We love celebrating colleagues who innovate and inspire. Meet the most passionate VFX simulation guy around: Georgi Zhekov, Phoenix Product Specialist at Chaos.
Georgi’s interest in the industry was unlocked after watching Star Wars as a child. After several years of watching online tutorials and improving his video editing skills, Georgi enrolled in a filmmaking bachelor’s program, with the desire to specialize in VFX later on. During his studies, Georgi began freelancing and working on commercials and music videos for various clients. In his third year of university, he joined Chaos and has become an invaluable asset to the company.
Keep reading to learn more about Georgi and to be inspired by his dedication and perseverance to improve the quality of one of Chaos’ coolest products while ensuring a smooth user experience for anyone just starting out with Chaos Phoenix to those who are advanced.
How important has formal education been in your professional life?
Formal education is good in terms of where it places you. It puts you in a place where there are lots of other people with common interests. So if you're in the right field, the people you’re surrounded by will, later on, become VFX supervisors or famous architects. Also, in most cases, university professors are working professionals so they already have some field experience, and they can guide you in the right direction.
Does working on Phoenix make you feel a sense of pride?
It's really a great feeling when you see that there is a big movie on the TV screen or in the cinema аnd you know that a certain shot was made with the tools that you worked so hard to produce. It’s super satisfying.
What's the most challenging behind-the-scenes issue in Phoenix?
Because Phoenix is a product that can be used for a lot of things, the biggest challenge thing is serving clients. It can be used for visual effects, but you can also use it for architectural visualizations, product design, engineering projects, and commercials. It's a bit challenging to maintain it so that everyone can use it the way that they feel is best and easiest for them. Essentially, we need to add features that are easily accessible to everyone. And we also try not to bog down the user interface with too many complex options. Ideally, users shouldn't have to use the help docs at all. If all is okay, then that means that things are kept as simple as pressing a button and if it's working, then we've dealt with it.
Have you ever had an idea for a simulation in mind that Phoenix had trouble handling?
Yes, and it has happened before, but the great thing is that I have direct access to the developers. They're sitting right next to me. So I can ask them how we can do this or that, and maybe discuss whether we need to implement some new tools or we need to improve the already existing class. We start by brainstorming, and then we begin working on this new feature. If it's something that is missing and a few people have asked for it then we will consider it adding it. It's really important for us to listen to our users and the things that are important to them. We would like to help elevate their work so that they can work faster and do bigger things.
What's the most difficult simulation to produce?
Water explosions are probably the most difficult because you need lots of particles, and those are pretty tricky to nail down. But with enough experience and continuous attempts, you can get everything working.
Is the idea or the technical execution more important when it comes to a simulation’s wow factor?
Well, if you have a nice idea, and it's something unique, you might get away with mediocre execution. Internet memes are a pretty great example of this. If it's something funny and creative, it doesn't have to be super top-notch high quality.
Is there a place where artists can get feedback on simulations?
You can go on to the Chaos forum to get answers from our community and the development team. If you're using Facebook, we have a pretty large Phoenix community, with almost 7,000 people there.
Playing with the elements of matter
The most informative and exciting part of the Chaos Campus Live episode was definitely Georgi’s presentation on the versatility of Phoenix. He shared a typical particle simulation breakdown, the various Phoenix use cases, how to leverage GPU Preview and Particle Shader, how to take advantage of Presets, as well as how to make the most of the features in the latest update.
Join Chaos Campus to watch Georgi's entire presentation and explore the exciting world of 3D with other creatives.