Autodesk’s Entertainment & Media Solutions (EMS) group is on a mission to empower anyone, anywhere, to create amazing media and entertainment experiences by delivering new levels of creativity, collaboration, productivity, insight, and scale with production in the cloud. We recently sat down with Ben Fischler, a member of the Content Creation team within EMS, to learn more about his work in this space.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do at Autodesk?
I’m the Director of Content Creation Product Management for Entertainment & Media Solutions (EMS) at Autodesk, based in Portland, Oregon. In my role, I get to help our product management teams build products that let creators tell amazing stories! I’m responsible for helping drive product vision and lead product management teams for Maya, 3ds Max, Arnold, Flame, and more.
As an artist, I’ve relied on many — really ALL — of these amazing tools in production at various times of my creative life, and it means a lot that I can help us continue to push them forward and into new directions.
How has animation been part of your life, both personally and professionally?
My passion for animation goes back to the early 90s when I was working as a bicycle framebuilder — that’s when I first discovered Alias Studio and got hooked on 3D graphics and animation. I made a big career change, learned Alias Studio, Wavefront Advanced Visualizer, and Softimage, and went on to work in Film, TV, and Games.
Over the years I’ve worked on large projects, including many Shrek and Madagascar films (along with others) and national ad campaigns, as well as smaller projects, like short films and music videos. While I specialized for long periods (Character Animator, Lighting Artist, etc.), I also spent many years as a Generalist and CG/VFX Supervisor before joining Autodesk in 2016. In the end, I just love the process of creating with these tools and techniques – the technologies and skills are always evolving.
What are some of the most exciting things you’ve done with animation?
Outside of Autodesk, one of the most exciting moments in my personal life was being tapped to act as Lead Lighter for a number of entire sequences on a feature film (Madagascar, at PDI/Dreamworks Animation). I had been a Production Lighter for some time but had never been solely responsible for entire sequences before. It was both thrilling and terrifying, but I loved the work, and the shots came out looking great!
Some of the most exciting things I’ve been involved with here at Autodesk are the various Trends & Competition reports we work on in EMS Strategy with Maurice Patel, Vice President of Media & Entertainment (M&E) Strategy, and his teams. Maurice is an amazing mentor and has a deep understanding of the M&E industry. These projects are a direct input into our strategic intent and help guide strategy, so it’s exciting work!
I really enjoy looking at how the M&E space is changing over time, how animation production is evolving, and how the tools and techniques change to meet the needs of artists and animators.
Why should animation lovers consider a career with Autodesk?
Autodesk is a place where people can expand from their areas of focus into new directions, which is great! My career path to Autodesk was via an acquisition (Solidangle, makers of the Arnold renderer), and while rendering technology is a core interest of mine, I really love having an impact across a range of different efforts and products.
I’m super excited about what we’re building, both with the core products we have now and with Autodesk Flow (our industry cloud for Media & Entertainment) and the Autodesk Platform. There’s a lot of work to do, but it’s coming!
The bottom line is that our tools are used by the best, most talented artists in the world. If you want to work on products that have a direct impact on the most exciting creative projects around, Autodesk is the place to be!