An interview with JC Volumic

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This week’s interview features Jean-Charles Schaeffert, a.k.a. JC Volumic on Sketchfab, 3D artist. You probably came across his model of the Playstation 4 which has almost 600k views as of now! 

#1 Could you introduce yourself to our readers: Who are you and where are you from?

Hello! My name is Jean-Charles Schaeffert, 31, CG artist for 10 years, living in Le Mans, France.

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#2 Can you tell us about what aspects of 3D you specialize in?

I’m specialized in 3D modeling, I love all its aspects, from box modeling to digital sculpting. I also love to produce textures, setting lights and materials in order to get a good render. I produce 3D contents for all types of media such as image rendering, motion design and real-time.

#3 How did you first get started in 3D? What attracted you to it in the first place?

It’s a long story. As many boys (and girls) of my generation, my first contact with 3D was PC gaming, with games like Doom, Quake, etc…
Some of these games allowed you to build your own levels.
I remember spending nights with the first Unreal Engine. With my level of English at the time, I was trying to understand how it works by testing, testing and re-testing…
When I was able to play on my own maps, I understood the “freedom-feeling” to create in 3D!

#4 Do you have any academic training or are you self-taught?

I’m a self-taught. I worked in an Engineering office after my studies, designing machines in 3D.
At school, I was fascinated by creating machines, objects, etc… in 3D
But a few months after leaving school and starting work in the industry it was very boring. That was more mathematics on papers than pure modeling. I missed something : Creating freely.
I took 3D lessons in a little Art-Workshop during a year, after hours.
I knew that it was what I always wanted to do, modeling!
The following year, the teacher hired me to work in his 3D company and here I am, ten years in the 3D industry.
Finally, I think being a self-taught is an opportunity, I’m learning everyday.

#5 You do a lot of vehicle modeling, how do you go about starting a project of this type? Lots of car-engineering research?

References research is very important! Not only in car modeling. A lot of research allows you to immerse yourself, get a better understanding of the forms and volumes of an object or character. It’s a lot of observation. There’s a ton of reference photos on the web, you can also easily find vehicle blueprints.

#6 How did you come across Sketchfab and how does it help you in your career?

I was searching for a solution to share my work pieces on the web.
More than a simple render shot, showing a model by orbiting around it is very important.
And I discovered Sketchfab. That was exactly what I was searching for!
Easy, handy and “share-able” everywhere !
So I started uploading some of my work and embedding models on my website. That’s perfect to show off your work! And Sketchfab’s team is really reactive and listen to the community and its needs!

#7 How you go about starting a project, do you follow the same creative path for every project?

I think that all projects are unique. There’s a ton of ways to start a project, the most important thing is to be rigorous and organized (it implies a lot of note taking^^).
I can start from a paper sketch or attack directly in 3D, it depends of the project. There’s no good or wrong manner to model or deal with a 3D scene, there are many ways.
But you’ll have to set boundaries from the start and set up a goal to achieve or understand the clients demand. Otherwise the risk is to go in every direction.
It’s also important to explore new things, new workflows like when you do personal projects. When you are working with deadlines, there’s no time to experiment, you must go straight to the point.

#8 Of all your pieces currently on Sketchfab, which one are you the most proud of and why? Your favorite one?

Hum, Maybe the AR Monocle Concept for the Sketchfast #04 because that was a very cool challenge!
And there was some superb creations from the community! When will be the next Sketchfast?

#9 You are the 3D artist behind the most viewed 3D model on Sketchfab, what was it like to see your model’s view count skyrocket?

That’s very cool! 
I think it demonstrates the needs for the brands to communicate with this type of media! The users want to discover their future Phone, console, smart device or other, by manipulating them.
It’s a way for users to familiarize themselves an object or device without having to move from home and before the official release! Personally I think it’s a way for brands to create a link with their customers.

#10 What advice/tips would you give to someone getting started in 3D modeling?

If you are a real beginner you need to start step by step, and to be patient.
You cannot master all aspects of 3D from day one. It implies a lot of tests, trial and error, but you’ll get better if you persevere!
I started with tutorials from 3DTotal, there are some for every level.
There are other websites like : Polycount, Game Artisans, CgArchitect, Youtube is also an endless source of video tutorials!
The best advice I would give : always restart from scratch! For example if you need to model a head, restart from scratch, every time you’ll refine your workflow and you’ll get more and more efficient.
Talking about software, Blender is free and more and more powerful, ideal to start at home.

#11 At this point, what are your thoughts regarding 3D printing? Have you already 3D printed one of your models?

I did a few tests myself, like for a 3D printed version of Viktor (3D model embedded above) :

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I think that 3D printing will change the way we consume!
It’s gonna change a whole lot of things and ask a lot of questions, like on intellectual property and licences for example. In any case, it is going to be a fascinating subject!
Like with virtual reality there will be an impact on our every day life.
Talking about VR, will there be any possible interaction with the Oculus? I’d like to test some architecture scenes in VR…

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Thanks again to JC for taking part in our interview series. Be sure to check out his profile on Sketchfab, and his personal website

Want more interviews ? Check out our last interview with Maxence Leret d’Aubigny (Ahurig), 3D artist and our entire series here.

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