Audio zapis razgovora:
Ivan Minić: Moj današnji gost u Pojačalu je Peter Nalli i ovo će biti druga epizoda koju snimamo na engleskom jeziku jer je Peter Italijan-Kanađanin. Njegova karijera je potpuno neverovatna i tokom nje je radio neke zaista sjajne stvari u oblasti klasične animacije, digitalne animacije i specijalnih efekata. Zašto je Peter moj gost? Pa zato što je on deo jedne neverovatne priče koja se dešava u Beogradu iza koje stoji Iervolino & Lady Bacardi Entertainment, odnosno jedan neverovatan animacioni studio u Beogradu koji pravi jedan sjajan serijal crtanih filmova zajedno sa Džoni Depom. U pitanju je Puffins Impossible, ali to je samo jedan mali deo onoga što je on u karijeri radio, a cela karijera je stvarno nesvakidašnja i neverovatna, a počinje tako što je on jedno dete u jednoj italijanskoj porodici u Kanadi čiji otac neverovatno podseća i fizički i po ponašanju na Freda Kremenka i sad kako odatle do Holivuda i svega onoga što je radio, pa videćete u ovoj epizodi, siguran sam da će vam biti zabavno.
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Ivan Minić: Peter, thank you for coming, it’s lovely having you here. Everytime, this is just the second time I have someone and we are speaking english. The first time was friend Dave Birss who is a famous Scotsman, so it’s kind of different than speaking with someone who speaks proper english. Your story is so amazing and your story is now, for the last couple of years, really deeply connected to Serbia and developing our, let’s say computer animation industry. And I wanted to share that story and explain to people how does one amazing professional become what you are now. It’s a 30, 40 year long process. for everyone it’s like that, but in your case it involves different surroundings, different cultures, you’ve been working in different countries, it’s really been a fun roller coaster ride and recently we had a chance to hear a little bit of that on our digital conference in Niš, but I wanted to have a bigger story and all the details and after a couple of months of organizing things, you are finally here, so for the begging, for the first question, the one I always ask every guest of mine, the Munchmellow question, when you were a kid, what did you wanna do when you grow up?
My childhood in Canada
Peter Nalli: Yeah, yeah. Thanks for having me here, Ivan, I’ve been looking forward to it. And, so this is an interesting question for me, cause when I was really, really young, I don’t remember this, but my folks told me that I wanted to be a priest, so actually I wanted to work in a church. I don’t, anymore. But I think it was just because I come from a large Italian family and we would go to church and I guess he was the center stage, he was the Elvis of that building and so maybe it looked really interesting to me. When I got a little bit older, I actually wanted to be a physicist, so I was really into science, you don’t know this, I don’t think we ever talked about it, I wanted to go into physics, in fact in school there was like a special program that if you were particularly gifted in something, they would take you out of one of the general classes and you would go with other sort of gifted kids and it would be, it was usually around science, physics, astronomy, that kind of thing. I haven’t thought about this in a long time, actually, since you asked me that and so I remember really, no, I don’t know how smart all the other kids were, I think it wasn’t, you know, we were all kind of turkeys, I was just a little bit better of a turkey and so, but I was really interested into physics at the time and I think, well, I know the mechanics of the universe were really interesting to me, like how things work and the beauty of how it all fit in and make sense, but I was really interested in it, especially within physics. Richard Feynman, do you know who he is?
Ivan Minić: Of course.
Peter Nalli: He is probably- do you know when people ask this question if you could speak to anyone, alive or dead, for one hour, who would it be? And for me it would be Richard Feynman, for your listeners, I am sure they mostly know who it is, but maybe someone them don’t, he is one of the youngest physicists, I think he was 19, to work on the Manhattan Project and he was also the host of Nova before Carl Sagan and Tyson, the new host and I think he is from New York or New Jersey and he is a proper genius, or was a proper genius. He was probably one of the smartest, I think he was a theoretical physicist at the time. And he was brilliant. But what I really loved about him is that he was able to really take it, really complex ideas and make them so pedestrian and so approachable and I think that’s the hallmark of a true genius, right? You have geniuses who are elitist, they are so in trench in their science that you need a PHD to understand them and even follow along. I think it’s cool, but I think there’s a kind of an exclusive elitism to it and Feynman was so approachable, you know, I mean like he was so, at least the way he spoke was so accessible and fun and exciting and crass and you know, that accent where he almost sounded like he was, you know, like he was the every man, but he was talking about quantum mechanics and he made it so digestible and interesting that it was amazing and so I would say, I know you didn’t ask me this question, but if it was one person I would speak to alive or dead it would be Richard Feynman and so I wanted to be a physicist, but I could always draw. In fact, I was saying that I come from a large Italian family, when I was younger, saturday was chore day, so that’s the day we do all the housework within the house and my dad, who I love to death, my dad is very funny unintentionally, he looks like Fred Filntstone. You remember Fred Flintstone…
Ivan Minić: Of course.
Peter Nalli: From the cartoon. In fact, as a kid for a while up until I started school a little bit later, I thought everyones dad looked like a cartoon character. My dad looks like Fred, yours must look like George Jetson, you know, yours must look like Captain Caveman or something, right? So, my dad looks like Fred Flintstone and very much embodies the persona and he hates and still does, hates doing the chores. Like the domestic stuff. He is a great cook, he is excellent at cooking, but he doesn’t like doing the cleaning part of it, right. And so anything that requires this kind of cleaning etc. and so we would fix things in the house that weren’t broken. So, saturday we would get the tools and the washing machine perfectly good, we would mock about with it and break it. The VCR is not working, or the VCR was working totally fine, we would get to it and we would break it. And so that was a part of our saturday and he would, he would get me cause every good craftsman needs an assistant or punching bag and he would come and get me, get up 7 am, we are fixing something and I would go with him and we would start working on it and he has this, he wouldn’t bring all the tools that he would need, cause he doesn’t have a clue what he is going to fix, right. He is really good at visualising the problem, but he is not really good at fixing the problem and really it’s about fixing the problem, right. That’s the real mustard. And so he would come there and he would have a hammer, cause everything requires a hammer, right. And so he would start fixing and you look at him he was all “I need that -”, his english is good, but whatever that specific tool is, he wouldn’t know how to say it in english, he would say it in italian and even than he would kinda say the tool and even what it does, he would just give me hand gestures like this and I… Is this a lave, is this a…? I don’t know exactly, so I wasn’t in love fixing this stuff cause it always ended the same, right, it was always ending in a fight, so I would go find a tool, at least what I think he was looking for and I would come back with it and he would be very upset because it was not the right tool and he thought that I was trying to sabotage the breaking/fixing of whatever we are doing and I don’t wanna do it, which I really didn’t and we would end in a fight. I remember one time, he has an electrical engineering degree, so I guess it makes him an expert in electricity. We were fixing the light switch downstairs and he was on a short ladder and he told me to go turn off the particular switch that it was. I don’t know if I hit the wrong one or if I was upset with him at the time. It was a long, long time ago. And so he says “Did you do it?”, “Yeah, I got it” and so he goes and mock about with the thing and he gets shocked, right. He gets shocked. I saw some sort of, like, TV special that if you are supposed to do that, you are supposed to knock the person away cause they can’t break contact with it, right, and so knocked him of the ladder, so Fred Flintstone’s falling to the ground and he is like “Why the hell did you do that?”, I thought that was what we are supposed to do. Secretly, I loved it to cause it gave me a reason to sort of humorly manifest all of the things I was frustrated about, so that light doesn’t work in the house anymore. Now, if we weren’t fixing things that weren’t broken on saturday, my dad comes from banking, he is retired now, much to the sugar in of my mom, but he is retired now and so we would go either Frank or Joe’s place of work on Saturday, cause they would work at their office sometimes and do their taxes. This is me aircoring by the way, so I am aircoring. We would do their taxes, we were upping with their accountee. Which was really just a weird excuse for us, well, my dad to go drink, smoke and play cards, right. So they would be at their office on saturday, probably telling their wife and kids the same thing and than my dad would come to play cards and my mom, she’d be like “Alright, take the boy”, that’s me, I am the boy, right. I was like “Ugh…”. We are driving in a car and we end up in the office and he would go there and play cards and he just, he doesn’t really have, he doesn’t really think like a kid, like he doesn’t have this “Oh, this kid is gonna be bored.” He is like “Alright, he is gonna come and he’ll figure stuff out”, right. So I was super bored and the only thing there were the mechanical pencils to do the taxes and this graph paper for figuring out the numbers and so I would draw and I spent a lot of time because he did a lot of taxes, a lot of Saturdays just drawing, lots and lots, making up worlds and coming up with characters and I was already a pretty good drawer, pretty good illustrator, I mean I say drawer when you are a kid and so I wanted to pursue doing comics. That was like “Okay, I wanna do this forever”. I like science, I think that’s a cool job, but I wanna do this forever, wether you pay me or not pay me, so I would do them, I would do these drawings and like I said, we have a large Italian family. I have three other siblings, we were doing okay, but I would wanna buy different toys from the store, aswell, like the He-Man or the G.I. Joe, the He-Man was really popular and they were like “No, we need to fix stuff”, cause we broke it, right. So, I would draw these like G.I. Joe type or He-Man characters on paper and than I would cut them out and I would figure out how to make them like my own version of- they were always cooler, cause, you know, it was more specific to me and so, that was really how I started out, like falling in love with drawing. This kind of art or commercial art or illustration or comic books.
Ivan Minić: Everytime I talk to people and there have been roughly 200 people sitting where you sit now…
Peter Nalli: Wow, it’s still warm, the seat.
Ivan Minić: Everytime, if they are successful and successful and happy with what they are doing, everytime, a very big deal is that it has something to with what they wanted to do when they grow up. I mean, you can’t be good at what you are doing now if you don’t have talent for drawing, illustration, visual art, but you also can’t be good if you don’t understand the physics, because the idea of creating an artificial fake world that is believable, it has to work. It has to make sense.
Peter Nalli: 100%.
Ivan Minić: It can have quirks and their own special rules, but the basic rules have to somehow follow what we are accustomed to, because otherwise, you know, people are not gonna see it like something that’s believable. And you have to, it has to be believable. The one thing I adore about cartoons, when I grew up cartoons were hand drawn things, but now with 3D and everything, the one thing that makes the biggest difference for me are gestures and the face gestures aswell.
Peter Nalli: Yeah.
Ivan Minić: You can have Minions and they can show million emotions with just the glow in their eyes.
Peter Nalli: Yes.
Ivan Minić: It doesn’t have to be complicated, it has to be, so to say, accurate. And from there on you can do amazing things, you know. Growing up, we had Mickey Mouse, we had Flintstones, we had a tonne of these things. They were hand drawn characters and they had their own story and it was amazing. But there were no details. It had to be over the top reaction for you to figure out what’s going on.
Peter Nalli: Yeah.
Ivan Minić: Now, it can be more subtle than with the actors. Basically.
How to finish a project and know that it’s done
Peter Nalli: Yeah. I think drawing and animation and, in this case, physics and science, are both question asking. So, you are always asking questions, why this, why that and I think both of those train of thoughts or chain of thoughts help me. So, in physics, when I was, I mean I am still interested, I don’t have the acumine or the schooling now to be valuable, but the question asking and understanding how much of it is interconnected is so important in both fields and so, I think you hit the nail in the head, that even the world building, but just this question asking, does this make sense, do I believe this, does this…
Ivan Minić: And it’s not even just, you know, asking the question “does this make sense?” It means you see something, that’s 99.9% done, they played it to you, it’s a scene, something like that…
Peter Nalli: Sure.
Ivan Minić: And you don’t know why or maybe you know why, but you know something is off and it’s off by 0.5%, but you know it’s off, because you feel it, for some reason you feel that there is a glitch in the matrix.
Peter Nalli: Yeah.
Ivan Minić: And that’s something that comes from knowledge and experience.
Peter Nalli: A 100%.
Ivan Minić: You can’t… there is no process that can replace experience in terms of this.
