Petar Bakalov, Senior 3D Animator, ReDefine Sofia, for working in the cinema as a marathon and a relay race at the same time
Petar Bakalov is a Senior 3D Animator at ReDefine Sofia and has over 20 years of experience in the VFX industry, advertising, games and other visual products. We talk with him about what attracts him to animation, what it is like to work on big Hollywood productions and the motivation to train Bulgaria’s new animators and VFX specialists.
What was the key thing that made you turn animation into your profession?
I don’t think it happened suddenly. I’ve always drawn, but I’m not an artist. I’m drawn to the exact sciences, but I’m not an engineer either. I love and want to create cinema, but I don’t want to be in front of the lens. I immediately liked animation because through it I could explore so many disciplines, techniques and approaches. Animation consists of so many arts and it’s a challenge that attracted me.
Do you remember what your first project was?
The first thing I did on my computer was a 3D model of my room as seen through a flying camera. It sounds funny now, but back in ’99 it was enough to impress someone. The first film I worked on as an animator was Dragon Fighter. Ivo Slivkov and Vladi Dunev were my first Maya teachers.
You have worked on projects such as Expendables, Hellboy 3, Hitman’s Bodyguard and many others. How does it feel to take part in the creation of such large Hollywood productions?
It’s great to be a part of these big productions and get a peek into the visual effects kitchen. It’s a bit like a marathon and a relay race at the same time. A marathon, because often the work involves long hours, and when you finally think your shot is great, you get another batch of notes and you have to start again, almost from the beginning. Relay because, as animators, we are part of the visual effects “assembly line” and the product of our work needs to quickly pass to the next department. In the end, though, all the effort is worth it.
What are the things that make you keep the love for your profession?
In the evening, when my daughter and I watch a movie, and I see how she laughs or cries, or thinks and questions about things in life, then I see the true meaning of our work.
Is there a demand for animators and VFX specialists on the market in Bulgaria and abroad?
I believe there is a demand. Humanity today creates and consumes colossal amounts of audio-visual information, and although newer technologies appear on the horizon, the skills of animators and VFX specialists will continue to be valued in the future.
What motivated you to teach the VFX & Animation program at ARC Academy? What qualities do you think students should have? What do you want to teach them?
Over the years I have had the honor and pleasure of working with great people from whom I have learned a lot. I would also like to pass on my experience, which is why I took part in the ARC Academy program, from where I believe the new animators and VFX specialists of Bulgaria will appear. What qualities will they need? I think you have to be inquisitive and persistent, never stop asking questions, but also be self-critical in your work. My lecture will be on the topic of RIGGING in MAYA, which is a separate discipline in itself, too extensive, but I will try to show students that solving these visual tasks is fun.
If you are interested in animation and visual effects in cinema and want to be part of the VFX & Animation program, apply to ARC Academy now.