Daz Interview Series: Corey Belina, Daz 3D Art Director

I’m so drawn to and excited about working with a group of creatives who make art outside of the studio systems that I’ve spent many years in. At Daz, motivations are born of genuine passion, interest and hobbyism in the 3D art sphere, not just the need to clock a 9-5 day. And I’m fortunate to work with people at Daz whose projects are inventive and imaginative, and come from their own new ideas, not just redundant stuff for the millionth comic book movie, or video game sequel.
Corey Belina, Daz 3D Art Director

A life-long art and comics enthusiast, Corey Belina was recently brought on as Daz 3D’s new Art Director. With impressive previous experience in movies, video games, concepting and directing 3D projects, Corey talks about everything he loves about 3D art, the future vision for Daz characters, products, and Studio, and how Daz plans continue to offer amazing content and powerful free software to enterprising 3D artists everywhere.

The Interview:

Corey, welcome and thanks for sitting down with us.

Thanks for having me!

So a little bit of background: what brought you to the 3D art industry?

As a kid I always wanted to draw comics, and after highschool I had to figure out how to get my skills up to a level where that would be possible. I got into the traditional animation program at Capilano College in North Vancouver, where I started to really enjoy animating on paper, and then I took a quick “Intro to 3D” class. As soon as I learned that I could animate without having to do 600+ drawings, I was hooked!

I read an old book about 3DS Max, did a tutorial on how to model Crash Bandicoot in Maya and after making a 2d/3d hybrid animation reel (using 3DS Max biped… oof!!) I was able to get hired as a previs artist on the film Watchmen in 2007.

Sounds like 3D makes for a better workflow. Can you tell us about the cool projects you worked on before Daz, and a few other places you’ve worked?

So my first 3D art gig was working as a previs artist on the Watchmen film, which was super cool for me — I was a huge fan of the graphic novel (and was even able to get my copy signed by artist Dave Gibbons on set, he even drew a little Rorschach in it!!). Getting to work with Zack Snyder was an awesome experience, and I got to work with him again a few years later on Suckerpunch, where I designed shots and edits for the big visual effects sequences.

I’ve worked on a handful of films, and freelanced in games, creating and directing sequences for a few Lego games before eventually storyboarding and animating on a few of the Gears of War games with Microsoft. After this, I went to Oats Studios, a small start-up run by director Niell Blomkamp, where I animated, storyboarded, and ran motion capture shoots, while working on my own proof-of-concept short film (which I eventually pitched to Netflix). Most recently, I wrapped up cinematics directing, previs, motion capture performance and animation on over 150 shots for the PS5 launch title Godfall.

Whoa! That’s awesome work, and quite the resume! So how will your experience come into play at Daz? And can you give us a sneak peak behind the scenes of your role as Art Director?

I’ve been pushing myself ever since I was a kid to be an artist, and I feel like I’m maybe halfway there. I concept paint, model and write constantly in my spare time, working on short films and project pitches. Over my career I was always hungry and always freelancing; I was working multiple jobs and pushing my own projects forward.

I’m definitely excited to bring my passion, and attention to detail to Daz, as in my first couple of months here I’ve already found a lot of love and respect for not only the Daz teams, but the PAs as well (even the ones that have beef with my notes 🙂 ). Over the first two months I’ve helped with concepting outfits and worked with artists on Freja, Kjaer, the Cyberpunks Millawa and Juan Carlos, and Topsy and Drutherson, as well as some of the newer characters you haven’t seen yet.

I’m working hard with the team to get ahead of our releases, to be more proactive in our creation and feedback so that the products themselves and the way they’re presented, can reach higher standards.

You’ve said that you want to reach for higher standards and enhance the look and feel of products on the Daz Shop; how do you feel that our community of talented artists can help with that?

So much quality work gets submitted to us on a daily basis, and we have been reaching out to PAs whose work catches our eye; be it with their sculpts, clothing, texturing/shading, or lighting/rendering promos.

We’re planning on continuing to build the quality of our content from within our massive group of Daz contributors first and foremost, as they know the platform best. Daz Artists are incredibly talented 3D artists and designers and I can’t wait to see what we can create together!

Agreed. So you’ve worked with tons of different softwares — what do you think is cool about Studio, and what sets us apart from others in the industry?

I have used a ton of softwares over my 14 year career, and the first thing that really got me excited about Daz Studio was when I learned how easy it is to put a scene together and get a decent render out of it. I did the Stonemason sci-fi set tutorial (narrated by a soft, and surprisngly sultry Ty Dupperon), and quickly found something else that sets Studio apart: it’s fun!

After I got a bit more acquainted with Studio, I realized that there’s tons of functionality Studio has that some of the other softwares I’ve worked with don’t, which, backed up by Daz 3D’s product library, offers something unique among 3D platforms. The library of characters, props, environments, HDRIs and set-ups is vast, and varied, and it’s been a blast to put scenes together.

While there are ways that we’re planning on improving Daz as a software and creative platform, at its heart Daz Studio is a free and pretty powerful tool for artists to play with and enjoy making art. And that is a very good thing.

Is there anything that has surprised you about Daz that people who’ve never used Daz before would be keen to know?

I can’t say enough how quick and easy it is to pick up (for free), rip through a couple of tutorials and start rendering scenes. And again… the Daz Library of assets… it’s huge.

What does the future artistic vision look like for Daz?

We’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last month nailing down ideas for all of 2021’s big releases, and we have some amazing stuff in the works. Personally I’m focusing on continuing to improve our characters’ look and feel, as well as branching out to include characters and worlds of more varied styles.

We can’t wait. Related: what cool functionality, and capabilities can we look forward to from Daz and Daz Studio?

So far I’ve mostly been working on expanding Daz 3D’s ever growing animation library, tightening up Daz Bridges, and bringing amazing new characters to Daz. A decent-sized update to our Genesis 8 character may be in the works… I’d tell you more, but it’s too early to get fired for breaching an NDA.

Lol. Corey, thanks so much for taking the time to interview! We can’t wait to see how your direction advances Daz 3D!

Thank you. I’m thrilled to be a part of the team!

New to the role of Daz 3D Art Director, Corey Belina brings tons of experience from the 3D sphere including work for the Watchmen movie, Gears of War, and Oats Studios with famed South African director Neill Blomkamp. What Corey is most excited about for what he’ll help bring to Daz:

I can’t wait to get detailed concept work and find the best possible artists. With a little bit of planning ahead, I think Daz will level-up support and quality on our 3D assets: not just our assets as a product, but their designs, back stories and overall badassness.

We can’t wait to see what Corey brings to Daz 3D in the role of Art Director!

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