ArtistProfile

Robin Dutta

Robin H. Dutta

Professional DIGITAL Artist & TD.

ARTIST PROFILE by: nora button

BORN TO IMMIGRANT PARENTS IN A SMALL TOWN NEAR MONTREAL ON APRIL 13TH, 1979, ROBIN EMERGED FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS, GROWING UP ON SMALL FARMS IN RURAL COMMUNITIES IN QUEBEC, ONTARIO, AND VERMONT. HE NOW RESIDES IN VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA, WORKING IN THE 3D ANIMATION AND VISUAL EFFECTS INDUSTRY AS A SENIOR LIGHTING, COMPOSITING, AND DIGITAL EFFECTS ARTIST WITH PROJECTS RANGING FROM FEATURE FILMS TO ANIMATED SHORTS, TELEVISION AND DVD.


“WHEN I WAS 5 YEARS OLD MY FATHER BROUGHT HOME OUR FAMILY’S FIRST COMPUTER, A COMMODORE 64, AND THIS HAS INFLUENCED MY LIFE EVER SINCE.” HE MUSED AS I SAT WITH HIM IN HIS WELL-APPOINTED VANCOUVER HOME. “EVEN BEFORE I COULD READ AND WRITE I WOULD METICULOUSLY COPY BASIC PROGRAMMING CODE FROM THE C64 INSTRUCTION MANUAL AND FINALLY I WOULD TYPE: ‘LOAD “*”, 8, 1’ TO RUN THE PROGRAM AND LIKE MAGIC MY VERY FIRST COMPUTER ANIMATION APPEARED ON OUR 20 INCH TV - A BLOCKY HOT AIR BALLOON DESCENDING FROM ONE CORNER OF THE SCREEN TO THE OTHER. EVENTUALLY I WOULD USE THAT THING TO WRITE REPORTS THAT I WOULD HAND IN ON DOT MATRIX PRINTER PAPER. I'M NOT EVEN THAT OLD, IT'S JUST THAT I WAS COMPUTER LITERATE FROM A VERY EARLY AGE, AND WE DIDN'T UPGRADE UNTIL WINDOWS CAME AROUND NEARLY A DECADE LATER.”


BY THE TIME HE WAS 12 YEARS OLD ROBIN FOUND HIMSELF IN NEW SURROUNDINGS AND AT A NEW SCHOOL FOR THE 4TH TIME, HIS FAMILY HAVING NOW IMMIGRATED TO NORTHERN VERMONT, IN THE USA. IT WAS HERE THAT HE WOULD COME TO REALIZE THAT HIS APTITUDES IN SCIENCE AND MATH WERE TAKING HIM DOWN ONE PATH, WHILE HIS LOVE OF THE ARTS PULLED HIM IN ANOTHER.


Robin Dutta circa 1994 “I WAS ALREADY GEEK IN HIGH SCHOOL,” HE ADMITS, “BUT SOMEHOW I WAS STILL PRETTY POPULAR, YOU KNOW? I GOT GOOD GRADES IN PRETTY MUCH ALL MY SCIENCE AND MATH COURSES WITHOUT MUCH EFFORT, EXCEPT FOR A.P. CALCULUS, THAT WAS HARD.” HE CHUCKLES. ”I WAS LIKE THE ULTIMATE NERD. I ACTUALLY ENJOYED TAKING THE SATS.” HE SAYS, SMILING. “I DID EVERY EXTRA CURRICULAR. STUDENT COUNCIL, THE PHYSICS CLUB, THE NATIONAL HONOR’S SOCIETY, MODEL UN. ANY SCHOOL ACTIVITY THAT WOULD LOOK GOOD ON THE COLLEGE APPLICATIONS, YOU KNOW? BUT REALLY, MY FAVORITE TIMES BACK THEN WERE WITH FRIENDS IN THE ARTS, DRAMA, AND MUSIC. I WAS, AM REALLY, AN ARTIST AT HEART, BUT EVEN BACK THEN I KNEW I WASN’T THE BEST DRAWER, PAINTER, OR SINGER, SO I ASSUMED THE ARTS WERE PROBABLY NOT THE BEST BET FOR MY FUTURE.”


