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December 22, 2022

What happens to editors in the Metaverse? (w/ Ignace Aleya)

Blog, Famous Editors

Sara Gerbereux

Sara Gerbereux

December 22, 2022
As the Metaverse continues to develop, Ignace shares with us his advice on what tools and techniques VFX artists should learn to better their skills, how his academy will live in the Metaverse, and what opportunities artists can find within the Metaverse that take advantage of AR technology.
IGNACE ALEYA:

DOING BUSINESS IN THE METAVERSE

Ignace Aleya is a VFX artist, entrepreneur, and popular YouTuber with over 450k subscribers and 50 million views. With his childhood best friend Arnaud Melis, Ignace has co-founded three businesses: the online library Creator Galaxy, the cutting-edge post-production studio Illusion Grid, and the online school Epic VFX Academy. In this episode, we explore how Ignace combined his love of filmmaking with Arnaud’s passion for business management to develop three incredibly successful businesses while also growing his YouTube channel.

A few years after Ignace and Arnaud first met in school, the two friends were already discussing launching and growing a business together. Although their paths briefly diverged when they both pursued their respective career paths in college, Ignace later contacted Arnaud about building a company together, and Tolerated Cinematic was born.

Together with our knowledge, we could actually build something amazing. We were also people that could trust each other and rely on each other and that’s also really important – when you have that same drive.

Ignace Aleya, Co-founder of Creator Galaxy, Illusion Grid, and Epic VFX Academy.

After further refining the direction of their business, the co-founders divided Tolerated Cinematics into the three companies we see today. Ignace outlines the purposes and objectives for each company and explains how he transformed his once personal YouTube channel into a business channel to promote his business and teach viewers VFX.

Just two years after the launch of Epic VFX Academy, Ignace breaks down what inspired him to develop his courses, what it’s like for a student to enroll his program, and how he’s built a community for VFX artists from around the world.

I thought there was a need for a better platform where you really take the education seriously and take them through [each course] step-by-step and value each student for who they are.

Ignace Aleya, Co-founder of Creator Galaxy, Illusion Grid, and Epic VFX Academy.

  • Don’t be afraid to set limits for yourself so that you can better manage your ongoing projects. Don’t try to work on too much at one time, otherwise, you’ll become overwhelmed with the workload.

  • Try to find a balance between working on passion projects and doing client work.

  • Experiment with as many tools as you can. Still learn one tool that you really like working with the best, but also familiarize yourself with the other programs so that you can work across various software.

  • Internships, even those that are unpaid, are a great way to jump-start your career and learn from a highly successful team of professionals. Don’t be afraid to share your own ideas and suggestions as an intern.

  • Build up a portfolio and share them with your friends and family. Try to talk about your work and show people what you’re capable of that you don’t talk about aloud.

  • Familiarize yourself with the Metaverse and editing 360-degree videos.
EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

OUR INTERVIEW WITH IGNACE

Nick Lange

Hey, everybody, welcome back to the podcast. I’m here today with Ignace Aleya, co-founder of a very popular YouTube channel, focused on teaching amazing visual effects techniques; co-founder of illusiongrid, CreatorGalaxy, and Epic VFX Academy. And the first thing I’d love to ask you, Ignace, is how you got your start? How you met or know Arnaud, and have come to where you are today?

Ignace Aleya

Yeah, for sure. Thanks for having me, by the way. So, yeah, I started all these things together with my business partner in crime, Arnaud Melis, and he’s actually been a friend for – of mine for a very long time – a little bit over 15 years now. We actually met in school when we were like 12 years old, something like that. We weren’t the best friends right away, but we did play a game that we were pretty fanatic with. And if you look around – like, everyone was playing that game called Runescape, back in the time, but we were pretty serious with it. We want it to be the best and have the best gear, the best levels, and you already saw some kind of entrepreneurship in us within the game. We also build a clan and have all these people surrounded around us, and like bringing everyone together, essentially. So, if you look back at it, it was just a lot of fun; but if you look at it now, you already see some sort of entrepreneurship forming there. Anyway, we got to play a lot together, and we became better friends because of that. Obviously, in real life, we also started meeting more and more, and always the conversation of having a – or building a business would come up. Not necessarily together – I wanted to have, like, a film industry, and do something with a film community; and he just wanted to build a business and scale it, and just do the entrepreneurship – entrepreneurial part of it, not necessarily knowing in what direction. So, as we grew older – we’re talking 19-years-old – I pursued my path as a graphic, or as a multimedia designer or artist. Did a little bit of web design, Photoshop, yeah – 3D visualizations and film, and of course, the visual effects part; and he went to another route, which is a business management accountancy and stuff like that – everything that you need in order to run a business. And then, when we got older, we actually formed our companies together. I asked, actually – I reached out to him to build a company together, because together, with our knowledge, we could actually build something amazing. We were also people that could trust each other and rely on each other, and that’s also really important when you have that same drive. 

Nick Lange

Yeah, and so you made that first video in 2008 about –

Ignace Aleya

Yeah. Yeah, so, back then, it was just a channel that was – it was my channel; Arnaud had nothing to do with it back then. So, I just did it for pleasure, after my school hours, just sharing the information, but that turned into a business channel later on.

Nick Lange

And what has – tell me about illusiongrid. That’s your client-focused agency. What types of projects do you take on, and how do you manage the agents? 

