Greek-born specialist recreates 3D Titanic
Nick Kaloterakis talks to Neos Kosmos about working with director James Cameron’s team to present a historically accurate reconstruction of the Titanic
Nick Kaloterakis, a Sydney-based 3D artist, has emerged fifteen years after migration from Greece to Australia as a leader in his field. After receiving his first public start with US magazine Popular Science, for which he has created cover illustrations for the past six years, he was approached by the renowned worldwide magazine National Geographic. His illustrations made such an impression that when James Cameron, Oscar-winning director of the blockbuster Hollywood film Titanic, collaborated with the magazine for the anniversary edition commemorating 100 years since the sinking of the passenger liner, Kaloterakis was an essential addition to the team.
Kaloterakis was born in Athens, one of three brothers in a family that was originally from Rethymno and Chania, Crete. In Greece, he pursued his interests of design, photography and graphic arts, but it was after his 1997 move to Australia with his Greek Australian wife that he had the opportunity to focus on 3D animation.
When he first arrived in Australia, the world of 3D art was significantly smaller than today, and only two relevant courses were available in all of Sydney. In 1999, Kaloterakis eventually decided to enrol at the Enmore TAFE design centre. Although challenged by the high level of English proficiency needed in the course, his hard work, determination and creative ability were not only got him through the course, but also provided numerous job prospects when it was completed.
"I suppose I was in the right place at the right time," he told Neos Kosmos.
When his course was completed, the 3D animation industry was experiencing unprecedented expansion. Although offered a scholarship in a post production studio as an intern, he turned it down in favour of full time work in a similar studio, Engine, in Artarmon. During his eight years in that position, which involved working for films, commercials and television channels, for clients from both Australia and other countries in the world, Kaloterakis received the assignment that would broadcast his talent to the rest of the world.
An industry colleague recommended Kaloterakis to create a 3D illustration for the US magazine Popular Science, which is distributed worldwide. He says: "This was about six years ago and since then I have basically created every cover illustration for them. I collaborate remotely with the creative directors in New York and interpret their ideas to create hyper real illustrations with a focus on how we will live and work in the future."
The popular worldwide magazine National Geographic, having seen the high quality of Kaloterakis' work, asked him to create illustrations for them, including an Ocean Green energy liftout and a Mars space station. This connection was to lead Kaloterakis to his most prestigious challenge yet.
"They liked the detail of the work and my name came up again when they began the Titanic project with James Cameron towards the end of last year," Kaloterakis told Neos Kosmos.
"The Titanic project took about five months from start to finish. My brief was to illustrate step-by-step, exactly how the Titanic sank. I worked with the team of experts who included oceanographers, artists and scientists who had visited and studied the wreck for years and engineers and other technical specialists who worked on the movie with Cameron. This has been a lifetime passion for them, including Cameron."
The emphasis during this assignment was to ensure that the illustrations were as historically and technically accurate as possible.
"I was in communication with National Geographic and James Cameron's team of experts daily, video conferencing to go over every single detail from a simple porthole to the way the ship split in two parts as it sank. The attention to detail was like nothing I'd ever worked on before. The knowledge and expertise of these men was truly inspiring."
Those five months were well worth the hard work, as the anniversary edition for 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic was a best seller for National Geographic. The impressive cover, and images throughout, sold more copies than any other edition in the past three years.
This work has clearly been the highlight of Kaloterakis' career. Through his extensive experience in the world of 3D animation, he has built himself up from a simple 3D generalist to a specialist in concept design, lighting, and technical direction. He now has his own design studio, Kollected (www.kollected.com), which has allowed him to concentrate on 3D illustration and CGI/VFX work, on both a local and international level.
In fifteen short years, he has made his name in a field that has been his passion since his youth in Greece. At this point, there seems to be no way for Kaloterakis to go but up.
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