pix-us

PIX-US Team

PIX-US Promotes Mandy Powers

We are thrilled to announce the promotion of Mandy Powers to project manager at PIX-US. In her new role, Mandy will oversee the workflow of our rapidly growing business. “I couldn’t be prouder of Mandy and the fact that she went after this position,” says Creative Director/co-owner Mark Wagoner. “She wrote an excellent proposal for streamlining the process that involved using new project management software. This is a big step up for her, and for PIX-US.” As project manager, Mandy will oversee each aspect of every position, scheduling individual tasks and goals each day. “Everyone was really happy when they made the announcement. I think it’ll work well since we all already have a relationship,” Mandy says. “There are so many moving parts. No two jobs are the same. With the rate at which we’re growing, each image and animation we do is a whole new challenge. I’m using a different set of skills, talking more and thinking even harder about how we complete each project.” Mandy, who graduated from photography school at Randolph Community College, has worked with PIX-US for three years. She most recently served as studio manager where she did a little of everything from serving as a digital tech to some light bookkeeping. “Letting go of the photography part of the job is a big change for me, but this new role is such a great fit. I like to see results,” Mandy says. We sure like seeing the result of her hard work and dedication. Congratulations on your promotion, Mandy!...

PIX-US Welcomes Steve Carnish

Steve Carnish worked at a major signage company where he was a designer, production artist, modeler and marketing guy, before joining the PIX-US team. For years, Steve wanted to work as a full-time 3D modeler, and that’s exactly what he found as a CG artist at PIX-US. “It was either that or go back to bartending full time,” he quips. Steve’s history as a quick study—he’s self-taught on all programs—was integral in his first few weeks with us. Steve thrives when challenged to learn and do more. “So far, I’ve been putting together the scenes and handing them off to other team members to texture and render. It’s been a little intense learning new software, but everyone here has been really helpful. The whole team is fantastic. It’s a relief to focus on my 3D modeling skills.” Born and raised in North Carolina’s Randolph County, Steve keeps busy in his spare time. “I take motorcycle rides to pretty much anywhere the road takes me. I also experiment with cooking different types of food and, as a 20 year veteran in the bar industry, I can mix a mean cocktail.” Steve enjoys music festivals, plays in a dart league and is currently learning cigar box guitar....

PIX-US Welcomes Eileen Heilsnis

A 2015 college graduate, Eileen Heilsnis joins us from Dallas, where she was working as a junior look development artist. “Ultimately, I like creating pretty pictures,” says Eileen. “That’s what I left the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) looking for.” And she’s found it at PIX-US, which is also close enough to her family for weekend visits. While at SCAD, where she majored in visual effects, Eileen worked on a video for NASA with other students in a collaborative learning center. They created a short animation with graphics explaining the purpose of NASA's ICE-Sat 2 satellite. When her mind wasn’t on the stars, Eileen took advantage of historic Savannah. “The town itself is very picturesque 100-year-old oaks and Spanish moss hanging down,” she says. “Our classes were spread all across town by the river or the railroad tracks. The college bought historic houses and turned them into classrooms.” Eileen has enjoyed her first few weeks at PIX-US where she gets to use her lighting, texturing and modeling skills. “Just because I majored in visual effects, doesn’t mean I do explosions or blow things up,” she quips. “There are many disciplines.” In her spare time, Eileen plays video games, watches movies, hikes and explores the outdoors....

PIX-US Welcomes Julia Cox

The PIX-US family is growing! We have three new team members, and this week we’re shining the spotlight on Julia Cox, our new senior designer. Julia is a veteran of the design business, having worked in residential, kitchen and bath, and commercial design sectors. She has spent much of her professional career working in studio photography, something that’s very close to her heart and ours. While employed in High Point’s studio industry, Julia worked with physical sets, oversaw carpenters and other professionals, to get the right look. Now at PIX-US she does all of that with computer software, working closely with clients and CG artists, to create stunning imagery in line with client objectives. “Now instead of meeting with painters and carpenters in a brick-and-mortar studio, I meet with our CG artists,” she says. A graduate of Salem College’s interior design program, Julia wasn’t looking for a new job when we began recruiting her, but after “a three-hour meeting that felt like five minutes,” she was hooked! During her first few weeks at PIX-US, Julia has been learning a lot from the team and vice versa, thanks to her 16 years behind the camera, which promises to be instrumental in creating stunning photorealistic imagery. In her spare time, Julia enjoys time with friends and family, watching the Carolina Panthers and the Tar Heels, playing cornhole, hiking and listening to music....

Happy Birthday to US!

PIX-US and the CGI industry turn 4 and 40, respectively. Today we start our fourth year in business as a full-service CGI company in an unlikely place—not L.A., not Silicon Valley or New York. We're in Greensboro, N.C., and like the CGI industry itself, it hasn't taken long for us to grow—first adding a variety of people in key positions, then more as our client roster grew. Now we're moving to a new, larger building. Just like the boom in our industry overall, we cannot be contained! The movie industry changed forever 40 years ago when 3D computer-generated images appeared in Futureworld (1976). University of Utah graduate students Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke created a CG hand and face for the sequel to 1973's Westworld. It didn't take long for the technology to take over almost entirely in films like Tron (1982) and The Last Starfighter (1984) eventually leading to recognition and acceptance in 1989 when The Abyss won the Academy Award for visual effects. Though the technology makes possible so-bad-it's-good movies like 2013's Sharknado, it also has been indispensable in beloved franchises like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Star Trek, The Terminator, and Toy Story (as well as Pixar itself). Just ask PIX-US's very own Jeff Grigsby, one of our senior CGI artists, about working on the acclaimed, CGI-dependent Harry Potter movies. "When I step back from the work I did on Harry Potter and the Deathly Gallows Part 1 and Part 2, I'm very happy with how it turned out, and it's pretty cool to have a connection to the iconic characters and scenes." CGI may be rooted in science, but it certainly has a magical effect. Follow PIX-US on social media and stay tuned for our website revamp to see more of what our CGI wands can do....

