Novedge: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Ben Ridgway: My name is Ben Ridgway and I’m an Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University. I have 15 years of professional experience as both a 3D Artist in the video game industry and as a Professor. While in the games industry I helped to create games for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft console systems. I have been making experimental animations since 1992. Novedge: You have a portfolio full of stunning images and animation. Can you walk us through some of your favorite productions?
Ben Ridgway: The thing I’m working on right now is my favorite production. I’m using models that I made for my recent film “Inner Space Artifacts” to make physical sculptures using 3D printing and traditional metal casting techniques. Each model needs to be modified and optimized for printing and casting. It’s a time consuming and often tedious process but I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve been rendering the models in Keyshot to visualize how the sculptures might look. Keyshot is a great tool for that sort of thing. Novedge: What software do you use and how? I know you have unconventional ways.....
Ben Ridgway: I like to use ZBrush, Keyshot, and the Adobe Creative Suite for my work. I have been able to figure out innovative ways to sculpt and render animations in ZBrush that are otherwise extremely time consuming in other software programs. The fact that you can make blend shapes using millions of polygons in ZBrush made that software package the obvious but unconventional choice for my work. I wanted to somehow make extremely complex surfaces morph and change color without ridiculous render times. ZBrush was able to do that. In 2013 I did a presentation on this technique at SIGGRAPH.
Novedge: Your work is abstract and yet universal. You use the newest technologies in 3D Computer Graphics and Animation, yet your films mimic the essence of nature. Despite the absence of bodies, your art is the closest thing to dance I have ever seen. Does art have any borders?
Ben Ridgway: Art has no borders. However, you must pick an artistic path that is filled with constraints and rules. Within the path you choose there is also a myriad of possibilities.
Novedge: Do you compose the music that goes with your films?
Ben Ridgway: I compose my own soundtrack with the help of sound effects libraries. I love to experiment with distortion, echoes, and rhythms. Most of the time the musical arrangements I design straddle the line between atmospheric noise and music. My goal is to use sound in a way that creates an auditory parallel to the visual experience. Lighting, color, visual symbols and qualities of motion all inform the music I create.
Novedge: You are a teacher, what are you learning from your students?
Ben Ridgway: My students are always showing me new things on the web. They always know about the newest TV shows, games, movies, gadgets, as soon as they are released. Also, often my students often show me new techniques in the software we’re using.
Novedge: What's the best advice you have ever received?
Ben Ridgway: Joseph Campbell once said “follow your bliss and don’t be afraid”. If you follow your bliss you will experience…..MORE BLISS! That’s pretty much the best advice ever.
Novedge: What is your dream project and who would you like to work for/with?
Ben Ridgway: My dream project? I’m living it right now through teaching and making independent films and sculpture. Here’s a list of some of my favorite artists and musicians in no particular order. I would love to work with any of them on a project - Jonn Serrie, Andrew Jones, Beeple, Steve Roach, Tipper, Mars-1, Alex and Allyson Grey….the list goes on and on ....