Bak 17 Is Online!
'Face', 17th issue of Bak Magazine, is now online! Sit back, relax and enjoy!


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Interviews in Bak | 17
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Nezih Kanbur
3D Artist { }
Nezih Kanbur

The theme of our third issue is "old". What does this word remind you? Which scenes come to your mind when you think about your childhood?

For me, the word "old" reminds worthless, insignificant stuff. Actually I do not know whether it is a healthy thought; renewing everything continuously, wanting to meet new people, creating new things, destroying the old things without giving any importance while doing this are some behaviors that I see in myself. Think about it, doing it over with a new insight whenever necessary even if you did it before in every animation. This is not a compatible logic with the capitalist world which takes the most of even a tiny fly, but I make a new fly in every project and I leave it that way. Sometimes I feel that nothing has a meaning in life, the reason has to be the feelings that I have against the conception of time which I cannot explain. Sometimes I do not even register most of the scenes that I create, because they are "old" now.

Do you remember when you met the computer technology and your first computer?

I met the PCs in my prep class when I was in Darüşşafaka high school. Most of them were machines with 8088 processors and 5.25'' floppy disk drives but no hard disks. Most of them did not have a graphic card; only one of them had the mono graphic drawing Hercules card. I remember trying to draw a graphic by writing programs with it. I wrote a program by which I drew a cube with the drawing orders of GWBasic programming language and revolving it by using the keyboard. To tell you the truth, these are such "old" times that I do not even recall why on earth I attempted to do anything 3D. Most probably, the reason was the pointless net visuals which turned like hell in movies like Knight Rider. Of course in the same period, I spent a lot of time respectively with the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, then Atari ST1040, Commodore 64 and lastly the Amiga 500 computer that my beloved childhood friend Abdullah bought like a collection. Apparently, not much has changed since then; back then there was the Commodore 64 now we have AMD 64:P. Our first computer was the 486 dx33 that my brother bought. The trident display adapter had a 256kb memory. I guess its disk was 60 mb and so. The memory was 4 mb which we turned into 8 mb, of course. It cost $2450. God, those were the days...

How did you decide to lean on animation?

One day my brother brought a bird animation done with a 3D program to the computer. (birdy.3ds) Animation format FLI. You watched it on dos screen. Format of 256 colors. The moment I saw it, I said to mayself, "this is my job". I remember watching the bird jump up and down for hours. And I shall not undermine the fact that I was doing a whole lot of animations on the side of my notebooks.

You are the author of the first Turkish 3D Studio Max book. This great source published in 1998 that consists of 832 pages is still on the shelves with its 8th edition today. Can you tell us how you decided to write a book and your working steps?

It is so "old", I cannot even remember the details, but I always loved writing, and of course explaining. I knew the DOS drive of the 3D Studio program pretty well. I had the idea of writing a book in my mind. In the same period, a firm that was one of the distributors of the program made me an offer; they said they could provide me with the program and its manuals and they asked if I could write its book. I did not say no. I read the manuals in a month and I started writing like that.

You have to know what the reader may not know when you are doing such a job. It is not hard to understand expressions like "move your pivot point" or "UV your map" will make no sense to anyone; if you care at all. I cared, otherwise why would I write it. My purpose was to explain; I thought from where should someone, who does not know anything, start. And I strated writing on that criteria. I prepared the plans of all subjects with main headings. Then I detailed it.

I know very well that the hardest part of teaching is to pull the student into the problem itself. If you cannot make an instruction "a probel that belongs to the student" for the reader, then you do not give him/her useful information; you just make them memorize. I believe that even the most complicated physics problems can be solved if you put it in front of the student as something related to a subject that he/she is curious about. The power of such education is so huge that it cannot be forgotten, and it creates the possibility to develop itself. I tries to put forward such an exposition in the book. I think all these reasons are behind its success and popularity.

We know that apart from 3D animation and your scholar qualities, you have been concerned with physics and mathematics for a long time now. Recently, we heard your name in a project which contains all these qualities. You present the genius Relativity Theory of Albert Einstein in its 100th anniversary. (You can reach the pieces of the work from Can you tell us the details of this project?