THE INTERNET AT THAT TIME WAS JUST BEGINNING TO SHOW IT’S POTENTIAL, AND ROBIN GROWING UP IN THAT PRE-"TECH BUBBLE" ENVIRONMENT, DECIDED THAT A CAREER IN COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY WOULD BE THE PRAGMATIC ROUTE, PUSHING THE ARTS DOWN AS A PRIORITY.


THAT IS, UNTIL HE BEHELD TWO THINGS IN 1994 & ‘95: THE FIRST DIGITALLY ANIMATED TV SERIES AND FEATURE FILM, MAINFRAME ENTERTAINMENT’S REBOOT AND PIXAR’S TOY STORY, RESPECTIVELY. IN FACT, WITHIN THE FIRST 10 MINUTES OF WATCHING TOY STORY, ROBIN RECALLS, HE HAD A REALIZATION THAT WOULD INFLUENCE EVERY DECISION HE WOULD MAKE REGARDING HIS FUTURE CAREER.


Robin Dutta“THAT’S WHEN I REALIZED THAT IT WAS POSSIBLE TO USE COMPUTERS, MATH, AND SCIENCE TO MAKE VIRTUALLY ANYTHING I COULD IMAGINE. TO CREATE ART. THAT’S WHEN IT BECAME POSSIBLE FOR ME TO RECONCILE THAT INTERNAL CONFLICT AND ENVISION A FUTURE BEING BOTH A SCIENTIST AND AN ARTIST.”


“BUT HOW?” HE WONDERED. HOW DID THEY DO IT, AND HOW COULD HE LEARN TO DO IT HIMSELF? THESE QUESTIONS PROMPETED A FIERECE CURIOSITY THAT WOULD LEAD HIM TO WRITE LETTERS TO DISNEY AT 14 YEARS OF AGE ASKING FOR CAREER ADVICE, TO DEVOUR EVERY 3D ANIMATION MAGAZINE HE COULD AFFORD, AND OF COURSE, TO WATCH EVERY 3D ANIMATED MOVIE AND CARTOON HE COULD.


CHOOSING TO PLAY TO HIS ACADEMIC STRENGTHS, HE DECIDED TO DOUBLE DOWN ON HIS INITIAL DECISION TO PURSUE COMPUTER SCIENCE AFTER GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL, WHILE TEACHING HIMSELF EVERYTHING HE COULD FIND OUT ABOUT THE 3D ANIMATION INDUSTRY IN HIS SPARE TIME.


IN 2003, AFTER RECEIVING HIS DEGREE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE FROM ACADIA UNIVERSITY IN NOVA SCOTIA, ROBIN SUBMITTED HIS 2D & 3D ART PORTFOLIO TO VANCOUVER FILM SCHOOL'S (VFS) RENOWN 3D ANIMATION & VISUAL EFFECTS PROGRAM, AND WAS ACCEPTED, CAUSING HIM TO RESETTLE ONCE AGAIN, THIS TIME ALL THE WAY ACROSS CANADA TO BRITISH COLUMBIA, WHERE HE HAS REMAINED.


“IT WAS A PRETTY CRAZY TIME IN MY LIFE.” HE EXPLAINS. “VFS WAS REALLY INTENSE, AND REALLY REALLY EXPENSIVE. BETWEEN VFS AND ACADIA, I WAS DEEP IN STUDENT DEBT. I WAS WORKING FOR A TEMP AGENCY, MY FATHER HAD RECENTLY PASSED AWAY, AND I WAS THOUSANDS OF KILOMETERS FROM MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS. BUT I WAS DETERMINED. I WAS 100% INVESTED, BOTH FINANCIALLY AND EMOTIONALY, IN MY DECISION TO WORK IN 3D ANIMATION, SO WHEN I GOT CALLED IN FOR AN INTERVIEW AT MAINFRAME, THE MAINFRAME, I LITTERALLY DANCED FOR JOY WHEN I GOT OFF THE PHONE.”