Ignace Aleya

Okay. Well, to be honest, illusiongrid is fairly new, in name of like, just the production company itself, illusion grid. We’ve just built it like three months ago, but we’ve actually been doing it for six or seven years already, under another name called Tolerated – Tolerated Cinematics. Tolerated was our name now for doing productions for companies such as commercial videos, music videos, and also visual effects for feature films and stuff like that. We just decided to form everything in a – well, we just decided to have a little bit more clarity in what we do, but – because before, we just did everything a little bit all together, and now we had a little bit more sight over everything. So, we started CreatorGalaxy, illusiongrid, and Epic VFX Academy just to differentiate everything a little bit. And illusiongrid is primarily focused on doing all the post-production for companies. So, it really varies a lot in what type of projects we do. It could be commercial videos, where we do the visual effects for; it could also be music videos that we edit and we’re going to do the filming and stuff; or promotional videos for events and stuff like that. Currently, what we do most – and that’s post-Corona time or Covid time – is a lot of projects that are already filmed overseas, and they’re just looking for people to do the post-production. So, that’s color grading and visual effects most of the time. And so they send over the images or the videos – already edited together – and then we will do our magic to them to spice it up a little bit. So, that’s what we do at illusiongrid.

Nick Lange

That’s great. And so, how do you find the – find and manage the artists to do the work? How much of the work do you do yourself versus…

Ignace Aleya

Yeah, so for most of the projects, because we don’t accept any type of projects, we start at a certain budget just because we focus on other things, and we want to build illusion right over time. I currently do a lot of the projects myself, and I just need – I ask help around on those projects when needed. But most of them are completely managed by myself. 

Nick Lange

And so, how do you feel about client work in general? What is it that you appreciate about client work versus your own passion projects? And where do you find fulfillment in the client work?

Ignace Aleya

Yeah, exactly. That’s a great question, actually, because in my opinion, I think, at this moment, I have a perfect balance between the two. I get to do my passion projects, and I get to do the client work. A lot of people hate client work, and I honestly love it sometimes, for two reasons. One, you still get to hear what’s trending in the industry, or you’re just like doing something that you don’t necessarily want to do, but always you’ll learn a thing or two. And it just keeps you in the loop of the business and all the – yeah, the updates. You just stay in the business, and that’s, yeah, that’s that. But, yeah, it really depends on the client. You have clients that ask you, or that just understand you as an artist, and that gives you a lot of freedom, and they just give you some kind of direction that they want to go at, and those projects tend to be amazing. On other cases, you have projects that you really have to follow the client and create something that you’re not completely satisfied with, yet it pays the bills. But yeah, just having the balance between the two, I think for me, I can accept those downsides from it because I don’t have to do it so often. And at some times, yeah – at times, it just makes me happy that I get to do those things just to say in the loop, like I said.

Nick Lange

Yeah, I – that’s great. When you were building the channel early on, and developing these ideas for the business lines you’re going to run, at what point did CreatorGalaxy come to be? And how soon did it generate enough income that could be your primary source of income?

Ignace Aleya

So, CreatorGalaxy has actually been in my head since day one, to be honest. And the idea there was just to build a website, which is a community for filmmakers to come together, and to create – or well to learn together, and to find everything that they need in an easier and faster manner. So, just a platform where you can find tools for your needs, education for your needs, and basically anything that you need to create epic videos. That was the original idea. It was built out as Tolerated Cinematics, where we’ve been selling templates and motion graphics for videos, and that’s something that we’ve then turned into creatorgalaxy.com, and still kept doing the templates and stuff, and started adding some visual effects and presets. Now, the thing is that we’re currently redoing the whole thing, because after all these years, we’ve realized a lot and our focus has been more and more towards the visual effects aspects of things. And we’re going to rebrand that entire website to something that is more interesting to our audience and just yet, more appealing and a lot more interesting. And we just want to create the best platform out there for filmmakers. And so that’s something that we’re currently doing. It’s going to be completely revamped, but I can’t talk too much about it yet as we don’t have anything – well, we don’t have much to talk about at this moment. But, it’s not our main stream of income; our main stream of income is currently the YouTube channel and the projects, and CreatorGalaxy is more of something that we’re trying to, yeah, create an impact in the industry, but that takes time and investments of ourselves.

Nick Lange

Is the revenue from the channel coming primarily from sponsors? So, you integrate your sponsors really nicely in your videos – and how do you interact with them? So, when you’re coming up with an idea for a video, will you say, oh, you know, who’d be really good? Like, you know, your website sponsor. Oh, I can talk about how – yeah, how does that work? How do you – at what point, do you involve them and pitch them on the video you’re working on?

Ignace Aleya

In cases, it’s exactly how you say that. I have a particular idea, and then I would say, oh, this sponsor would be great for it – it would be a perfect fit, so let’s reach out to them. Other times, we would have sponsors reaching out to us, and we would be selective in which sponsors we work with and which we don’t. We have plenty of sponsors that we obviously just ignore or just pass on – let’s say it like that – because you have so many absurd offers, and we don’t want to become a sellout channel. But a lot of sponsors are also very interesting and actually benefit our audience, because they can actually use it to improve or – yeah, just improve their work or make faster results, or things like that. So, usually, we work together with sponsors that we think are a perfect fit for our audience – and we don’t want to become a sellout. So, we try to keep the same sponsors in the circle that we enjoy working with.

Nick Lange

What kind of absurd offers have you gotten over the years?

Ignace Aleya

We’ve also had offers to promote casino or like gambling stuff, but like, yeah, also scammy-type of websites that offer insane amounts of money. But yeah, you’re obviously scamming your audience, so. Yeah, not a great idea, I think.

Nick Lange

Okay. And then, I’d love to hear about Epic VFX Academy.

