Spotlight on Rich Nosworthy

I was introduced to the work of Rich Nosworthy only fairly recently, and as a big fan of Cinema 4D and modelling, Rich’s work is the kind of thing I aspire to.

Where are you based?

I’m currently living in Auckland, New Zealand. I’m from Devon originally in the UK but we moved out here 5 years ago, and now it’s too expensive to fly home.

How long have you been in the industry?

I made a switch to motion graphics when I came to New Zealand so that was 5 years ago. But I worked in the VFX film industry for 8 years before that, doing a mix of 3D, comp and matte painting.

Have you always been a freelancer? What do you like about freelancing?

There’s a lot I love
about freelancing

No, actually just since September, I’ve always worked in full time jobs until now. There’s a lot I love about freelancing. Working from home is great, although it helps to mix it in with studio work so you don’t go house crazy. Being able to work to your own schedule and essentially be your own boss is good too. The best thing overall I think is a greater opportunity to work with different studios and agencies, working on a bigger range of projects than you might do if you worked at just one place. But I’m still pretty new to it.

What kind of formal training have you had?

Not much linked to graphics. I went to university and did computer science, so I can still half remember how to program things, but I’m pretty rusty now. But that was where I first discovered 3D animation. I’ve mostly just picked up the software over the years since then. Working in VFX taught me a lot, and I worked with a lot of very talented people, which was invaluable. Other than that it was watching a lot of tutorials.

What kind of training do you do these days?

There’s a lot of training out there, even just YouTube. But I do subcribe to Digital Tutors once in a while when I have some spare time, and I also recently enrolled on one of Ash Thorp’s Learn Squared courses. They’ve got some great content on there, but you need time to commit to it.

Which software do you use?

My main ones these days are Cinema 4D, Moi3d, Zbrush & After Effects. I’ve been getting into 3D-Coat lately for its texturing and UV tools and also been learning some Houdini, but still a long way to go with that.

How long have you been using the software?

Cinema 4D is my main package, and I’ve been using that for around 6 years. But I was a Maya user for about 10 years before that, and a lot of it translates over. It was harder to learn, but you pick up good habits I think.

What tools do you use for 3D modelling?

Cinema4D is probably still my main modelling package, I’ve got Holger Biebach’s modelling scripts and they’re great. I’ve been using Moi3d recently, just because its so easy — it’s a lot like illustrator’s Pathfinder. You can boolean geometry, make really complex stuff, and bevel it afterwards. It’s not great if you need good topology, but it looks fine rendered. There’s a great artist named Vitaly Bulgarov who does a lot of hard surface modelling. I saw he used it so that’s what got me to try it out. It feels like a bit of a cheat, but it saves a huge amount of modelling time. If I’m working on a bigger project and need to rig the geometry then it makes sense to spend the time modelling properly, but if time is short or if you just want to concept some ideas quickly, then it’s great for that.

It feels like a bit of a cheat

I also use 3D-Coat for retopology at the moment – its got some great tools for that sort of thing. Cinema 4D is really good though, and its come along massively in the last few years, but there’s still a few things that I’d like to see. I took Grant Warwick hard surface course last year, but theres a few things that he does in Max that I don’t think can be done in Cinema 4D — things like transforming groups of vertices (rotation and scale mainly) but keeping them all constrained along their edges. Also a good points to circle script — but Holger’s modelling tools have addressed that now.

Do you use plug-ins?

Yeah, X-Particles is great, really easy to get started with and very versatile. I use a lot of 3rd-party renderers, V-Ray and Octane.  A lot of little helper plug-ins too like the ones from Cineversity. There’s a great one by Brett Bays called Tradigitools, if you do any character animation it really simplifies creating poses, breakdowns and shifting them around the timeline.  Niklas Rosenstein has some great plug-ins including TimeHide which is great for concentrating on the keys of selected objects. And also Adam Heslop is making some really interesting stuff at the moment. I’ve been playing around with his mograph to mesh tools and there’s a lot of interesting new ways to drive shading with mograph effectors.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only one plug-in,
what would it be?

Ha ha, one that probably served drinks, played music and maybe got me rescued.

Do you use stock footage/images?

Not really but that’s because most of my work is generally 3D. I do buy some textures, or dust and grain images — things that can be used as overlays in a comp.

What is your computer system setup?

