Jeff Mottle – CGarchitect Is Me

The winner of Architectural 3DAwards 2015, commissioned image category - Radoslav Zilinsky (Slovakia), сlient - Transport for London

(You could also read this article in Russian language – LINK)
It has been several years since DA!Fest started its intense collaboration with the international archviz society CGarchitect and The Architectural3DAwards International Competition which  films have been traditionally included in the program of our festival many times. While approaching the 6th DA!Fest festival, we had a talk with Jeff Mottle  – the organizer of the contest and CEO of CGarchitect Digital Media Corporation.

DA!: Jeff, tell us about your professional background. Have you got a degree in architecture? Do you come from a family of architects?
D.M:I’ve been interested in architecture for as long as I can remember and was formally educated as an architectural technologist, graduating from a polytechnic here in Canada in 1995.  I spent the first 18 months of my career designing homes for an estate home builder here in Calgary, but quickly found my way into 3D.  The owner of the company I was working for gave me a copy of 3ds Studio DOS 4 and told me to figure it out. This was in the days before the internet and 3d training, so I literally had to figure it out! That was the very start of my career in 3d visualization.

Jeff Mottle

From there I went to work for one of the largest office interiors companies in the world helping to manage their 3D department.  For almost seven years we used Lightscape (the very first radiosity renderer, and the predecessor to GI) to render around 4,000 renderings for fortune 500 companies around the world.  That led to several other positions, including Production Director, Technical Director and Business development manager for companies in the UK, US and Canada.

I started CGarchitect back in 2001 as I was looking for new opportunities and thought I would start a community website to help foster the industry. But if we’re being honest, I also started it so I could find jobs before anyone else found them!  In 2001 the industry was significantly smaller than it is today, so it was a lot harder to see what was going on around the world.  I guess it worked as every opportunity I’ve had in my career has stemmed from the launching of the site.  In 2009 I decided to make CGarchitect and CGschool my full time job and I’ve been doing that ever since. This August will mark the 15th anniversary for the site, so I’m pretty proud about making it this far.  The last few years have definitely been a highlight in my career!

The nominee of Architectural 3DAwards 2015, commissioned image category - Squint/Opera (United Kingdom), client - Europa City

DA!: What is the reason of having the headquarter of CGarchitect.com in Calgary? Is it just because it’s your home town? Or is it more profitable to manage and develop such projects in Canada than in the US?
D.М.: 
I was born in Calgary and have never found a reason to leave, so that is the only real reason CGarchitect is based here.  I spent around 70-90 days a year travelling all over the world for business so I don’t really see the need to move anywhere else.  When I was in production full time, and even now, very few clients come from Canada, so the way I look at it, if I can make good international business from here, why move away from my family and friends.  My wife and seven year old son also are well established here too, so that now makes it much harder to consider moving anywhere else.

The nominee of Architectural 3DAwards 2015, non-commissioned image category - Martin Jastrzebski (Poland)

DA!: Did you have any missionary ambitions on your mind when you started CGarchitect.com?
D.М.: Back in 2001 the internet was really only about 5 years old in terms of usable commercial websites. There were not too many 3D sites out there, and certainly not within the architectural 3d space.  CGchannel at the time was the biggest 3D site out there and I was friends with the owner, who ironically now owns the software development company I use for all of my development and consulting projects. He also owns the now wildly popular ArtStation website and was the previous co-owner of CGsociety.  He (Leonard Teo) was in many ways a mentor for me as I grew CGarchitect.   At the time, I wanted to create a community for people who did what I did, architectural visualization, so I started CGarchitect.  Initially I interviewed all of my Lightscape user friends around the globe and posted a few news items every few weeks, but it was never started to become a business.  In fact, it never even crossed my mind. However within six months, I realized I was going to have to start generating revenue as the web hosting costs were starting to get expensive.  And thus the business side was born.  I look back now and laugh at how little I was paying. Now my hosting costs alone are high five figures a year!  I wish I could go back to the days when it cost be $20 a month!  So,  long story short, no big plan. I have never had a plan, but I am really good at following trends and making connections and I think that has been the secret to most of my success in the industry.

