Artist Highlight: Animating with Rachel Buchen

Today, we’re highlighting artist Rachel Buchen and her recent animation project. Rachel is a 3D animator who got her start in the industry right here as a FUSE intern. In this post, we’re talking about Rachel’s latest project, her background, and what it’s like to work at FUSE.

About the Artist

Rachel began working as a summer intern at FUSE, later joining the team as an animator. Her path to 3D is different than others on the team; she initially studied microbiology. At the urging of her professors (and after taking several art classes), she eventually changed majors to Computer Art.

Before working at FUSE, Rachel’s work focused mainly on motion graphic animation and concept design. As both an illustrator and writer, she possesses a strong storytelling ability. This translates well into developing concepts for 3D projects. Lately, she’s been building up her texturing and rendering skills, as well as learning new programs like X-Particles.

FUSE artist Rachel posing in front of her computer working on an animation project

The Creative Process

What Rachel loves about 3D design is taking an idea and finding a way to execute it no matter what. When starting a personal project, she takes time to thoroughly develop the concept and resolve any issues before diving in:

“I’m always focused on the concept first versus whether something looks cool. Looking cool is what captures a viewer’s attention, but you’re not going to hold it if you don’t have a good concept behind it.”

Creative problem solving plays a considerable role in this, particularly when clients have a general plan for a project. She can fill in the gaps with creativity as needed to help clients tell their story.

Two pieces of paper with project sketches on wood table

Developing the Spa Animation Project

The purpose of this animation project was to challenge herself. She sought to build up the skills needed to develop the photorealistic work FUSE is known for. Since working with textures wasn’t her area of expertise, Rachel dove in headfirst into a project that heavily featured them.

Wood grain and rock texture maps from animation project

The original concept was incredibly involved: moving planks across the entire floor releasing steam with different sized rocks and other textures. Eventually, with the team’s help, the animation project was paired back to focus on a central point – the wooden table with moving panels.

Creating the steam was challenging but offered an opportunity to explore something new – fluid dynamics. She used TurbulenceFD to animate the steam drifting up from the moving wooden panels in the animation.

Working at FUSE and Team Collaboration

As mentioned before, Rachel strongly connected with FUSE before and during her internship. Citing the team’s skills and talent as one of the main reasons she was drawn to the studio, Rachel says:

“There’s such a wealth of knowledge here. People are always finding new products and new ways to use our programs. There’s always something to look at over someone’s shoulder that gives you ideas about what you could be learning or improving on.”

She also brings up her natural competitiveness, saying it helps fuel a desire to build up her own skills and capabilities. “It’s so nice to be around people who I aspire to be like. It’s great being able to work with people who really know what they’re doing.”

Always asking questions, always talking to her team, Rachel also applies the same emphasis on communication to her clients. It’s important to clearly communicate your needs as an artist. And in turn, making sure you fully understand what clients want and are thinking. That back and forth communication and collaboration is what she finds so rewarding.

You can see Rachel’s animation featured in our 2018 Demo Reel here. For more examples of the FUSE team’s work, check out our portfolio! We’re always adding new work.

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