Ignace Aleya

Okay. So, the Epic VFX Academy has launched for the first time two years ago, and we’ve actually started this as a – well, we wanted to build this into the Epic VFX Academy it is today, but back then it was a course that was more of a master class together with me. We wanted to build basically the best education platform, where you can learn filmmaking from A to Z. And also, where you know – where to – what structure to follow, and when you get stuck, where do you get to ask your questions. And if you’re really, really stuck, you can actually get to talk with me on a Zoom call together with other people, and also join in a community server where all the students that are – have already taken the classes are also very active, and you can also ask your questions there. So, that’s something that we wanted to build, and we wanted to still have enough time to focus on CreateorGalaxy and the YouTube channel. And also, everyone who joined the class, we wanted to have a great experience. So, what we have decided to do is to open our doors for a limited amount of time, allow a selective amount of people to join in, and then close for a few months – few months straight, just to focus on the people that got in and make sure that they get through to class, get the Zoom calls, and get the follow-up in the Discord channel, and stuff like that. And it’s been amazing so far, because what you tend to see a lot online is you can buy a course – people buy the course, either they get stuck, either they get bored, either they just don’t open it at all or, yeah, they don’t know where to start, or it’s a course in a very specific niche of a topic that you want to learn, but you don’t really know if that’s the topic that you should learn first, or do you want to learn something else first. So, yeah, that’s something that bothered me, always. I started with nothing – back in a time, you didn’t even have that; you had YouTube tutorials at times, and for the rest, you had to figure it out on your own. Thank god Andrew Kramer was around back then, for sure. I have checked all his tutorials. But yeah, so, I thought there was a need for a better platform where you really take the education serious, and take them through them step-by-step and value each student, yeah, for who they are. So, that way – and so that’s what we have done until now, three times. We have opened the doors three times, and each time the class got bigger, better. And currently, we’ve turned, indeed, into the Epic VFX Academy, where we currently count over 250 students and that’s all so we’re just being open three times. Yeah.

Nick Lange

And so what is their experience like? It’s a 30 day course. Are they –

Ignace Aleya

No. It’s a lifetime access – lifetime updates course. So, that’s also the fun part, once you buy in. Obviously, if you joined the course, you get a limited amount of life Zoom calls, like a month or three months – depends on how many Zoom calls we do and how many – in what consistency. But apart from that, you get access to the course for all ways. You can – you also get access to the Discord server, where you can discuss with anyone, literally. So, I think that’s the best part: that you are not obliged to do it within three months. Some people buy it now and they only get the time to look at it in the next three months. So, everyone is at its own – at its own pace. Some people even did it in a week time, but yeah, they literally did it from morning till evening, and they booked amazing results. Also, the ages in the class are very, very different; we’re talking 12-years-olds and retired people from 75. So, it’s a huge variety.

Nick Lange

That’s awesome. And so, as they go, they perform exercises? They apply the skills that they’re learning?

Ignace Aleya

Yeah, exactly. So, they get through a course – starting from zero – and they work their way through. You get exercises – and everything is also in a logic order for what you need to learn first – and you just focus on those parts, and maybe you will need a year to really get up to the level that you want to be. But in just one month time, you will increase your skills tremendously. But, obviously, it always takes time and you have to continue learning – and that’s also the thing: you stick with that community, with all these people interested in the same topic. So, they – what I also see is our students even collaborated on creating short films together, and they are from all around the world. For example, one guy is – he actually does live concerts. He’s from the UK. He has a guitar with like 24 snares on it; he built it himself – crazy guy. Amazing music, and he actually wrote a song for a short film that somebody wrote. And then another guy was a project supervisor, brought everyone together, asked what they needed to do. You need to do 3D. You do animation. You do the rendering. You do the lighting. And in the end, they had a short film – created all by students from the Epic VFX Academy – which is really amazing. It really brings people together from all around the world.

Nick Lange

That’s awesome. Do all of these – if we call them cohorts, each new group of students that they started the same time, do they join? Is that right? Do they join their own Discord?

Ignace Aleya

No. So, the first time we opened, we had students that entered; and the second time that we opened, they also joined the other students, but they get their own room that they also can talk in. But everyone can communicate with everyone. So, you can talk with someone who joined three years ago, for example, and you just got in. So, that’s also the fun thing, because usually the people that are in there for quite a while, they will tend to help the newcomers. And, yeah, that’s why we decided to bring everyone together instead of having classes and rooms for those things. But, like, the Zoom calls are then for those people that are just new. But, until now, as long as the Zoom call doesn’t get cluttered with too many students, we also allow older students to join in to say, Hi, or talk about what they’re working on to inspire the new students, or also to ask their questions, because questions keep comments, you know?

Nick Lange

And you’re on those Zoom calls? 

Ignace Aleya

Yes. 

Nick Lange

Oh, that’s great. What have you found is the point where it becomes too cluttered? How many students – or how many people can be on these calls without it becoming chaos?

Ignace Aleya

I think no more than – it really depends, because the more students you have, you will just start changing your tactic a little bit in your Zoom call. Like, currently, there’s a lot of freedom but obviously, if you have better preparation and stuff like that, I think 25 would be a maximum amount of students that I would like to have in one Zoom call – and even that it’s already a lot. So, I’m not sure if I would do that. It depends the planning and how we would do that currently. The maximum that we have is like 15, something like that.

Nick Lange

And you’ll choose a topic to discuss, or is it more of a AMA and people will just come to you with questions?

Ignace Aleya

It depends at times. When there is an update on software, or I heard a question from a student that I think will come back more than once, I cover a few things in the beginning of the call. Then, I would go over everyone. In the beginning, if it’s their first time, obviously a nice introduction so everyone knows who is who. And then, where they are at in the class, if they have any questions, if they are working on a project on their own, if they have any questions with that. And then they get to talk on their projects and what they could potentially use help with. I think the most value – the most value in the Zoom calls is not necessarily the questions. Although most people use it for any questions, you have the Discord channel for further questions. The Zoom call – in my opinion – should be used for feedback on your work, because that’s something that you don’t get from anyone. You do show your work to a professional who has built the eye over 10 years to know what is good, what isn’t; and to then tell if you change that, if you change that, if you change that, then your job or your project or your video will be amazing. I think that’s the most value in the Zoom calls. That’s how I see it.