Peter Nalli: No. With the exception of savants. People who have some sort of… I make this analogy for a lot… I’ve had students before, but, so the amateur and the master actually have a very similar process, but their root to getting to it, for an example, right, so you have masters who eventually just draw the outside of a person and the contour and it is beautiful, they don’t draw any extra lines. The amateur approaches it the same way. The amateur will draw the outside of a person cause that’s all they see. The difference is that the amateur starts drawing the outside cause that’s all they see, the master draws the outside, than realize that’s wrong, than learns all the gesture line of action, the construction, the building blocks and than learns all that building blocks to build it up and then eventually something happens, they become a master, they already know that stuff and then when they draw, it’s already integrated and incorporated into seeing it and they are drawing just that final result. So this is kinda interesting intuition that comes at the end of a process that you have to learn to trust. Before I would be analytical about it, so okay what’s not working, is it the timing and I will get to that point if I have to explain it to someone else, but a lot of times I would watch something and I’ll say how do I feel about this, do I like or I don’t like it, do I think it fits or it doesn’t fit and my first reaction usually I act upon it. Just like you said. Something is off and I don’t let it slide and I don’t know what exactly it is yet, cause I have to be analytical, but my intuition, which is taking in all these heavy things and all these very subtle things weighting it out and it says this isn’t right yet and I trust it now. This is probably one of the trickiest things growing older is to trust my intuition and not second guess why I don’t like it yet, I don’t like it yet and then when I have to explain it, say Okay, let me analyze this and break it down, what’s working, what’s not working, but you hit the nail in the head and that intuition comes from learning, study, practice until it becomes intuitive.
Ivan Minić: Yeah. And it comes from a lot of second guessing before you say Okay, I don’t have to do this anymore. Sometimes you still have to do it, but I don’t have to do this anymore because now I wouldn’t say I am a master, but, you know, I have a track record and I have the capacity to just say whether this is okay or not, but the moment the thing not many people understand and I had a similar situation, but not with the animation, ofcourse, with different visual arts is Stop, something is wrong here. No, no, watch till the end. I can’t watch till the end if something is off here.
Peter Nalli: You got it, you hit it, you fought it. So it’s hard to trust your intuition when a lot of other people are either supporting an idea or championing even if it’s wrong. You really have to have a fortitude of character and of your own opinion to say No. I know everyone else is saying this is correct or everyone else is saying I like it. You really have to have confidence in your own ability to say I don’t and I don’t think I can resolve this no matter how much you are gonna show me afterwards.
Ivan Minić: Look, cartoons are amazing and in cartoons, especially the ones that are not just for the kids, like we grew up watching Simpsons and Family Guy and stuff like that. That’s not just for the kids, it’s interesting for the kids aswell, but I am 37 and I still find it funny.
Peter Nalli: Even The Muppet Show which is…
Ivan Minić: Of course! Which is ridiculously good.
Peter Nalli: Yeah, but it’s not even for… it was prime time, so it’s not even for the kids market, but if you look at it, it’s essentially puppets.
Ivan Minić: The best explanation why we shouldn’t ask too many people when it comes to design is from Simpsons when Homer designs a car designed by the community. And you see how the process looks and the end result. And from that point on I even used it as an explanation when I was teaching these things. I can explain it and it would take me 30 minutes or I can play you this video for a minute and a half and everything will be clear to you. What do you want? Play the video? I play the video and we never speak about that topic.
Peter Nalli: Does it work?
Ivan Minić: Ofcourse.
Peter Nalli: Okay, good.
Ivan Minić: Because it’s visual. It’s simplified, it’s visual and, ofcourse, if it’s in The Simpsons it has an amazing story telling.
Peter Nalli: Sure.
Ivan Minić: Anyway, when it was time to pick out your career, how did it unfold?
How I chose my career path
Peter Nalli: So, I continued to draw throughout primary school and I was really good, I was probably one of if not the best within the school or at least my class, the upper echelon. And then I went through High School and I probably could’ve been a better student in High School, I think I wasn’t so much focused on the academics cause I convinced myself I am gonna get into drawing and I actually didn’t want to get in animation, I wanted to draw comic books, so I was doing a lot of that and I went to, I applied to, there were two schools, there was a graphic design school and then there was an animation school and in Canada we have one of the best animation schools world wide, so that was Sheridan, still is. So there is Art Sheridan, there weren’t so many, it was an animation program in 1967, but I was not interested in animation at the time. I mean, I loved animation and cartoons, but I didn’t think about that as a career choice, I wanted to draw comics because I don’t think I even realized about how animation was connected to what I wanted to do which I will come to in a second. So I wanted to draw comics and I was too late to apply for Sheridan at the time so I went to another school in the city and I was doing graphic design with a major in advertising, but I hated it, I didn’t hate it I just felt like it had really little to do with drawing. I mean it was not pushing my comic book dreams any further and it was only gonna get me a degree. I was good at computers, so there was a computer element, it was just at the beginning of Cork Express and Illustrator, so they were migrating from traditional graphic design which was Letraset and Marker Renderings and such and into the computer realm, so that was good. And it also gave me a strong sense of design, like actual design which plays a role later on. So I was studying graphic design, I was gonna major in advertising which I did, but the first year I dropped out, I didn’t finish it. We had life drawing, you know, this is drawing from a nude figure and I had only showed up for two classes and within those two classes I had a 75% meaning I dropped out and I still retained 75% in the class which I am pretty good at life drawing but it means how low the bar was that everyone was at, that I was above average and I showed up only to two classes. He had marked it only for the work I’ve done. And so I dropped out and I went to Italy for a bit, for a couple of months and just lived for a bit. I just learned what life is. And I came back and I went back into the program and I finished it and at the end of my year I applied to go to Sheridan, the animation program and the first part had a portfolio submission, so what you had to do is you had to submit, if I remember, there was some life drawing which was fine, because I had those two days or whatever it is. It also had a what’s called a three quarter down shot of a room. So it’s, what it is, you have a room and you have almost a birdseye view of the room and you have to draw from one corner with all the objects in it and then another in the opposite corner, so that you can spacely…
Ivan Minić: Perspective.
Peter Nalli: Yeah, exactly, so you understood perspective. It wasn’t completely orthographic, it was more orthographic than traditional drawings of a room and then you had to do, they had a character that you had to do five different expressions of and you also had an object you had to do in, it’s not a wireframe, but a contour one and a construction one and I chose a door knob. So I took the door knob and I took it apart for a few reasons. One, I think my dad broke it, right. So, he hadn’t fixed it, right, I said I’ll fix this, this will be my legacy but it also had a lot of these rounded parts you couldn’t cheat it and actually the way, if you ever took a door knob apart across two different sides the way the mechanism fits into place is very complex for a very simple object, but also very interesting how the different parts fit.
Ivan Minić: Looks good.
Peter Nalli: Yeah, it was a really good one. So, I passed the portfolio submission that you were supposed to go. The next stage was a in school exam which is a 3 hour intensive exam. So I think something like 1400 people applied in the first part and about a 100 people get in the next part. I mean, the coordinator at the time Brian Lemay, who’s worked on a bunch of stuff, he says Look at the person to the right of you, look at the person to the left of you, one of those people are not gonna be here after the exam which is great motivational speak before an exam, by the way. Well done Brian. And so this exam was a life drawing session, so you would draw from life, a model in front of you. The second part was they give you the three quarter down shots of a room and then they tell you You are sitting in this chair, draw what you see so you have to extrapolate the perspective and reverse it and then the final one, they give you a character, I think it was Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck model sheet, which is for those people that are listening, it’s how the character looks from a different… so from the front, from the side, from the three quarter and what you do, they have a model, in this case there was another live model, one from life drawing and you would have to draw that model as, you have to draw that character with that models pose.
Ivan Minić: Of course.
Peter Nalli: And it was intense. After it, I got into the program. I had a couple of friends, well one friend and a couple of other once I got in, who were a year ahead of me in the program. But my only intention, the reason why I went to Sheridan because I wanted to draw comics better. And the program, the classical animation program was where the best artists, definitely within the country, but even internationally were coming in, so I extrapolated, I said Okay, I want to draw best comics ever. The best school for drawing is not the illustration program, it is the animation program. Do I really like animation? Yeah, I like it. Do I wanna do it? No, I wanna draw comics better. But all the best artist were going here. So I figured it was by being surrounded by other people who were the best at what they did, regardless if it’s animation or illustration comics, I would end up being better because that was were the highest talent was, right. But a funny thing happened while I was there in the program. I started to realize that animation has, I still love comics, but animation deals with four dimensions. So which is how something changes over time and space. What I was thinking this is so much more complex, nuanced and performance based than comic books was. Comic books is there is graphic design definitely, but you are really capturing the moment to moment, to moment. It’s a sequential story art, but animation does that on an olympic level. You have to be able to draw everything great, but that’s not even the skill of animation. Animation is that ability to understand performance and imbue that in the drawings that you are doing and with time and space and…
Ivan Minić: And it has to be perfectly fluid. Otherwise it’s not believable.
Peter Nalli: The believability was the most important part. In a comic book you can get by style and you have to be a strong draftsman, but you don’t necessarily need to understand true performance. What’s the difference between someone who’s walking and someone who is meandering? Or someone who’s pacing quickly and someone who is running. Like, this difference in animation is big. In comics, you kinda have these snapshots. The more I started to understand it and I started to really understand maybe I was more in love with animation than I thought I was. Yeah. So I said You know what, I think this is my calling which is animation. And I really started to heavily invest in that kind of academia, so I was still living quite far, I didn’t live on campus. It was expensive and I wasn’t making enough at my job to move and live there. So I was commuting approximately two hours, two hours and fifteen minutes one way and then two and a half hours one way back to school. Bus, subway, train, bus to the school. During that time, I spent a lot of time drawing and reading about stuff that I loved. I usually had three books with me. One was a sketchbook at all times, one was a, not a technical book, but something about whatever I am learning about. And then one was, not a trash or a pulp book, but something that I enjoyed reading for fun. Some fantasy books or some Mickey Spillane’s or Krent novels, or whatever it was, it was always something fun. It was always three books with me and I spent a lot of time in transit doing that sort of learning or ingesting stories and content that had… Not just comics, I read a lot of comics at the time and I didn’t want to see how other people interpret stories. I wanted the stories first to live in my head and see how I visualize them and then sort of as a clean conduit to how I would express them. And then when I got to school, I would do my academia and I was trying to, we had a thing called life drawing, which is one of the universal classes that don’t require… it’s almost like the calisthenics of any program. Even in illustration, but definitely in animation, because you need to see, there is so many things happening in life drawing that are super important, for example, you are working in three dimensional environment, the model stands in the center of the room, much like your IT guy here and then you would see him or her and you would have to extrapolate how that looks on 2D surface. Right now, people do it with photographs and they draw from photographs. But I think that ability to kind of see this in depth perception and interpret it like how your eyes interpret the volumes and imbued that into 2D surfaces is really important. Additionally, you don’t need instructions for life drawing. If you spend enough time, you could just sit there and draw and draw and draw and it’s a real intimate relationship with that triangle, you to the model, or the model to you, you to the canvas that you are drawing on. And so we had life drawing as a mandatory class, which was three hours I believe, but then the school offered extra life drawing as well, so these were classes that were happening in the evening from six to nine I believe and you are not capped to how many extra life drawings you can go, they were encouraging you to take one or two. I was taking three or four, so I was doing life drawing doing three hours, plus another three horse, plus another three hours, so that’s nine. Nine to twelve hours at least I was doing life drawing a lot. Just put on music and I would just draw a whole bunch. And I understand that you need to put in the work to get anything done well. Now it’s about 8, 9 o’ clock and I have another two and a half hour commute so sometimes I was just crashing on my friends couches, on ones that lived on apartments near or on campus and I would just sleep there and I would be ready for my next class, so I had a very Spartan idea or approach to what I was doing in animation at the time and let me steer back to your original question…
Ivan Minić: Let me ask you another question. Apart from life drawing, which I do believe and understand that is a basis of everything because, you know, light and the way human body moves and stuff like that, you can figure it out while practicing that. But which other classes did you have? Why was that program so good and which classes did you have other than this?
What was it like to study animation
Peter Nalli: So at the time, it’s now a 4 year program, so it’s a degree program, at the time it was a 3 year program that I took. The classes were, there was perspective drawing, so, I mean that is pretty straight forward, you have to be able to understand the mathematics of drawing something in three dimensional space because it’s, it will not look like it sits on a plane. Character design, which is a really interesting class, because you start to learn conventions on how to design something that is appealing and people think that appealing is subjective, but there is an objectivity to it as well. Life drawing, character design, animation. Animation is the actual, it was a classical animation program. So it means we used to draw on paper, at the time the school have moved from the first, right when I arrived there we were filming stuff on the Leica camera, which is a very, it’s not an old fashion way of doing it, but it is antiquated now, you would actually shoot your animation to film. So you do all your drawing, shoot the film, they would develop it, you would get it about a week later and then you can review your animation and you are like okay, is this good. From first year, second year they migrated it to what’s called a lunch box line tester. It looks like a big car battery and what happens is you have your VHS, VCR and then a small TV and then a camera. And so lunch box had three buttons, I think. One of them is, and it’s a clicker, so you click the exposure of the camera and it would record one or two or three or how many times you click the button of the frames of your animation, so you have your, the way the animation works is you have your paper which is a larger than a regular A, what’s the standard here?
