Interview - David Lesperance


David Lesperance 
Environment Artist at Microsoft

Seattle washington, USA



Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Tell us a bit about yourself…
Hey all my name is Dave, I'm an enviro dude working in cg and games.  I love games, Matte painting and blowing stuff up. 

When did you discover 3D? What programs/plugins/scripts do you use? 
I was 15, I started doing it when I was 16 living in Michigan.  I was hooked from them on.  I use mainly 3ds max, Soft, Maya, Zbrush, Rayfire, Vray, Photoshop, occasionally mental ray as well, and I really enjoy the Unreal engine when I get time to play with it.    
How do you keep up with all the changes in technology? Do you think the game tools are catching up with the art tools? 

Honesty you don't lol.  Its a crazy field and it changes day to day.  Honestly I just work as hard as I can while trying to maintain a personal life.  I think that helps with the art.    
How involved was the interview process at Microsoft 343 Industries
They are a great team.  A lot of extremely talented people.  It's a huge honor to work there.  I can't go into specifics but I can say they wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing so it was pretty evolved. 

With the market becoming more and more competitive, what do you believe is a must that an artist has in his portfolio or skills? 
Drive, being a great person to work with, which means being cool as well as hard working. Personally me I like to see a focus.  Its like that saying jack of all trades master of none. Focus on a section of the pipeline, from what I can tell you can spend a long time trying to understand it.  
 Halo has a great feedback. What are the challenges on this project? Can you give us an insight on the process, the goals of the project and the difficult parts? 

Honestly the biggest challenges is making it as great as I expect Halo to be. This of course is dealing with my work specifically.  I grew up on Halo so I want it to be the greatest thing I can do. 
What were some of the challenges as a Senior Cinematic Environment Artist for Blizzard Entertainment?

Getting a chance to work with a group of people that love what they do so much makes everyday a struggle to be 20 times better then you where the day before. Honestly I think the biggest challenges where overcoming that love to make sure we are still delivering something to our fans in a decent time frame.  Because its never good enough :)
What other supporting departments do you typically involve on an average project? How large does this list grow when you’re working on a 3D game?

It's huge for tripple A development. Specifics vary from company to project but they are larger than feature films now adays.  The content and the expectations of both the fans and publishers pretty much guarantee that.  It's not shocking to see dev teams 100+ people of Full time staff to a few dozen contractors/companies.
How do you start working on a 3D project? Do you use references or just imagination?
Both, plus alot of coffee, Slayer and a moderated amount of wine or good beer, its ok I'm 24. Even if it is from my head I try to root it with ref photos you can't beat reality.

Do you use the same techniques from one project to another? What’s your favorite part (modeling, sketching, rendering, environment, maps)?
Each project I do I start from scratch.  It's like weight lifting for me, I keep trying to lift more and more, so to do the same thing with the 3d requires the personal work to be harder than it is in production, one way of doing that is not reusing content.  I kind of love all of it. Including the tech stuff, it's fascinating. 

Is there anything you can't do at this point? 
Keep learning it changes constantly this field requires you to do so or you don't last long unfortunately. Learn and teach as many people as you can that way you are forced to learn new stuff. 
Which render engine would you recommend?
Vray or Unreal Engine.  I think most prerendered is heading that way or realtime raytracing. 

How important is it to have a proper education in this field?
A degree is a relative thing, I'm diffidently on the side of things where I think you don't need to spend thousands of dollars for school in this field.  Having done so myself I can tell you that its dated by the time you show up for work most of the time. However the learning process is something that you'll use forever. So really its up to the individual I think. 

Do you still find time for your own projects? What do you have up your sleeve for future projects?
I try to, alot of studies, at least thats the scope for the next 2 years then maybe a short.  I'll be doing art studies for the remainder of my career I think.

Which design do you believe was the most difficult to achieve? (How did you do it?)
Well to be honest, I'm not a fan of my work, so all of its way hard. I look at guys like Kevin Johnstone, Josh Jay, Paul Pepera, or Sebastien Legrain and try to learn from them, I'm far from the point of really trying to do more than just learn.
If you had the opportunity to spend a day with anyone from this industry, who would it be?
Sebastien Legrain, and I'd just watch the dude work in Zbrush.