Q&A with VFX Artist Tobias Steiner

I’d guess that by now, judging from the 2000 views and climbing, many of you have seen my new music video “Butterfly.” Well I thought it would be a great idea to sit down and do a Q&A with the creator of the video, Tobias Steiner. First, a little backstory…

So a few weeks ago, while working on the new album Head Like Fire (NO I hadn’t already announced the title on this blog but hey… sometimes things gotta happen when they happen haha… don’t worry, there will be a news update about the album next week), I had a little realization… My last album An Unseen Sky had the track “A Decision,” which was a much more ambient, calm but beautiful piece of music with no real beat that slowly built into a big beautiful finale. I didn’t have one for this album and I feel like all my albums from now on should have at least one!

VFX Artist Tobias Steiner

The next morning I got a Facebook message from Tobias Steiner – “Hey, do you have any ambient music?” I’ve spoken with Tobias on Facebook before and in person once, and I know he does excellent computer graphics and VFX work and is all around a really talented guy. A lot of my music has a beat to it… And although I certainly can make an ambient track without a beat, I didn’t really have a lot of ambient music completed that I could share with him because well, I often can’t help myself but to start adding beats haha. But since I knew he was a talented person and in case this was going to be a possibility for a collaboration, I wanted to say yes, so I got started immediately composing in Sonar with the chat window still open in Chrome.

I then spent an entire morning creating what would eventually become “Butterfly,” our new music video. He had a spark of an idea he needed music for, and what I made completely worked for his vision (save for a few edits that got smoothed out over the following couple weeks). The video for “Butterfly” is absolutely gorgeous and I couldn’t think of a better way to announce the new album Head Like Fire, than with this video.

 

 

David: Tell me a little about your background and your company.
Tobias: I’m a freelance visual effects artist. The work that I do varies greatly from doing VFX or motion graphics for corporate projects to film projects.

David: What kind of work would you say is your specialty?
Tobias: Yeah I guess I do work in a variety of areas but that’s part of what makes this career so interesting is that in many ways you have to touch on so many disciplines just out of necessity. I’d say my area of specialty is visual FX for film and television. This usually involves a host of things but can be kind of grouped together into things like set extension or corrections, FX that are motivated by actor & crew safety, various environmental FX, and 3D modeling & animation. Not in the cartoon sense for animation but more like what you see in your video for Butterfly.

David: How did you come up with the idea for this video?
Tobias: That’s a good question. I’m not sure really. There was no idea to start with. I listened to one of the earlier versions of the track you sent me and just tried to invent a story around it. I like working like that. Open but with an obvious constraint of the length of the music and the dynamics that occur within the music. You’re still tasked with coming up with something visually that sounds like it belongs but the answers aren’t really there to begin with. Blank canvas as they say. That can be terrifying but also really refreshing.

 

David: Why did you contact me for music?
Tobias: I was aware of your music for about 3 years now because we run in the same circles with the work we do in film and television. We never really worked on anything together up to this point and I knew that a music video project was in the cards for some time now on my end. I actually looked around at quite a few artists but wasn’t finding anything that felt right or sometimes the timing just wasn’t right. I saw you last at the Liftoff Film Festival in Las Vegas where you were screening one of your music videos from your last album. I think that planted a little seed in me that I should develop a project when the time was right. The opportunity came up so that’s why I shook your tree a bit to see what might fall out.

David: Pretend money is no object… What would you do differently with “Butterfly” (and don’t say hire a different composer haha).
Tobias: Money is always an obstacle it seems. That’s a really tough question to answer because every project has different demands. With this project some of the biggest limitations, aside from a bigger budget of course, were dealing with some limitations in the tools used to create the music video. During the process I stumbled across a few pretty significant bugs in software from 3 different manufacturers. In all fairness, they are working to resolve them now that they know of them. Unfortunately for me though it meant having to find workarounds for things that are not quite the ideal result. It also meant detouring from a couple of ideas. That said, having access to alternative tools in a pinch that could do what I wanted would’ve been nice but the budget just didn’t support it. I think the only other thing that I would’ve liked is to have another artist work with me rather than me doing everything myself. Some of this stuff gets really brainy and tedious. It’s nice to share the load with others on a team when that’s possible.

 

David: What are some other projects you’ve been really proud of?
Tobias: I’m happy with just about everything that I do. I mean I get to do what others think of as “playing” creatively as my job so I feel pretty grateful about that. Some of it is better than others but that’s always a pretty subjective thing and there’s lots of reasons why one project differs so greatly from another. The people driving the boat. Budget. You’re a film composer so you know exactly what I mean. Some of the work I’ve done for director’s Brian Rosenthal and Sam Zapiain has been a lot of fun to work on as well as presenting pretty good challenges. I like solving hard problems or doing things that really scare the hell out of people when it comes to film because they are daunting. I guess if I’m proud of anything it’s the opportunity to help do that for others.

David: What’s next for you?
Tobias: I’m working on a couple of VFX courses that I’m creating for a company.  This is because I’ve done a lot of knowledge share over the last year or so regarding the work I do.  Some of it has gotten the attention of some notables in the field like Autodesk, Insydium, and others.  They share the content in their manuals and other resources.  It’s really nice to see that happen. So there’s that and I’ve also been developing a couple of new short films since I made my last one, “The Cross”.  The one project is pretty VFX heavy so that will be some time before anyone even hears of that.  For the other, I’m in the process of rethinking what I want to do as a narrative short film.  I’m not sure I’ve found a story that I can really commit 6 months to a year of my life on but I know it’s nearby.

I want to take a quick second to thank Tobias for coming to me with this project and making this video. It is truly amazing and I’m so thankful to have my music be a part of it. Also, thank all of you for reading this interview with Tobias Steiner. Please make sure to leave a comment on the Youtube video letting us know how you liked it and also share it!

Also, definitely make sure to check out his website at http://www.tobiassteiner.com to see more of his work, and while you’re there, read his blog post at http://tobiassteiner.com/butterfly-music-video-for-film-video-game-composer-david-rosen/ for more of the animation breakdown clips. They are really cool!

More Head Like Fire news will be coming soon!

David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on the ABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.

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