A Journey from Passionate Beginnings to CGI Mastery
From the charming streets of Ashbourne, Derbyshire to the high-tech world of computer-generated imagery (CGI), Simon Smalley has carved a niche for himself with his venture, Small Animations. His story is a testament to the power of passion, persistence, and the pursuit of perfection.
Influenced by comic strips and cartoons in his early days, Simon's foray into animation started on a rudimentary note. It was a VHS camera, some plasticine models, and the sheer joy of creation. While this initial experiment might not have been perfect, it ignited a spark that led him to Surrey Institute and subsequently, The Hull School of Art & Design.
Introduced to LightWave 3D during his educational pursuits, Simon was enamoured by its potential. For him, LightWave wasn't just another software but a digital canvas that was intuitive, efficient, and allowed him to bring his imagination to life.
The early years post-graduation were challenging, with the industry's demand for experience acting as a barrier. Yet, freelancing provided Simon the platform to build a robust portfolio. Today, with two decade's experience in the industry and numerous freelance projects under his belt, Simon stands tall in the CGI realm.
Under the banner of Small Animations, Simon’s business, he has produced a wide array of projects. From photorealistic renders for TV commercials to VFX work for popular shows and animated content for mobile games, Simon's portfolio is vast and varied.
Over the years, Simon's collaboration with industry giants like Shark Ninja has been a testament to his dedication and talent. Together, they've breathed life into countless TV commercials, capturing the essence of products, from vacuum cleaners to saucepans. These aren't mere animations; they're meticulously crafted depictions, from the interaction of carpet fibres with vacuum brushes to the sheen on a newly designed coffee machine.
The realm of Star Wars is sacred to many, and for the team at Small Animations, it was a dream come true to work on a project associated with this legendary saga. Entrusted with CAD models of iconic Star Wars products, Simon's team transformed them into photo-realistic marvels for commercials. Every crevice on Darth Vader's mask and the glow of Kylo Ren's Light Saber was rendered with unparalleled precision.
BBC One’s ‘Death in Paradise’, another feather in Small Animation's cap, presented its own set of challenges and opportunities. Simon's team once again showcased their prowess in surfacing, lighting, and animation, by injecting life into ‘Harry’, the CGI lizard featured in the show. The final shots were nothing short of spectacular, seamlessly integrating the CGI Harry with video footage.
With many more projects in the pipeline, Simon's journey seems brighter than ever.
"I’ve used LightWave for many, many years, and the one thing that I can always rely on is the speed in which I can get things done within the software. I find it very easy to visualise concepts in LightWave, and by quickly blocking out ideas I can get a feel for which ideas work and which don’t, ultimately saving me valuable production time".Simon Smalley