Featured Artist: Safari Sosebee
Wearing a safari hat to class can prove to be more transformational than you might expect. That’s all it took for Safari Sosebee to earn a new first name. This colorful CG artist has worked on some of the biggest movies in the business and he’s only just begun. We were able to talk with Safari and learn a little bit more about this eccentric genius. Digital-Tutors: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Could you start off with a little bit about yourself and some of the things you are currently working on?Safari: Personally I am working on a realistic version of a game character from the Super Nintendo game “Chrono Trigger.” Professionally I am doing town matte paintings for one movie, and figuring out how to do a tree in another; I'm not sure if I can spill the beans on the titles so I'll leave it at that.
Digital-Tutors: How did you decide to get into this industry? Safari: In high school I wanted to make video games---Grand Theft Auto being the main reason behind it. I found out about Full Sail, toured there and quickly became obsessed with it, and from 2005 to 2007 I had my eyes locked onto a computer screen. After graduating I wanted to take a month off from anything computers and just play as many games as I could. Later I received an email from Steve Akehurst (senior instructor for DRC class) for a labby position in the school. So I flew down to Florida and bombed the interview; luckily Steve had some faith in me and rang up Luma Pictures about me. Soon after they called me and I flew out that weekend and have been here ever since.
Digital-Tutors: What is one reason you love what you do?
Safari: I've always loved creating things from nothin'. I practiced every so often for a few years just on the side, when all of a sudden I was able to copy photos onto paper; and at the time it was only black and white by pencil and paper. Now I am able to create massive environments and complex characters to a level of quality and speed that I would never have achieved with traditional means.
Digital-Tutors: While working at Luma Pictures you’ve worked on some pretty big name movies. What is your favorite? Safari: You know, I’ve been saying that Thor or Underworld have been my favorites, but I find that Midnight Meat Train was really fun to work on. That was my first credit in anything, and I remember being such a rookie, making so many mistakes that I felt like I was going to be fired at any minute. I did an eyeball and a brain hole from the back of the head straight through the eye socket.... mmm so juicy.
Digital-Tutors: Which one was the most difficult and challenging for you? Safari: Definitely Underworld 4 was tough for me. I had never created a full creature before, let alone a bust, and on top of that was the pressure to get this thing right because this was going to be the main bad guy. I had to research quite extensively the anatomy of humans and dogs. Digital-Tutors: What gets you ‘in the zone’? Safari: Honestly, getting a little intoxicated gets my mind going. That and real nice, chill music.
Digital-Tutors: What are some trends that you see happening in the animation and design field? Is there any specific technology that you are excited about that will change the way you create? Safari: I am very excited about MARI. I got into it last year and now I'm pretty heavily into it. It’s a program that I've been waiting on for a while. To make texturing a breeze like modeling quickens the process 10 fold, and now with all this HDRI projection stuff that Scott Metzger has been showing off, CG is getting a lot more realistic a lot quicker.
Digital-Tutors: What advice can you give to people wanting to gain some of the success you have gotten in the industry? Safari: Get on top of it and stay on top of it! Dedication shows through how well you present your work and companies really respond to that. Your work definitely has to stand out, keeping away from the common human bust is a plus. Try to dirty them up a bit, give them crazy features or make your characters have an expression that isn't seen very often.
Digital-Tutors: In what ways has Digital-Tutors affected your career? Safari: It has actually given me confidence in my work. I'm more motivated now than ever before because doing those tutorials has shown me that I sort of have a style of working and if I continue at it then I'll just get faster and better. Digital-Tutors: What’s next? Safari: I'm preparing a new demo reel that will hopefully blow some socks off which is a lot of my personal work mixed with some Luma work.
Digital-Tutors: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Any last things you would like to share with the world before we leave?
Safari: Just keep your goals high, but realistic. I use to be frustrated at my progress; now I have re-evaluated what I am striving for and I've never been happier.
To stay up-to-date with Safari, visit his website and don’t forget to watch his tutorials: Character Creation Pipeline in Maya and ZBrush and Toon Image Creation in Maya and ZBrush
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