Oddworld's Inhabitants: Matt Aldridge, CG Technical Director [Hosted by Oddworld.com] Date: 01/08/2001 Interviewer: Oddworld.com Interviewee: Matt Aldridge
You sometimes have to wonder where job titles come from. For example, 97% of those polled with the question “What do you reckon a Technical Director at Oddworld does for a living?” answered “Um. They, um, wait- they, like, direct the technical stuff, right? Like, you know, with the machines? Gimme that poster.” But no… this is not what they do. The title is the archetype for all manner of misinformation practices at Oddworld… Technical Directors are artists. They’re good artists. When you look at a CG movie or venue in Oddworld and do a double-take, you have them to thank for it. So let’s have a chat with TD Matt Aldridge, and once we’re done, be sure to say ‘Thank you!’.
Oddworld’s Inhabitants are as diverse as the world they’ve worked together to create. Here’s where you’ll find interviews and other informative articles spotlighting the many creative folk that work at Oddworld Inhabitants. Be they headline players or behind-the-scenes heroes, the Inhabitants profiled here all share Oddworld’s ceaseless dedication to bringing you the best worlds and games that you’ve ever experienced.
Matt Aldridge, CG Technical Director
At Oddworld, Technical Director means being a “Jack of all trades”. I’m always bouncing around wearing different hats each day, depending upon what needs to get done and what fires need to be squelched. Most of the time I can be found modeling characters and props, setting up character deformations, texturing, and animating. With so many varying tasks, it has been hard to get bored…well except for the one time I was modeling characters for six months straight.
Q: What’s your background (education, jobs)?
Matt Aldridge: I got into classical animation when I was in the 7th grade while attending extracurricular classes at the Northwest Film and Video Center in Portland, OR. I always loved animating but never really thought it could provide me with a living. One day in High School, some friends and I came across an Amiga computer that had gone unused. We started fumbling around with it and noticed a button that said “3D” on the screen which we clicked. Lightwave 3D version 3.0 popped up and from then on I was hooked. I went on to teach myself the application.
After graduation, while enrolled in the “Fine Arts Program” at Portland Community College, I got an internship with the largest teaching hospital in the state, Oregon Health Sciences University, in their design lab. This is where I first got my hands on Photoshop and learned a great deal about digitally manipulating photos. I worked on various projects, some very gruesome, such as graphic depiction’s on the affects of shrapnel on the human body. Over the next two years, while at P.C.C. and O.H.S.U., I produced a demo reel working on my home computer. This led to my acceptance in the Vancouver Film School’s 3D Animation & Digital Effects program.
After my training in the Great White North, I sent out my demo reel and resume to several companies at the top of my list. I got a call from Oddworld and flew down for an interview. I was offered the gig over a Guinness in a local pub and have been one of the crazed Inhabitants ever since.
Q: Who are your biggest influences? Why?
Matt Aldridge: My family. I’ve been fortunate to know what I wanted to do for a living since High School and have had my parents backing all the way. If it wasn’t for their support I wouldn’t be here today. This is quite a tough industry with many highs and lows. Your work is constantly being judged which can be very defeating. They always taught me to pick myself up when knocked down, try again, and never to let disappointments defeat me. CalArts didn’t accept my application for their 3D animation program and boy did that smart. Now look where I am…Go figure.
Q: What kind of a place is Oddworld?
Matt Aldridge: It’s a cool place to be as an artist. The walls are lined with drawings from past and future projects. I can always take a stroll down the hall and be inspired by what I see.
Q: Do you have any stories from the early days of Oddworld that you could share?
Matt Aldridge: One night I was playing pool with Sr. Animator, Scott Easley and was telling him how I first heard about Oddworld. My college friend Craig, who knew I was into Computer Graphics, called me and started yelling at me to turn on MTV. As the set warmed up I saw Abe for the first time. He was being dragged down a hallway by two Sligs. I joked about how cool it would be to someday work for a company like that. At times when I recall that moment I think about how ironic it is that I now work for Oddworld and am now a friend of Scott, the very guy who animated that shot.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
Matt Aldridge: 9:00 am – Drag myself into work and wipe sleep from my eyes.
9:05 am – Commence reading E-mail and my surfing the web morning ritual.
9:30 am – Select CD to listen to and boot up Maya.
9:55 am – Now bored with CD, switching over to MP3 collection.
12:00 pm – Fill self with sweet nourishment and tasty beverage.
1:00 pm – Back to work with intermittent office banter.
5:00 pm – Rounds start and pray for first pass sign off on day’s work.
7:00 pm – Dinner with the gang in the war room while watching “The Daily Show”.
10:00 pm – Out the door and headed home.
Q: What’s the Computer Graphics Dept. like?
Matt Aldridge: It’s a rectangular section of our large loft complete with a Nerf Hoop, Hockey net, a medicine ball that is 11-12 lbs., and two white boards full of silly drawings that the general public should never see. At one time we had a “Mr. T” version of the Almighty Raisin surrounded by Amish Glukkons. Oh yeah…it’s also got the greatest group of guys you could ever hope to work with.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Matt Aldridge: Just chill and relax, play tennis, or go out with friends to catch a new flick.
Q: How do you feel about the videogame industry?
Matt Aldridge: I’m all for it! Keep buying those games kids so I can continue to get paid for doing what I love.
Q: What’s your favorite video game?
Matt Aldridge: I’m a big fan of the Fallout series. Good wholesome violence was never so much fun.
Q: What do you like best about coming to work? What’s the worst part?
Matt Aldridge: Getting to work with such a diverse group of talented people and being able to learn something from each of them is the best part. The worst part is not having the time to go that extra mile on a shot. The public will never know that you had to abandon something and couldn’t make it 100%. But that’s just part of production…there’s never enough time.
Q: Where do you see Oddworld in ten years?
Matt Aldridge: Doing feature films and games while continuing to create some of the most original creatures and designs you’ve ever seen.
Q: If you could change jobs with one of the other Inhabitants who would it be and why?
Matt Aldridge: I’d fight Farzad…er, I’d switch with Farzad Varahramyan, our Sr. Production Designer. That way I could make them get rid of the speedo on the Interns and at least turn it into a thong. I spent a good 30 minutes making sure it’s buttocks were perfect and loaded with pimples. Now they went and covered it up with a speedo. That’s just not right!
Q: What is the longest “day” you’ve ever spent at Oddworld?
Matt Aldridge: I think I pulled a 32 hr day once during a deadline.
Q: What at Oddworld are you most proud of?
Matt Aldridge: I’m proud of the CG team and the quality of our work.
Q: Who is your favorite Oddworld character and why?
Matt Aldridge: I’m partial to the rat. I had a fun time modeling him and he’s just plain cool looking.