Friday, 11 October 2013

Alex Graham Interviews Nick Tesi of TNG Visual Effects!

Nick Tesi of TNG Visual Effects!
This week Celebrity English is thrilled to present Nick Tesi of TNG Visual Effects. Nick Tesi is a leading expert implementing the latest technology in the field of 3D Scanning for movies, video games, TV shows, commercials and so much more! Having worked with the biggest names in the industry, Nick Tesi is the Best of the Best! 

TNG Visual Effect - Twilight, Walking Dead,Knight and Day, Dragon Tattoo

Alex Graham: Please tell us a bit about yourself and TNG Visual Effects.
Nick Tesi: I came from the area of selling hardware and software to the 3D graphics arena based on PC work stations, and in their earlier days based on silicon graphics work stations.  From there I went into motion capture. I was with the first motion capture facility in Los Angeles and we were doing a lot of work in the gaming arena, if you will, and then from there I moved into 3D scanning. 

"I was one of the earliest people in that as well. I try to stay on the leading edge, or as some people call the 
bleeding edge of technology."

Then prior to coming into TNG, prior to 2010, I ran a company called Eyetronics. They were out of Belgium and were a 3D scanning hardware manufacturer. After a year of trying to sell the hardware, we had discussed selling a service based on their hardware. Then we took that direction and that seemed to be a much better model to work with. I moved from selling out of my living room to selling from an office to expanding into a bigger office space with more people. At the end of the decade, 2009, they started taking a different direction that I really didn’t want to go in. I didn’t see their vision. I wanted to stay in providing services in 3D scanning so I started my own company as of 2010, and that is what I have been working on.

Alex: Fantastic industry background! Can you tell me what the difference between Special Effects and Visual Effects is?

Nick: Yes, I sure can! In talking to the industry, I kept saying we provided Special Effects and I was quickly corrected by the industry as a whole. Special Effects are real effects, like people actually using dynamite to blow things up and knock places down and flip cars over. Visual Effects is all in the computer and that’s what we work toward, creating those types of effects. And now if you can imagine a director executing the demand “Action” and a building blowing up, he can’t just go back and say, “I don't like the way that went. It should have blown up from the bottom. Let’s do it again!” That isn't going to happen that quickly. If they can rebuild that building through their workforce, it will take a while to do it, as opposed to having visual effects when they can say, “Let’s do it again!” You know, change a couple of parameters in the software and they can blow it up in the computer again and again. So Visual Effects, I really believe, is the effect of the future! We have more control over it and less people getting hurt. It is just a more on-demand way of working.

Alex: Interesting! That definitely cleared it up for me, too. You kind of already answered it, but how does 3D scanning fit into the movie industry?

TV and movie 3D scanning Sleepy Hollow,Batman,Once Wonderland
TNG Visual Effects in the Movies & TV!

Nick: Well, as I already mentioned places blowing up, the biggest thing is I understand it from a Directors point of view. 

"Not many Directors go completely into a visionary mode of what they really want to do without too many limitations."

We have worked on a lot of characters in the past. The characters burst into particles, they fly, and then turn into ice, and rather than trying to imagine them, like in Days Gone By, you can actually see it metamorphosize in front of you through the power of visual effects. And you can create new weapons that no one has ever seen. Just imagine Avatar and that whole new planet with an atmosphere...they completely invented the fantasy of the Director so that he could tell his story.

Alex: Wow! That is so cool! I never really realized how significant 3D scanning is to the creative process of telling a story in film. So how does it work? Could you please walk a novice like me through the 3D scanning process? I mean do you scan a plain actor’s face, or do you put some kind of markers on the actor? How long does it take to scan a face or a whole body? Where does it happen, in the studio or on location? Maybe that is too many questions, but…

TNG Effects with GI JOE,Underworld,Superman,,Burt and Anton,Twilight saga
More TNG Visual Effects

Nick: Ok, I will start at the beginning. It starts with the Visual Effects Producer on a show.  They are going through the script on a show and saying,

 “Ok, we need 3D characters to do this and this," 

because it is out of the realm of what the actors can do and they would have to perform some stunts that are beyond their human capability. That is when they call in the 3D scanners. We typically go to the set wherever they are shooting the movie because for some of the outfits they are putting on or that are being created, it takes them hours and hours in makeup to get to that point, and then the wardrobe and stuff, so they really need us to come to the set.  That is what we do. We are very accommodating so we don’t disrupt the workflow.  Once we get on set they assign us to a location that is convenient for the talent to get to.  Scanning a head can be done in 15 minutes, but if it's a full body, we ask for an hour and a half to two hours to scan everything.

