The Edge: VFX with Anselm von Seher-Thoss, The Particle Guy.
June 07, 20164 min read
Novedge:Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Anselm von Seherr-Thoss: I am a visual effects Artist and Supervisor from Germany, living in New Orleans, Louisiana. I have been part of the 3dsMax world since 2004 when I started an internship at Soulpix in Hannover, my hometown. Freelancer demand then brought me all over the place for years. I literally went from gig to gig living out of my suitcase until I joined Frantic Films in Hollywood, where I worked on a number of movie projects . When Frantic was bought by another company and the culture changed dramatically, we all left one by one. I then moved to New Orleans to live with my then girlfriend, now wife (believe it or not, someone voluntarily chooses to stay with a VFX Artist and their crazy work schedule). Over the years I went from being a generalist, to become a vfx Artist handling mostly particle and other simulation work using a range of tools in 3dsMax. Inside of vfx there is still a variety of task that can come up, from building something out of particles, to destroying stuff and blow things up. I work remotely and therefore mostly on commercials and TV shows right now. I have a home office with a bunch of workstations and a hand picked group of freelancers I generally utilize. If you are good and know how to work under tight schedules and need a gig, hit me up!
Novedge: What is your background? Did you always wanted to blow up things?
Anselm von Seherr-Thoss: I went to a Waldorf School in Germany and received a very art centered education. The College for Design came next. It was during the last year of college that a fellow artist brought in Cinema4D : I was hooked immediately! Next thing I did was to apply for an internship at Studio that used 3dsMax: I had zero background in that particular software. I spammed them with funny cat videos (YouTube was just coming up) until they invited me if I promised to stop the spamming.They kept me for a 6 months internship and afterwards I transitioned smoothly into working there as a freelancer. It was at SoulPix (that was the name of the Studio) that I picked up the love for particles, when one of the other artists brought in Allan McKay's first DVD. I stayed after hours to soak it all in and soon made my first showreel in 2005 ( luckily that's nowhere to be found ). From SoulPix I went on to travel around, still freelancing, working on my own.
Novedge: What is a recent project you have worked on?
Anselm von Seherr-Thoss: I am the on-set visual effects supervisor of NCIS:New Orleans which is shot on location right here where I live. We just wrapped Season 2 and we will be back for Season 3 in July. We recently finished projects for Comic-Con and an immersive roller coaster ride and a few car commercials. Always something going on, often multiple shows parallel. I am not going to complain. https://player.vimeo.com/video/149485065?color=ff9933
Anselm von Seherr-Thoss: My pipeline is centered around 3dsMax with all it's powerful extensions and plugins. Fumefx, RayFire, Thinking Particles, V-Ray, Krakatoa, to name a few. I also use RealFlow for fluid work. I know Houdini is the hip kid on the block but I usually outsource my Houdini needs. I use a group of remote freelancers I trust if I need hands on deck.
Novedge: Your work was featured in many blockbusters; is there a project that was particularly rewarding in term of experience? Why?
Anselm von Seherr-Thoss: All projects are rewarding when the checks fly in….Just kidding! I think my body of work at Frantic Films was pretty good. I did work on StarTrek 2 and a few other features since I left L.A. Scouts VS Zombies was fun, gory stuff is always a hit in my book! Transformers 4 was pretty memorable too. Even if I tackled only a few shots in each movie, the tasks have been often challenging in a good way. I also worked on a fairly low budget viking movie called Northmen- a Viking Saga and the TV show Cosmos.
Novedge: How broad is the range of your services?
Anselm von Seherr-Thoss: I specialize in particle simulation and simulation work in general. Fire, Smoke, Ice, Explosions, Debris, Rigid Body Dynamics, you name it. The elements basically. Everything that's more or less procedural. I don't model or animate/match anymore. I source that out. So I am known as particle guy. Novedge: What does it take to make it in your field?
Anselm von Seherr-Thoss: Lots of practice! I stayed after hours and did tutorials. And then continued at home. I am self taught. I didn't have a 3D class in my life. There are so many tutorials out there on YoutTube and Vimeo, there is no excuse. My tutorials are available on Volatile Training with even a section for free stuff!
Novedge: Is there an artist or film maker you would like to work with but you didn't get a chance….yet?
Anselm von Seherr-Thoss: Too many to name them all. I haven't worked at Blur in a while and never worked at ILM. So I miss a lot of friends who went there. I really like the work of UnitImage in Paris and Platigeas well. Those I have yet to get off my list too but we talk . Stay tuned!