Ivan Minić: A4.
Peter Nalli: A4, yeah. Larger than an A4. And then has a special what’s called a peg bar at the bottom, which has these special pegs. So two round, one squared, sorry, one round, two squared on the outside that holds the paper so that way you can line it up and you don’t get a jitter in it and so you would film and remove one paper, film it and remove one paper, click-click, click-click, cause we usually shoot on twos and then the great thing about that is because we are recording on VHS you can watch your animation back almost immediately. This is an important breakthrough because before you had to wait a week and see if everything worked out but now…
Ivan Minić: It was way slower and more complex.
Peter Nalli: So the people were romantic about this idea when they talk about shooting the film versus digital, right and I understand the romance of it, right. Fundamentally, I am a pragmatist. If I can see my animation immediately, I can be way more experimental and daring with it. I can say Let me try this because there is no inertia for trying to do it and then okay, I have to wait this for a week to figure it out so it was really good for trying things out really quickly. I could go to my desk See, you know what, I am gonna do something crazy here and shoot it. So animation was a big chunk, it is worth quite a few credits within the program. There was film language, which was a wonderful program. I am a big fan of live action film, not just animation, which was one of the reasons why I wasn’t so enamored with animation, I love animation, but I love film as well and so we did film studies in film language and then there was, you are testing my memory, we are talking about 20 years ago, so what were the other programs… so there was perspective, character design, animation, film language or film study… Art history! Or sorry, art history which was about animation which was terrific. That was a great one. Kapindo who was an animator from Copenhagen, brilliant. He was one of my instructors at the time. Life drawing if I didn’t say that was one of the classes, maybe one or two other that percolated in there.
Ivan Minić: What I really loved trying to understand history of animation, because we were all in love with cartoons when were kids and it was always for me how did they manage to make an hour and a half cartoon if it takes 24 pictures for one second, that would mean a lot of pictures, a lot of drawings to make 90 minutes of it. And then I Googled when had Google and YouTube and there were a lot of behind the scenes videos and then I figured out of course one of the thing is drawing the character and stuff like that, but backgrounds and stuff that are not in the first focus, there are so many techniques you can use and they are all so amazing when you look at them now, you know. Using different sheets of glass to add depth…
Peter Nalli: It’s a great example.
Ivan Minić: It’s a two dimensional thing, but when you have 10 sheets of glass with different things drawn on it still looks… in reality it is three dimensional, but it also looks three dimensional, it shows that, but also what I figured out watching cartoons and didn’t know how they ended up making that was when you have these layers and they move different bases and it looks amazing, it’s so simple, but it’s amazing and when you know these things and then you figure out how special effects are now done. Some of the things are actually quite similar.
Peter Nalli: Yes, a 100%. I think you hit the nail in the head for why, I am gonna stop using that expression, that’s the physics in the drawing part that collided in a most fantastic way.
Ivan Minić: It’s optics. Basically optics.
Peter Nalli: It’s an optical illusion, but it really uses, the way you described it, if you put this on this level and you move one at a slightly different rate than the other then it creates the illusion of parallax, that there is distance between space. Fundamentally, that is physics. There is a science to it. And I think that’s, I’ve never thought about it before, but I maybe had an epiphany now, but I think that’s maybe why the animation part became so much more attractive to me than comic books. Because I had this extra dimension, how do you mimic life both in it’s technical and in it’s path of performance in such a way that other people watching it would believe it and that it’s real. Yeah, what you described is a multiplane camera which is a amazing to think about it. How do we create depth, but we don’t really have depth, so you print different or you paint different planes meaning if there is grass really close to the camera and then there is trees a little bit further back and then there is a road and there is a hill and way behind that there is a castle, you paint that on glass on different levels and the glass is separated by, I am not gonna use feet, by 10 centimeters, 30 centimeters and then you move the camera through those glass so that it actually feels like that the camera is moving that three dimensional space and it’s genius to think about it. So this kind of marriage between science and art was really the most important part of how animation is this new medium and not only that, you have all this people on a collective goal, you have painters who are working on the backgrounds, you have animators who are doing the animation, you have musicians who are making… that’s why I think, I don’t know if it still is, but definitely at the time that animation was a highest form of art. So, at one point, painting was the highest form of art, until sculpture came around. Then sculpture was because you can experience sculpture from around and animation is experiencing art in four dimensions. So, a character will be different in the beginning of the film than it will be at the end of the film. That kind of four dimensionality of an object or in this case a character changes over time and in space, for me is the highest form of art, also because there is all these people working on a collective goal which is to tell a story through animation.
Ivan Minić: There is one thing, when gaming became big, and when I say gaming, there are a lot of studios doing mobile games. Mobile games are fun, no one wanted to go into gaming to do mobile games. Everybody wanted to do something that’s life changing, creating their own worlds, living through a game something amazing and you know, that’s the reason why people wanted to do that. Usually, it’s off the table, it’s not something you can do, but if you want to do gaming, you can do these fun things and make a lot of money and that’s it. Recently, I talked to a friend, we had a brief discussion about this why is she still interested in to doing animations and she doesn’t want to go into gaming and she did a couple of things, she did some special effects for some movies and stuff like that but still nothing major, she is still looking for what she should be focused on. She told me one thing which was kind of a big breakthrough for me. She said Look, if I make a cartoon or an animated something, sequence, 15 seconds, if it’s cute, if it’s good, if it’s interesting, if it’s emotional, okay, not everyone is going to react the same way, but it has a universal value. We can share something by looking at it for 15 seconds. With games it can be amazing if you are good at it, if you are not good, it looks good, but your experience is crap. If you play football, and now we have the World Cup going on, if you play football and you are losing 6-0, you don’t really care about how it looks.
Peter Nalli: Yeah, you are not happy about it.
Ivan Minić: It’s 4k, HDR, lovely. I am still losing. I don’t really care. And with the fact that we grew up watching games that had pixels the size of a finger and it was amazing because the story was so good, we drew the details, we figured out everything else in our heads. If it was popular, it had to have an amazing story behind it. Now, usually, it just looks good or cute, especially with mobile gaming, it’s good, cute it will help you waste 10 minutes waiting in the line which is all fine, which is all cute, which all makes money in the end, which all helps your game popularity, but in fifty years, no one is really gonna care and you can still watch cartoons that are from 50 years ago and they are amazing, even short films and stuff like that. Yes, the things have changed, now you have way more details, now it’s far more realistic… doesn’t matter. It’s still amazing. If you watch classic Disney, it’s still amazing. If you watch what Pixar did 30 years ago, it’s beyond amazing, because the story is ridiculously good. And animation is there to help tell that story. If it doesn’t have the perfect glow on the metallic surface, I can add that on top of my head, but if I have to make up a story, that is gonna be a lot tougher, that requires more processing power.
Peter Nalli: Well, I think, so they are connected, but they are slightly two different things for me. I am a storyteller, when I draw, I don’t have a particular style that I say What am I drawing? What’s the story behind it? What’s the particular voice that tells it best? Right? So I adapt my style, which is a very animation thing to do. I adapt my style of drawing something to what the subject matter is that I am drawing. So I change it up so that way it feels like a one recipe, but the story of it is, frankly, the most important part to me. I think that if the story is keen and solid, you are way more forgiving for the look of it and if you don’t have a story you focus completely on the spectacle and it’s never enough. It’s almost like Ugh, this could be a little bit better and in the end of the day it’s not memorable. Look, as humans, we are storytellers and story consumers, since almost the beginning of time. That’s how we learn everything in life, right. It’s through the idea of myth, the storytelling. You can hear the story and than Ah, isn’t life amazing or Isn’t life tragic or Is it better to love and lost or never love at all? But all these are wrapped up in story allows us to learn in such a way that resonates inside of us. And animation has a distinct or it’s distinction of starting from a place you are already making judgements. If you are watching, this is a challenge in film, so if you are watching a film, you immediately start to say this is how this thing or person or actor or environment is different than me. You are looking at it and alright, you get it. And if it’s a good story you will eventually absorb it and empathize. In animation, you are starting with something that’s very different than you, right. It’s, it could be Bambi for an example. Bambi’s a deer who lives in a forest and has, no one has been a deer before, right. But by that first act which is called Suspension of Disbelief, you say I am not a deer and deers don’t talk, but I am gonna suspend my disbelief as long as the team or whoever is making the film plays by the rules they set at the beginning, right. Bambi doesn’t immediately start to fly, right, whereas that’s bizarre. As long as they stick to the rules they set up you will let this little thon into your heart quicker than you would’ve let some other character as a person or in live action playing this and once that happens, it lives in you forever. I mean it stays there and this is really the power of animation. It’s one of the questions I always ask when I am looking at animations, why is this animated? So this story you’re telling me, right, why do you want to do this through animation? And it should be one of the reasons, it can’t be done any other way. If they say it’s cheaper to do it this way, well this is a big, this is gonna be a monumentous task to do it in animation as well, because you are gonna have to convince me of this world building that you are doing. Whenever I hear a story about animation, I say Why are you doing this animation? If the answer is something good because there is no other way but animation to do it, okay. The foundation, the groundwork is there. Now, back to the game part of it. There is an interesting and it’s happening more in film and television and I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, I haven’t got an opinion, but there was something about going to the movies and animation was consumed this way. Saturday morning I was watching it with my siblings or my cousins. It’s called a shared human experience. So if we are all watching a movie, or an animated movie and we are collectively scared or collectively happy, that is contagious and not only contagious it amplifies the feeling within you. If everyone at the theater is laughing at something that they see that’s funny at screen, it has… it’s amplified in you. I love that, that shared human experience. In COVID fully expressed on how mandatory this human connection is, not even touching people, but being in presence of other people. I think games are the other direction. There has been movements for games to be more collective through massive multiplayer online, but that shared human experience has been taken away and been pushed to the personal experience of you and connection with the game. And I don’t know if that’s the best yet. I mean there are some wonderful games with some wonderful storytelling in them and it moves you in such a way that’s personal as well, but it lacks that shared human experience and it lacks the guide like someone who has… I have an idea of, Ivan, this is what I’ve learned from life in my own experience and it’s very specific to all the different ingredients that made up my life. Like my dad being Fred Filntstone etc. And probably there some things that people can connect with, but I have a particular way, a particular accent, a particular feeling about it that is novel, interesting and, hopefully, resonates with other people and with me creating an animated film, you get to see that with me guiding you through it. And playing it as a game, you kinda have to stumble around until you get it. So there is many different distractions and detours that kind of dilute that feeling or message that I want to kind of express to you or we want to express to you. And I think gaming is different experience than storytelling in it’s purest form. That’s kinda how I feel about it. I mean I love to play games, I completely get absorbed in it, but there is, especially in my childhood, there is animated movies, tv shows or cartoons that have such a profound impact on me in terms of how it was that it really is difficult for games to have the same resonants.
Ivan Minić: I can understand that perfectly, but I would like to add one more thing because I think it’s an important topic. I already mentioned Minions, because for obvious reasons I look like one them and I love them. But the most amazing thing for me about Minions and it’s not the first time, it’s been around through history of animation and animated movies, but with them, I think it’s the most prominent. It’s right there in front of you. They only have one word, they only know Banana, everything else is gibberish and you perfectly understand them in any language and that’s amazing. The fact that it’s completely universal, banana is a universally loved fruit, ofcourse, but the fact you feel all the feels they are going through with their huge eyes and they don’t say a word that makes sense. They say a lot of things, but it doesn’t really make sense. I love guinea pigs…
Peter Nalli: The animal guinea pig?
Ivan Minić: Yes. Everyone who knows me knows I love guinea pigs.
Peter Nalli: Why?
Ivan Minić: Because they are so cute and they have an amazing face. All others have rat face. Guinea pigs, they have human face with lips and nose and big eyes. They can show all emotions. I don’t know if I am reading them well, I mean it’s a guinea pig, it’s not a human. But it’s amazing. Adds so much depth.
Peter Nalli: To the guinea pig.
Ivan Minić: To the guinea pig!
Peter Nalli: Interesting.
Ivan Minić: The way I am using a guinea pig as something to compare, because when I look at Minions, I see guinea pigs. When I see guinea pigs, I see humans. And I am weird, I know.
Peter Nalli: No, no, I am following you.
Ivan Minić: But the whole idea now… 10 years ago making animation, making an animated cartoon was getting an animal, a human, well not a human, but probably an animal, an object to be as realistic as possible, now it doesn’t have to be like that. It can be completely abstract and it can be beyond amazing in every way imagined. 2 years ago I think I watched, it was called Soul. That’s deeper than most of feature films I’ve seen and of course the animation, the characters were really cute, the world was amazing. But a lot of things are done by lines on screen representing paper clip dancing. We all have our own horrors with paper clip dancing in Microsoft Office, but basically this is what it is. Lines form details of a certain face and it tells a story or it’s higher power or something like that and you look at it and it’s amazing anyone can draw it on paper and it won’t be amazing, but here it’s amazing. Why? Because it tells a story and shows emotions and I guess it takes a lot of skills…
Peter Nalli: Tonnes.