Alex: What are some of the challenges of 3D scanning?

Nick: For us, in this business, part of the challenge of 3D scanning is just getting the character in front of you. Working on movies, it takes a while for the Director, actually it is typically the Assistant Director that they call AD1, AD2 or the Second AD, to get them over to you to be scanned. 

"We describe it as moments of boredom 
punctuated by hours of terror" 

because then you have everyone screaming at you, "How long is it going to take?" and "We need to get him back!” So, that is one challenge. Another really big challenge is when we are on a really big film and the visual effects crew selects about 4 or 5 production companies to work with and we are doing all of the scanning. So if we scan 60 or 70 characters and everybody wants their character now, then we have to bring on a lot more people or slow down the production, or do something. So that is a bit challenging, but the key to the whole thing is communication. You keep communicating with them what you can do and how fast you can do it. You can normally get through this without stepping on too many toes or hurting anybodies feelings.

Alex: That kind of leads into the next question. What do you for look for in an artist or scan technician that you would hire as part of your team?

TNG EFFECTS - Specular  Cross-polarized!

Nick: Aaah, that is very important because we don’t want to start from the ground up and train somebody in 3D scanning or modeling. So, what we do is go to different schools.  There are so many great ones out there like The Academy of Arts and The Art Institute, there are groups of them out there now to select from. But, there are a lot of good artists out there that are freelance artists, or are looking for new positions. Unfortunately, in Visual Effects there have been so many layoffs that there are many people available to us in the field. So, we look for people with  extremely good skills in modeling and in sculpting. There are a couple of programs, Mudbox is one and Zbrush, and once we put the model together they go in to sculpt and to put some really fine detail in it to replicate the model. Another skill we look for is someone who is really good with texturing, of putting the color back on the model so it is photo realistic and when you put the model against the real photo you say, "Wow! I can’t tell which is which." Those are some of the skills on the 3D graphics side. If we are looking for additional technicians, somebody who is a great photographer and understands how photography really works inside and out would be a great asset to us, as well as how to set up some of the 3D scanning stuff. We found that someone who really knows photography really good really understands the scanning side of it pretty well.

Alex: Thank you for your industry insights! I am sure many Celebrity English readers who are interested in Visual Effects will find your career advice very informative!

Alex: Now going back to the TNG Visual Effects Company itself, you have done so many outstanding projects! Most recently in the thrilling new TV series Sleepy Hollow, but can you tell us about some projects that really stand out in your mind?

Nick: The biggest, latest one that stood out in my mind was Twilight. We were involved with film 3 and 4. They were pretty much done together. We scanned over 100 heads on that one, and about as half as many bodies.

Twilight_Kristen Stewart_Robert Pattinson_Taylor Lautner

Alex: WOW!

Nick: And we were out there with them for a couple of weeks. It was amazing! Just meeting all of the people, the actors and all of the people involved, and watching them filming...that kind of sticks out in my mind. They have a very large cult following on that show and the bodyguards were watching over the actors...and then meeting the main actors, they were really down to earth, really nice people. I really enjoyed that one!

Alex: Twilight – Sounds Amazing! What can we look forward to from TNG Visual Effects in the future?

Nick: Well, we are constantly looking around the world for new technologies, new ideas, new concepts that will help us push the technology further, depending on who is coming out with what. There are scanners out of Russia, out of Canada, out of the US...who are really getting them out of Germany. So, there is a lot of great technology coming from around the world that helps us to get our job done. We are looking at putting more satellites in more places, as production wants more local services as opposed to just a service in Los Angeles. 
We are going to try to populate at least 5 more locations in North America, and then will look at having
satellite locations in Europe and Asia. We are on the move and trying to grow. We are involved and proliferating our name around the world.

Where’s your closest TNG location?

