Today we’re proud to introduce Cloud Imperium’s Chief Visual Officer, Chris Olivia! You already know Chris as the man behind the Xi’an. He got his start working on the Wing Commander series and has been working on films with Robert Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios for the past ten years. Now he’s back to gaming and ready to create a unique look for the Star Citizen world!
How did you get started in the game industry?
In 1993, upon graduating from the very first computer animation program at the Art Institute, I interviewed with Chris Roberts at Origin Systems. I had a lot of space / scifi stuff on my student reel and Chris offered me a job. They were in the middle of Wing Commander 3 and needed a cinematic artist. I initially turned down the job to work as a demo artist for Silicon Graphics but came to my senses 8 or so months later and asked if the offer was still on the table. Mr. Roberts welcomed me onboard with open arms.
What projects have you worked on? Have you worked with Chris Roberts before?
After working for ABC
radio network in the marketing department as a graphic designer, Chris Robert’s gave me my first job in computer animation. From 1994 to 2013, I’ve worked with Chris at 3 different companies and have worked on Wing 3 and 4, Wing commander the movie, Freelancer and Brute Force and now Star Citizen.
You spent ten years in Hollywood. What did you work on and how did that differ from game development?
Actually technically, I only spent 2 years in Hollywood. In 1989, at the ripe old age of 21, I worked as a special make up effects artist for the <ahem> adult film industry (freak films were popular at the time). And the second time was 1996, where I first cut my teeth on film visual effects at Rhythm & Hues studios. There is where I learned soooo much about high end visual effects for film, commercial and theme based rides. From around 2001 to 2013 I’ve worked in Austin TX, for Troublemaker Studios, as one of three artists in Robert Rodriguez’s in house creative visual development team.
Working in Film differed only slightly for me from a creative standpoint. The end goal for each is to thrill and engage emotionally an audience…. To wrap them up in a story and a world that is not their own… to escape. The tools in both industries are constantly changing and the lines between them are becoming more overlapped and fuzzier as real time game engines become more and more realistic…. Which is quite exciting. In fact I would say gaming world is pushing the vfx world just because artist and programming geniuses are finding amazing and creative ways to get that photo-realistic look with a very real limitation that film doesn’t have (budget aside). I’ll probably be more closely involved directly in the game engine than I have in the past just because it’s become so artist friendly and has become less steps from concept and creation to execution and end product.
What will you be doing for Cloud Imperium?
I will be helping oversee the visual look of the universe and working with our amazing art team, both in-house and freelancers, to see that the game is set in a convincing, believable and immersive world. We want to push the artistic boundaries of what is capable in the engine to keep the player engaged and amazed. Beyond that, I’ll also help design some of the alien races and fill in any other conceptual design cracks as needed.
What are you most excited about seeing in Star Citizen/Squadron 42?
The scope of the world and realism, I’m confident, will be like no other game. The ability to get lost in that world and story… and beginning to “feel” the wonder and excitement of living and breathing in this world is, indeed, quite exciting. You won’t be playing a game, you’ll be experiencing an alternate universe.
What are you playing right now?
Just starting Crysis 3.
Oh and a little Angry Birds Star Wars on occasion.