Welcome to my website!

My name is Tim, and timbraktoo is my website of professional and personal projects.  I worked for many years as a Creature Technical Director, Creature Supervisor and Computer Graphics Supervisor at Industrial Light + Magic in San Francisco and I’ve always found myself spending free hours learning new software and simulation processes. I enjoy understanding an overall view of a entire production pipeline, and my current role at Epic Games as a Product Designer is a culmination of my years of experience working with characters and various character simulation techniques.

Take a look around and drop me a line if you’re interested in talking about 3D stuff including game engines, real-time rendering, Monty Python, visual effects movies, the band Rush, zombies, bass guitar.. or to just say hi.  Thanks for visiting!

I’m a Product Designer with an eye towards the future of real-time filmmaking and game design. To me, real-time is the new frontier of ‘experience-making’, and a natural evolution of my character and simulation skill set.

Here are a few of my past and present professional skills and interests…

I’ve been supervising creatures on the Transformer franchise since ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ as well as Ironman 2 and three Disney ride films.  As a creature supervisor I’m tasked with the following:

-I supervise a team of creature TD’s in the setup of characters and assets including all rigging, deformation and simulation (cloth, fur, hair, flesh, muscles) using Maya and proprietary software.
-I manage asset and shot bidding as well as organize and maintain crew and shot production schedules on shows with hundreds of assets.
-I’m responsible for crew performance management and provide reviews, training and mentoring.
-I lead the collaboration with animators to create efficient creature rigs and control systems.
-I oversee the development of tools scripting and writing to facilitate the creature pipeline
-I’m the lead troubleshooter and I fix pipeline and asset issues as they arise.

When I mention I’m a creature technical director, the term rigging is what comes to most people’s minds.  I’ve been rigging creatures since Alias PowerAnimator (still use the marking menus in Maya) and the robots of the Transformers franchise are still my favorite rigs.  They are unique and require the most creativity and are a challenge to come up with methods to deform them properly.  Animals are also interesting to rig, but there’s more work on the simulation/deformation side than actual hard-core rigging.  I tell my people if you love to rig, you’ll love Transformers!
At ILM, creature TD’s are tasked with all the creature deformations including muscles, hair, cloth and rigids using our proprietary simulation software.  It takes a keen eye and attention to detail and the artist must wear many hats but it’s natural for a single individual or small group to develop a creature.  They get to know all the details of a character during the production as they ‘shepherd’ an asset through the show, refining, fixing and adjusting the myriad of changes that always happen.  As a supervisor, I like handing off an entire creature to an artist as it develops a strong sense of ownership and pride.
Another unique role for ILM creature TD’s is rigid and destruction simulation. We deal with all geometric collisions while particles and fluid simulations are handled by a separate department.  From an asset perspective this makes sense as many times the destruction needs modeling, fracture or shape work in addition to the typical wrangling that needs to occur in shot.  Creature TD’s are well suited to make those asset updates in a more efficient manner that sending to multiple departments.  We also use all types of deformations including cloth, flesh and proxy-based helpers in our proprietary software to get hero destruction which can be art-directed and more interactive than typical procedural results.  Some of us also use Houdini and it’s procedural system, too! My philosophy is: use the best tool for the job.
Animation is my first love and is the primary reason I entered the 3D field years back. At Trendmasters, I worked as an animator/generalist at a toy company creating commercials and marketing items and producing short films and animations.  There I developed a sense of timing which has come in handy with my rigging and transformation setups on the various robots I’ve created at ILM.  One of my great experiences was attending Richard Williams Animation Masterclass in 1997 and meeting him.  He drew me a wonderful picture of Zigzag from the ‘Thief and the Cobbler’ since I mentioned I was from St. Louis (where Vincent Price is from, the inspiration of Zigzag).  What an inspirational person and class.  But I digress…
Real-time is the future!  I have been employed by Epic Games for 3 years and I feel what game engines are currently doing and are capable of in the future opens up a world of possibilities in so many different areas of technology.  My work as a Product Designer is the culmination of my skills I’ve acquired over many years, and now I get to lend my support in helping shape the future of Unreal Engine.