An Animated Man // Sergey Poltavskiy Bio
Q: What are your earliest memories about coming to the United States?
A: We came to the US when I was 4 and I remember –not only here in the US but also in Russia — how incredibly poor we were. I have vague memories as a little kid in Russia having very little food to eat.
My most vivid first memory here was when I was about 7 or 8 and my elementary school had a fun little overnight in the cafeteria. We watched movies in our pajamas and they served us dinner. It blew my mind when they served us big, juicy, delicious hamburgers. For free! This, to me, was what America was about.
Q: You are so skilled at the 3D and CGI work. Were you born with a computer in your hands?
A: I got my first computer when I was 13. All we could afford was the basic hardware and the bare bones software that it came with, and I had to figure out everything on my own. I taught myself how to take computers apart and find my own solutions to any issues that came up.
Q: Did anyone help you along the way?
A: Shrek. Shrek helped me. And a cousin of mine. He (the cousin, not Shrek) moved here from Russia right at the time that the first Shrek movie came out. I loved the animation, and my cousin told me that he used the same software to create furniture in Russia. When I asked him about it he said it was too complicated and that I wouldn’t be able to figure it out. Well…that’s all I needed to hear.
Q: Did you figure it out?
A: Oh yeah. And more. I had to prove him wrong. Not only did I teach myself how to use the software, I’m still using the same software today at Indigo Studios. Back then it was 3D Studio MaxR3.
Q: Did you then go to school to enhance your skills?
A: I applied to a technical college for computer design. I was ready to sign on the dotted line when they proudly brought out their portfolio to show me their students’ best work. I felt that they didn’t push the envelope far enough so I changed my mind about enrolling. Then more recently, I was just starting school for engineering when I was offered this position at Indigo.
Q: Who are your role models as far as design?
A: I’m kind of out of the loop regarding pop culture; instead I’m focused on what the cream of the crop is doing in the 3D world. I admire the German car companies and like to see what they’re creating and what’s selling. I am also a big believer in learning from others. Marc Rochon here at Indigo has been a great mentor to me and has taught me a lot over the years.
Q: What keeps you motivated?
A: I keep my eye on the design work being done by the top automotive companies and am always trying to improve my skills to match – and beat – the competition. I love what I do and so I’m always working on CGI and re-touching projects at home too. I’m really motivated to learn new skills and perfect the ones I have because if I don’t do it, someone else will. I recently started exploring photography as a new challenge. I’m lucky that my wife is very understanding. She gets it.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I love stunt riding and have a Kawasaki Ninja 2003 and a 2013. Flipping a wheelie at 95 mph is my idea of a good time. I’ve had my share of crashes but so far it’s just been road rash and some wicked bruises. Racing cars on Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee is another one of my favorite things to do.
I also spend time with my 3 dogs and my parrot. They don’t come racing with me though. That would be insane. And besides, I don’t think I could get helmets that would fit each of them.
Q: What words of advice do you have for others?
A: Keep learning. Keep practicing. Keep exploring and discovering new techniques and new solutions.
And wear a helmet when you ride.