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Mentee Spotlight

Casey Teunissen and Patrick Schwalbe

Casey and Patrick answer some questions about being a part of the Nice Moves Mentorship Program.

Casey's Portfolio | Patrick's Portfolio

Reading Time | 4 minutes

What have you been focusing on during your mentorship?

 PATRICK:  The thing we’ve focused on is getting Casey setup with a character rigging demo reel. He wanted to make a really cool rig so he could showcase it in the reel.

Casey ended up choosing to follow a rigging tutorial that built a really comprehensive rig. This task was huge and it will take a long time; however, he’s been dedicated over the long term and has never flagged in his progress. It takes so much effort to make something so huge, but he just keeps going. It’s really amazing. Not to mention that this is all being completed while he also works at Afterglow Studios.

How often do you communicate and in what way?

 CASEY:  We meet to talk and to discuss current things I am working on either every week or every other week over Skype. We talk mostly about my personal project but occasionally we also discuss projects I am working on as a freelance artist for Afterglow Studios.

Casey, what do you see as the most beneficial aspect of being in the mentorship program?

 CASEY:  I think the most beneficial aspect of being a mentee of Patrick is I have somewhere to go when I come across a problem in a project. Patrick has a vast base knowledge of all things 3D. If he doesn’t have an answer off the top of his head, we figure it out together. This one-on-one teaching and joint learning has been a great way for me to grow my skills and it keeps me on schedule with what I am working on.

Casey’s rig, and some examples of his models.

Casey, what skills have increased the most as a result of this mentorship?

 CASEY:  I have learned so much about rigging during this mentorship. I have been working on a comprehensive character rig with Patrick’s guidance over the past few months. Patrick knows just about everything you need to know about rigging so you can imagine this has been extremely helpful.

Casey, what do you see as the best attribute of Patrick?

 CASEY:  Patrick’s best attribute by far is his enthusiasm. His excitement keeps me energized and keeps me on schedule. He is an extremely easy person to talk to and can discuss all things 3D.

Patrick, what do you see as the best attributes of Casey?

 PATRICK:  Casey grasps all of the advanced technical concepts we go over and implements them correctly right away. He asks informed questions like he’s been doing this for many many years. He is also extremely methodical and always wants to do it the “correct” way rather than any workaround. All of this together has really impressed me a lot.

Casey, can you give us some information about your background?

 CASEY:  I graduated high school in 2012 and, at the time, I was into creating stop motion animation. After doing some online research, I found that there is a group of animation companies right here in Minneapolis. I decided this was something I wanted to pursue, so I took a bunch of art classes at a local community college to grow my art skills. I then transferred into MCAD where I switched my focus to 3D animation.

At MCAD my goal was to leave with a piece that showed I had what it takes to be a 3D artist in Minneapolis. I learned a lot at MCAD and got really familiar with Maya and After Effects. The hardest part of going to school for animation is realizing that you can only learn a fraction of this stuff before you graduate. With that said, I did manage to graduate with a short character animation called The Fanatic.

After graduating I wanted to find a studio where I could continue to learn and grow my 3D skills. I accepted an internship at Afterglow Studios where I spent most of my time modeling assets for Afterglow’s upcoming IMAX film Touch the Stars. In Maya, I modeled both the Voyager 1 satellite and the Titan3E rocket that launched it. This was a great experience for me. I learned a lot about what it’s like to operate in a studio environment and also continued to practice a key 3D skill. After a few months of this, Afterglow started offering me freelance opportunities doing 3D and Motion Graphics. This was a big and important step for me. I started to get projects that needed to look professional and get completed on time. Looking back, I am proud of what I accomplished, but I know there is a lot more I need to learn.

Attending the Nice Moves events have been essential for every connection I have made. It was at those events that I learned about the mentorship program. I immediately applied and luckily was paired with Patrick Schwalbe. After the first few meetings with Patrick, I knew this relationship was going to be extremely beneficial for me in reaching my goal of being a 3D Artist in Minneapolis.

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