Ivan Minić: To do these things right.
Peter Nalli: I think intuition plays a big role. I think you have to… you are creating everything from scratch and it’s a lot of work to do that, beyond being expensive, there is a lot of work. So the idea is it’s going to be a big endeavor, let’s get it right before doing it and I think that’s a big motivation. So when you are doing it, am I moved by this yet? Does this fully explain or does this harness the emotion that we want to communicate? Because if it doesn’t, it’s gonna take a lot of work to get there and it’s gonna be a argouse way of doing it and so I completely agree that abstraction or, you know, people have this kind of face recognition, I mean American, not so much Europe, North American light sockets have these two little slits and a little mouth. The longest time as a kid I thought that’s a face…
Ivan Minić: The most popular hanger design border rooms and stuff like that looked like an octopus.
Peter Nalli: Was it?
Ivan Minić: Yeah, for us it was octopus and everyone when you… Do you remember when we did physical exercise in elementary school; oh the octopuses. For everyone it was the same.
Peter Nalli: I’ll have the octopus!
Ivan Minić: Everywhere.
Peter Nalli: So we do that. As people, we do that, we project. Like you with the guinea pig. You project our own kind of persona into the object or in this case the guinea pig. How do you feel about capybaras, have you seen them before?
Ivan Minić: Of course. They are amazing, I played with a couple of them in Japan!
Peter Nalli: I figured. They are like a guinea pig…
Ivan Minić: But huge!
What is important in movies and cartoons
Peter Nalli: Yeah, but they have that same face. So The Minions are interesting, they don’t have other vocabulary other than banana, but it does this… speaking and action, you have text and subtext, right. I just used it as an example, I don’t know, let’s hope this is gonna be prime time on, this is not gonna be rude, but let’s there has been a couple that has been on three dates, they have been a little bit conservative. The lady invites the guy upstairs. Would you like a cup of coffee? And it’s 9pm or 10pm. So that’s the text where she is saying would you like to come up for coffee. That’s not the subtext. I suspect they could’ve found coffee anywhere and not just in the apartment. Hopefully, coffee would lead to a coffee in the morning as well. This play on subtext and text is nuanced for people. It’s very interesting, a little bit more sophisticated though, right. Usually you need to understand what is said and what is meant. And Minions have this purism to them, right, because you don’t understand what they are saying, you understand the cadence, like if they are angry or upset etc. It’s called grammelot. There was a show in the 70s called La Linna. I don’t know if it was popular in Serbia.
Ivan Minić: Of course.
Peter Nalli: He was Italian, but he never said anything in Italian. And so it was his cadence and nuance. I love shows that have grammelot or this kind of vocabulary. Our show Puffins Impossible uses vocalization because, for what you said, you don’t need any particular language to understand it, two; you don’t need to understand text and subtext. I mean the older you get for very sophisticated or very complex storytelling something like… I don’t think Quentin Tarantino or Robert Altman would be able to, or not they wouldn’t be able to, I don’t think they would be attracted to this kind of storytelling, but when you wanna get pure emotional feeling, resonance with the kids and audience watching it, it doesn’t have to be just kids. This idea of not having to contend with actual words, meaning and saying, I love it. You can still have the cadence with Minions. You know if they are upset, you know if they are even being sarcastic and what they are saying, but you have no idea what they are talking about.
Ivan Minić: And even when they say banana, there are like 500 different ways they are gonna say that word and every time they say it, you know exactly how they feel.
Peter Nalli: That’s amazing, isn’t it?
Ivan Minić: That’s beyond amazing. Anyway, let’s get back to your schooling and your professional work.
Peter Nalli: Sure.
Ivan Minić: When you finished your degree, where did you go on from there?
Peter Nalli: So I finished classical animation program and I went to work in some of the local studios in and about Toronto, where I was. I was working on some 2D animation stuff and was also working on some 3D layout part of the show. For those who are not familiar with it, in the CG animation process, you have many different departments that do many different things. One of the departments when it goes from storyboards to 3D you have two branches. One is to create the assets, so all the characters, locations and objects need to be created in 3D and given if we are using puppets, they need to be given digital strings that they can be manipulated. The other part is, in the animatic is imagine it like in a movie you have to animate the camera. The camera has to be even in such a way that you would move it like a digital camera. In traditional film it’s called blocking. What happens in layout is you bringing all the objects, those assets that I said that make up the scene and then you put your camera in there and you put the information with the camera, so what type of lens, in the digital camera mimics real life very closely and so you put in your, you put the focal length, like how the camera is gonna capture the image. You position the camera so if it’s an upshot, downshot and if the camera has any movement to it, so if it was a panning shot or if it’s a crane, upper crane, down crane, you animate those keys as per the length of that storyboard excerpt that you received from your department head. Additionally you bring in the characters and the set and you put the camera where it needs to be in the set and if the characters have, they will have animation you are gonna put keys. Keys are specific moments of the character’s performance that have a particular position sitting in a chair and grabbing a cup of coffee, you have a key of me sitting, so that’s one position. You have a key of me standing, that’s another position, you have a key, maybe two or three keys of me walking. And then another key of me grabbing the coffee. And it kinda has the performance timing that’s in the storyboard that’s gonna help the animator know how much time they have to do it. That’s what the layout department was doing. And I was working for the layout department for one of the studios. I was doing pretty good. At the same time I was learning… I hadn’t learned 3D in school.
Ivan Minić: Digital 3D?
Peter Nalli: Yeah, digital 3D animation in school. I did the classical animation program. So I have been doing a few classes and a lot of it has been self thought and I was always pretty good with computers anyways. It’s actually much more difficult to learn animation than, I know this may seem obvious, but the art of animation is exponentially more difficult than the art of how to use a computer program, right. I would say anyone even of my generation and later had a computer in their house and they know how to at least operate it. And so I was kinda learning CG on the job as I was doing it. I had worked on a few shows and then I was working on Care Bears. Do you remember Care Bears?
Ivan Minić: Yeah.
Peter Nalli: Okay, good. So they had done a Care Bears movie and I was working in the layout department. The studio I was working on did not have the whole film, but they were getting a larger portion from, the studio was called Nelvana at the time, which was a very large studio in Canada and I think they became Chorus afterwards. At one point they wanted me to go and lead the team on site at Nelvana, which wasn’t that far. It was maybe, the actual geography was maybe, I don’t know, 300 meters from the studio we were working in. And so I had brought a small team, I wouldn’t say they were the B crew, but they were more misfits and rike tyke group from us. I don’t know what that says for my leadership, but I went on and I was working on that. It went well, it went super well. It taught me a little bit about working with a team. Not just being a participant in the team, but having some sort of stewardship and some sort of, I wouldn’t say management, but some sort of lead in how everything is gonna get organized. How we are gonna deliver. It wasn’t so big but it was working on that. I’ve seen studios before, I’ve done some animation part of a pitch. I don’t remember the show right now. And other variety of tasks I was capable of doing. The interesting one was, there is an artist called Daron Donovan who has a twin brother called Jeff Donovan. They are two twin animators, he is in animation and Jeff is a background painter and they are identical twins and Daron was working in Dreamworks before he came back to Canada. He was Canadian. There was this big migration during the mid 90s from Canada to work in the States. In fact, a lot of people from Sheridan ended up being directors or you’ll see that my alumni and the alumni ahead of me and just ahead of that are all in Pixar, Dreamworks. It was a very good school. Daron had got over to California to work at Dreamworks. And he is special effects, visual special effects, 2D special effects, which is a very, very different beast than character animation. So Daron came back and we were working on, I don’t remember the project, but he was the 2D effects lead on it and I was doing in between and insisting on him, which is something I haven’t done in a long time and it was a terrific learning experience. He is a really gracious person, he is super cool and I learned a lot. So I was doing a little bit. My big thing was the layout department, but any other little project that I could jump into I would jump on, I would volunteer. I had 2D animation training beforehand as well. So, if I could do it I could jump on. So I was doing that for a few years, I think. And then I connected with… so there was this Christmas film that required animation of a reindeer like Bambi, but a little bit different. And I ran into a friend who had, we were both in the same program, we are classmates, colleagues in the program, in the faculty. And he was working and he asked me to do some designs, I am a pretty good designer. It was probably one of my most fun parts to do going back to that comic was drawing those characters on papers. So he wanted me to do designs for this Christmas film that had animation in it and we hadn’t connected in a few years and I had done them and he loved them, he loved them a lot. He says You know, what are you doing? And I told him what I was doing. He said I have my own studio, it’s boutique right now. Would be open to… he didn’t even say it like that. He said I want you to be the art director in the studio. And so, I was like, I was thinking about it at the time and I was like yeah. And he offered me a partial partnership at the time. It was brand new starting and so it was… we became… I became percentage partner within the studio and there were four original partners, him and his now wife, then girlfriend, she was the producer, he was the creative director, I came and was the art director and we had a technical director who was made the fourth member. So, essentially, he started the studio, but it was relatively smaller and we couldn’t galvanize the studio to be more of a boutique studio. So I came on board and worked as the art director. That was a super interesting time of my life. I was with them for ten years and we did so many things. I did a lot of commercial work, so we did some stuff for film as well, smaller projects. Most of it evolved to work for commercials, advertising, that kind of stuff. Which is grueling, it’s a very specific skill, it’s a very specific market and it requires high expertise, high pressure and we were working on that. My particular, one of my particular talents or abilities is that I am also good at drawing storyboards really fast. So when we were shooting commercials or the directors would shoot the commercials, some of it would have visual effects which is some of the stuff that we are also doing and I would go on set and we had to deviate from the actual shooting whatever we are shooting or it had to be done quickly or even before. I would draw the storyboards of what the commercial is, additionally I would also do shooting boards. So what that is is you had to shoot certain things for visual effects in such a way so that all these pieces form or synthesize back into what you are doing. And I know always people think special or visual effects is a science and it very much is so, but it’s really a magic trick. I think this idea is at the end of the day, it’s all fake. There is nothing outside the camera that matters. I mean, now with lightning and everything, you have to set it up, but at that time especially, a magician is all about where you are looking at, what you are looking at at one point and if you get just the right pieces…
Ivan Minić: Shifting focus.