I can say that relativity theory changed my life. I mean I knew that life was meaningless, but it is left without any meaning at all for me. Leaving the joke aside, this theory showed me the lack of meaning in things that we take for granted, how different the things that we no doubt thought was right could be, how unconsciously we have been living. We fall under too much prejudice and we take our decisions under the control of thoughts that we never even imagined.

There are details on the website on what purpose that I did this project. The most significant detail that I can tell is, the videos and the animations that amounted to 45 minutes in this projects was shot in my house. The Turkish house as you know it, not a special structure. There is no studio and all. But I travel around from the Arizona desert to Einstein’s home in Bern, from the spaceship park in Texas to the space itself in the movie as the narrator. However, as I mentioned, I was actually on the balcony or in my bedroom in all of these scenes.

There is no crew, there are no sophisticated tools. Just a 3ccd DV camera, a sufficient amount of colored fabric, revolving chair and necessary softwares.

Except for these, there is one thing that I want to emphasize; we have to make sure that science will be one of the respected areas in our country from now on. If not, it would not be possible to reach the desirable point in any area that we want. The most important thing that I wanted to achieve with this project is to turn science into an envied, worked on area as it deserved to be in Turkey. Actually we are all born curious but we are made believe that science is worthless with the wrong type of education. However, we know very well that the underlying reason of economic power is the development in the scientific research. I think that the key to our progress is creating a society in which curious and hard-working people are qualified as heroes rather than nerds.

You mostly work alone both in your commercial projects and your personal projects. Your signature is on every step from models to animations, assembling to vocalization. We know that large crews work on similar projects abroad. Why do you prefer to work alone? Is it so in order to maintain full control over the whole project, or is this a completely psychological preference?

Both are effective and of course there are more... Wouldn’t I like to work on projects where one composes the music, the other does the assembling, in the end the names flow like a waterfall even mentioning the cleaning guys? But first of all I have not met anyone who had that kind of talent. What I am talking about is not the talent to render the photorealistic, it is not the talent to do good modelling either. I am talking about more refined stuff. I carry the weight of a huge deal of stress on my work which cannot be noticed by a lot of people who consider themselves talented. I cannot even explain why I spend my days on a single camera move; what I have been fighting for does not even exist on the agenda of many people in Turkey. I even think most of the directors that we adore cannot be like this.

Very simply, a 10 minutes animation that I make can be finished with one camera move from the top, but it is crucial that there not a single flaw. Most people do not see the movement mistakes that I address as flaws anyway. You can also leave modelling to someone but the consequence is just obscure. In addition to these, such strange feelings came to us with the widespread usage of computers that everyone is a CG artist today. If you ask me, I think art is not something that everyone can bear.

If art in Turkey had found its real definition and if real artists were in the places related to art, all these people would not be so anxious about wearing the artist uniform.

Can you tell us about your working atmosphere, the equipment that you use and the softwares that you prefer?

If I was to found an animation studio, I would name it the Balcony Studio most probably. I shot most of the scenes that people thought were products of sophisticated studio work in my balcony or my bedroom.

The cinema presents us with a lot of possibilities to set every scene that we want actually. The whole deal is to be able to see them. If there is an issue that I have to cover in Einstein’s house, I do this in front of a green sheet in my living room. How different the lights of the two houses can be? It is also not that difficult to paint a wall in green, I will do that as well if necessary.

To sum up, I can count standart tools like sheets, plastic paint, adze etc. among the equipment that I use. I have a Sony VX2000 DV camera. There are two PCs that I use. The strongest one is AMD 64 3200. As for the programs, 3DSMax for 3D animation, Combustion for Keying and some assembling applications, Boujou for corrolating 3D camera moves with real ones, Photoshop for coat production, Premiere and Vegas for assembling, Adobe Audition for sound mix are the first that comes to my mind. Of course, when necessary I use countless programs like Corel Draw or Multimedia Builder and much various plugins according to the work that I have received.

