Welcome to the latest post in our “Employee Q&A” series, where we interview an employee to reflect on their career and experience at 3D Cloud™ by Marxent. Part of our success is mainly due to our people. So, we’re excited to feature a hardworking team member to learn about their journey at 3D Cloud.
This week, we spotlight Ben Rubey, Head of 3D & RD at 3D Cloud. Let’s read on to learn more!
Ben, how did you find out about 3D Cloud?
I think I had just graduated college, and I was searching for work, 3D work, specifically in video games or movies. That was generally the goal of most of the 3D people around me. So I was looking for that stuff. But I live in Ohio, and that’s not a very common industry in Ohio, at least it wasn’t at the time. I wasn’t getting a lot of matches on LinkedIn. I wasn’t prepared to move. Eventually, I came across one that had the Unity logo on it; I was very familiar with Unity because I learned about it in school. I applied through LinkedIn, got an interview, and came in. It was a pretty small office, and Vince Kilian and Ian Newland interviewed me.
What sparked your interest in 3D?
My cousin went to school for 3D animation, and he gave me this DVD that he had made. It was his senior project, and it was like a Pixar-style animation. I thought it was super cool because he did voiceovers and made the character look like him.
I just thought it was really impressive, and it seemed fun. I looked at schools that could teach me that kind of stuff. I found a very similar one at Bowling Green State University for Digital Arts. They kind of taught me everything, like digital painting, 3D modeling, and a little bit of coding.
That’s cool that you got to try different things and figure out what you really liked.
It also really helped me figure out what I didn’t like. It was mainly animation. Oddly enough, I’m not patient enough to do animation.
Can you list some of your responsibilities on the team?
My official title is Head of 3D R&D, but I wear a lot of hats. It’s sort of worked out that way just because I’ve been here for a long time, and I’ve been able to absorb a lot of information about how things work. My primary responsibilities at this point are managing the team of 3D artists and improving our content pipeline.
Basically, doing whatever I need to do to give them what they need to be successful. I don’t do a whole lot of the hands-on work anymore. I mostly delegate and help people solve issues when they run into them. I do a lot of general troubleshooting. If people run into issues with 3D content in their apps or in the 3D Cloud, it usually ends up on my plate, and we fix them.
I maintain the real-time shaders mainly because my previous role was tech artist, which was mostly writing shaders. I still do a lot of that, but not as much.
What’s something that you enjoy most in your position?
I like every aspect of 3D(except animation). I get to do everything in the whole pipeline at some point. I’ll get to model and UV something occasionally. I’ll do materials every now and then, and I’ll work on the shaders. I enjoy all of it. It’s all the same level of satisfaction to me.
If I had to choose, my favorite thing about 3D, in general, it’s just modeling. I like to 3D sculpt things. I do a lot of that in my free time.
I would honestly, every hour or two, I have some different thing to do, and it’s fun. Some people hate that. So that’s partially why we have artists that are sort of slotted into specific parts of the pipeline. I have people that do 3D models, and that’s it, and people that do materials, and that’s it. We also have a couple of people that can just do everything.
Do you run into any challenging aspects in your role?
Honestly, the hardest part is people management because I went to school for art, and now I’m a manager. I think I do a pretty good job at it, but it is challenging for me just because it’s not what I was professionally trained to do. I picked it up over time. It’s a welcome challenge, though; enjoy a lot of what 3D management entails.
Can you elaborate more about your direct team?
Right now, we’re hovering at about ten artists. Some of them have been here almost as long as me, so I’ve worked with them for years. Our team is pretty close. Three or four of us actually meet up every now and then at someone’s house and play video games. Then every month, we all do remote game stuff where we play Jackbox, and then the winners get gift cards. I think we have a pretty good team culture overall.
Do you have any significant accomplishments while working at Marxent that you can think of?
The first one, the biggest thing I feel like I did here, was called MRS, which was the Marxent rendering system. It was a complete overhaul to one of our internal rendering systems that gave us a lot more control.
We rebuilt it from the ground up. It was a really enjoyable project, and I learned a ton doing it.
When I started, I wasn’t hired as a 3D artist; I was a dev. I was working on Unity and iOS, and I worked on this thing called the VC template with one of my mentors. It was essentially an iOS Xcode project that you could hand to a developer and say, “change some stuff in here and hit compile,” and it would take care of a lot of the tedious tasks that our developers would waste a lot of time and energy on. It took me a long time. I read a textbook on iOS that took me like three months, but I got through it.
Things have really evolved since then, and a lot of people who are much brighter than me have improved the platform into something much better. I’ll always think it was cool that I was able to be a part of things that early on.
For someone that wants to work on your team, what is one thing they should learn before joining?
I think having the ability to learn and teach yourself new things effectively is a must for our team. It’s less important that you know exactly how to do something the way we do it and more important that you can be taught how and be able to adjust your personal workflows accordingly. Be prepared to learn a lot in a short amount of time because 3D as an industry is constantly changing. It’s always evolving. You can’t afford to sit still and use the same stuff forever because it’s going to change, and you’re going to get left in the dust.
We’re always researching new 3D stuff, new 3D tools, and new ways to make things look better. It’s just constantly learning and trying to implement those learnings in your work every day.
Thank you, Ben, for your time today. You have a wealth of knowledge and skills. It was great to hear about your journey at 3D Cloud.