Peter Nalli: Yeah. Exactly. If you line up just the right pieces, you believe it and that’s all I care about. It doesn’t have to be real. I am not an architect, no one is gonna die in the building I built, right. It just has to look real. And so I was really good at that and I understood how to make something, what pieces you need and how to organize that beforehand to make sure it works in visual effects. And then learning the program wasn’t so difficult. I mean it is difficult, but if you have an accumate for programs and for doing it, you can kinda pick it up and so I was moving a little bit in this kind of… I was in compositing, so I was doing a lot of comp work as well because of these commercials and some tv shows we took on later require them and I was strong in that compositing part. So I moved from being a partner in a studio and we were doing any project that sided us at the time. There is so much more to that, though you asked a really interesting question. I’ve got to work on my first feature film as well. There was a Mexican writer called Danny Sangra and he had one or no, he had been nominated for the Academy Award for a short film called Genesis 319 and it’s a story about a Jewish man who finds out he has cancer and he is gonna die. So uplifting film already. So he finds out and he wants a way to live on, he wants a legacy and he concucks this interesting idea where he is gonna be cremated and convinces his friends to drink him or something. It gets a little bit bizarre. But in that idea he talks about surreality and synchronicity and it gets heavy with the unbearable lightness of being which is Kundun’s book. But, within the story, there are two stories. One of a guy called Evariste Galois, who is a French mathematician and Paul Kammerer, who is an Austrian, what’s it called, evolutionist, like Darwin. He actually would’ve been the next Darwin if it wasn’t for the sabotaging of his assistant and it was going to be all animated in this film. And we have some visual effects within the film as well. They have to look real visual effects. So I was the production designer for this project. I met with the director, I met with the our contact who was kinda of like the creative director, but he leaned more on us to do it and we created some of these mood boards early on. The mood boards I created, I was working on caught the attention of Guillermo Del Toro who is also Mexican. And at the time I’ve been interested in this project, I was supposed to meet with them, but this creative director didn’t want me to meet with them which was sad for me. And I said I really want to explain what the thought process is behind this, right. I didn’t want to dilute, I didn’t want to tell someone and than that person tells someone, right, because I think we would’ve spoken the same language. Ironically, he said it’s all gonna be in Mexican or Spanish. We are not gonna be speaking the same language. And they met and Guillermo told me that he was really interested in it, but he is working on his own project right now, he is gonna track this film and see how it follows. It isn’t something he can jump on right now as well, so… Which is fine. I was a production designer for this film and it was my first forte into building, we scaled up the studio to the animation. It was about 25 minutes of animation required for the film. It was a 2D and 3D hybrid. It was to mimic shadow puppets of Mexican culture at the time. You’ll see general uses later on in one of the Hellboy films. I’ll point it out to you if you are interested and I can show you where the influence is. It also had a 3D character that was made to look 2D and so we filmed in Valencia, Spain for part of the production and then we finished the film, like all the post in Mexico City. So myself and my creative partner were flown down to Mexico City and we worked out of Ollin Studio, which is a very large facility. They were working on The Zodiac at the time and we got a small division just working on our film and I lived at the directors house. It was a really big house and we were there in Mexico City working on this film. It did pretty good and it ended up on Santa Barbara festival, which was awesome. It was our first film festival that any film I’ve worked on was going. And we went there, the four of us, the four partners went there and there was a panel discussion with Brad Bird, Julian Schnable. Do you know who he is? He did a movie called Basquiat and he’s got a bunch of them. He is a painter as well, in New York, but he is also a filmmaker. Craig Gillespie who did Lars and the Real Girl at the time, Jason Retiman who has just finished Juno, Judd Apatow from Superbad and Knocked Up and I think that was all the cast. Since we were in the same, our film was in contention, we got to speak with them and I spoke to Brad and I asked him, Brad Bird is the director of The Incredibles, but even before he did The Iron Giant which is a masterpiece, unfortunately it had poor marketing and they didn’t stand behind it, but it’s still to this day one of my favorite 2D animated movies, especially of that era. And I asked Brad, I said, this is before he had gone off to work for Pixar, I think. Or maybe just after he started The Incredibles. Anyway, I said Brad, his career was something I looked up to and it was amazing and I said How is it that you find yourself working on, other than being excellent and amazing and kick ass at this, how do you find yourself working on stuff that pushes that next step for where it goes? And he says It’s really simple, he says, do more of the stuff you love and less of the stuff you don’t. And I said, well that’s a fortune cookie, right. And I thought it was an oversimplification, but I later learned that it wasn’t. It really is the adage of being successful in something that requires you to give a lot of your expertise and your passion towards. Do more of the stuff you love and the less of the stuff you don’t, because if you are chasing something that other people love, you don’t know if you are gonna hit it, right. If I think, okay, Ivan, I think Ivan will like this show about rollerblading babes who fight crime in the night time, right, which is a great idea actually, you can use that. But I don’t know, if I don’t like it, I am guessing you like it, right. Or if I am chasing, I think this is gonna make me a lot of money. I am just spending time making money, time is actually worth more than the money in the long run. But if I am doing more of the stuff I love and I have an expertise in it, but I mean you should be trying to be good at the stuff you love, if I do more stuff I love I assume other people… inevitably I am not such a weirdo because other people will love it too. Or at least like it. And if I do it well with some sort of expertise and some sort of integrity and some sort of quality of excellence because I love it, it will also garner attention and money. Whatever you are chasing. I think it should be a byproduct, not the goal to make money doing it. Especially if you are an artist. And so do more of the stuff you love and the less of the stuff you don’t. And so I kinda tried to make that my mantra. At that same time, during the Santa Barbara Film Festival I don’t think we won the award there, but the film did win at the Madrid Film Festival. We connected with a guy called Graham Perkins who had been working with Adobe and Apple. He is a Brit who is living in Singapore. So he was an expat, he was living for quite a few… And he was super interested in what we were doing and he was looking to involve himself into animation in this new studio and through various talks with him, we eventually set up another studio in Singapore. So we had our creative hub in Toronto and we had another technology focused studio in Singapore. So, I don’t know if Graham made the connection or we did first, but we got connected with… do you know what Pepper’s Ghost is? Have you heard of this technology before?
Ivan Minić: Yeah.
Peter Nalli: Okay. So Pepper’s Ghost is a magician’s trick. Remember, all of this is magicians. Where if you angle a mirror at 45 degree angle and, in this case, project something, if you stand at a particular viewing angle it looks like whatever that you are projecting from the side is in that mirror. So this optical illusion happens if you open a window at like a 45 degree angle sometimes at night time, you can kinda see the reflection. People get scared shitless with this, excuse me for my french. They say like Oh my god, someone’s in the house!, ah, no, it’s just me.
Ivan Minić: Basically, that’s the technology they use now to emulate holograms. Basically.
Peter Nalli: Yeah, it’s exactly. So Pepper’s Ghost is what they use in the Haunted Mansion in the Disney World when they did it. And so in around, I think it was late 80s, early 90s, an inventor in Abu Dhabi created a, it’s called a foil, but what it is, it’s like a cellophane that if you look at it at a particular angle, it’s see through, it’s transparent. But in a particular reflection angle, it’s completely reflective. So what you do is, I am gonna go through the whole set up, you create a projector that hits it at a particular angle and I stand in a different angle, I see everything invisible except what’s being projected and that’s what holographic technology is, right. And so they used it in 2006 on MTV, Madonna appeared with The Gorillaz, the animated band and she appeared with them and they used the same technology. So we license a technology and we use it in Singapore for, we had a few clients at the time, and we were talking to… I wonder if I can even talk about this right now, I don’t even if we… cause since I left that studio, but we were working on, we had an MOU with MGM Casino to do a dinosaur zoo. So we were going to do CG dinosaurs, in fact we did a proof of concept with a t-rex. One of the guys we were working with, he was the lead modeler on The Journey to the Center of the Earth, have you seen it?
Ivan Minić: Yeah.
Peter Nalli: Okay. It’s with Brandon Fraiser and within that movie there is a t-rex. I don’t know how much trouble I am gonna get into, but we basically took that model and made it way better. I mean, he was the lead modeler, and we took it and we got a CG version of it and so in our studio in Singapore we built a, it was a large facility and the ceilings were quite high, we built a a mussion theater and did a proof of concept of this dinosaur within it and it was good, it was super cool. I am leaving so much stuff out. I was nominated for best music director. And I won a bunch of FWA which is Favorite Website Award during my time at the studio. I don’t remember when the chronology of this was, but there was a lot of awesome stuff happening at the time. So I was doing stuff that I love. So we did this one with, we were doing this MOU with MGM and we had this starting of what will be this dinosaur zoo. I also went to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and I was a keynote speaker in KL, in Kuala Lumpur. Yeah, okay, because it was about that suite, we did a CG music video that had some characters and so I was speaking in that event and then I speaking in CG Overdrive. This is around 2008 or 2009. And so I was, I went a few times back and forth to Singapore and around the same time is when the market crashed. Am I boring you yet?
Ivan Minić: No.
The end of the Singapore venture and the next project
Peter Nalli: Okay, good. So, the market crashed and Singapore became or at least the government bodies that we were dealing with a little bit xenophobia. They really wanted the 51% of the studio to be located in the borders of Singapore and it was an interesting time for me because I’d have to make a decision to move to Singapore and my son was 2 or 3 years old and if I move to Singapore he would become one of the residents, this is one of the things I was thinking, he would become a citizen and he would have to mandatory military service in Singapore and they do it in a Malaysian jungle, right. And so I was like Meh, I don’t know about this. And so I didn’t end up moving to Singapore. Through a variety of different actions that the mussion also, the system has that 3D holographic technology requires you to fill a certain amount of events with it, so you have, to keep the brand identity high, you have to do it. I think at the time it was around 8 or 9 events, like concerts etc, right. On top of the licensing fee of that technology. The license technology at the time was, I think, 120000 dollars per year, which is not cheap for a boutique studio. And then on top of it, you have to do 6 to 9 events, which could easily run you about 2 or 3 hundred thousand dollars. It was becoming an expensive endevour and we were still in just the early stages of talking with the casino about doing this thing, so a few things didn’t jell or call us like they should and so we ended up closing down that Singapore division of our company, which was the technology department, we just stayed within Toronto. Interesting note though, we garnered the attention of Cirque du Soleil, do you know who they are?
Ivan Minić: Yeah, of course.
Peter Nalli: Okay, good. I had to explain this before, which is amazing, I love Cirque du Soleil, I think it’s fantastic. Cirque du Soleil is the, not brainshell, but the birth of LaFontaine, it was a street performer who ended up becoming a billionaire and they wanted one of the things we were developing which was based on this property that we were investing in. We were in talks with them developing a show around this, like a Cirque du Soleil show and so I went to their Montreal Headquarters. Montreal is a city 5 hours away from Toronto where I was living and they have headquarters in Montreal and it is like a, you know Willy Wonka…
Ivan Minić: Yeah, and the Chocolate Factory.
Peter Nalli: It’s like that inside. They have like three layers of security they have to get through and then once you are through it’s like…
Ivan Minić: Disneyland.
Peter Nalli: Yeah. He has, this is so horrible, I am gonna say it because who’s gonna, you know… I am sure no one’s gonna hear me say it, there was… Inside, they have a circus, like they have an interior version of a circus tent with all the performers and I was looking and they were giving us a tour and when I came into the first room, there is like a tiny little boy and a tiny little woman or a girl, but they look odd from the back, they look really weird and the guy, the boy turns and it’s a man with a full mustache but he is only like this big, right, he is tiny, but he is not a dwarf or anything, it’s almost as if you took a human and you scaled them down, like you just shrunk them, hands are perfect crazy, right. And they were from some remote village from Uzbekistan or wherever they were from, but they were tiny little people, like really, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory effect, right. I don’t want to call them Umpa Loompas, they were, they were and they were brilliant. Once they started doing it, they let us watch their performance, they were acrobats. And they did things I didn’t even think human people, like I didn’t think it was possible and so it was amazing, it was fantastic. At the top of the building they had this big, it’s this siphon or cylinder that collects rainwater and it purifies it and it’s drinkable within the facility. There is, in the hallways, there is priceless pieces of art that are, that you would think they would be in the museum, but I guess LaFontaine just put them up throughout hallways. And I was walking around and I was like can I touch this? Yeah, you can touch, but we’d prefer if you didn’t. But it was crazy, it was amazing. And so we were just starting talks with them creating the app, to create a show, actually they have a really small creative team, it is a big production if you ever seen it, but they start with a very small, intimate team for that story development. And they said We are just wrapping up shows, let’s meet back in a few months to see what you guys come up with. While we were doing that, this is when the story gets a little parashaped, cause we were doing a lot of commercial works I was telling you, right, so we are still doing that work and I used to have my own projects, so I was given stewardship over my own project where I would work within and I’d get a small team and I would build my own budget etc. They were working well, I was really good at that kind of stuff, building the creative and building how to make it financially viable. Like we can do it and we make money on it. My partners, they used to get bigger projects, but they tend to be way more ambitious and I don’t, I just think that they lack the producer acumen to make a good project and so what would happen is they would overextend the team and the project and in the end I would be pulled back to be working on the project. I think I mentioned this before, didn’t I? And so, and my… the relationship deteriorated a little bit. I was working a lot…
Ivan Minić: It’s not fun having to save the show every time.
Peter Nalli: No…
Ivan Minić: Sometimes it’s fine. People make mistakes. People don’t judge things properly. It’s fine. But doing it every time, it means the system is broken.
Peter Nalli: It’s obitual, right. And it’s… I had done exactly what you just said. I’ve done it too many times and the mental health of my two partners was deteriorating, so they would take mental health breaks. They left and, you know, they were a couple, so they would leave the country and it would be left on me to kind of keep some things, keep the lights on, keep the doors open. I am a solid person. I don’t like to complain about things. I like to, I am solution oriented and I was irritated. I mean I wasn’t taking mental health breaks. And so, I was working one time, the reason why I am mentioning this is because my business partner I was working on, it was three or four in the morning and my business partner left around midnight and he had gone to sleep and it’s his project. And I am working on this project and it’s four in the morning and I had one car at the time and I have to leave where I am working at around 7am to go and pick up my son and drop him of at school and then drive back and I am thinking, I had that code Do more of the stuff you love, less of the stuff you don’t and I was looking and I was like I am not loving this and I haven’t been loving what I am working on for at least the last six months. I was really unhappy and I was thinking what am I doing, like why am I doing this, right. I was really upset. And the people, not people, but my business partner who had created this problem that I was working to solve which is fine, I am timski rad, right, has gone, he’s left. He went to sleep. He went to sleep. And I couldn’t go to sleep or I chose not to go to sleep to help out and I was so angry and I don’t think I said this at the thing, but there was another project and, I don’t think I’ve ever said this publicly, but my producer who was sitting behind me, she had written something about I don’t know what it is, but she said Pete, bla bla bla, like instead of saying Hello Peter or whatever, she said Pete comma. Even such a minor thing. My name is Peter, I don’t introduce myself as Pete. It’s not that I don’t like it, I don’t prefer it if I am gonna do it. I let people who have called me it, who have already called me it continue. But when I introduce myself, I don’t say my name is Pete. I don’t use it, I use Peter. And this email was chastising me, right. Basically. Chastising me about something, it was really passive aggressive, but that first…
Ivan Minić: Best kind of emails.