Nick Lange

So, you’ll review their work during that call? Right of the call? And –

Ignace Aleya

Yeah.

Nick Lange

Oh, that’s awesome. That’s so valuable. Part of the reason why learning VFX skills, like the ones you’re teaching on your channel and in this academy, are so important is because we’re moving so rapidly toward a world that is entirely virtual; and you made a great video about building the metaverse, where you use Unreal and Cinema 4D to, you know, create an incredible environment. Where are we going? Where is VFX – let’s see – let me rephrase that. How central do you think VFX and the ability to use tools like Unreal and Cinema 4D are going to be as we build an entire new world around us?

Ignace Aleya

All I can say is that visual effects, as an industry, is more trending than ever before, that’s for sure. Like, the skills that you acquire as a visual effects artist are going to be needed so much more overtime. So, it’s definitely not a wrong career path, if you ask me. It does scare me a little bit where we are going, because the metaverse is really – in my opinion – going to take over a lot, because it’s more efficient in a lot of ways. If, for example, our academy, we wanted to have all these students from all around the world – and I’m literally speaking all around the world. We have students in India. We have students in the UK. In Vienna. The U.S. So, try to bring those people all together, then you only have one option and that’s kind of the metaverse, so. And also it’s a cheap alternative, and they wouldn’t need to travel; they can just sit in their office and interact with all these students all around the world, which is pretty insane, if you ask me. That’s the positive aspect of the whole thing. Obviously, this goes wrong when you’re neighbors, and you’re starting to do the same thing all the time, because there is also a real life to be lived for sure.

Nick Lange

What was that experience of – well, let me rephrase that. You went from coding originally to editing and visual effects. What is the – what is the intersection of coding and VFX going to look like as we design interactive worlds?

Ignace Aleya

So, yeah, it’s going to be in sync, I think, because you will have the coders that are going to work simultaneously with the designers – and that’s how I see it. So, the visual effects artists will be the designers unless they have coding skills to create their worlds; and essentially, what they’re going to do is create games. But the games aren’t going to be games; they’re going to be recreations of life. And so, just more interactive experiences in a digital world, where the visual effects artists will be designing all the stuff; coders will be putting everything together; and – well, it’s not necessarily so much coding anymore, also; you have a lot of scripting and a lot of node-based stuff connecting. If you look at Unreal Engine, it’s already optimized in a lot of ways that coding isn’t always necessary. But yeah, you still need a specialist in that sort of thing.

Nick Lange

What visual effects skills – what VFX abilities that you teach do you think are going to be most relevant working for companies trying to build spaces in the metaverse?

Ignace Aleya

A lot of techniques will be very useful. The most important one, or the one that we can think of is 3D modeling will be a very important role. I’ve actually been in a conference call regarding the metaverse –  I can’t say the client, but it was a very big client – and they were saying, like, one of the biggest things that they will need in the future is assets for the metaverse. So, they have an entire world – all they need now is all the objects. Like, you build the cathedrals and all these buildings, and like traffic stops and stuff like that. All these elements; they need to be there – they need to be created. And obviously, you can already find a lot of elements online, but they have to be the right elements for the right platform – stuff like that. And you always need variation and literally, there is no limit here; you can create anything. So, modeling and building assets for the metaverse is going to be a very important role, and that’s something that you’ll learn in the class because we teach modeling as well – because that’s apart from the VFX experience. Also, texturing, lighting your environment, creating a beautiful environment that has a beautiful sunset – you’re literally creating a reality that is completely how you want it. So, you can design it how you want, and then that’s exactly what visual effects artists does. So, you already created the eye of – yeah, what makes something look good? What makes something blend together, composition wise? And things like that are all skills that you build as a visual effects artist – that you can just implement immediately into the metaverse. It’s not necessarily what tools you know and what things you learn; it’s also how you understand the industry and how you understand visual things, because if I – if I walk in a house, I usually also see better, what looks better, or what looks worse. Like if you would paint this wall in that color, and you would place that there over there, I could become essentially an in-house or in-house architect; and to give some style advice, because you just build an eye on what looks good, you know? If that makes sense.

Nick Lange

Yeah, absolutely. What you just said, it’s a lot more than just the tools you’re using. But, to stay on that point for a moment, what are the modeling tools people model – modeling, texturing, lighting tools people should be familiarizing themselves with – mastering right now to be prepared for this?

Ignace Aleya

So, yeah, I’ve actually recently created a video, saying that you should always experiment with as much tools as you can, if you have the time to do it. Obviously, learn one tool that you really enjoy working with the best you can, and for me, that’s After Effects and Cinema 4D. But yeah, Blender is great; Maya is great; and they all have there – and so many others: Houdini and like, I can keep going. Unreal Engine is going to be a very important; Unity is also going to be important; and you also have NVIDIA World Crea – no, NVIDIA Creator, which actually renders amazing results in real time. Better than Unreal if I’m correct. But, they all work together, these tools; they’re not like competitors from each other. They all have a skill or thing that they are best at, and what artists are doing is bringing all these tools together, or all these artists that work in these different tools and bringing those things together. For example, you would go and model something in Cinema 4D. Then, bring it into Unreal Engine to create your world and your environment. If you want to go for the metaverse, you keep it in Unreal. If you want to render photoreal, maybe you will bring it into NVIDIA creator and then texture over there to make it photoreal. So, yeah, it can take a lot of steps, but you can also do everything that I just mentioned into – in Cinema 4D, and just render it out over there. So, it really depends on the project and what you’re trying to do.

Nick Lange

You been talking to clients about metaverse – about their aspirations. How are – what are some interesting examples of ways you think companies, who we might not associate with Metaverse today, are going to be investing in that?