The winner of Architectural 3DAwards 2015, non-commissioned image category -Diego Querol (Spain)

DA!: Tell us about your team. How many people work for CGarchitect.com now? What about the CGschool and contest projects?
D.М.: Over the years it has varied, but most people are surprised to learn that I am responsible for most of CGarchitect. I have a business partner in the CGschool but most people I hire are consultants.  Everything from web hosting support, web security, CGschool trainers, web development etc are all consulted out to companies that specialize in these areas.  It’s certainly a lot more expensive this way, but it also provided me the freedom from managing a local team and dealing with all of the HR headaches that come with it.   That said, I do spend a significant part of my time project managing the development of CGarchitect and projects for clients like Autodesk and HP.

The nominee of Architectural 3DAwards 2015, student image category - Hamed Hosseinpour (Iran)

DA!: Can you tell us about the influence of Architectural3DAwards on the international CG society for the last 12 years of the contest history?
D.М.: I think of all of the things I’ve done with CGarchitect, the 3Dawards is the project I am most proud of.  It was always much easier for larger companies to get industry exposure, but there was still so much undiscovered talent out there. I wanted to build a platform for those artists to get the recognition they deserved.  Every year the awards have grown significantly and we now usually receive close to 4,000 submissions every year.  What I am most happy about however is the impact the awards have had on the careers of the winners and nominees.  There have been so many people whose have gone on to work for the most talented companies in the industry on the back of the exposure they received from the awards.  In that sense, it accomplished everything  hoped it would.  I think the awards have also had an influence on trends in the industry as well.  Every year the winners tend to inspire others to raise the bar and to push the industry further.

The nominee of Architectural 3DAwards 2014, commissioned image category - Christopher Malheiros (Portugal)

DA!: What level of basic knowledge does the CGschool program require?
D.М.: We have classes from very beginner all the way up to masterclasses taught by the most talented people in our industry.  We have a little something for everyone.  We’re currently working on the next round of courses and hiring instructors, so if any of your readers are interested have them contact me!

The winner of Architectural 3DAwards 2014, student image category - Henlly Mo (China)

DA!: Jeff, what significant changes might happen in the field of archviz in the future? 
D.М.: think our industry has become pretty mature now and I don’t see a lot of significant changes for the immediate future, but I do think the large advances in computing power and the popularity of brute force renderers will eventually result in what I call “virtual photography”. Eventually there will be no settings to counteract the effects of rendering algorithm artifacts.  Eventually, it will be literally like using a camera as “rendering” will no longer be required. I think this is important as I find far too many people in our industry have become a master of settings and have no real understanding of composition and lighting and how to tell a story with imagery.  I expect once “virtual photography” is mainstream, those who have built businesses on being software masters will disappear in favour of those who are more talented artists.
Right now of course the biggest new opportunity for our industry is Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.  While none of this technology is new and all of these came and died over 15 years ago, I think there are a number of factors that will allow them to have a bit more staying power this time.  By no means do I envision this replacing images and film, but I do think it will be a powerful new tool and opportunity for those wanting to tell stories about architecture in new and exciting ways.

The nominee of Architectural 3DAwards 2015, non-commissioned film category – Rostislav Nikolaev (Russia)
DA!: Jeff, say a few words of encouragement for the potential Russian speaking contestants of the upcoming Architectural3DAwards?
D.М.: After 20+ years in the industry and having seen tens of thousands of images from artists around the world, I’ve noticed that many countries have a unique style.  Russia is one of those countries whose style I’ve always really enjoyed. I’ve seen some extremely talented artists and companies come from Russia and I hope this year we’ll see many more submissions from your country.

English version of this article is edited by Nina Kovba in August 2016, specially for DA!Fest.

For partial or full text use please do not forget to specify the link to the original article — http://dafest.com Thank you!

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