Peter Nalli: I hate those emails. And the persons behind me, like she is maybe 4 or 5 desks behind me, so you could’ve just said it, but anyways, it said Pete. And then bla bla bla. And this Pete thing is just like… you know that straw, the f’ing thing. I said Nope! Flipped the keyboard, pushed the monitor over, shut the computer down, I said I am done, I checked out and I said I am not doing this thing anymore. I am done. And so I walked away from that relationship, I basically didn’t try and chase my percentage of partnership. I didn’t do anything. I walked away from that relationship and I said I am not doing this anymore. I figured something else that made me happy. This is not what I love. So I ended that partnership. So it was like ten years worth of work that I said it is enough, so I closed that door.
Ivan Minić: When I look at your CV, basically there is so many things you’ve done and of course part of this comes from that period, a lot of it comes from that period because you were doing so many different things which is really good for, you know, building skill sets and stuff like that. Doing different things, working on different things, different complexities and stuff like that is really good to develop a skill set that’s easily adaptable to pretty much everything anyone can throw at you. I also deeply believe that good generalists in terms of working on something, people who actually know the whole process and can do, maybe not the best work, but can pretty much fit in any role in this process are so valuable because they are, I wouldn’t say they necessarily authorities to everyone, but when you know the work and speak to a person, they respect that. It’s not like throwing tasks at them and throwing shit at them and you know nothing about how it works, you don’t know nothing about how much time it takes, how complex it is. When you do, it’s very different and also, when you do, when you are good at pretty much every step of the process, you can help people grow into their position. If they are not ready for that now, but they have talent, they have huge potential and stuff like that, which is something we all look for when trying to hire a young person. They need someone to mentor them through the process to be able to do that, you need to have specific knowledge, but also the bigger picture. That comes from working on tons of different projects, that comes from crazy deadlines, that comes from, you know… No one would figure out an interesting new way of solving things if they had proper time and budget. Everyone would do it the classical way cause everyone has done it like that for the past 50 years.
Peter Nalli: Yeah, why risk it.
Ivan Minić: But when you have 20 days for 60 days of work, you have to be creative. And when you have a budget worth 20 days and you need it for 60 days of work, you still have to figure out a way how to do it to make it still possible even though some things are gonna be left behind, some things are gonna drop out and they are not gonna be used. Helps you find focus, helps you find what’s, helps you separate what’s important and what’s not. You mentioned some of the projects. Were there any other projects prior to your current situation, what you are working on, which will be the final piece for this podcast. But during this time, were there any other projects that were special for you in some way? It doesn’t have to be a big deal. People can Google you and read your biography, it’s amazing. But, you know, what were the projects that were very important for you during that time?
Peter Nalli: During this time period?
Ivan Minić: That and what came after.
My favorite projects
Peter Nalli: Let me, well, there are a whole bunch… During this time period there was an interesting one to your point. Where is, what I tried to do, what we tried to do, but it was mainly… is that if we have a big project coming up that is gonna need some innovation or some new way of thinking about it, we try to find a smaller project with less budget, more creative control that we can try out this idea and if it works we can…
Ivan Minić: A guinea pig project!
Peter Nalli: Yeah, yeah, yeah! A guinea pig project! We come back to the guinea pig, aye, you’ve been… we set that up way back, yes. So, a guinea pig project where we can try and experiment a lot, make a lot of mistakes and be adventurous and bold and once we say okay Okay, this is gonna work let’s scale this up and do it on a larger scale project. So, I am trying to remember which one came first. So we were working on some production VFX and an animation for a puppet show. Yeah, it was like a puppet show but it was on tv so the characters were like muppets. And part of that we figured out how to track the puppets. So that way we can do something, add something particular to the puppet. And when we did it, we said Okay, let’s experiment with this. We had another project coming for the… it was a large government project. We won FWA for this one as well. It was a large government project for drug awareness and it was an eyeball, right. So it’s like an eyeball that is in this kind of testroom. Then you would give this eyeball different drugs and it would react to those drugs, but really fantastical, right. So, I am trying to remember where… There were a bunch, there was like 30 different types of animation and it was like… it looked like a military facility. So, on this puppet one we figured we can trap the puppet and in what we were doing, this is a really, really, really early version of almost like a mocap, but intearly different. So, it’s not mocap though, because mocap is the performer doing it, but we liked the immediacy of, I don’t they are even doing it today, right, so here is how we do it. So we like the immediacy of, you know when you are performing with a puppet like this thing it kind of so we can get all the performance and what we did on this, we built a small stage within our studio and we had a performer perform as the puppet, he had this like… It’s an eyeball that floats, right, but a realistic looking eyeball, it was CG. And so the performer would do this eyeball and we had LED lights and then we filmed it with three cameras so we could triangulate what it was. So, what will happen is we had a CG model of the eyeball, a CG version. We had this puppet version with these LEDs. And then we had all the cameras capturing the data so that we could track it in three dimensional space. So what we were able to do is we were able to get all performance real time, like this live, but as a puppeteer and then we brought those keys with the data into the computer and then add everything you could with CG, like the eye blinks and the pupil dilating and everything like that. And so we were able to get lots of animation footage and different performances and takes. We were watching it and we could see it and be like Hm, make them a little bit more schizo and more, uhm, he is just on cocaine or something, right. So it got to be very jittery, right. And that was an awesome project. I think it was our first FWA, favorite website award because the results were amazing once you saw it. And it had this voice over Earl, can you… and it was a really interesting idea, too. And even to this day, it bridged two worlds of animation that I really like. So, if you ever watch, Jim Henson is probably the best, I can’t even think of other puppets that come close, but Jim Henson’s workshop of puppets. Watch his commercials, early day commercials, they are mental, they are these coffee ads with… So the performance the Jim Henson, Frank Oz’s kinda team did with puppets was so immediate. Especially if you had a person and a puppet. Because the… you can’t… there is this kind of like plain music where there is this being in the moment frame animation, which is not animation. Animation is all about irritative process and doing things over and over again and this type of animation was so immediate, so temporal, so of the now that the puppet animation looks great, especially if you have two dynamics. So we were able to capture that, the performance and do multiple takes, multiple takes, multiple takes so we get what we want and then add all the stuff you couldn’t do on the spot in post in CG. And it only came apart, only came , it only came in that kind of ingenious way of doing it because we were able to try this little experiment on a show that we were doing beforehand without having the risk of not delivering on the show and I still do this today. So I’ve done this kind of model when I have a bigger project coming, I check our slate of what projects we have or I try and get another project that’s close and I say Okay, we are gonna do this big way of doing something, let’s see if we can make a small version of this and inject it to this project and test it out and see what we are going to do. I mean, Pixar does very similar ideas with… they do a short film where they test out fluids or water simulation and then with that one they get out all the kinks and they make a full feature film, right. And so this is the same kind of model, so this, I think it was called experiment X, was one of those projects around that same time.
Ivan Minić: Amazing. One thing I wanted to ask because that’s not, you’ve mentioned these working on special effects, that’s not what you were trained for and that’s that you fell in love with. But, you know, it’s very important part of our experience. Now, it’s almost impossible to have a movie without any kind of visual effects. And it’s not like it was 60 years ago and it meant making miniatures and playing around. Some of these guys who made these things, I watched a lot of documentaries, it’s beyond amazing. The guys from Mythbusters actually met each other doing these things for Star Wars and stuff like that. These things are amazing engineering too, to be honest. Now it’s easier, it’s different. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s easier, but it’s completely different because it doesn’t have to exist in the physical world.
Peter Nalli: You don’t have to be artisans and craftsmen to do it as much now.
Ivan Minić: You have to be an artist, you know, to be able to paint it properly, but, you know, it doesn’t, you can’t really get a figure and you know, put it on your desk. You usually get it after everything is done. But it’s not something that was used as a prop.
Peter Nalli: I even think that is the feature films and the budgets and the timing are mainly time prohibitive for doing anything like that, unless it’s someone like Peter Jackson or Guillermo del Toro who are purest in it.
Ivan Minić: I wanted to ask what is the most important, the most interesting or the craziest project you did…
Peter Nalli: For visual effects?
Ivan Minić: For visual effects, yeah.
Peter Nalli: That’s a great question. Let me see. One of them was an Italian… The film is, uhm, okay, the actual narrative… in fact, I knew going into the film that it was, I read the script and I was, uhm… It’s a world building script. And I always read those because I read a lot of Asiimov and even Tolkien and different… And when I read the world building, I was like… I read it with a, not a skepticism, but I say how has this happened? Because, if this exists in the world, our world has a practicality to it, right. If you invent something, this is how it’s invented. And if it doesn’t last, it’s because it doesn’t work within it. So when you, when someone kinda white watches over that and just Meh, it’s the future. I am like Hm, that’s kind of a… So anyways, there is some difficulty there in terms of the script and so part of the pitch was that they were going to solve a lot of it through visual effects which is a bad recipe, anyways. It’s much of that spectacle thing we were talking about, but it was one of the projects on what we were doing…
Ivan Minić: Like in marketing when they give you something that’s already done and say Now make it viral.
Peter Nalli: Yeah!
Ivan Minić: That’s not how it’s done! You make it viral!
Peter Nalli: It’s like polishing, like polishing a mushroom, let’s say. Exactly, you are working, but they agreed with the script and they were gonna go ahead with it, so I was going to do the best job possible. So, it has a lot of visual effects in this. It has, I think, maybe 700 different shots which is the volume that’s quite large in it with full CG backgrounds, full dynamics. We had a whole city that crumbles. It became super ambitious. It was… Wow, I remember this movie. We filmed it in… but it was one of my first fortes in being on many different film sets, so I was on… we did a portion in Toronto, so it was Danny Glover, full green screen environment, so again, I wasn’t Marvel, I wasn’t working for… You know, it was an ambitious program. Full green screen environments, so it’s full, full environment recreation. So we filmed a few days in Toronto, then we filmed in Malta and then we filmed in Rome. And the amount of world building and the amount of visual effects in the film are daunting. There are some terrific visual effects in the film. There is some really good ones. I mean with the full cities, full destruction of a city, there is a whole opening sequence that is complete CG that takes place in what would be like an old templar knight, it’s a tomb. We traversed this desert and Alec Baldwin is also in this movie. Yeah, yeah, it’s funny. So that was, that film, Andron, it was, it was, the film is, the story could be better. It’s almost a derivative film of Mazerunner or Hunger Games or I like to consider more Running man, which is the Arnold Swartzeneger one, I think it’s Paul Vanhoven. So it had that kind of feeling. The movie itself could be better, but the visual effects, there is a large chunk of them that are stunning and they weren’t straight forward visual effects like green screen removal or… these were full CG environments, full CG vehicles, there is a character that has a full, is a robot in it, but it’s a fully mechanical head and so I am quite proud of the visual effects in the movie, especially cause the team was not huge. It was a substantial team, but it wasn’t huge. And we did it with… it was a tricky film to get everyone on board for and it needs to be done in visual effects, because they were filming it like a, not a low budget movie, but like a smaller scale movie like Run and Gun or filming it with hand held camera work, which is the exact opposite of what you want in a CG film, right. You wanna control every shot and…
Ivan Minić: And everything has to be perfect.
Peter Nalli: This was the exact opposite, so the budget of the film meaning what we were able to achieve in visual effects based on the way… you’ll see a lot higher budgets or you’ll see a lot higher budget films who are much more stringy about how they shoot and this one was so ambitious in the shooting because they weren’t anticipating doing the visual effects. I was on set and it took a lot of education saying This is a really difficult of doing it guys. This is not, we gotta do it this way. I mitigated as many problems as I could at the time, but the amount of visual effects and what had to be done with them is very impressive. I am really happy about the visual effects for that film. So that was one of them. And that lent me the ability to move on to other projects and do quite well.
Ivan Minić: Somehow in the industry, I think one important factor is how good the film is. But the other thing is, I am pretty sure that people who are in the industry can dissect and say Okay, the story is maybe not that cool, but what these guys did is amazing. Let’s call these guys. So it’s usually something that you put in your portfolio, maybe, you know, you can always say please don’t watch the movie, but here is the showreel from the movie, just take a look at that.
