The Edge: Nikos Nikolopoulos, Maxwell Render’s Lighting God.
October 28, 20154 min read
Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do. Nikos Nikolopoulos: My name is Nikos Nikolopoulos and I’ve been an artist for 11 years now. Most recently I worked at Cityscape Digitalin London as their lead 3D Artist and then CGI director. Eventually the call of my homeland grew too strong, but Cityscape and I are like family and I did not want to part with the company. Instead we forged a new concept together called Creative Lighting, a vision of CG driven by the philosophies of cinematic lighting. I now have a studio in Athens where I continually explore light, driving Maxwell Render to its limits, and present my findings at events all around the world.
Novedge: What is Creative Lighting exactly?
Nikos Nikolopoulos: Creative Lighting for me is about finding your own personal perspective, your own way of seeing things, through the use of light. Creative Lighting is a way of thinking and an approach to image making. It’s about learning to see and think about light as a photographer does and the craft of image making as a painter would. It is an approach to image making that favours the artist’s vision over technical knowledge. It is about believing in the power of the artist. I've found that I'm able to achieve my desired artistic look with Maxwell Render.
Novedge: What is a recent project that you worked on?
This is a piece we worked up recently to explore the major role light plays in making composition. Still inspired by the methods of the current great cinematographers and DOPs, I explored extensively what kinds of lights to use in the scene, where to place and how to control them, then using Multilight to experiment with intensity and hue to affect tonal and colour composition. Back at Cityscape Digital, the Creative Director, Damian Fennell shot actors on green screen, using my Maxwell Render lighting setup to guide the physical lights on-set. These were then keyed and comped into the shot in Nuke. The creative process was slightly organic due to the time pressure that's always there on experimental work; we started with light, then superimposed a character story on top, then Damian played with foreground vs background as the focal point of the scene in Photoshop just before the end! The goal of getting a fully animated lighting sequence from a single frame render in Maxwell Render was successful in concept, and we look forward to experimenting further.
Novedge: What do you like about Maxwell Render?
Nikos Nikolopoulos: My passion for using Maxwell Renderis driven by its unique creative workflow, photographic approach and production speed. Maxwell Render is a progressive renderer which means you can see the whole image building very fast but is also accurate. The Multilight feature introduces the possibility of controlling colour and intensity, both during and after the rendering process. This gives the artist the freedom to imagine new dimensions of spaces.
Novedge: You are now offering bespoke Maxwell Render Training, what is the best way to get to your lessons?
Nikos Nikolopoulos: That's right. I am in San Francisco delivering training right now. We have a course structure covering the Creative Lighting philosophy and how to use Maxwell Render to get the kind of results you can see in my images. It’s very much a workshop style of training and we strongly encourage our customers to provide some of their historical scenes to work on. If you are interested please get in touch to find out more details: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m very pleased to say that we’ve had great feedback from all of our customers so far and I’m confident we can help you whether you’ve been using Maxwell Render for years or you’ve never used it before.
Novedge: What's the difference between a good rendering and a great one?
Nikos Nikolopoulos: A great image has depth, passion and composition. The lighting will create a mood, a feeling in the viewer and tell the story of the space. The materials of course must look great too. A great rendering shows the subject accurately but it also makes you excited and inspires you. Novedge: What kind of companies do you like to work with?
Nikos Nikolopoulos: I love to work with anyone who aspires to produce creative and fresh work. I have a passion for Design and I believe that making a great image is essential to communicate Design and tell a story. Novedge: What or who inspires you?
Nikos Nikolopoulos: I’m inspired by life and I do believe that real world inspiration is so much better than technical knowledge. I’m learning new things every day by looking at photography/cinematography. When I see a film that inspires me and great use of light, I always look for the cinematography breakdown and the lighting setup. It’s not something you can copy but it is something you can learn from. Recently I was particularly inspired by the work of Roger Deakins, Emmanuel Lubezki and Christoforos Papakaliatis. I travel a lot which gives me the opportunity to share my knowledge and experiences with others artists. My motto for years has been that ‘’knowledge is to share’’.
Nikos Nikolopoulos is in theBay Area right now just to do that: share his knowledge, and inspire more creative lighting for Maxwell Render users. Feel free to contact him directly at email@example.com