Rockstar Makes Music With Autodesk Smoke

Eugene Riecansky

NORWICH, ENGLAND—Rockstar is an award-winning visual effects, post-production and motion-graphics studio based in the United Kingdom. We’re best known for creating breathtaking visuals for commercials, music videos, concert tour media and online experiences.

We got our start developing web content for British bands such as the Sugababes, but in 15 years since we’ve grown into much more. Our tech-savvy team and solid technical infrastructure have allowed us to push the creative envelope to deliver some pretty wild work for clients that include Muse, Madonna, Lady Gaga and MTV UK.

We try to infuse a unique style and approach into every project that we do, and Autodesk Smoke has played a huge part in making that possible. Smoke allows us to do all of the editing and effects required for production in one package. Before Smoke, we seemed to always waste a ton of time in round-tripping between editing and visual effects software, but now we don’t have to export and import files every single time we want to do roto or keying work. Smoke has helped eliminate those bottlenecks, freeing up more of our time to be creative.

I first encountered Smoke while helping a U.S. post house with a Deftones music video. Using the software, we were able to composite Photoshop layers and animations that we had, by necessity, created in just one day. The fact that Smoke gave us so many editing and effects capabilities in one place was transformative. From that day forward, I knew that I had to have Smoke at Rockstar.

Smoke has now become the backbone of our operations—we use it from the very start of each job. Even if we don’t need post effects, we still use Smoke for cutting. In addition, it comes with an awesome set of 3D tools that also work well with Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max software, which is important, as we’ve been trying to up our game in the 3D area. Those tools allow us to create more photorealistic content; and the fact that they work well with Smoke makes for a more streamlined workflow across Rockstar jobs.

MTV UK’s “New School Yeah” was one of the first projects we did with Smoke. To mark the start of the new school year, MTV wanted us to create a series of short idents that were set in a deserted school environment, complete with floating ghost-like school equipment. Using a combination of live-action background plates shot at a local high school and 3D objects we created in 3ds Max, we brought the project elements together in Smoke to create 36 different versions of the spots.

Our main focus moving forward is to become a one-stop design agency that can do just anything for our clients, and Smoke helps us do that. From the moment you start it up, until the time that you shut it down, the overall user experience is brilliant. It’s really an amazing product.

Eugene Riecansky is the chief executive officer of Rockstar, U.K. He may be contacted

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