Ignace Aleya

In my opinion, every single company can benefit from the metaverse. So, it’s hard to give you an example. But obviously, with COVID, you’ve seen like a lot of artists struggle. So, I imagine that a lot of artists are going to put on my mocap suit that is in the other room, and they’re going to make a nice dance, record their song, and then we’re going to put that on a digital character that looks a little bit like them but even cooler, you know? And now we’re going to put him on a digital stage, where we can literally make him float in space and have floating whales flying over the concert; and you can just make visually stunning experiences with the artist there, live performing, but in a digital outfit; and you would actually go ahead and buy tickets with an NFT, for example, to get it and then you would have your spot reserved to experience the live metaverse of that artist. That’s one way to look at it. Academy wise, my school could also be in the metaverse. So, yeah.

Nick Lange

Oh, I love that. For the stage example, we’ll need VFX artists to create that stage – that environment that people are –

Ignace Aleya

Exactly, and the fireworks are going to be shot in the air is all visual effects. So, yeah. 

Nick Lange

And even the outfits that they’re wearing. Okay, let’s talk about education. How can your academy live in the metaverse? What experience – how can that experience differ from the current online video learning?

Ignace Aleya

Well, for the – for the most important part is that you actually bring people live together to interact with each other. So, you actually can communicate with each other. You see someone you’re communicating with and that just would make things more interactive when you have questions, or when you want to show something. Imagine that you’re literally in a city that you enter in a virtual world, and you sit on a class – well, in the classroom – with your laptop in front of you, but it’s – and you would actually look over there, and you see your buddy from the other side of the world. For example, in our class, we actually have two people that get along very good. They’re not too far from each other; one is from Vienna, and the other is from France. But still, you can’t go over and have a – grab a beer together, even though they would love too. But they’re continuously working together. What if you could actually look at a digital representation of him and work on the projects together – on a laptop – in the digital world? I know it sounds crazy, but probably that’s something that’s going to happen. Then, we can move into the cinema room in our metaverse academy, and then look at all the projects from our students on the big screen and review them that way all in a cozy seat.

Nick Lange

How far are we from that? So, right now, Rift 2 is sort of the most popular, and maybe one of the best experiences. I think HTC is updating the VIVE soon, which will be really exciting, and Sony’s coming out with a new PSVR. How soon until – and then maybe Apple will finally release those AR glasses in the coming year. How soon are we from mass adoption, where we are actually it’s common to go into Epic VFX Academy and watch something in VR?

Ignace Aleya

It can go so, so fast. If I look in the COVID time, it went so fast; everything digitalized immediately. Like, in my country, you still had to go with papers to particular spots, or you had to be on a – on a – on a meeting physically or otherwise, it wouldn’t count; and all of a sudden, that changed like in a month – months time. You could have done anything digitally; every call that I’ve done with the bank or whatever, it’s been on Zoom – and they’re literally across the street. So, it’s evolving in – yeah, it’s evolving very quickly at the moment. So, yeah, in my opinion, the technology for the metaverse is already ready. We’re there already. It’s just that people aren’t ready for this yet, but you already have a lot of people that are already living in it. I have some friends that are already living in a metaverse from morning till evening, essentially,

Nick Lange

What is that like? What are they doing?

Ignace Aleya

I have no idea. I asked them the same thing. It’s not something that I’m waiting for to spend my days in the metaverse. But, like, for things that are logic, to join the metaverse, to go and yeah – to join an event, or to do it as like an extra on top of my life, for sure. That’s something that I would really see a benefit for. 

So, how far are we for mass adoption? Maybe another five years.

Nick Lange

Okay. Okay. So, if you were – let’s say you’re just coming out of school, and you are set on becoming a visual effects designer – creator of metaverse – of the metaverse, what would you be doing right now to prepare yourself – to make yourself – put yourself in the right place when those opportunities are all around us?

Ignace Aleya

So, if you want to prepare and you don’t know where to start, you can always prepare yourself by learning the tools. Education is something they can never take from you. So, even though you don’t really know what to do yet, just learning the tools – playing around with them is what I would suggest you to do. For example, we are also not building our Metaverse currently, because we feel that we have so many other things to focus on before we are worth – or before our time is worth investing into something that we see a lot of potential in – and I definitely see a lot of potential there. So, yeah, I would just highly encourage everyone to learn Unreal Engine, a 3D software to model, which you’re comfortable with. For free, it’s Blender. But if you want to join like a real team in the professional industry, at the moment, that is not a main – mainstream tool. So, Cinema 4D is also very popular here in Europe. Maya is also very important for visual effects. So, if you’re just starting out, play around with Unreal, play a little bit with Blender, and see what other tools you can get your hands on to play around with them. 

Nick Lange

Awesome. What editing software do you use? So, how do you feel about Premiere versus DaVinci, which is growing more popular. For people focus specifically on editing, where should they be spending their time?

Ignace Aleya

I personally still use – or I’ve always been using Premiere Pro. Well, I started out with Sony Vegas to learn the ropes, but Premiere is a favorite of mine just because it’s working together with the entire Adobe Creative Cloud. But my editor plays around with Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve. The reason is that he is getting a lot of crashes in Premiere. But I cannot share that same experience, because I don’t have any crashes in Premiere, whatsoever. Although, I have friends in the industry that all also experience weird crashes with the Adobe products – and they’ve even become memes online. But, honestly, I don’t really have those crashes. So, I don’t know. Maybe it’s my computer? I don’t know. Yeah. So, I really enjoy working with Premiere. I do see DaVinci also as a very wordy software, and I’ve also used it, and I don’t – I’m not like the type of guy that hates on, Hey, I’m a Premiere user, or Hey, I’m a – it’s like iPhone Samsung, kind of. It’s the same game. Whatever you’re most familiar with, or whatever you enjoy the most, but there’s none better than the other.

Nick Lange

Is your computer a custom rig? Did you build it yourself? Or what a – what specs do you think contribute to the performance you’re getting?

