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Staff Feature: David Austin

There’s no better employee that exemplifies the HighRock staff’s varied and deep work history than David Austin. David graduated from Stetson University, where he double-majored in Business and Fine Art. While working on sculpture projects in college, David wanted to find an alternative to the necessity of a physical medium for his sculpture designs. David took to the computer. Using an early version of AutoCAD, David created some basic 3D renders of sculpture designs and presented them to his professor, who had never seen anything like it before. This is what David recounts as his first foray into marrying 3D technology and art together.

After college, David went straight to a job with an engineering and architectural design company in South Florida. After time spent there, he interviewed and was offered a job at a big-name Hollywood studio for animation and 3D graphics, but while waiting for a project to be signed so he could officially be hired, David was offered another job at a game development company, Westwood Studios in Las Vegas. This began David’s 13 years in the gaming and entertainment industry; his work at several developers in Hunt Valley – MicroProse and BreakAway Games – eventually brought him to Maryland.

After David’s time in the gaming and entertainment industries, he dove back into the world of architecture, which is how he met Yavuz Goncu, who’s now Director of 3D Technology at HighRock. Through his work in architecture and the gaming industries, and also as a freelancer, David has gotten to work on projects in almost every field. From 3D projects for professionals in the legal field, building a gaming simulation for the Department of Defense, to creating detail-oriented medical visualizations for surgical procedures, David has gotten to try his hand at all of it. While David says that telling a medical story is different than telling a legal story or building a game, each 3D process starts with knowledge of the tool set and knowing how to get to the desired end result.

David sees all of his past work experience leading up to his work at HighRock. From character animation, special effects, video editing, modeling and animations, lighting, and digital painting – he believes that every career step should be just migrating your work to the latest and greatest tools and using them to do that same type of work better, smarter, and faster.

David Austin as a student, standing with one of his sculptures David Austin

He wants to get to the visual heart that will best support your story. He likens his work in 3D and VR to painting. Both paintings and 3D sculptures are trying to tell a story in one statement with a single image. What you tell your viewer or how they interpret your piece is all determined by how you tell your story. The marriage of art and computer technology is what David believes to be the broader evolution of effective story telling.

“Some of my favorite work recently has been building a library of assets in the Unreal engine for VR projects,” says David. “The technology we use has matured so much that we can easily build something now that 10 years ago, would have been very difficult to achieve. That’s the most rewarding part of the job – taking all of the technology and skills that HighRock has to offer and culminating it in a real time experience that allows the user to feel like they have control of the story.”