Peter Nalli: So, a reel, a VFX showreel was wonderful, but the movie, but again though, it’s so much better if the film is really good. Then it gets its own accolades. So that was one of them, yeah, that was a good one. But for visual effects, I did one called Black Butterfly which was a good film, better film. The ending needed better work, but it was Antonio Banders and Johnatan Reece Myeres and in that film… Remember how I was discussing how I take one idea and then expand upon it, in that film we had to film in location, so on sound stage, but the outside needed to be on location and there was some sophisticated camera moves in it. Remember you discussing that kind of glass, but we built a three dimensional multiplaining environment and we… this was in the days when camera projection wasn’t so popular. So I went on set where we were filming and I took so many different photos and we were able to stitch them together, build a really simple geometry, really simple shapes and project the photos so we wouldn’t have to worry about the lightning or anything because it was baked into the photos themselves. And then if that wasn’t hard enough, there was another handheld camera move, so there was a lot of work that way, but you only saw it through windows and sometimes through the doors. So it wasn’t the full set, it was just enough to tell if we were doing it right and I knew the next film we would be working is about a bank robbery, the next one or the second film, I’ve already gotten the script for it and it’s a bank robbery that they have to recreate 1970s Orange County, California and we were working on a film the we were gonna film in Atlanta. So we would have to do it in a full 360 bluescreen. So we would have to do the same thing, only on a much larger scale. Cause you can do what we were doing, basically, by doing something like a back drop, you just project it. But I said let’s be a little ambitious and build it in three dimensions and figure out how to make this work and then once we go into the next film we just scale out this procedure and we have already done the leg work. Does this make sense?
Ivan Minić: Yeah.
Peter Nalli: Yeah. So this is kind of, I don’t know if it’s my talent, but I am able to see a problem ahead of time or challenge ahead of time and anticipate how to solve smaller versions of it, the node base of it, and by then we get to the problem, it’s manageable, it’s not like you are putting out so many fires, but we have a tactic or a plan or a way about doing it that’s gonna work that can scale up.
Ivan Minić: Yeah, basically, you take the impossible and you make it possible, not easy, but possible.
Peter Nalli: Yeah. I love the way you said it. Exactly right. Yeah.
Ivan Minić: So, after finishing up with the studio you were partnered with, you were partnered in, how did things unfold?
How I became a VFX supervisor
Peter Nalli: So I went to, I have a good friend, his name is Bobby Chew, he has a… he is the founder and creator of Imaginism Studio which is his own studio he is a wonderful concept artist, painter. He did a bunch of the characters from Alice in Wonderland, some Men in Black. Bobby and I were classmates and we actually worked a lot within school. He is a good friend. And he called me up and he said, he also did Lightbox Expo, do you know what that is, he is the founder of that as well. He called me up and says Hey, how’s it going and I said it was going well, I was a little bit sad, a little bit depressed, I was down. He says Listen, Paul Lasaine, he worked on the Lord of the Rings, he was also a traditional map painter who used to paint on glass for movies and I am a big fan of Paul Lasaine. He said I am doing a conference, I am doing one of these things and Paul Lasaine is one of the speakers, why don’t you come by, you know, you can watch his seminar and then we are having a drink and meet afterwards with all the artists and you can meet him as well. And I said Well, I am not feeling down for it. And I am kinda broke too, I can’t afford your conferences, right. I was being cheeky. He says Nah, nah, come for free, you are my guest, right. And I was like You know what, why not. So I went there. I met Paul, he was a wonderful guy. He had his seminar, it was interesting. I went to the drink and meet and I met them and it was kinda late and I was like, you know, I am just gonna leave. As I am leaving, my good friend, also another alumni from my school year, his name is Mat. Mat’s blocking the door and he is turned away and I say to him Excuse me and he goes like Holy cow! It’s you Peter! I say Hey man, how’s it going? He goes Are you still working with… I don’t, no, no, I am not doing it anymore and he says Amazing. I am working with these Italians, this new studio. You are Italian? I said yeah, I have dual citizenship. He goes I am working with these Italians and I am looking for people to work with on an animated project. I said Okay, great! But I just want to tell you I don’t want to, I don’t want to be in charge of anything I just wanna be a production artist, I just wanna be an artist. I don’t want to be… He goes Yeah, yeah, of course. He goes No, no, of course not, whatever you want. I am working on this animated film, do you wanna come on and work on it? He knew, we were friends, he knew that I held to high standards for the work that I do and he hadn’t built his team yet. I said Sure he goes By the way, did you ever do any VFX? I have done VFX. Have you ever been on set? Yeah, I’ve been on set, but I only wanna be a production artist, I don’t wanna do that…
Ivan Minić: Yes, yes, of course.
Peter Nalli: And he says I am gonna introduce you Fernando who was the COO at the time, right and so Fernando calls me and he goes Ah, Mat tells me that you are in this field etc. So you are gonna work on this animated film with us. I say If you like my work, sure. I am open to work. He says So, have you ever worked on VFX before? I’ve worked on VFX before. And he goes Have you been on set before, have you done this kind of stuff? Yes, but that’s not what I wanna do, I just wanna work and he says Yeah, yeah, no problem. You’ve built a studio? Okay. Come in next week on Monday and we can talk. This was like a Wednesday. And so I hung up and he maybe looked at me, looked me up and he called me and he goes Can you come in tomorrow? And I said I didn’t have anything prepared yet. He says No, no, just come in tomorrow. I wanna talk. Okay, I can come in tomorrow. So I made my way down. He had an office in Yorkville, which is a really posh area of Toronto. And I go upstairs and he has a poster of the animated film they are gonna start. And like a magic trick, he takes one poster, slides it away and puts another poster in front of me. He says Okay, there is this animated film, but before we start that, we have this CG, sorry, this live action movie that we need to do VFX on. I said okay. He says I don’t have anyone and I saw that you worked on it before. Do you think you can help out? I say Okay. How many artists you have? He says With you, we have one. Oh my god… And I said How big is your facility? Like, how big is your studio? He says We are gonna build you the best studio. How many shots are there? There is about 300 shots. That’s a lot. How long do you have? We have about a month and a half. Wow. This is a momentous task, by the way without a studio and no animation team and, frankly, someone who doesn’t want to be doing this, right. So I was sitting there and I wanted to work on this animated film and I was like Okay. I have an idea. I’ll do this. I’ll do the VFX list. I’ll do the bid. Which is a… what it is, it’s a a la carte menu of the VFX, I’ve done a few of them before and I’ve done many after since, but it takes different shots of the film that need VFX and you basically indicate what needs to be done in visual effects, what department suits it, what you need from production and then how much is it gonna cost per shot.
Ivan Minić: Roughly.
Peter Nalli: Roughly, yeah. A ballpark. Sometimes you do it right from the script, which is more ballpark, sometimes you do it after the film is shot and you have an idea of what it’s gonna do. It’s usually a week, week and a half to do something like that. And so I went home and I was like Okay, I’ll do a great job for them. I needed about three days. Really well done. And I knew he didn’t have anybody and I wasn’t gonna jump into it and I basically wrote all the positions you would need to do each shot. So if I saw the shot, I said you needed a matchmover, you need a roadal artist, you need a 2D compositor and then you need someone to do color correct, right. I didn’t break down each project, but I wrote down how much it would cost, roughly. And so I came back, I presented it to him. Here is a VFX list, consider this as a good will gesture. Once I jump on the 2D animated film, you can take this and you know what the budget of the film is and Andrea, my boss at Iervolino, who I will get to in second, was also there and he had looked at it and my numbers lined up with a lot of the other studios that they shot in and when I mean studios, I mean they went to all the big production houses and had figured out how much it’s gonna cost. My numbers lined up and so it looked like I was downplaying my expertise, right. Like it’s how they have spent money in these other VFX and then I come in and my line up and he goes Okay, you are the VFX supervisor. I am like No, no, no, no, no, no, no… I am the artist that’s working on the film and he goes No, no, you are the guy. So I am not the guy, you got the wrong guy. No, no, no, you are the guy, right. So I said I’ll do this I’ll take this and I’ll call some people I’ve worked with, other VFX supervisors within the field, within the industry, especially in Canada, there is quite a few of them. And I’ll find you someone to jump in on this. Tell me what the budget is for the position and I’ll work with it. And he told me. And then I spent a few days, I called other VFX supervisors or VFX leads or people that I thought were good positions. And I told them, you know, the same questions, how big is the studio, how many people is there, how many shots and so I said bla bla bla and it gets impossible. He went Yeah, it’s impossible, Peter. It can’t be done. Are you kidding me, this is impossible… And I was looking at him and It’s not impossible…
Ivan Minić: It’s just insane.
Peter Nalli: Yeah, it’s nuts. It’s improbable, it’s difficult, it’s hard to sell, but it’s not impossible. So I was looking, I was looking, I was like, cause I knew my numbers, I worked it out, I said Okay, if you do this, this and, so, it kinda irked me, right, I said Okay, if everyone think it’s impossible, then the only option is it will fail anyways, right and so they can’t do it, right, it’s impossible. But if it’s not, then it will be a monumentous task, right. So what I did is I said Okay, I came back to him and I said Look, I’ll help you do this, because the timeline lined up that it would be done by the time the animated movie started, so I said Okay, I’ll do this for you and uhm… but after this film is done, you’ll need to find someone who’s better to do this, right. I’ll do this position until you find someone better, until I died, right. I didn’t say the die part. And so they said Yeah, yeah, of course. And so that’s what I did, right, I took it on and tricky part is I had a non compete with the other studios I’ve been working for and I was working with and it was for ten years I’ve been working with them, meaning it’s a long time that I built relationships. Luckily, one of the senior VFX artists I was working with applied to this position without me asking anything. So he saw an add he put out in the market and he had applied to it and I saw his name as one of the people coming in. I was like This is terrific! Because I don’t breach my non compete and I have a strong second support and there were two or three others and so I built a team and it was about fifteen artists I think and we delivered. So we built a studio, we delivered and we took on another 25 shots so we did something like 402 shots in the timeline that was necessary so I am the VFX supervisor for the studio, building a team, back into a position I thought I wasn’t going to sign up for. But I was liking what I was doing, it was super challenging, it was super different and they have given me complete trust doing it because they had no other hope. It was impossible. And so that film… there was the next film after that and the next film after that and the next film after that and I found myself that I was building large or semi-large teams, in charge of quite a few people which I thought I wouldn’t be, but it wasn’t the path I chose, but the one that I needed. Yeah.
Ivan Minić: Okay. And how did you end up working in Serbia?
How and why I came to Serbia
Peter Nalli: So, I was doing that. Mat, remember the guy that I spoke to, he was developing an animated film that Andrea wanted to do a full feature film, animated film, 3D, big budget, big film and he wanted to work with the people in the studio. And so Mat had a project at the time. He was in animation, same as me and his and my office were basically across from each other and he was working on the beginning of what was called Arctic Justice Thunder Squad at the time. It was good, it was really good and he was working on it and I was even… I had quite a few films I was still working on VFX, so I couldn’t jump on this animated film which is really what I wanted to do anyways. And so he was working on it and was just looking over the fence and I had worked in a little plot portion that hadn’t been looked at and I worked in the story department really early on as well. There were a few jokes that stayed within the film, eventually. And so the film, the film was made in our studio and it’s a terrific film, it’s a Jeremy Renner, Omar Sy, John Cleese as the villain, Heidi Klum, James Franco, Alec Baldwin, so I think it was 3 Academy Awards winners in film. And it opened up to 3400 theaters, theatrically. And then it was number 3 on Netflix when it came out. And Andrea realized from that film he had the IP. That’s the really important part because now you can start not all service working and start creating your own sort of licensing and so Arctic Dogs, Arctics Justice, Arctic Dogs had this IP and he, Andrea and Monica understood the market of short content. What he found was, at the time, that people were saying that they didn’t have the time or inclination to watch long things, long movies, long etc… that most people were consuming media via social media, so Instagram Stories or that kind of stuff. The paradox or the irony, Ivan, is that most people say that they don’t have time to watch so they watch these one minute or 30 second reels, but they would spend three hours watching this stuff. So he knew that if we reduced our show to or make short content with smaller bites, people will actually consume more of it than they would if it was a long or traditional 22 minute episode, at least that’s where the market…
Ivan Minić: Basically the same thing they did, you know, support Despicable Me and Minions and… what they did was create short sketches…
Peter Nalli: Shorts!
Ivan Minić: Shorts. Just to introduce the characters and everything. It was…
Peter Nalli: It was brilliant
Ivan Minić: Ridiculously popular. And of course, if these are so cute, if these are so interesting, if they like bananas so much, then I am going to go and watch the full movie.
