A Friendly Learning environment for Beginners
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The first time I came across the Flipped Normals website I remember thinking to myself, wow – I wish this resource was around when I was learning 3D. The website is so colourful and well designed it almost invites you to dive straight into the videos and that’s another thing all the tutorials are videos which is perfect for the young ‘youtube’ generation. I’ve managed to grab an interview with the creators of the site Henning Sanden & Morten Jæger to find out more about the site.

1) Could you let me know your background and how you got into the 3D industry?

H: Ever since I was very young, I’ve had a need for creation – I just need to make something. At the age of 14-15 I was really amazed by the world of animation and how limitless it was. After watching a Pixar-feature, I had literally no idea how it was done and this fascinated and inspired me. As time went on, I got more and more serious about 3D, to the point where I went to college and eventually got a job in the field. The world of 3D is still magical to me and I’m completely in love with it.

M: I remember always enjoying working in wood when I was very young. I used to make all kinds of practical things for my parents. Everything from wooden boxes to bows and arrows. Thinking back they might not have found it useful at the time. Anyway, I think that might have inspired me to explore the world of 3d after I watched Pixar’s The Incredibles. What drew me to the world of 3d was the idea of limitless creation.
As I got more and more into it I found that whatever I wanted to make in real life and couldn’t, I had the opportunity to make in the virtual world. This has sort of been the driving force behind whatever I make now. Also knowing that already now I can print whatever I make in 3d and bring it into the physical world just makes me even more excited to continue the work I do.

2) I read on your website that you are from Norway and Denmark what is the 3D scene like there?

3D is growing in both Denmark and Norway, but it’s still not great. There’s only one company doing Hollywood-blockbusters there – Ghost. This means that if you want to really exceed in the field, you pretty much have to leave the comfort of Scandinavia. Most of the work is based around commercials and low-budget movies aimed at the Norwegian and Danish population

3) Why the name ‘Flipped Normals’?

It’s two-fold: First off, it’s a very common beginner problem. Having flipped normals in your geometry is something every beginner will encounter. Secondly, we think it just sounds cool, from an outsiders perspective.

4) Why did you create ‘Flipped Normals’ and what problems did you have (if any) when setting it up?

We wanted to create a learning environment for both complete beginners and experienced artists alike. A lot of sites focuses only on how you do something, as opposed to why. As an example, we don’t simply want to give people a recipe on how to do a specific aspect of 3D, but rather making you understand the core fundamentals of what you’re trying to accomplish. For instance, our Sculpting A White Walker-tutorial isn’t a step by step tutorial on sculpting a white walker, but rather a series of tips and tricks when it comes to the basics of sculpting.
We definitely had issues in the beginning, as none of us have done web-design on a level like this before. There are loads of aspects we simply had no idea about, like SEO. To help us, we sought out professional help to consult us when we got stuck. It’s been a great learning experience for both of us!

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5) What has the reception been from the 3D industry from it?

The reception has been phenomenal! It has definitely exceeded our expectations. We’re only been live for 3 months now and yet, We feel that we’ve already helped a lot of people. To share some stats with you: Over the last week, we had 10 000 plays (10 k people actually finished our 20 minute videos) and 60 000 loads (they hit Play, but never finished the video). In total, we’ve had more than 45 000 plays and 160 000 loads.

Considering we’ve spent no money on advertisement at all and we’ve only been live for as short as we have, we’re very happy about this. We’ve also received a lot of very supportive emails, which we truly appreciate.

6) The Flipped Normal website is really nice, who designed it?

Thank you! It’s based on the WordPress theme Salient from Themenectar, which we’ve customized a lot. This helped us to very quickly get an appealing design which was easy to use.

7) I’ve noticed you don’t have any 3ds Max, XSI or Mudbox tutorials why is that?

We make tutorials in subjects which we’re knowledgeable about and Maya, modo and ZBrush are the applications we know how to use best. That said, we’re no strangers to Max or Mudbox, so we’re not ruling that out. XSI isn’t happening though, as it’s been killed off.

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8) I haven’t seen any adverts or paid subscriptions. Do you monetise the site?

No. Not for the time being. It’s all paid for by the two of us.

9) What plans do you have for the future of Flipped Normals?

Always a free tutorial once a week. Based on free tutorials. Will provide premium content, such as in depth tuts, lighting scenes, shader packs, full projects, models, etc. We’re open to suggestions.

So far we’re releasing one free tutorial a week and we’re planning on doing that for the foreseeable future. Some are longer while others are just neat little tips and tricks. In the future, we will provide premium content, such as in-depth tutorials in subjects such as character modelling, ZBrush-modo- workflow and so on. We’ll also provide content such as easy to use lighting scenes which will make your models look awesome instantly, shader packs, base meshes and so on. This is something we’re still planning out and we don’t have a time estimate for it yet.

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Henning Sanden & Morten Jæger