3D animation is becoming more and more amazing especially in the movies that it is being used. We find it harder to distinguish the models that we recognized easily recently from the real ones. It is possible to often see this dazzling progress rate in Hollywood cinema. How do you see the usage of the 3D technique in the movie industry? Is there any directors whose work fascinate you?

There is a frightening consumption rate in the world and this will always be the case. We will always struggle for more intense scenes, more impressive lights. This is only natural because even the visuality of movies is enough to establish a certain demand.

We should keep in mind that the main factor which makes a movie valuable is not the intensity of the visual effects but it is the extent to which the movie satisfies some critical points in a person’s mind. Content is more important than everything. If you look at it from the surface you can see that in Titanic or Braveheart, which are huge Oscar monsters, there is a love story braided with emotions like patriotism, justice, honor and courage that people have always been craving for. Oscar is easy to get if you put a score by James Horner on top of these. (Of course if you don’t count the fact that in the 13th century William Wallace and his friends were walking around with kilts which emerged in the 18th century for the first time. This is a worse flaw than the digital watches on the arms of the janissaries in Cüneyt Arkın movies.) I find it very strange that the Western consumption trend takes these emotions from people and then give them back step by step in plastic boxes, making profit out of it. But all the things that are being done does not change the fact that what makes the movies attractive is "what is told" rather than all the special effects. I insistently argue that computer graphics is only a tool that is necessary to give a certain message. Underdeveloped countries like Turkey unfortunately have huge problems in establishing the balance about these issues. Turkish society is too formalist, you know, an intellectual person uses unfamiliar phrases because of his vast knowledge and he is labelled as "incomprehensible". Another person who wants to seem intellectual uses foreign words instead of Turkish ones because the only thing he sees is "incomprehensible" in shape. We observe the same problem in cinema. We only look at what is on the surface. When we imitate, we only imitate the special effects part because it is the only thing that we can see. The bottom line is, there is a lesson to be learned even in the most useless Freddy movies.

When you ask the director who I am impressed with, only one name comes to my mind: Steven Spielberg. The fluent verbalism and the sense of humor of this man really fascinates me.

Assume that a powerful production company spared you limitless budget, giving you the chance to work with anyone in anywhere you wish. What would you want to express with what kind of a movie? Considering that Titanic cost 247 million dollars and Terminator 3 cost 216 million dollars, what do you think the budget of your movie would be?

My life passes by thinking about what a beautiful place the world can be with friendship and how impossible it is to show this to people. I believe that people can achieve immortality if they could spend their time thinking each other’s good instead of trying to trip one another all the time. This is a very deep philosophy. You can be sure that both goodness and evil have surprising powers. Actually, it could be a movie about this. To make people see their own realities and to be able to awaken them would be great. Of course my balcony is enough for this kind of a movie. It would not cost a lot. By the way, it can also be a movie about the cholesterol mechanism. I would cast Arnold Schwarzenegger as the lead, he would make a great trombosit.

What do you complain about mostly? If you had a single chance to change one thing in your country or in the world, what would it be and how would you change it?

I think I complain about everything. I have a very adverse character and I try show the black sides of something when someone calls it white. If he called it black, I would try to show the white sides. This is my source of energy, but of course I am not in such bad condition. If I have to complain about a more concrete thing, I complain a lot about people who spread negative energy relentlessly because they cannot be happy with the life that they are living. There are so many people like this...You go to student resources in your school, his task is to give you your student document but he acts as if you requested something he is not responsible for; you ask a bus driver if he goes to a certain stop but you have to have bat ears to make sense of what is coming out of his mouth.

There is a constant quarrel between good and evil in the world. But the funny thing is that this world could have been a magnificant place where everyone is happy. The only obstacle to this is an unconscious mass who cannot raise their children properly. If I had a chance, I would want to make people understand this.

I wanted such a thing; I changed everything with it, in this way not only a single thing would change but everything would be affected. You said one thing, right?

Then I would like to put convertible windows in the new public buses. In the summer the air conditioning will not work and most probably we will not be able to get on the buses because of the smell of feet ;)

"I can say that Relativity Theory changed my life. I mean I knew that life was meaningless, but it is left without any meaning at all for me."

- Nezih Kanbur / Bak 03
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