Robin Dutta circa 1994AS A RECENT GRADUATE, ROBIN WAS HIRED AS A LOW-LEVEL RENDER WRANGLER ON HIS FIRST 3D PRODUCTION, BARBIE’S FAIRYTOPIA (MATTEL). LEVERAGING HIS TECHNICAL SKILLS TO MOVE UP IN THE COMPANY, HE WAS QUICKLY PROMOTED TO BEING A LIGHTING ARTIST WITHIN HIS FIRST 2 WEEKS AND A VISUAL EFFECTS ARTIST ON MAINFRAME’S BIGGEST PRODUCTION AT THAT POINT, STEWART LITTLE 3 (SONY), LESS THAN 4 MONTHS LATER.


WITH EACH PASSING YEAR, CONTRACT RENEWALS AND PROMOTIONS WOULD PLACE HIM IN INCREASINGLY DEMANDING ROLES, EVEN AS MAINFRAME TRANSITIONED AND WAS ACQUIRED BY RAINMAKER ENTERTAINMENT.


“BY THEN I WAS WELL ESTABLISHED AT MAINFRAME AS A CONTRACTED FX ARTIST, SO I WAS HAPPY TO BE THERE AND HELP FINISH UP THE MAINFRAME PRODUCTIONS AND RAMP UP AS RAINMAKER’S MANAGEMENT SETTLED IN. NOBODY REALIZED THAT THE 2008 FINANCIAL CRISIS WOULD RESULT IN MAJOR LAYOFFS WITH ABOUT HALF OF THE EMPLOYEES, VETERANS AND JUNIORS ALIKE, BEING LET GO.” HE RECALLS. “I WAS IN FREEFALL FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME, SO I WENT ON EI [EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE] WHILE I RE-EVALUATED MY LIFE AND WAITED FOR THE ECONOMY TO RESTABILIZE AND STUDIOS TO START HIRING AGAIN. WELL, I SAW THAT THE ECONOMY WASN’T GETTING BETTER ANY TIME SOON AND I FIGURED THERE WAS NOTHING I WANTED TO DO MORE THAN WHAT I HAD TRAINED SO HARD TO DO, SO I OPENED MY OWN FREELANCE BUSINESS AND I STARTED DOING SOLO 3D PROJECTS FOR CLIENTS REFERED TO ME BY FRIENDS. IT WAS LIKE BEING AT VFS AGAIN. I DID EVERYTHING MYSELF. STORYBOARDS, 3D MODELING, RIGGING, TEXTURING, ANIMATION, LIGHTING, RENDERING, COMPOSITING, AND FINAL EDITING. ALL ON A THINKPAD LAPTOP.”


THIS FREELANCE WORK OCCUPIED HIM, BUT AFTER A YEAR OF MEAGER LIVING, HE STARTED FOCUSING ON STUDIO APPLICATIONS AGAIN.

Max Steel
“ONE DAY I DROPPED IN TO RAINMAKER TO PICK UP SOME RECOMMENDATION LETTERS FROM PREVIOUS SUPERVISORS. WELL, IT TURNED OUT THAT THEY WERE HIRING IN THE LIGHTING DEPARTMENT, SO I ENDED UP BACK AT RAINMAKER, THIS TIME AS A SENIOR LIGHTING AND COMPOSITING ARTIST ON THE MAX STEEL FRANCHISE (MATTEL) WHERE I NOT ONLY HELPED ESTABLISHED THE VISUAL STYLE AND LIGHTING WITH THE ART DIRECTOR AND LIGHTING SUPERVISOR, BUT I WAS ALSO RESPONSIBLE FOR MANAGING AND UPDATING THE DEPARTMENTS PRODUCTION PIPELINE, WHICH GAVE ME THE CHANCE TO RESHARPEN MY CODING SKILLS. I ALSO GOT TO WORK ON SOME MANAGERIAL SKILLS AS I MENTORED THE JUNIOR LIGHTING ARTISTS, AND INSTRUCTED OTHER SENIOR ARTISTS ON HOW THE NEW PIPELINE WORKED.”



