Hey Everyone, I am so glad to be unveiling my new video podcast, I want to thank Khalid for being my Guinea pig so to speak, and helping me to try out this new format. He was so cool and I know you’ll enjoy the interview. It was tough editing down 1-1⁄2 hours of great footage, I ended up doing a 4-part series, here are the first 2 parts. I used iMovie for the editing which is kinda limited, I think I’ll try After Effects on the next one, and that is going to be another great spotlight! Any comments on the new format would be greatly appreciated, and see YOU NEXT MONTH!
Khalid, tell us a bit about yourself. your background?
Well, My name is Khalid Muharraqi, my last name is Muharraqi which is a name that is well know in these parts due to my father, he has always been a well known artist in the region, over 40 years. I currently live in Bahrain, my home town, and I do 3D art and animation for a living. Like other artists I know I have always been interested to learn as much as I can in the creative field.
What made you seek education in this country?
Well, after I got rejected to be a pilot because I did bad in physics, I then had to do my second choice which is art, as I have been painting since I was 9, and I sold my first painting when I was 15. So then my young brother and Dr. Mohammed helped me find the best school that suited me in the U.S.. Also the U.S. is well known for it’s creative education, and I really wanted to learn from the professionals there how to think and how to make a business in this field.
What made you move into 3D?
Yes.. my background is visual communication, advertising, marketing and branding. I worked in that field for over 12 years now, but I have always been fascinated with the 3D art work that was online from different artists, also I had been playing with 3D applications for a long time but never really stuck with one, due to the fact that I used to be a Mac user only, and Mac at the time had very few good applications that are considered as professional. Mainly I did it as a hobby, I’m self taught, and I used to practice 8 hours a day after my working hours at the office, so when my friends used to go fishing, or wax there sport cars after there work day, I would practice 3D as my hobby.
What made you like Modo? Lightwave?
Well… I was using Lightwave first, the first version I worked with was 5.5 I did not like it at that time, but when I tried version 6 I fell so much in-love with the simplicity and from there onwards, I continued to use it and love it’s tools, they just fit with my hands. Modo, well I was using Modo’s demo version as practice, just to see if I would like it, that’s after I’d seen all the amazing reviews. I created my first image using the demo Modo “Myth of the Floating Islands” all of a sudden.. a lot of people from the Luxology forums got shocked, well it was easy for me to adapt to Modo, it is simple, well thought out, and feels close to LW, so.. Lux gives me a gift, a full version, so from then on I always us Modo in everything I do.
What do you hope to see implemented in future versions?
Many things, but mainly I wish that they have better tools for character animation, the ability to record actions and the ability to blend motions together with more control, something like Motion Builder from Autodesk, at the moment LW has Motion Mixer, and that is amazing… but still it’s old, and it was good for it’s time, but needs to be addressed, modified, simplified, and most of all optimized to be fast in OpenGL, especially after putting more tracks in the time line. I think the product just needs some tweaking, renaming… etc.
You do awesome work, what part of the 3D process do you like? Modelling, texturing, the whole process.
I do all of the above, concept to modeling, texturing, sculpting, rigging, lip-sync, animation, lighting and rendering, and the VFX. A lot of these topics are different professions, but as I said before, I did this as a hobby, so I did not care about the amount of time it took me, I was more focused on the results…and the fun and satisfaction it gave me to achieve. My fun parts are sculpting and rendering the final. 🙂
What was the best advice that was given to you?
Well.. I was once told by one of my instructors that I needed to specialize, that I can’t be good at many things, choose a direction and go for it! Well, at the time I took it personal and that I wanted to prove him wrong. And in the years that I have been in the industry, I have been involved in so many different majors in the creative realm, my portfolio is very colorful so I could show work under the Art: painting, design: product design, industrial design, interior designs, design-books, stamps, money, logos, concept for advertising campaigns, slogans, architectural visualization, cities, buildings, islands, interiors, landmarks & monuments, landscapes. CG ART: 3D illustrations with concepts as final artwork, character development. You see the trick is.. that I don’t learn it all at once, I learn one.. be good at it then move on to the next after a few years of work.
What would you say are some of the differences in 3D, between Western & Middle Eastern styles?
LOL!, there is no Middle Eastern, we don’t have high quality standards in these parts, and that is for many reasons, one of them is that clients don’t have a quality of standard, and taste is not linked to professions, what I mean is anyone that has money or a position is automatically a designer, or an artist that has a full right to comment. Usually things look like crap when you get clients that enforce their ugly ideas that just don’t work… but I usually say my opinion, then back off. 🙂
Where does a lot of your inspiration for your work come from?
A lot of it comes from my father, and his work, also he had a great big collection of books and magazines that I used to look at and study, like Frank Frazetta, Eerie and the Creepy Magazine, the original old Mad Magazine, comic books… etc.
How have you found the new updates with LW10 & Modo 501?
I love LW10, all the new features are just amazing… I love the colors, the look… all of it… still needs work on things like the FiberFX, and the dynamics for it, the VPR is really nice but still needs to be faster. I like that it is built in, but I still like FPrime more, 3D stereo is amazing, and all the new MDD stuff… I just love that.
Modo 501, to be honest with you I did not get much of a chance to work with due to the lack of time, but soon I will have to upgrade to 501. I saw the reviews, and it seems really nice… but I will have to get back to you on my test drive.
Did you always have intentions on returning back to Bahrain?
Umm… yes… and no… If I enjoy my Job, I will stay anywhere… a few years ago, about two years, a friend of mine that works at Weta Digital, asked me if I was available to work there, some of his directors had seen my art, and needed me on the team. What he said was that, they have a film that they were working on and they needed someone like me to be on the team, the film was called AVATAR, and if would be interested. I did not know what AVATAR was at the time, and I was so full with my work that I said, not now. 🙁 Funny I wish I went…..
Can you tell us a bit about your work process? Do you start with sketches or jump right in?
Always sketch… then I work, sketching to me is like my map, my plan, this saves me time.. and the quality is better.
Did you come from a traditional art background?
Yes.. I painted all my life, my father was my teacher, he made me appreciate and understand how and where to start as an artist.
Has there been a project come along that you weren’t sure how to pull it off?
Umm… to be honest with you, I never think this way… I always think forward, I always have a clear understanding on how this will work or how to achieve such a job, I almost always think from the end to the beginning. So rarely do I remember going like, shit… it’s not gonna happen!! Well only when my render farm breaks down…
Tell us about Muharraqi Studios? What type of work do you mostly do?
In the last 5 years, I’ve worked on mainly architectural visualizations, projects to be built. These days I do more creative work, related to TV shows, advertising, and story design for films.
Do you find it hard being a small studio doing the work sometimes?
Yes… it is, the expectations are high as I do go head to head with the big boys, and that’s because my work is compared with some of the top studios that have big teams working for them, I have to keep the level up all the time… (so, no matter what, the show must go on)
What are some of your hobbies you enjoy doing?
I love working out… I do Brazilian Jujitsu 4 times a week with my instructor Mr.Mohamed Mirza, and he makes sure that I am fit, especially since I sit in front of the PC for many hours. We do spar all the time, and the keeps my level up.
What would be a dream project for you?
My film project.. to start it .. and then finalize. 🙂
What advice would you give someone just starting out in the business?
Follow your dreams, and never look back… listen to people that are professionals, and put more then 7 hours a day on practice. Do not stop practicing! That’s all really. 🙂
Finally, I would like to thank you Don, for asking me to share and to participate on your amazing site, it is a great pleasure for me to have had this conversation with you.
Thanks for taking the time out to talk with us it was truly awesome! Go to Muharraqi-Studios to see more of Khalids work.