We recently got the chance to chat with musician, writer, director (and puppeteer) Liam Lynch. You may recognize his name from projects such as MTV's Sifi and Olly show, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny and his hit song United States of Whatever. Check out our Q&A with Liam, where he talks about his career so far, advice for young artists and his extensive use of Poser.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: My full bio can be found on the "About" page on www.lynchland.com. I'm a writer, musician and director in Los Angeles CA. I've created, written and directed for television and feature films. I've also made music for television, feature films as well as having a top ten hit myself in the UK and Australia.
Q: How did you get into illustration / animation / graphic arts?
A: I had created, directed and acted in my own series for MTV in the late 90's into 2000. It was a puppet show called Sifl and Olly. It was a daily show. When we would make them, I would do all the puppeting myself. We'd shoot 40 shows all at once for a season, so I would be puppeting for over a month straight. All Day, everyday. I developed carpal tunnel in my hand and wrist from hold awkward poses while puppeting to camera. After the show ended on MTV, I still wanted to make short videos and have fun with characters, however, I knew that puppets would be too painful and I needed to give it a rest. I wanted to teach myself animation. I started with Lightwave and did learn it to a degree but it was just so complicated and not character centered. That's when I found Poser. At the time, it was Poser 2, I think. I was able to teach myself how to use it and my first time using it was to create a video that was a part of Tenacious D's live show. As time went on, and my skills and the program evolved, I started mixing myself shot on green screen, into the Poser scenes I had created. Now, with Poser Pro 2014, After Effects and Final Cut, I am able to do camera moves and make even more ideas come to life. It's fun to be able to just create or simulate any idea I have or would like to see.
Q: What industry trends are you a fan of and why?
A: Industry trends? I don't really know. I do like interactive stuff though. I would much rather play a video game than watch a movie. Now that gaming is so advanced and amazing looking, movies seem so passive. Some of my favorite cinematic moments are from games. Gaming was another big influence on my teaching myself 3D animation.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge as an artist / animator?
A: Some of my challenges come with my ideas...I will think of something I want to make and it's often something kind of out there or weird. I jump right into it and then realize... "How in the heck am I going to do that?" so every single job I do is something I haven't done before. That leads to always doing new things and challenging myself but it's also a constant state of feeling lost and without a technique. You have to use your own ingenuity and really know your programs to achieve shots you are visualizing. So I guess the biggest challenge is myself. Trying to create processes and planned out procedures to things that are often subconscious.
Q: What has been your biggest success?
A: I don't know. I have a top ten hit. I've written and directed feature films and TV shows... but those aren't what I'd consider success. I have also had several viral videos that blew up on YouTube. I find making stuff on YouTube far more satisfying than for networks or studios. The money isn't...but the freedom always is better. I guess my biggest success is just not limiting myself as a person/artist to the types of things I make. I didn't corner myself. That has a downside too because people aren't sure how you utilize you when you're all over the place. They want you to be good at one thing and use you for that one thing. When you give yourself more freedom, you can become harder to define, but still, I think giving myself creative freedom no matter how it could effect my career is my biggest success because it's good for my soul.
Q: Where do you see the comic / animation industry in 10 years?
A: I definitely see more NON animators having apps and programs that allows them to animate using tracking from phones or webcams or Xbox Connect type devices. I think that just like cell phones have turned everyone into a photographer (good or bad) that technology and games are going to let more and more people animate. I think 3D model makers will have their hands full.
Q: How would you describe your job as an artist / illustrator?
A: I think I'm a jack of all trades in some ways and some people bring me into projects as sort of a creative swiss army knife. I've worked as creative consults on jobs and it's awesome when someone trusts my opinion or ideas. I also love comedy and music and animation and so I really love to blend all those three things together. My YouTube channel shows a lot of examples of my fun home experiments.
Q: What advice would you give to young / up-and-coming graphic artists?
A: Keep making stuff. Finish everything you start. You can't get better until you keep making stuff and practice. With every animation you make, you realize something you'll do the next time. When you make something, always put something in your way that you don't know how to do. It's the only way to learn and increase the size of your tool box. You have to challenge yourself.
Q: What Smith Micro tools do you use, how do you use them and how have they affected your workflow?
A: I use Poser Pro. I actually have Poser Pro 2010 and 2014. I still use 2010 because it allows you to output movie files with alpha channels and 2014 only allows still images or image sequences with alphas. I not only use them to create videos for clients and myself, but I also use Poser a lot in the storyboard phase of productions. It's a way for me to simulate shots and show crew my ideas and get everyone on the same page faster. I'll block out shots and frame sizes in poser and make movies that I can show people I'm working with. It's instant understanding that way and everyone knows what we're making together. I also use it to figure out shots and timing for music videos. It's been a big help for me in that way. Even when I made the movie Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, I often simulated the scenes in Poser and then would send small quicktimes to the effects department as rough examples of timing or framing. So for me, Poser also gets used as a sort of moving rough storyboard where timing needs to be seen as it plays and not just static still like a traditional storyboard that doesn't give you an exact sense of pace.
Thanks to Liam Lynch for taking the time to share his knowledge and experience with us.
Check out these videos Liam created with Poser and be sure to head over to www.lynchland.com for more: