MEET BERNHARD KIMBACHER
Bernhard Kimbacher joined Image Engine in 2007 after completing his education in 3D Animation and Visual Effects at Vancouver Film School. Since joining the company his credits have included: The Incredible Hulk, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Watchmen, District 9 and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse; and he currently plays a vital role in the compositing team for Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s The Thing.
You've been at Image Engine since 2007, can you tell us a bit about your experience of working here?
When I started at Image Engine in 2007 it was a small studio with maybe 30 workstations. It was really exciting to see Image Engine grow from a small studio, which worked mainly on TV-shows to the size it's now, attracting big blockbuster movies.
You were initially hired at Image Engine in a Previs Artist capacity and you've gone on to accomplish a really broad cross-section of work. Can you describe how that has come about?
I was hired pretty much straight out of Vancouver Film School, and although Previs wasn't my first preference,
I did like the feel of the studio so I accepted anyways. From there on I was pushing towards the 2D-department, with brief stops in animation, assets and camera tracking. Looking back I’m glad I got a small taste of everything.
Can you explain how you started out in the industry – what is your background?
At the University of Vienna I was actually studying medical computer science. Back then 3D was more of a hobby to me, which I wasn't really considering as a career path. After getting involved in some no-budget short movie projects that were in need of some minor 3D, this slowly started to change until I quit my studies to fully focus on 3D. A year after that, my focus started to shift more and more to the compositing side of things.
Compositing has come a long way since you joined Image Engine - what are you excited about in terms of what compositing is capable of these days?
Not only has compositing in general come a long way, but also the Pipeline here at Image Engine has evolved drastically. We are now able address many issues in compositing that usually needed to go back to 3D. In turn that allows for much more artistic freedom as you're not held back by time constraints too much. We are also able to turn around many different variation of any given asset in a small time frame, which allows us or/and the client to quickly narrow down the options and spend time refining the chosen variation rather than trying to figure out which way to go.
What work you are most proud of that you've completed at Image Engine?
I would have to say that District 9 is definitely the work I’m most proud of. First of all I had the chance to go on set in South Africa, which gave me a whole new perspective on the production process. And secondly it was very exciting in terms of compositing as it was the first project we had at Image Engine that really pushed our compositing pipeline to the limit. After such a challenging production it was good to see how well the movie was received by the public.
For "District 9" you were asked to fulfill the role of On-Set VFX Data Coordinator. When we sent you off to Jo’burg we weren't sure that we weren't sending you off to a certain death - can you describe what it was like to be running around Soweto with Neill and his crazy band of pseudo documentary filmmakers?
It was definitely a very unique experience. Not only was it the first time for me to be on set for a bigger production, but also the circumstances were everything but normal. A lot of the shots very highly improvised which demanded a high level of flexibility from our side. New ideas came up constantly which at times completely put our VFX approach upside down. And all of this set in one of the poorest townships in South Africa made it a truly unique and also eye-opening experience.
Looking into the future a little bit, what would you say excites you most creatively or technically that's on the horizon in film compositing?
I guess the most exciting development in compositing both technically and creatively is the merging of lighting and compositing. With the 3D toolset in compositing getting more and more powerful, we can already 'relight' renders in compositing without the need of going back to 3D; with some limitations of course. I think the two disciplines will eventually merge completely and demand much more creativity from each individual artist and also give much more artistic freedom, as you will truly be able to change the whole lighting setup on the fly.
And lastly… how has working in Vancouver been for you? How does it differ from working elsewhere in your experience?
I think Vancouver is a great place to live and work. British Columbia is such a beautiful place, which has so many outdoor activities to offer. And especially if you basically sit in front of a computer all day long, this is a very welcomed change of pace. The city itself has much of what bigger cities like Los Angeles or London have to offer, minus the constant stress.