Escape From Planet EarthROBIN WAS AT RAINMAKER AT THE TIME THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN AND SAYS HE IS PROUD TO BE EARNING A CREDIT ON THEIR FIRST MAJOR THEATRICAL RELEASE, ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH (WEINSTEIN CO.), IN THEATRES FEB. 2013.


“IT’S KIND OF FUNNY. I HAVE SPENT ALMOST A DECADE MAKING FEATURE LENGTH 3D ANIMATION, BUT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT MY WORK WILL ACTUALLY BE ON THEATRE SCREENS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND AROUND THE WORLD. EVERYTHING ELSE I’VE DONE WAS EITHER FOR TV OR WENT DIRECT TO VIDEO, SO EVEN THOUGH IT WAS ACTUALLY SOME REALLY REALLY GREAT ANIMATION AND STORIES, THEY DON’T HAVE THE NAME RECOGNITION THAT THIS ‘MAJOR MOTION PICTURE’ WILL HAVE.” HE SMILES WHILE AFFECTING BUNNY EAR QUOTES. “I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE IT, IN 3D, ON THE BIG SCREEN.”


SO, WHAT’S NEXT FOR ROBIN DUTTA? “HAHA, WHO KNOWS!” HE SAYS, LAUGHING. “THAT’S THE BEAUTIFUL AND SCARY THING ABOUT THIS INDUSTRY. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT PROJECT IS NEXT, WHAT CHALLENGES IT WILL PRESENT, OR HOW LONG THE CONTRACT WILL LAST. 3D ANIMATED FEATURE FILMS WILL ALWAYS HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART, SO I HAVE NO PROBLEM KEEPING THAT UP, BUT I GOT TO DO SOME LIVE ACTION VISUAL EFFECTS FOR A MUSIC VIDEO WHEN I WAS FREELANCING AND I REALLY ENJOYED WORKING AT THE HIGHER LEVEL OF REALISM REQUIRED, SO I DO HOPE TO WORK ON SOME LIVE ACTION CGI IN THE NEAR FUTURE.”


EDUCATION:



Vancouver Film School

Certificate in 3D Animation and Visual Effects.

VFS is one of the top 3D animation schools in the world providing professors with industry professional and emphasizing real-world production readiness.



Acadia University

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science

Consistently ranked among the top 5 undergraduate universities in Canada, Acadia is a small Maritime school with a reputation for excellence and progressive learning techniques, exemplified by being the first university in Canada to fully utilize information technology in the undergraduate curriculum, providing student's with laptops and wired classrooms.


EMPLOYMENT:



Rainmaker Entertainment

Sr. Lighting, Compositing, Effects, and Shot Finaling.

One of the largest 3D animation studios in Canada, Rainmaker produces several 3D animated productions a year, with it's first feature film, Escape From Planet Earth, arriving in 2013.



Mainframe Entertainment

Lighting, Renders, Compositing, Effects, Technical Animation, and Shot Finaling.

Known for the Dire Straits 'Money For Nothing' music video as well as being the first company to air the fully 3D animated televisions series, ReBoot, Mainframe was the biggest 3D animation studio in Canada before eventually being acquired by Rainmaker.



Mainframe Entertainment

3D Short Film and Graphics

Up Potential is a web based resource providing support and coping techniques for professionals and students dealing with high levels of pressure and stress, and to aid with mental and physical wellness.