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REALTIMERS: James Turvey, Modeller

01 March 2023

If there’s one thing we love more than VFX, it’s our team. REALTIMERS is a chance to showcase the amazing people behind the pixels to see what makes them tick.

Meet James, our Modeller, who draws his inspiration from mythical stories about sunken tombs and ancient fortresses.

Name & job title:
James Turvey – Modeller

Where do you fit in?
I work as part of the environment modelling team and deal with all of the non-character 3d assets. Everything from background props and ingesting client assets, all the way up to creating and populating landscapes. The best assets to work on are ones that we can really get stuck into and take through the entire workflow. From concept to the finished model, adding all the necessary details and forms, unwrapping and texturing, up until adding the last details for the shot.

How did you get your start in the industry?
I studied VFX at the University of Bolton and I graduated in 2012. From there I went straight into the industry in an arch-viz role. After a year of modelling designer sofas and posh flats, I wanted to change into something more creative and through my network made at university, found out that REALTIME had a vacant position for a junior modeller.

Your superpower? 
I would have to say attention to detail, which is a bit of a cop-out as a modeller. It’s something I’ve had to learn and refine. It ends up being more of a case of knowing how to study references and where to put specific detail rather than just recognising that there’s not enough.

What inspires you on the day-to-day?
Generally just looking at loads of artwork. I use my social media to follow artists and art collections of different types – retro sci-fi art, modern and classical landscape painters, 3d artists – and use that to keep a trickle of inspiration going. What really inspires me are mythical and legendary stories. Things that involve sunken tombs and ancient fortresses, pilgrimages to lost cities etc; Which all probably comes from too much Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones!

My desert island film / TV show / animation / game /artform / piece of artwork is:
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, on PS2! There’s something magical about the design of this game that still holds up, even if it’s a bit cheesy now. It really struck a chord with me at the time it came out. The rest of the trilogy is great too.

Your soundtrack whilst working:
I mostly listen to ambient or instrumental music whilst working, lots of game and film soundtracks, it helps to get into a flow. Chill playlists from Skyrim & Lord of the Rings, some Disasterpeace. Other than that, I’m quite into progressive rock/metal bands like Porcupine Tree, Tool, Tesseract, Periphery and Polyphia. I used to be much more of a metalhead and still love Metallica and Megadeth.

If you could work with anyone who?
I would have loved to work with Jean Giraud – Moebius. His work is really inspiring and he just had that really rich method of fleshing out worlds, over multiple different art styles as well.

If not this, then what?
In another life, I think I could see myself working in the outdoors industry. Whether on the sustainability and access side or as a mountain guide.  It’s something that I really appreciated having the opportunity to do on school trips when I was younger and spending time outdoors is just an all round great thing to do that I think everyone should have access to.

I really like the variety of projects we get at REALTIME. It can range quite a bit on the games side from stylised to photoreal, and getting to work using real-time packages like Unreal Engine is exciting.

People would be surprised that
I’m really into rock climbing, hiking and running these days and I’ve just started to journey into trad climbing in the Peak District.

Advice you’d give yourself if you were just starting out?
First off, I would say ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’, which boils down to not overcomplicating tasks. You can easily make a task overly difficult without good reason. So take a step back and see if there’s a more efficient way to work. Another piece of advice is don’t be too precious with your own work. A big part of making good assets is identifying the parts that don’t work and improving them. Remind yourself that everyone’s on the same team trying to make good-looking work! And finally, some general advice is simple to be kind. It makes everything easier!