Danny Austin Crosses the Pond to PIX-US

It was an exciting week at PIX-US when Danny Austin from Set Visions, our partner in the U.K., visited Greensboro to help refine our workflow. “It’s been absolutely fantastic and the results have been way better than I had hoped,” says Danny. “Each person approaches their work in a different way, so I sat with everyone individually to get to where we want to be with our production process.” The aim of the changes is to allow staff members more time and mental space for creativity and getting the job done right. It’s all about organizing the program to do what you want it to do, Danny explained. “You can’t just copy and paste what someone else is doing. You can learn from others, but you still need your own brain. You can know the software inside and out and still create bad work, or you can make it work for you knowing a fraction of the program and still create outstanding 3D images.” Danny was impressed with how quickly the staff absorbed the ideas. The team spent time bonding at various local restaurants including Natty Greene’s, Lucky 32 and Big Burger Spot. “I really enjoyed the Roots music at Lucky 32, and I had the best burger of my life at Big Burger Spot!” he said. On Wednesday, PIX-US took Danny out to the ballgame, where the Greensboro Grasshoppers took on the Greenville Drive. “I am a fan of the sport,” he says. “I figured it’s much like cricket in that there’s plenty of beer and good friends.” By the end of the week everyone wished Danny could stay longer. Cheers! ...

PIX-US Hires Annie Ferguson

PIX-US just added to its staff in three key areas: sales, creative and marketing. Annie Ferguson recently joined the team as the director of marketing. Annie worked as an editor for Pace, a content marketing agency in Greensboro for 12 years before joining PIX-US. Some of the accounts she worked on at Pace include United Airlines, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Verizon and Walmart. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and international studies from Elon University. In her spare time, she enjoys writing for Greensboro’s O.Henry magazine. Annie is excited to increase PIX-US’s social media presence and get the word out about the services the company has to offer. “I’ve known Mark Wagoner’s work since I was just starting out in the industry more than a dozen years ago. There has always been an extra level of polish to the images from his studio compared to others I’ve seen,” Annie says.  “The PIX-US team produces stunning, technically sound images, and I’m proud to be associated with such an innovative group.”...

PIX-US Hires Wil Vaughn

PIX-US just added to its existing staff in three key areas: sales marketing and creative. Meet Wil Vaughn, our newest senior CGI artist. Originally from Indianapolis, Wil was artistic while growing up. With 12 years of professional experience and a degree in architectural and engineering design from ITT, he brings a valuable skill set to PIX-US. “I thought I wanted to work at an architecture firm, but our final project at school was to do something in 3D, and I fell in love with it because you can easily undo things. Plus, the possibilities are endless,” Wil says. Wil is looking forward to using his talents to expand the type of work in the PIX-US portfolio. “Every project is new and a chance to get creative,” he says. “Getting into this line of work was a no-brainer for me, and I’m thrilled to find a job like this in the U.S. and particularly in North Carolina. I really like the direction PIX-US is going and its level of experience in the industry.”...

PIX-US Hires Alex Kay Kennerly

PIX-US just added to existing staff in three key areas—sales, marketing and creative. Meet Alex Kay Kennerly, our lead account executive. Alex Kay Kennerly, who has some serious design industry chops, grew up immersed in fabric and furniture as part of her family’s business, Design Concepts, based in High Point, N.C., and established in 1968. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism (advertising sequence), she worked as a personal assistant and recruiter. Later she became a production manager and then account executive for a North Carolina design and photography studio. Alex is thrilled to become a part of the PIX-US team. A painter ever since she could hold a brush, Alex was attracted to the company because of the sheer beauty of the images it produces. It was the perfect opportunity for her to combine her passion for interior design, marketing, and sales. “I get a charge out of bringing a product to a company that could really benefit their business (and ours),” Alex says. “What’s most rewarding to me is to find a company that needs a visualizer like the one PIX-US offers and seeing the result on their website, where they can imagine any type of floor in their house or paint on their walls.”...

Four CGI Project–Planning Tips

Pre-production for a computer-generated image (CGI) is not unlike that of a photo shoot. Many of the steps are, in fact, the same. There are, however, a few differences to consider in order to make sure your project goes through our process smoothly and meets your timetable and expectations. This will help us help you! Define Your Project Goals We should all have a solid understanding of the projects expectations and use. Some important things to ask yourself are: Who is the viewer? Who is your audience? Consumer or B2B? Is this a product image or for a branding piece? Does the product line have an established look to follow? What are your competitors doing in this market? What would you like the image to accomplish? What story do you want to tell? A few other things to start considering at this point are the deadline and your budget—more on those in a moment. The answers to these questions help the PIX-US team start your project in the right direction. Resources and Inspiration Next, we’ll want to talk about assets you may have on hand, such as CAD files, drawings or photos, and other product information. We would love to hear about inspiration for this image, see colors that tie to the brand, or take a look at photos your team has gathered. These are all very helpful to us. Production Values We can talk about production for CGI in the same way we do for commercials. Every image needs to be well-executed, and sometimes simple is better. At other times you may need to pull out all the stops. Planning where to spend your imaging budget and understanding your expectations helps you get the most for your investment and gives us a clear path to succeeding on your project. We want to help you spend wisely. There are many reasons to choose CGI over traditional photography—the location can be anywhere, there’s less of a need for shipping product or renting props, and we can create images for your marketing even when there’s no product available. Later on, we can come back to the set and have everything still...