking at the differences between this and legacy versions, plus we'll be covering ways to integrate with multiple software.
Tell me a bit about creating the syllabus. You mentioned you based it on questions you see popping up; what were some of the questions? And can you clarify a bit the phrase "this and the legacy versions"? This referring to the new poser pro 11?
Mark Bremmer: Yes, everything previous to 11 is a legacy version by my definition. But some versions are REALLY legacy! (with all the pathologies that come from old CG tools)
Syllabus stuff: The questions I see popping up most frequently are a particular genre as opposed to, "How do I move a hand?" What I mean by that is there are questions that beg a bigger answer. For example: "Can I import free models that aren't Poser and use them?" What the question really is: "How do I use non-Poser props well and make them move or fit in my scene?" To address something like that, I'll create a tutorial about rigging hard-edge or non-Poser humans instead. Kind of a, what-are-you-really-asking approach. What it really boils down to are people wanting to get better at the big-picture of CG but sometimes, tripping over little things creates barriers. I teach to both needs.
The other very real need is that if you're not a pro, then budget is usually a big deal. The legacy content is going to be used until it doesn't make good sense. The Poser 11 rendering engine doesn't always play well with Poser 10 and earlier hair. Answering questions like that is also valuable. But I also like to bump that up to the big picture and throw in some scene lighting tricks, common practices for setting moods, etc.
Even at the most basic tutorial level, like reviewing the Poser interface, speaking to the Why of the interface is just as important as the Where portion. Starting to 'think' CG is one of the biggest learning curves for new users.
-Mark Bremmer's Poser 11 Tutorial series
Can you tell us about the actual process you go through to create an episode? And how many episodes do you plan for the whole series? Can you give us a hint as to where the series will be headed in the future?
Mark Bremmer: The planned run for the Renderosity tutorials is one per month. Apparently, the response has been good because Renderosity has asked me for a year long engagement three years running . If people aren't bored of me or haven't completely learned the program, maybe it will continue.
The specific parameters for the tutorials were to make them about 20 minutes or more each. That is a different mindset than most 'pro' tutorials I've done where the maximum run is about 7 minutes each. I like the longer time for the sake of presenting more complex thoughts and the continuity that it brings.
However, that requires planning for 20+ minutes of continuous run, which has some issues - like not putting people to sleep amongst others!
The most significant tutorial issue is making sure I can actually do a 20-30 minute session without crashing and burning. I've been working with a Beta version of Poser for years now since people want to learn the 'new' program. Smith Micro has been wonderful and kept me in the loop and I've prepared Poser series for Renderosity, Infinite Skills, O'Reilly Media and Virtual Training Corp. So, sometimes my version of Poser is unstable because it's not a general release version. And it can change from week to week. Something that was working last week may behave badly due to a regression bug after a new beta release. So, on the day of the tutorial I'll do 2 to 3 hours of preparation, dry runs, trying to get things to break, and in some cases, learning how recent feature updates have changed. Then I refine what I'll be covering to be both specific in how-to's, but also the broad Why's.
There have been times I've had to re-imagine the entire tutorial either because of a bug or a feature improvement that is so cool, it's worth changing things around. CG is never boring.
Undeclared Discovery by Mark Bremmer
Mark Bremmer: In a perfect world, according to Mark, I'd love to do a series that really starts a project from beginning to end, with a professional's approach to the final product. That means thinking like an Art Mercenary, who's only interest is the final results. Enthusiast CG/3D folks can tend to be purists about their core software, kind of insisting that everything be done in that one program. But the Pro world is so different. It's a whatever-it-takes mentality. There are so many cool tricks and methods for both still imagery and animation, in order to get a final product that would be impossible to achieve with any single software.
Doing things like that always lead to "Ah-ha!" moments when people begin to understand the magicians secrets. Even if I'm using multiple "Pro" software to demonstrate, the same techniques can usually be achieved with very modest and humble alternatives - even free-ware. But it would definitely be a moderate to advanced level type of thing. But even a beginner would be sure to pick up some tricks - and start thinking differently. Then the continued fall down into the rabbit-hole of 3D continues...and it get's very interesting.
About Mark Bremmer