Ignace Aleya

Yeah, so, what I’m thinking, but it’s just a thought process. It’s no guarantee. But I’m working with a Dell Precision Tower. So, it’s a – it’s a premade computer; it’s not custom made. But it comes with a pretty solid graphic’s card, which is currently equal to the RTX 3080. But it’s a RTX 6000 quadro RTX graphics card. Basically, what that means is that my graphic’s card is literally the same specs as the 380, but the 380 has been designed for gaming and just optimizing and being efficient. But all the hardware in it is not necessarily so solid to work flawlessly. And my card is designed for architects that work with 3D software, and it can just take a lot of scrunching and not crash. That’s what I understand. Whereas the 3080 would also be able to take the same load, but then say, oh, I don’t know when anymore I’m gonna crash; and where mine will just take more like, yeah –  just keeps crunching the numbers, if that’s the right way of saying it. 

That’s what I think. So, because they’ve built it however they want, maybe everything works better together also. Where if you have a custom built computer, maybe some things interfere with each other and therefore give you crashes. I’m not saying that I’m never experiencing crashes, but this computer has given me the least crashes ever.

Nick Lange

Awesome. Do you do all your rendering there locally? Or do you ever use Cloud rendering or other items?

Ignace Aleya

I’ve tried Cloud rendering, but to be honest, for most of our projects, we always have such a quick turnaround that we need to search for render options that are just quickly without, yeah, the – like, also, the efficiency behind it. So, we tried to always do it in-house, but at times we do hire a cloud service – depends on the project. I really enjoy to use Cinema 4D with Redshift, because that’s insanely fast. And also Octane – was actually my favorite before that – but now that Maxon has allowed you to get Redshift and Maxon Cinema 4D in one package, that’s actually more interesting. So, I do understand that most people will choose that option and, yeah. Unreal Engine is also real time. So, you just create something, and you render it out without waiting. So, that’s also I think the best option if you want render times to be fast.

Nick Lange

What’s the most – what’s the hardest visual effect you’ve ever created and how did you do it?

Ignace Aleya

The hardest? I don’t know. I’ve created so many visual effects shots.

Nick Lange

Was there any, where it was like surprising? Like, you didn’t think it was gonna be this hard, and you didn’t know how to figure it out?

Ignace Aleya

But to be honest, I always kind of have that feeling when I try to challenge myself, it’s always something that I’m not really sure if I can do it, but I have a feeling that I can do it. So, it’s always something like that. And so, if you look at the YouTube channel, obviously, I always make my videos as a proof of concept. So, yes, I can do the effect. Obviously, if you put in more time, more budget, the quality of the result will, yeah, increase 10x. But the time that I will put into it will also increase 10x. So, I always try to find a solid-like proof of concept of the visual effect, and that is acceptable to an audience to get the “wow effect” from. But I can always essentially do better. So, what is the hardest effect that I’ve done? 3D is usually – when you start doing effects in 3D, then it usually gets a little bit complex. For example, the Moon Knight was very fun to create recently, where you have cloth dynamics, all closing in – if you’ve seen Moon Knight, it’s like a complete mummification, and it wraps around your head while you’re also being in an – in an animation. So, that one was very fun to work on; not necessarily hard, but yeah, tricky. I’ve definitely had a lot harder shots to work on; I can just name any at the moment. For example, removal shots are really tricky because you have a lot of motion. And for example, someone with a blood bag right here in front of their face. And then, they want me to remove the blood bag, but when you get the impact, you have the blood splatter. But have the face to show before that. But the face is so organic, it has a lot of movements – a lot of micro movements, that it’s really hard to give you a realistic result from, yeah, doing removals. So, anything that has a face involved is – in my opinion – the hardest V effects that you can do.

Nick Lange

I believe that. Have you looked at or played with the Unreal human creator? Is that –

Ignace Aleya

MetaHuman? Yeah, I tried to recreate myself actually – 

Nick Lange

What was that like?

Ignace Aleya

– with that tool. So, yeah, I’ve tried to design a human, I’ve imported it in Unreal, and it gives you so many options. It’s insane what quality that you can get just from like a template builder; and I think things like that, we’re going to see a lot more in the future. Templates – premake things that you can modify and have very convincing visual effects with, yeah, less effort in time. But then again, it’s still worth to know all these tools and understand the visual effects industry, because somebody that has never touched it – even though it’s just a click of a button – the knowledge behind it will always give you an advantage over the – over the other.  It’s the same like they say that you don’t need photographers anymore – everyone has a phone. Yeah, photographer can still take a much nicer photo with the phone than a nobody can, so. It’s going to be a little bit more like that, I think. It’s going to become easier and more, yeah, accessible.

Nick Lange

Yeah. So, for many of these VFX tutorials that you create, you are filming, you know, the footage with which you’re working. As everyone knows, production is – can be pure chaos. Have you had any amazing production nightmares that you had to solve?

Ignace Aleya

All the time. Yeah, for sure. We have all – like, any type of problem that you can imagine, we’ve probably already come across it. What I tend to hear a lot now, like, when I talk with people in the industry and they say oh, I had a nightmare yesterday – this happened to me; and I literally can only respond, like, 10x that problem, and that was like – that was what I went through. It’s nothing what you’re going through; I go through that every week, essentially. No, losing all your footage, having to recover it, eventually finding it after a few days – things like that or crashes in the past. We had so many crashes when you’re finished with an entire project and you’ve – you didn’t save because you thought, okay, I’m just going to go with the flow, you’ve put in a few hours, and then boom, everything is gone. Things like that happen. Things out of focus. Also –

Nick Lange

Tell me a story about that.

