Miscellaneous Interviews Exclusive interview with steven stahlberg

Exclusive interview with steven stahlberg

Creator of Webbie Tookay, the first virtual supermodel, Steven Stahlberg began his career with a crayon. Today he operates CG animation studio -- Optidigit -- out of Malaysia, where he is currently subcontracting modeling for feature films and educational language programs, as well as TV commercials. At last his world-renowned proclivity for fashioning 3D sex bombs has grown from a pastime into a fulltime job. In a recent interview, he commented on his controversial gender exaggerations, with what he calls typical Swedish irreverence, saying: "The details seem to be somewhat culturally biased - for instance, Americans often prefer bigger breasts, while Brazilians prefer bigger butts - well whatever cranks your engine. In this case I guess I'm more with the Brazilians...." Here in an exclusive interview with WDL, he reveals his less racy side, commenting on his work, dreams and family life.
Steven Stahlberg and Alain Zaugg

WDL: Could you just give us a little background on how you got started?

Steven Stahlberg: My name is Steven Stahlberg. I'm 44. Born in Australia 1959, grew up in Sweden, lived in Hong Kong and USA, and now living in Malaysia. I've always been drawing, since as far back as I could hold a crayon; I went to 3 years of art school and became a professional illustrator. But I've been fascinated by computers since I first learned of them through science fiction as a kid... and so the first chance I got, I dived into CG.

WDL: What is Malaysian Camelot?

Steven Stahlberg: My dream would be to create a 'Harlem Globetrotters' of CG - an A-team where every single player is a star. I think Malaysia is as good a place as any to do that, in fact may be better in some ways. You could call it a "Knights of the Round Table" kind of thing :). Well, it's a nice dream anyway...

WDL: Tell us about what it's like to work in tandem with Alain Zaugg, co-founder of Optidigit?

Steven Stahlberg: He's my better half: clear-minded, well-organized, logical, methodical, quick-thinking... and his main interest is production, a field I wouldn't really want to enter. So we complement each other very well.

WDL: Your creations are always included in a 'sexiest women' list. Do you use real models as prototypes?

Steven Stahlberg: Any one individual? Only partially, in that I use a lot of reference material, and my memory; every anatomical detail I've ever learned.

One Last Time

(And I'm constantly learning.) For a specific project, a client may send photos of a specific model, but for my own work, I tend to use many different ones.

Need For Speed Underground
Bike Slide

WDL: Your digital models are so real and gorgeous. What are the principles that you follow when creating them?

Steven Stahlberg: Thanks. I simply try to make them as appealing as possible to myself. Of course also follow other people's criticism and advice, the Internet forums are great for that (I can recommend it), but in the end, if it doesn't please me, it doesn't feel right.

WDL: Describe the work of your studio. What are your current projects?

Steven Stahlberg: We are subcontracting modeling for an Italian-based CG feature film project of the more realistic kind, and we are also working on a more ‘cartoony’ character for a language teaching program. I'm working on my latest character, Summer. In between these projects we do the occasional TV commercial.


WDL: We know that you created Webbie Tookay, the first virtual supermodel, who is the ownership of Elite Models agency. Tell us about her features and the impetus to create her.

Steven Stahlberg: She was created on the suggestion of Ricardo Bellino, who then formed Illusion2k. While I was working on her, she was the property of Illusion2k, owned by Elite's managing director John Casablancas, and run by his friend Ricardo. When this failed, in the dotcom bubble burst, ownership of her passed to the venture capitalists who funded Illusion, some Brazilian bank, I think.

WDL: What awards have you received?

Steven Stahlberg: Several Animago awards, the first 3D Festival Award, one Ars Electronica award, many website awards, local Commgraph awards... but what I'm most proud of so far is to have been picked by Glen Keane at Disney Feature Animation to do character development work on the main character on his first 3D project.

WDL: What are your favorite works?

Steven Stahlberg: One Last Time is my favorite so far. It's hard to explain why. I'm not sure. Maybe the visual simplicity, yet I can imagine so many different things going on with the back-story...

WDL: Please describe your free time, if you have any.

Steven Stahlberg: Mostly revolves around family, food, movies, and some games and internet. I love to watch movies either on cable or on DVDs with my kids - they're getting to the age when they can really appreciate the same things I do. Occasionally we all go out to a mall or down to the local pool. I'm part of the local Bah'ai community here, and we have our regular religious feasts. I also go running every night, for my health.

WDL: Thank you for your time.

Elle Face


Webbie Tookey

Exclusive interview with Steven Stahlberg
Velvet Chair

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