Peter Nalli: Absolutely. And you have a penetration into the market. Exactly what you are saying. They have, I don’t know about the attention span, but they are more inclined to watch these kind of shorts and stories and such and so we built this kind of model. And at the time, the Canadian studio, we weren’t working on any… I had a couple of films, but it was… I had this interesting model where I didn’t need… I could do it with a remote studio. So, some of the people that I have worked with, they branched off and formed micro or boutique studios and I didn’t have or we didn’t have to carry the overhead of these, of the artists etc… and the feature film had shrunk down. And Andrea wanted to move all of his operations to Italy. So none of the Canadians that were working there, I don’t know if they didn’t qualify, but they kind of, the studio kind of dissolved a little bit, right. My CG part of it, there was a few of us, there was about ten that still remained, but most of them were either remote workers or freelancers that were galvanized on the films that I was working and then the animation was all being done or will be done, especially the preproduction, overseas in Rome. And so, he kept me on for all the aforementioned reasons and I was the only left of the legacy of the previous studio and I knew where everything was and I knew the property. So what happened is, I went to Rome and I started working with a studio that we helped build there to now start creating the series work based on the Arctic Justice IP. So I became the showrunner. I was the creator and showrunner and the creative producer for Arctic Friends and then we started working with, Johnny Depp was involved in one of our feature films and he wanted to get back into animation, but didn’t want to work with Disney and I don’t know if people know, it was a very interesting time of his life and Andrea told him we had an animation studio and we want to make Johnny Depp as a cartoon character and he loved it. And we created Johnny Puff…
Ivan Minić: He basically is the cartoon character.
Peter Nalli: He is the personification. Cause he is so bohemian, he is so… I mean…
Ivan Minić: Unreal.
Peter Nalli: Yeah, but in the most fantastic way. I was thinking the other day who is a bigger movie star than Johnny Depp and I can’t think of one for this reason. Because Johnny Depp has the appeal for children, he is Jack Sparrow etc, but he has also been in television in 21 Jump Street and he’s been in horror movies and he’s got such a plethora of work that I was trying really hard and I can’t think of a bigger world wide actor than him. Like people argue maybe George Clooney or Brad Pitt or something like that.
Ivan Minić: Or Jack Nicholsen, but Jack Nicholson is always Jack Nicholson.
Peter Nalli: Yeah. And what animation, if you ask a kid about Jack Nicholson, they might know who he is, but if you ask him who Jack Sparrow is, he’ll know who he is as a character, right. And so anyways, he wanted to get into animation and we had built a character and I was involved on it and so I met with Johnny and his team, and by the way, the character doesn’t speak, he is a gramalot, right. And Johnny loved this idea. We had talked about what are the words, what’s the vocabulary, how does this vocabulary work and is this… because one of the things is you don’t have to be tolkienesque, you don’t have to create elvish or dwarvish, right, cause that’s not what the puffins do and what you need to create are these small words and small vocabulary that imply things, but aren’t really necessary saying them.
Ivan Minić: Baby talk.
Peter Nalli: And he loved it. He says Okay, you need something to describe urgency, almost even like, this is a bad example, if you have a dog, right, a dog has a bark for wanting to go outside and has another bark for someone at the door and has another bark that’s like Hey, are you gonna feed me? And it’s all inflection, it’s all using one word, right. And so with Johnny’s character we developed a little bit further because he is a bit of a wanderer, I am getting into the Serbia part in a second, so he is a bit of a wanderer and we developed this thing and we made Puffins and I was the showrunner for that. So I created a showrunner for it alongside well, Andrea helped create the show as well in kind of macro way and Giuseppe Squillaci who’s co-created, or sorry, he co-showrunned it with me later on in the episode when I come to Serbia, which I’ll get to. So, Andrea Iervolino was, we had work with Miloš Biković who is quite a big celebrity here as well, on a film called Beyond The Edge, starring him and Antonio Banderas and so Andrea came here in March or February of 2020 for a movie premier.
Ivan Minić: Fun time.
Peter Nalli: Super fun time. And right at that time is when the lockdown, he couldn’t go anywhere, right. So, Andrea, I haven’t seen him stay anywhere longer than six days and he was stuck here for four months, right. And we were always thinking about expanding the European studio in Rome into a different territory, we just weren’t sure where it was. He called me up and he says I need you to come to Serbia. I am like Where? Serbia? Okay. And he goes, I go But it’s COVID and he goes Not here! Not here! The Serbians are not recognizing COVID, right. He goes Everything is the same way, right. I said Okay, fantastic. And he called me up and said We are opening up a studio in Belgrade and I said okay, I wasn’t sure how to read it, cause he always calls me with these fantastic ideas. I think I told you about the Ferrari, or the Lamborghini story. And said okay, why don’t you call me tomorrow with some of the details. Actually he says I am gonna call you tomorrow with some of the people here on the ground who we’ll be working with. In this case it was ADS, Archangel Digital Studios, which is Miloš Biković’s company alongside Tatjana.
Ivan Minić: Production?
Peter Nalli: Yeah. And Bojan. Great, great, great people. And he called me the next day and says Okay, so we are opening up studios in Belgrade and Novi Sad. I said Woah, hold on. He goes We are opening two studios. We are opening up two studios? He said yes. And he connected me with Milena and Peđa, who… they had their own studio in Novi Sad and they were also professors at the academy there, so I was on this very large Zoom or Skype call with a bunch of people asking me how are we gonna make this studio, right. Cause I am the guy! And so I came to Serbia and we started from the ground up from scratch, we basically put out an open call which I think Miloš and Andrea did socially, on social media. We started to build this studio with Puffins Impossible, which is the new animated action adventure version of Puffins. Which is… I love it in so many different ways. Because Puffins is terrific, I like it, but it had to come form certain things. Puffins are the little, if I hadn’t explained it, there is a character in the film that is like our own minion, but essentially is a Puffin for those who don’t know, it’s almost like a penguin and a parrot had a love job…
Ivan Minić: It’s called an arctic parrot, basically.
Peter Nalli: Yeah, it’s an arctic parrot. And they are adorable and they are cute and…
Ivan Minić: In real life and in cartoon.
Peter Nalli: They are stunning. The aftermarket value of them is incredible. And so Puffins was great and Puffins Impossible was kinda like the action adventure superhero version of it. And in a lot of the stuff, because it was done in Serbia working with the team here, was able to be blue sky, almost no ceiling right. Andrea came here and he was like okay we are going to do it and he said, he was like even when they were walking in Skadarlija or something and he goes Eh, you know, I think I am going to buy a flat here. I am gonna buy land or something, right and then the border opened up and he was like I’ll be back and then left and just… And I was here, so there wasn’t anyone to say what not to do. And so I said okay, if we are gonna do this, let’s do it the best way we can. The studio itself that we built is amazing. We write down from the small details to the desk, we built custom desks with some of the great artists here, specifically for animation. All the art work, all the decoration, it’s all wholistically done for the studio to be the best working environment and the actual show Puffins Impossible alongside ADS and the team working here are almost like a love letter to my childhood that I used to love. Like, each character is based on something I used to grow up in animation, even the starting has kind of like 18 feeling, I don’t know if you remember the 18, but it has that kind of feeling to it because no one said we couldn’t do it. There wasn’t this committee like Homer Simpsons’ car designing what it is, it could be super pure. And so I ended up in Serbia and we built this studio and did 54 episodes of Puffins Impossible. It went to Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Sky TV, Chili TV, it’s gonna be on Spanish TV, I don’t know, I guess I am announcing it now. And we have a couple of other places that’s gonna go on broadcast. I just came back from MIPCOM, well actually I came back from somewhere else, but I went to MIPCOM and people who have never heard of this saw it and says Wow, this production level is super high. Where are you doing it? In Serbia? Serbia has an animation scene? I go Yeah, and it’s got a kickass animation scene and it’s only been happening in this last 2 and a half years and people were astonished on the amount of work, the quality of work and the level of awesomeness that’s created within these 54 episodes in a very, very short amount of time. Especially within Europe, which has this kind of idea of inertia, right. Why do it today when we could do it tomorrow? And the great thing about Serbs is why do it tomorrow when we can do it today. Which was amazing. So, that’s how I ended up in Serbia and still here.
Ivan Minić: Basically, what you have been doing is, you know, filling out childhood dreams for basically most of the people working there. We all wanted to do something like that, but we never had the opportunity.
Peter Nalli: Right.
Ivan Minić: Now I am too old. I don’t want to do it anymore, it’s too stressful, but, you know, if I was in my early 20s and I wanted to make a leap of faith in some field when it comes to my career, well, that would make perfect sense because, you know, it will be fun and in the end it can be amazing. Whether it will be amazing, it’s never sure, you have to wait and figure it out. But it has a potential to be amazing, which is something that’s rare, quite rare right now. Especially working in a fairly small team on a project like this is different as working as one little gear in a huge system. Working on an amazing fully featured move or big AAA game or something like that, you know, and someone plays that and you say You see that mug, I did that, no one cares about that. But here you can influence a lot of different things.
Peter Nalli: We have a writing team, it’s all done domestically, especially for the preproduction, so all the writers, directors, story artists, the asset development team amongst all other bunch of positions, so what I love about this series, I love all of them, but specifically what’s close to my heart is that the writing and the story is very domestic, meaning that I am overseeing as a showrunner, but I don’t want to cannibalize or tell the joke the why I would tell the joke. So what’s really interesting and really fun and really exciting about this show is that the scripts and the stories are very much spiced or peppered with a Serbians sensibility to it, right, so when you see it, that’s funny, that’s really good, that’s really great. And I trust in the team that they are going to do their best work, but it doesn’t have to be my voice, cause it’s a timski rad. It’s a choir and I think where a lot of other companies have come, larger companies within Serbian, and pushed the Serbians to the back up house, so there is like a big frontal house that has all the names of whatever the American names or whatever names it is, one of the agenda here was to push those ić’s, whatever that last name is to the front because this is theirs. This is part of Serbia. And I think it creates an ownership within the artistic integrity of the project that you are doing it in. It says I have to make this look good because it has my family name on there.
Ivan Minić: I do truly believe that, you know, coming here was a big deal for our scene because we had people working in this field, but we never had at least in the past 20 years since everything has been digital, we never had studios that did something like this. We had individuals on special effects and smaller teams of a couple of people who worked on a couple of interesting things. We had some local, let’s say, interesting projects, but nothing on this level, at this scale. We also have a serious gaming industry, but it’s not comparable to this. This is introducing something completely new to a market that’s been hungry for working on projects like this. We have a pretty long history when it comes to classic animation. We have done amazing things in the past. It’s just that it’s one of these things that’s hard work, somewhat expensive and is usually considered nice to have, not something you are focused on.
Peter Nalli: Right.
Ivan Minić: With this opportunity, I think everyone who had their childhood dream working on something like this has an opportunity, has a place where they can figure out if that’s something that they really want to do or not or maybe it’s just a childhood dream and it should stay like this. So Peter, thank you so much for sharing your story, your wonderful story and your crazy life.
Peter Nalli: Yeah, it’s continuing.
Ivan Minić: Crazy people make big differences, crazy people change the world.
Peter Nalli: Hvala lepo!
Ivan Minić: Thank you all for listening to this. A mogu da se prebacim i na srpski. Hvala vam što ste slušali, kao i dosad sve komentare ostavite na za to predviđenim mestima na YouTubeu. Hvala vam na pažnji, to bi bilo to. Mi se vidimo ponovo sledeće nedelje.
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Peter Nalli je direktor animacije i vizuelnih efekata u Iervolino & Lady Bacardi Entertainment (ILBE) Grupi, te šouraner animiranog serijala “Puffins Impossible” kreiranog u domaćem kreativnom studiju za animaciju Iervolino Studios (IES). Iako mu je sadašnji posao u Srbiji, njegova neverovatna karijera započela je nekoliko hiljada kilometara dalje, u rodnom gradu Torontu, u Kanadi, gde je vrlo skromno započeo svoj put.
Zahvaljujući svojim prirodnim talentima i uređenoj vrednoći, Piter je uspešno završio Sheridan College, jedan od najboljih koledža na svetu za studiranje animacije i vizuelnih efekata. Nakon koledža bio je na brojnim projektima i igranim filmovima kao VFX supervizor, radeći sa nekim od najvećih glumaca u Holivudu, uključujući Antonija Banderasa, Džejmsa Franka, Roberta Divala, Aleka Boldvina i mnogih drugih…
Trenutno, Piter je kreativni producent/šouruner za animirane emisije pod nazivom Arctic Friends i Puffins, koje su dostupne na platformama kao što su Amazon Prime ili Apple TV. Takođe je tvorac i producent animirane serije o superherojima Puffins Impossible, u kojoj glumi legendarni glumac Džoni Dep.