Ignace Aleya

The moments that I hate the most are actually the moments for our own YouTube channel – and that’s when I set up my camera, and I didn’t have anyone back in the time to autofocus – well, to focus manually on myself. So, an autofocus of my camera isn’t perfect. So, it always seeks, even though I stand in the same position. So, I have to manually focus it and then stand in front of the camera. So, what I used to do is put my chair – put my guitar or something to fake my body, and then focus on that and then go and sit there. The thing is that, if my eyes are here – and even 10 centimeters scoot, like, shift my focus. And so, oftentimes, I didn’t focus good enough, and I recorded a 30 minute video, where, yeah, then the first time that I recorded it, I was out of focus. So, I redo everything; I build the entire set up again; I go and sit there again, make sure the focus is perfect; and then I recorded again. And then a microphone died – a battery died, for example, like that. So, I had things or moments that I had to record a video four times in a row. And it’s not like it wasn’t well prepared; it’s just things happen along the way that there are so many things to check that now, once in a while, you forget a thing; and if you go and prepare it every single time, you lose more time in the end. So yeah, it’s a little bit of – yeah, it’s a lucky game I guess. 

No, but as the time goes by, we do it so many times now. These things don’t occur so much anymore, especially in the beginning. That’s normal.

Nick Lange

How have you built your team that helps you with production and post? How do you find these people?

Ignace Aleya

So, I’ve never really found the people that I needed. So, that’s why I taught myself to do everything from A to Z. So if I need, I can. And then, Arnaud has nothing to do with the creative aspect; he can just give feedback because he’d have also seen like seven years in a row – all the visual effects. So, he understands what needs to be done better, but he can do it, for example, his own. So, he can give a lot of feedback, which is very useful. And then we were still in need for someone to help me a little bit because I was doing all the visual effects; then recording the tutorial; editing the tutorial; promoting the tutorial; sharing on social media, and then publishing thumbnail – everything; the website – designed the entire website; created all the products for that website. So, everything was me back in the time, until two years ago, we now have a video editor working for us. He’s also the project manager and helps me a lot with those things, and he edits now all of the YouTube videos. So, he helps me with that, but the projects are usually – they follow me and Nzoye. He does editing and I do visual effects. And then we also work with some freelancers that we come along to trust over the years, and we work with them, depending on the project.

Nick Lange

What are – what’s the best way for people like the editor, who you hired, to be noticed by people like you?

Ignace Aleya

Yeah. So, how would – your question was how do we find them? We actually work with interns every year, and then we have a few interns that come over. They work for free and we educate them in whatever they want to get stronger in. And so, Nzoye was one of the interns that came to work with us for a month and a half, and we really enjoyed what we saw. He was someone that – he talked with us. So, he had also his own suggestions. He dared to speak against us or, like, share his own ideas. And also, what he was making was really good back at the time. Obviously, he still needed some experience, but yeah, that’s something that you can build. You can already see that the person was what – yeah, he was a right fit for our team. So, that’s why we decided to hire him once his internship was over. How you can be noticed is by doing internships, or making sure that you create amazing works on your – on your socials and share them with your friends. Talk about it. Show people what you can do; don’t talk about what you can do.

Nick Lange

That’s great. Will you – where will you take your channel in the coming years?

Ignace Aleya

Yeah, we’re definitely going for over a million. Wherever we taking it, we want to – we want to become a platform where we can also share, like, entertainment regarding visual effects – but we also enjoy creating the content. So, creating sketches with the – with the visual effects in there; and creating like many short films, let’s say; and then we would go on and talk how we created that entire short film, for example, and really build it into a filmmaking channel, but like always bigger and better, and having bigger budgets to create crazier stuff. That’s where I want to take it. Yeah, so, just bigger and better.

Nick Lange

Will you do more narrative shorts like Full Control?

Ignace Aleya

Yeah, I want to do a lot more shorts. The Full Control was actually a short that we’ve done in just 24 – well, 48 hours time. So, that’s something that I want to throw in there, because I’m – every time when I finish something, I’m not satisfied with it anymore. That’s, yeah – that’s who I am. So, I cannot say, if you would ask me what is your most favorite shot that you’ve ever done? I will answer, I don’t have anything that I enjoy. I didn’t create anything until this date that I can be 100% proud of. I’m always a little bit proud of certain things, but nothing in that I can say this is it. So, as long as that’s not there, I have to keep going, I think.

Nick Lange

Yeah, that’s great. Well, you’ve worked on feature films like Snow Queen. Will you produce your own feature films down the road?

Ignace Aleya

It’s not that it didn’t pop up in my head. It depends on if feature film is the right fit for that moment in my life. Maybe I want to make a feature. Maybe I want to make a series. But definitely, I want to do something that is going to be from our own for sure. 

Nick Lange

Oh, that’s great. Well, I –  if you think it, I would love to – before I let you go, unless you have to jump off now, I’d love to ask you a little bit more about – talk more about the metaverse. I don’t know if I’m asking the right questions to really dig in there, but I think you have such an interesting perspective on how the VFX is going to fuel that – building that new form of existence. So, I’d love to –

Ignace Aleya

Maybe a fun thing to add is that we’ve actually been in the business six years ago – the metaverse business. We’ve already created some sort of metaverse in the emo section. 

Yeah, the metaverse essentially. But we had a client that was building apartment blocks or like little houses – tiny homes in northern India, but in Sri Lanka. And so they had all these houses that were like, modular. So, you can essentially build one, or you had to build five, and if you then combine everything, you can build so many different variations from it. And so what they wanted is to have a VR experience where you walk into a room, and where you can change your sofa’s color; where you can – where you really feel at home. So, when you entered, which was also during the Champions League – the Champions League was playing on a TV, you had the remote laying on the table – you could actually pick up the remote and turn off the TV (turn up the volume; turn down). Then walk into the kitchen, and you would see how the stove works. You can turn it on, turn it off. You can look at the white kitchen and change it to a black kitchen, to a wooden kitchen – things like that. Open all the doors – you could have done that. And we actually build that room out in a physical – well, that was the plan to build it in a physical environment. So, when you went to sit in the sofa in the metaverse, you would be sitting on something. It wouldn’t look like that sofa, but you would get the experience, like a really in that – in that environment. And so, like that, they could have clients in Sri Lanka go to the shop, put on the metaverse, build their house however they want, and then they could actually go ahead and build that house. So, that’s something that we’ve done and yeah, that’s six years ago or something.