I had to go back to Windows

I’ve got a somewhat of largish workstation now. Three 980Tis, a hex core processor and 64 gigs of Ram. I didn’t go for watercooling on this one but maybe next time, its not much fun in the summer months but will at least it keeps the house warm in the winter. I had to go back to Windows after about 7 years on Mac and apart from the Control and Alt key the wrong way around it’s been fine. I’ve got an oldish quad core hackintosh too which I keep meaning to turn into a spare render box.  

Do you use a Wacom pen or a mouse?

Wacom, I actually don’t think I’ve even owned a mouse in about 10 years.

Do you experiment a lot with new tools/techniques or stick to what you know?

I try to experiment with new things and seem to have been collecting software lately, Houdini, 3D-Coat, Moi3D and I recently got a copy of World Machine. It’s fun to learn new software and create new ways of working, although I think there’s only so much you can really keep in your head at any one time, and only so much time you can spend on learning software. In terms of techniques I generally like to stick to modelling, lighting and texturing, but those alone are so huge that I feel there’s still so much to learn.  

Do you look around for inspiration or you simply create whatever comes into your head?

Yeah often ideas come from things I’ve seen either online or from everyday life. I guess the trouble with getting inspiration online, especially if its related to design or motion is that with places like Pinterest, Bechance and Vimeo, its become such a central hub for everyone that you start to see a lot of similar ideas coming out. I’m sure I’m guilty of doing it myself too but I guess if you can, it’s better to also look for inspiration outside of those main platforms. I try and doodle a lot in sketchbooks and quite a few ideas for some of my work have come out of silly pencil sketches from those.

 Also I’ve got a few blogs and Tumblr pages saved about general design, photography and architecture. I seem to have gotten quite a thing for collecting old reference manuals, broken old cameras and other bits of junk at the moment. I really love product design too and have always loved the style and forms from that kind of techinical drawing.

Can you tell us about a recent project that you enjoyed?

I recently got a job for Joey Korenman from School of Motion. It was a super short, one week project to create something for a sound design competition he was running in association with Soundsnap. It was pretty open but had to be something quite techy, with lots of moving parts. Sometimes those jobs are the worst as there’s no rules or constraints to what you can come up with, but it came together pretty well in the end. It was a lot of fun as I was still trying out this CAD workflow and was the first Octane job to render on the new workstation.  Alot of the elements I’d quickly doodled out on some rough bits of paper before quickly building them up in Moi3D. It was also the first time I’d used the new Cinema 4D Take system on a job. Using it was a bit unnerving at first, as I decided to try set up each shot as a seperate take within 1 project file, but nothing broke that wasn’t my own fault, and it was a good learning experience. 

If you could only focus on one area of design/production, what would it be and why?

I enjoy being more
of a generalist

That’s a tough one, I really like modelling and building designs and shapes but I don’t think I’m good enough to do just that. I’d say maybe lighting which is what I mainly did in VFX. I enjoy setting up cameras, lights, shading and turning these elements into finished shots. But then I’d miss doing all the other bits. I have a short attention span and thats why I enjoy being more of a generalist — having a different challenge every day.

Could you share a specific technique that you use all the time in your work, that may save readers time too?

The Alt+G shortcut in Cinema 4D, especially with animation. I normally group models in Cinema 4D and animate those groups. Often you have to replace an object or Shift its position slightly and if you’ve animated the object itself it’s a big pain. But if you animate the Parent instead, then you can just replace or move the Child. Also when you’ve positioned an object in the correct place, freeze the transforms.  If you ever mess things up or need to get back to that place, you can just run Reset PSR and you’re back where you started. This stuff is vital when you do any rigging and you need to go back to a base pose or position.

Another one is assign a shortcut to the object manager’s Scroll To First Active command, makes finding things in hierarchies easier.  And while where talking about the object manager I usually set my interface preferences to ‘Insert And Paste New Objects to Next. When you add something to a scene it will appear in the Object Manager right below what you have selected, very useful in big scenes.

If there was one piece of advice you could give a beginner in this industry, what would it be?

Don’t be too precious about your work, especially if it holds you back from finishing things. I’ve found it’s better to finish things, learn from them and move on, rather than have a bunch of stuff that never gets seen because you’re not completely happy with it. The hardest bit for me always seems to be somewhere in the middle, I’m fine starting ideas but trying to turn that into a finished piece is still always a bit of challenge.

What’s one other thing readers may find interesting about you?

Before getting into 3D I had my heart set on a career as a musician. I played guitar, but had neither the talent nor a band so a pretty terrible idea really. I’ve been picking it up again recently though, so maybe its not completely out of the question!


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