I had the complete honor to work on a ton of 3d animations (or cgi as some call it) for the latest Machine Head music video called ‘no gods no masters’ from the new album ‘Of kingdom and Crown’. Robb Flynn, the man the legend reached out to me via Dm’s on Instagram after seeing my style of art and asked if I would be interested in working on the video and also coming up with some ideas for the cgi . Of course this was an instant YES from me as I could see it was a perfect fit and indeed they are a huge band.
I got to listen to the track No Gods No masters ‘pre-release’ and knew straight away that this was something incredible. The lyrics were dark with a story I instantly understood. The whole concept album isn’t about Robb’s perspective on religion, instead it is written about two fictional characters and is set in a dystopian future. My role in this was to interpret the lyrics and create both ideas and animated art. I set to work with the director and editor Mike Sloat who also directed and edited My hands are empty, choke on the ashes of your hate, unhallowed and of course ‘No gods No masters’ from the album. We had little time on this project partly because I was away for a week of it and partly because I was finishing off another project. That said the start date outside of this still only gave us an initial 2 weeks which was then extended to incorporate more of the initial animations I had shown simply because they wanted more.
I thrashed out some early concept drawings which were very rough and came up with a narrative that could be spliced in to the edit. Mike was shooting extra footage outside of what was supplied by the incredible Grupa 13 and I was animating away and constantly supplying Mike with shots so that he could build the edit. It was an organic, time critical workflow, one of which I am used to from many years in the 3d and vfx industry and dealing with lots of clients. I just worked late into the early hours for many nights. I wanted to get as much of the track animated as possible and in the end actually could ‘almost’ fill the timeline of the track but of course Mike needed to cut this down, use the best bits and re arrange the whole edit into something that told a story, showed off the band and bring out some atmosphere from the gritty and heavy soundtrack.
Here is a statement from Robb Flynn which I know he wont mind me sharing after he had seen the final video.
Really good job man, totally appreciate your input in all this. You busted your ass and it really shows. Thanks so much for giving us a truly unique an amazing video”
Closing thoughts. I loved working on this and I want to be involved in this world allot more! it was refreshing to be seen as the artist that I want to be seen as and valued for it. I’m not stuck in this style though, but I do like to experiment and explore new and unseen ways of delivering unique content. It’s an odd feeling when a project like this is complete. As I write this a million people have watched this video on YouTube. It’s kind of like finishing working on an aircraft and then watching it take off and hearing of the places it has visited, you know you were part of it, had a hand in it but will anyone else even think about what went into it. Here’s to much more success for this incredible band.
My name is Phil Radford aka MayaGuy a 3d artist using technical vfx techniques to explore the human condition. Dark, dramatic and gritty I draw from past experiences and the way I see the world around me. With a keen eye for lighting and photographic techniques I try to bring a sense of realism and dynamism to every piece I create. Making the viewer slightly uncomfortable while visually adding a sense of emotion to my pieces I combine this with detail and abstract forms. Creating complexity while maintaining composition. MayaGuy art works are currently for sale on the curated platform ‘SuperRare’.
I started out life in a dead-end non creative career having struggled in school and finding only art lessons to be of some interest I found myself in the family business working in a non creative factory environment for many years until I had a breakdown. This actually turned out to be a good thing as I had to find the root of my problems. I turned all of this around in 2001, selling our apartment and putting myself through 3d and visual fx intensive training learning Autodesk Maya from artists and teachers having worked in film studios such as MPC, DNEG, MILL and Framestore at Londond’s prestige 3d and vfx school Escape Studios.
From here I went on to work in computer games working on the AAA title of the time Atari’s ‘Tycoon City New York’.
After a successful interview at BBC I moved in to the world of television creating title sequences for multiple tv shows including the famous BBC News title sequence among many other shows.
The next natural step was to progress into the freelance world where I have since created multiple tv commercials, music videos and corporate ads for the likes of Google, Virgin Atlantic, Autodesk, Sapporo, Honda, Volvo, Boux Avenue, BBC, Channel 4, Virgin media, UKTV, RedBee, Top Gear, and many more. Too many to list here.
Life has it’s gritty and dramatic ups and downs. The experience of life for one is light years away for another. From my humble perspective it’s an abstract playground of characters and emotions, bound by the rules of a simulation which complicated and dramatic with a narrative of fear, love and loss. I’m in love with complexity that I bring together to assemble forms. I could of course create my work straight up, model realistic individuals and scenes but that doesn’t bring me any joy and it’s not as interesting to look at. Life is complex, the mind is complex, the universe is complex.
The natural world around me blows my mind. I spend time walking with my dog in the countryside fascinated by nature and geography. Lighting is extremely important in my work which I like to keep simple but akin to photography which is an art in itself within 3d. I like to think of my work as classic, able to stand the test of time. Film has been a big part of my life and I find myself working out camera angles and shot decisions while marveling at the incredible ideas dop’s and directors choose to use for a given shot.
A combination of Maya and Bifrost are used in all pieces of art I create. Bifrost is a node based visual programming piece of software which I picked up very early on in the BETA stages and tried to learn with little by way of tutorials or any kind of instruction. While learning I also uploaded my ideas and processes to YouTube and ended up working with Autodesk both as a BETA tester and as the fx artist on an in house project. Bifrost is a rabbit whole of ideas. I can spend days just playing with new ways of creating complex forms and simulations. I combine 3d modelling in Maya, procedural elements and simulations in Bifrost with lighting in Arnold and a large amount of time compositing to bring together my pieces. I spend hours making sure I have the right kind of atmosphere and composition.
Having worked with some of the biggest brands and agencies on the planet and having been sponsored by the very people that created ‘Maya’ I can honestly say that my greatest achievement was fighting mental health issues back in the day, re ordering my mind and completely changing my life into something else. Facing the void is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy and as such I’m an advocate for mental health awareness and speaking openly about it.
To never stop learning, never be afraid to try something new. To slowly move away from the client work that kept me up until 3am on many occasions. To move into an area where I can hopefully inspire and be inspired. To teach, to dig deeper into my art. Improve my craft, perhaps create some short films, collaborate.
I have had the pleasure to work with and speak with some celebrities lately which has been a profound experience.