Nick Lange

That’s awesome. How did it go? Did they sell a lot of houses with it?

Ignace Aleya

I don’t know. It’s a project that we’ve started up with them. In the end, we didn’t continue the project because we also had our own focus, and they expected way too much time for. But we’ve done the entire process of like, the proof of concept, and then they continue their predictions. So, we have no updates whatsoever – what happened. I should ask if I wanted to know. 

Nick Lange

And so, how else do you think visual effects might shape the metaverse?

Ignace Aleya

How else will it shape? It will entirely shape it, if you get what I mean. 

Nick Lange

Yeah, like, how might it change our day-to-day? So, those friends who are plugging in the morning and spending their entire day in there. What would – what do you imagine they could be doing?

Ignace Aleya

Oh, okay. So, we actually have also someone in our – in our academy. He is a professional in the metaverse, and he knows people that go to the club; and you actually have a guy that is at the door who is – who is the security guy, because there are people making trouble in the metaverse bars. So, they have to be thrown out. So, you have a security guy; you have a secretary to hire all the tickets, and to make sure everything is going how it should go; you can even – yeah, if you – if you want to go take it crazy, you can even hire lap dances – it’s going that far. So, it’s a different world that – but yah know, you can order your drink and listen to some music. For example, my friend is a DJ, and maybe you want to present your work to an audience that is also from all around the world. So, you’ve built an audience on your social media, and now you want to see them in real life; but that’s – it’s still a little bit harder to do something like that than to just jump into a nice environment in the metaverse and meet up with all your biggest fans, and throw them some nice music. I know that I’ve been talking a lot about parties, but work and having an entire work environment where we work together is also going to be very important, because more and more you see people that are traveling the world and working digitally as a digital nomad, and I think we will only see more and more and more of that. And so people will start meeting up in the metaverse to have a little bit of interaction, but it’s just because it’s not possible to physically meet. If you – if you have the possibility to physically meet, I think that will always stay like that, or at least I hope so. But yeah, things like that – education. Also, if you want to entertain yourself, like watching a movie, I remember when I had my Samsung with the VR headset, you could actually be in a – in a cinema room, and you would see an entire – you would see a big screen. It’s crazy. I felt like I was at the movies, and I was just with my phone in front of my eyes. So yeah, things like that. Just being able to have a bigger room than you’re actually in if you want to be in the movies, and you only have an apartment, put on a VR headset.

Nick Lange

This is a – it’s a hard question, I think for anyone to answer, but what role will today’s video editor have in tomorrow’s metaverse?

So, you’re talking right now about watching a film, us being in a movie theater in VR. I don’t know how – you know, 360 cameras – there’s not a lot of editing you can do; you can just do jumps in time. It becomes really disorienting if you’re – if you’re moving too much within that space, and there are a lot of limitations about how much you can edit something that’s 360. How will – how do you think the editors’ role – or how will the editor – where will the editor – today’s video editor – be needed in that world of immersive 360 environments?

Ignace Aleya

So, if you’re going to talk about, like, 360 video, you will always need editors, and editing will be different; you won’t have these shortcut-based videos. But what I would see is if you want to teach geography, that would be a great thing to use 360 cameras of the location and then show them that location and just show it like without cutting. But then the editor would have to search all these files, and then make sure that you can click in between them and have a more interactive experience instead of a pre-cut experience. So, the editor will just make a system where you can edit yourself in the metaverse. So, now I want to be in this location and see how that was back in the time. Okay, that’s amazing. Now, I’m going over to New York. Boom, another button, and now you’re in New York, back in the 9050s. Okay, New York. 1950s. Looks like this. Obviously, I’m just – yeah, things like that, I think.

Nick Lange

I imagined the world – there’s always going to be a need for, you know, 2D cinematic storytelling because there’s so much – yeah.

Ignace Aleya

For sure. That’s why in the cinema – in the metaverse – I’m talking about just a big screen that just feels like a big screen, but it’s still 2D.

Nick Lange

And then how can the – how do you imagine the workflow of a VFX artist or an editor will change within a, you know, working within the metaverse? When we’re not confined to just using a monitor and a mouse.

Ignace Aleya

So, creating worlds will become indeed very interactive. I think you will be sculpting in front of you, and you can walk around it. I’ve actually done something like that a few years ago, where you can actually paint and then run around and paint – you’re really standing in front of the object you’re creating, and I think it will just become more enjoyable to be a VFX artist because you’re really interacting with all the things instead of sitting on a computer with your keyboard. And yeah, you will really sculpt it in front of you, and I look forward to that – to try it out, for sure.

Nick Lange

Yeah, it’s gonna be fun. Well, Ignace, this was awesome. Thank you very much for giving us this time and shed some light on where we’re going with visual effects in the metaverse.

Ignace Aleya

It’s been a true pleasure, and thanks for having me.

Nick Lange

Can I just ask you what can we look forward to? Can you give me any previews of projects you’re working on right now?

Ignace Aleya

Some previews that we’re currently working on? All I can say is that I currently feel like I’ve been preparing in the last two years for so much stuff, and a new level is just unlocked. So, the visual effects that you’re going to see on our channel now are going to be crazier and bigger than ever. I’m super excited about the future, but I can’t say anything in particular, just that we’re doing so much exciting stuff in the industry, and we’re not planning on stopping yet.

Sara Gerbereux

Sara Gerbereux

December 22, 2022

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