Alex: Nick Tesi of TNG Visual Effects, thank you very much for this amazing, industry insightful interview.

Nick: You are welcome, Alex.

To see more of this phenomenal 3D Scanning team go to:

Or follow TNG Visual Effects at your favorite social media site!

Celebrity English also highly recommends Nick Tesi’s Blog! 
It is the best of the best!

TNG Visual Effects Updates:

2014-October - The Endeavour!

Magnopus along with TNG Visual Effects were given the rare opportunity to board the space shuttle and capture the inside before it was sealed off permanently. We gathered as much data as possible in preparation for a variety of augmented and virtual reality experiences that will be designed to inspire future generations, and enrapture visitors from around the world. In addition to the photography and 360º videography, Nick Tesi and the team at TNG scanned the inside in great detail using LIDAR and other 3D scanners.

More TNG Visual Effects Updates 2014!

No words necessary!

TNG Visual Effects

Monday Night (Oct 21)! Celebrity speaker, coach, author, TV and radio personality will be featured at Celebrity English!

Scott Schmaren is amazing and will change your life forever!

Scott Schmaren speaker, coach, author, TV and radio personality

 See you soon and stay healthy! Alex

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Language Learning Section – Natural Language
Vocabulary Boost! 

Vocabulary Theme:  Visual Effects in Movies and TV

Instructions: Write the meanings of the words below.  If you don't know a word try to guess the meaning from the context in the interview above with Mr. Nick Tesi.  Finally, check out the vocabulary on the Internet.  If you aren't successful, don’t worry, the answers are down below.

hardware =

software =

3D graphics =

motion capture =

3D scanning =

Special Effects =

Visual Effects =

building blowing up =

flip cars over =

on-demand way of working  =

workflow =

movie industry =

AD1 =

AD2 =

production companies =

modeling =

sculpting =

Mudbox  =

Zbrush =

replicate the model =

photography =

satellite locations =

proliferating =

Answers ideas:

hardware = hardware: (computer science) the mechanical, magnetic, electronic, and electrical components making up a computer system.

software = (computer science) written programs or procedures or rules and associated documentation pertaining to the operation of a computer system and that are stored in read/write memory.

3D graphics = This field of computer graphics is concerned with generating and displaying three-dimensional objects in a two-dimensional space, the display screen.

motion capture = the process or technique of recording patterns of movement digitally, especially the recording of an actor's movements for the purpose of animating a digital character in a film or computer game.

3D scanning = to scan a person or object in order to create a 3 dimensional replica.

Special Effects = :  visual or sound effects introduced into a motion picture, video recording, or taped television production.

Visual Effects = (commonly shortened to Visual FX or VFX) are the various processes by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot. Visual effects involve the integration of live-action footage and generated imagery to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, expensive, impractical, or simply impossible to capture on film. Visual effects using computer generated imagery has recently become accessible to the independent filmmaker with the introduction of affordable and user friendly animation and compositing software.

building 'blowing up' = exploding;destroyed (as by explosion).

flip cars over = to flip over something: turn upside down, or throw so as to reverse

'on-demand' way of working  = on-demand as soon as or whenever required.

workflow = the sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.

movie industry = film industry: the entertainment industries involved in producing and distributing movies.

AD1 = Abbreviation for Assistant Director One.

AD2 = Abbreviation for Assistant Director Two.

production companies = A production company provides the physical basis for works in the realms of the performing arts, new media art, film, television, radio, and video.

modeling = or computer modeling; create replicated models on the computer.

sculpting = or computer sculpting; create sculptures on the computer. 

Mudbox = Mudbox® digital painting and digital sculpting software enables you to create

production-ready 3D digital artwork.

Zbrush = ZBrush is a digital sculpting tool that combines 3D/2.5D modeling, texturing and painting.

replicate the model = to repeat or copy a model exactly.

photography = the art or practice of taking and processing photographs.

satellite locations = (business meaning) A small project unit or department which is physically separated from its corporate headquarters.

proliferating = : to increase in number or amount quickly


  1. So much interesing stuff about 3D scanning, it was really interesting to read!

    1. And there are so many uses for 3D scanning, especially today. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. A big thanks to Alex Graham!