Damien Valentine (Darth Angelus), like a lot you reading this, is a man of many talents. He is also hard to put a label on as his creative energy could probably power a small city and that is what starts to separate him from the pack. A lot of us have that energy and drive but not all of us produce the results he can get for an indie, and for that part, mostly a one-man operation.
Whether it's continuing the Star Wars tradition with animated films or creating a costume piece for cosplay this man goes all out. Damien's timing, editing, and direction coupled with a strong commitment to telling a comprehensible story further sets him apart from many indie filmmakers. His eye for detail doesn't hurt in putting together cosplay items either.
Damien's devotion to the Star Wars universe and sci-fi, in general, is well appreciated in many circles and some of his work can be viewed on Amazon Prime and YouTube among other places. He also has more than a few festival awards stuffed into his gyro-pack.
Another thing about Damien is that he gets things done. He produces the story instead of just talking about it and this also sets him apart from some of us. We all have good ideas but few of us execute those ideas to fruition as Damien does.
I see Damien, first and foremost as a writer.. a storyteller. The mechanics of getting that story onscreen are another matter altogether. Few indies, if any, could do justice to the storyline this man puts together but it would be a real treat to see one of his stories get the Pixar treatment.
Following is the Q & A session with this talented creative known to many as Darth Angelus.
Renderosity: How did you get into digital art in general?
Damien Valentine: As a teenager in the 90s, I grew up with the early days of the internet and started seeing how people were using it to be creative. From modding video games to writing to making films. I felt inspired and wanted to tell my own stories.
I had an idea for a Star Wars fan film but I didn't have a camera and even if I did, I didn't know anyone willing to get in front of it. So, I turned to animation, friends who lived over the internet, too far away to meet but happy to lend their voices while I put together this 2D animated story.
Looking back at it now, it was terrible. But it's where I got started with animation and film making. After that I looked for better tools and discovered machinima which ultimately led me to 3d animation.
Renderosity: What drives you to create? Is it a release, hobby, desire to tell a story or what?
Damien Valentine: It started off as a hobby but I think it grew into a real passion to tell stories, or sometimes just to explore an idea. A lot of my projects are big epic tales, but sometimes it's good to do something small and focus on just a few things.
Renderosity: Can you remember if your first visual art was an image render or animation? If so, what tools (software) did you use?
Damien Valentine: It would have to be creating art for an online chatroom. I don't remember the name of it now, but users could create their own graphics so you could have unique settings as you walked around. As a Star Trek fan, I made the interior of a starship.
Renderosity: What are your main “go to” digital tools?
Damien Valentine: Reallusion's iClone would the one I use most. Paint Shop Pro for textures, poster and other 2D work. Sketchup for 3d modelling (one day I'll get around to learning Blender) and HitFilm Pro for effects.
Renderosity: If you had to pick one tool/application for your art what would it be?
Damien Valentine: I'd have to say iClone. The others I mentioned before are great, but without iClone I wouldn't get very far with them.
Renderosity: As a filmmaker/animator is your art driven more by visual, narrative or both?
Damien Valentine: I'd have to say both, with a strong leaning toward narrative. I like to tell stories but at the same time I want them to look as good as possible, pushing the software and my skills as far as I can.
Renderosity: Is digital art comparable to fine art?
Damien Valentine: Why not? Digital art is just another medium for creative people to express themselves. If they want to create fine art, does it really matter what the tools are?
Renderosity: Any type of digital artwork you enjoy doing the most?
Damien Valentine: Can I say all of it? Apart from things like editing footstep sound effects, I enjoy every aspect of my work, I don't know if I can pick a favourite.
Renderosity: Are there any influences that shape your work?
Damien Valentine: I grew up watching Babylon 5, Star Trek, Star Wars and Buffy. These are the kinds of stories that inspired me to want to tell my own.
Renderosity: What would be your dream project or industry job?
Damien Valentine: I'm working on my dream project right now, something I have been thinking about for many, many years. As a Star Wars fan, I really enjoyed the tie in novel, Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. It was published in 1991 when Star Wars was considered a dead franchise (hard to believe that now) and was written to be a sequel to the original three movies.
Last year between projects, I decided to turn the first chapter of the book into an animated short. It seemed like a great way to test a few ideas for improving my skills. When I posted it on YouTube, the reaction was so overwhelmingly positive I have continued adapting chapters from the book. Right now, the first four are available and the fifth is nearly complete.
I feel the same way that Peter Jackson must have felt working on the Lord of the Rings movies, except I am just one person animating at home who is lucky enough to have a talented group of voice actors who can bring the characters to life.
Renderosity: What is your goal with your digital art?
Damien Valentine: To keep on telling stories and entertaining people.
More information on Damien Valentine:
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.